MUSEUM International N°244

What Can Art Still Do?

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The Quest for Beauty Against the Arrogance of Art, Masahiro Hamashita

Thanks to national policy incentives and the demands of consumer society, art is enjoying a peak in prosperity. However, the premium placed on artistic production today belies a lack of attention to beauty. Aesthetics – not beauty – has the stranglehold on our imaginations, illusions and representations – in one word, our phantasma. Aesthetics underpins the full range of human activity, from the investment economy to the fabrication of mass-media idols and the televised contrivance of alluring virtual realities. This article argues that art, to be meaningful, has to engage in a quest for beauty. But the further removed aesthetics are from reality, the harder it is for art to cultivate an idea of beauty. TOP

The Arts: a hedge against inflation or a future agreement? Thierry Dufrêne

Thierry Dufrêne’s text cites a quotation from Hannah Arendt, who states elsewhere that ‘Any discussion on culture must in some way use as its starting point the phenomenon of art’. She emphasizes the need for each culture to negotiate with others for its own idea of what it calls beauty, and quotes André Malraux as saying that he was uncertain about the future of contemporary art but convinced that ‘the art of metamorphoses’ had begun. Taking up the idea of ‘metamorphoses’, Dufrêne addresses the upheaval in art created by a crisis in values, accelerating techniques in communication, and growing commodification and mediatization. Has art become a simple commodity? And even if it is universally celebrated, can it still be seen and heard and understood? TOP

Art’s Undertakers, José Sasportes

José Sasportes leads us through a gallery of ‘art undertakers’. He questions whether the capital of trust in the power of art has been spent, and whether institutions like UNESCO still have the capacity to support it. Major thinkers of all eras have worried about the future of the arts. Writers such as Tolstoy and Valéry expressed their doubts about the art of their own generation, while recognizing the essential role it played (‘the usefulness of the useless’ in the words of Paul Valéry). But it cannot be denied that many dark spots remain on today’s cultural scene, in spite of the growing number of artistic events and the development of the arts into many new areas, notably art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, and so on. Ultimately, the vitality of the arts cannot be measured in terms of increased discussion, more patronage or new sources of funding. TOP

Aesthetics and the Construction of Global Ethics, Rafael Argullol

The article attempts to summarize some ideas developed in the publication and formulate conclusions that may cast some light on the issue of the ethical potential of aesthetic experience. TOP

Decolonizing the Spirit: the work of the creative imagination, Rex Nettleford

This article discusses the decolonization of minds in developing countries, the struggle to espouse their dignity and difference, and obtain recognition in a globalized world. In this context art is of profound significance because it can stimulate forces of profound resistance and act as an obstacle to the dilution of identity, in all its aspects and affiliations. But the teaching of art is still neglected in many developing countries. While there are many artists in the Caribbean, notably in universities, it is important that we develop the acquisition of knowledge, expertise and know-how, in order to promote forms of harmonious living that will enable us to harness and liberate this creative energy. TOP

Writing in Emergency Conditions or the Unequal Sharing of the Sensory, Tanella Boni

Tanella Boni's contribution considers literary creation as a way of resisting situations of extreme urgency, and economic and political problems. How to say the unnameable and the unspeakable, this is the work of the writer. It is also a fight against time, against events that disrupt the existence of humans and sometimes crush them. Today, in the era we call "post-colonial", the colonial has not disappeared, and in Africa, written literature must define its place as a form of resistance alongside orality, which is also very powerful. Francophony is both a support and a disadvantage, because it tends to isolate writers who belong to it. As for the intrinsic power of the work of writing, which is closely linked to individual and collective history, to memory, it depends on the fact that it is an expression of the uniqueness of the writer, while at the same time linking him or her to other individuals and other cultures. TOP

Art and Cross-Cultural Resistance, Rachida Triki

In a globalised culture dominated by ICT, video-art, photomontage and mediatised installations and events, the question of authenticity – in the sense of being true to oneself – is posed in terms of artistic expression. How can one go about re-creating oneself and the world through the subversive power of art, while retaining a degree of freedom? The same artistic criteria are imposed for forms of expression for the works of non-European artists, and particularly artists from former colonies like the North African countries. Today, artists from these countries are quite at home with new techniques, but post-colonial stereotypes (pictures of veiled women or oriental violence) continue to prefer artists who meet these expectations. So for these artists, creating means "resisting", to quote Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. The new generation of Tunisian artists, which includes many women, seems deliberately to ignore the problem of identity, the better to appropriate the uniqueness of each artist. Their imagination is a driving force for moving borders and preventing people from clinging to ethnic identity. TOP

Contemporary African Art from Autonomy to Self-Transcendence, Adriano Mixinge

Adriano Mixinge examines the criteria and legitimization processes of African art, highlighting the specificities of the dynamics involved. The existence, on the one hand, in Western societies of institutions that recognize art, such as galleries and museums, and the desire of artists, on the other, to gain acceptance in the eyes of an international audience, determine the ways in which African artistic expression and art exhibitions are presented. In the context of growing globalization and the post-colonial legacy, Adriano Mixinge analyses the distance covered by African art in its journey from autonomy to self-transcendence, as the subject of theoretical and critical reflection, and examines new ways of approaching art and aesthetics. TOP

Table of Contents

Editorial by Isabelle Vinson

Forward by Eduardo Portella

Chapter 1: The Values Crisis

Chapter 2: Art and Resistance

Date of periodical 05 Mar 2010
Languages English
Periodicity Quarterly
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