Dead History, Live Art?: Spectacle, Subjectivity and Subversion in Visual Culture since the 1960s
While scholars and critics generally agree that the 1960s signaled the end of high modernism, what is less clear is how to characterize contemporary art since the 1960s. Acclaimed art scholar Jonathan Harris here tackles this question by assembling a rich body of essays, along with an extended interview with renowned feminist art scholar Amelia Jones, that tracks the movements in and issues central to contemporary art practice since this pivotal decade. The contributors to Dead History, Live Art? argue that visual art since the 1960s can no longer claim a separate and exalted status; rather, it should be interpreted as an integral part of a larger culture of display, consumption, and power that continues to evolve within a global capitalist system. Distinguished writers and artists such as Frazer Ward, Anna Dezeuze, Richard Layzell, and Jane Chin Davidson launch a new discussion on art and mass culture in their essays, with uncompromising examinations of how, in the context of modern capitalism, visual culture has radically redefined the relationships between the production and use of images, texts, and interpretive analysis. Issues explored in their essays include the rise of "performance art" in the 1960s and 1970s, the focus on diverse installation and mixed-media practices during the 1980s and 1990s, and, in an investigation reaching into the political sphere, the theater of visuality and spectacle created to support the invasion of and war in Iraq in 2003. Dead History, Live Art? proposes an intriguing new perspective on art history and art practice with its critical and uncompromising examination of their conventions, values, and institutions. As such, the volume reconfigures not only our understanding of contemporary art, but also the entire concept of the avant-garde.