The Aesthetics of Creative Activism: Introduction

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 81 (2):131-140 (2023)
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In this introduction to The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism special issue on the aesthetics of creative activism, we canvas influential scholarship of political aesthetics to sculpt a broad typology of six interconnected mechanisms by which art might intervene in the world. We label these: Documentation, Disruption, Recognition, Participation, Imagination, and Beauty. Each has a compelling tradition of theory and application, augmented, extended, and sometimes challenged by the thirteen fresh and provocative contributions in the special issue. Yet, we ask, if both politically minded artists and culturally minded activists are convinced of the power of art to provoke social change, and if we live a world that by almost all measures is now saturated with politically inclined, aesthetically informed practices, interfaces, objects, and texts, why does art not seem to be making a difference? Clearly, we need to think harder about the relationships between art and action, a task the articles assembled here call upon us to take seriously.

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Elspeth Tilley
Massey University


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