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On a regular ongoing basis, Create staff will recommend an article, book, or performance that has caught their eye. This month, we focus on issue 12/13 of Field, a journal of socially-engaged art criticism

 

Guest edited by Gregory Sholette, this special double issue of Field focuses on new forms of cultural and artistic activism that have emerged in response to the recent global rise of right wing populist and authoritarian forms of government. Sholette is a socially engaged arts practitioner, critic and scholar and is also a board member of Field.

This issue features more than thirty essays by artists, activists, historians, critics and curators with a shared interest in and commitment to freedom of expression, democracy, economic equality and individual autonomy and mobility. This issue was designed to question the ways in which socially-engaged art has and can respond(ed) to the changing political landscape brought about by the election of Donald Trump, and the Brexit campaign. However the issue doesn’t neglect to reflect changes at a global level, with contributors outlining a neo-authoritarian wave in Turkey, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and China. 

Sholette set out to understand “this moment and its surreal, uncanny reality or un-presentness” in as much detail as possible, and to gauge the struggle between a vibrant Left global resistance and the increasingly numerous and vocal populist Right. To this end, the more than thirty essays collectively report on local and regional conditions of progressive cultural opposition. A number of essays take a trans-global viewpoint in order to examine the ambiguous politics of social networks and Twitter activism of Black Lives Matter (Chloë Bass) or the precariousness of academia in Southern Europe (Carlos Garrido Castellano. Irish readers will be particularly interested in Emma Mahony’s Report from Ireland: Repealing the 8th Amendment, described by Sholette as “one of the few brightish spots in our global view”. 

From Palestinian resilience and inventiveness in the Gaza strip to the condemnation of a Frida Kahlo retrospective in Hungary, from imprisoned Crimean filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to the paradoxes in Mexico’s cultural scene, this double issue makes a compelling case for the importance and value of socially-engaged artistic activism in the face of a neo-authoritarian worldview.

 

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