Seeing Power Hardcover – 20 Aug. 2016
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--Gregory Sholette, author of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture "A thought- provoking manifesto on the artist's position within a system where making money is inextricably linked to producing culture...Seeing Power isn't only for artists and activists. It is for anyone willing to re-think their consumer habits and ready to identify the power structures that heavily influence our day-to-day behaviours."
--Peace News Praise for Experimental Geography "Living in cities, we need a new way to think about how we move and what we notice . . . This strange, exciting book offers just that--a new way to notice public space. It is the brainchild of Nato Thompson: the results of his fascinations with urban planning post-Katrina, abandoned or unnoticed urban landscapes and public art."
--Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times "What could be more delightful--and unsettling--than turning loose a group of contemporary surrealists, disguised as vagabonds and artists, in the ripe fields of the hyperreal? Experimental Geography isn't about space; it is about terminal strangeness."
--Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear and City of Quartz "Another step in the ongoing quest for social energies not yet recognized as art . . . exploring the politics and infrastructures that can either change or stall the world."
--Lucy Lippard, author of The Lure of the Local
About the Author
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Top international reviews
Mr. Thompson knows that the corporate media (film, television, video games, radio etc.) have defined how most people have come to understand art today. However, the fine arts community is dependent upon these same connections to wealth, power and privilege. For that reason, the author believes that artists whose works are politically ambiguous tend to be more richly rewarded through the gallery system; whereas artists whose didactic messages make all too clear their political intent are not always valued. The implication is that politically-engaged artists must learn how to interrogate the social beyond the walls of the gallery system.
In fact, Mr. Thompson contends that our understanding of art is made as we experience the world around us. The author believes that Occupy Museums in 2011 illustrated how activism can successfully challenge the programming and funding practices of an elite institution. However, the author feels that artists must connect with the struggles of people whose communities have been impoverished by corporate economics and culture. Artistry joined with activism can help create a better world.
On that point, Mr. Thompson brings the discussion to life with many interesting examples of socially-engaged art. For example, the author himself had a role in organizing a performance of Waiting for Godot in the traumatized Lower Ninth Ward of post-Katrina New Orleans. He cites the performance artist Tania Bruguera as an example of “useful art” whose politics have drawn attention to the struggles of immigrant families in Queens, New York. I was also intrigued by the author’s description of the United Victorian Worker’s protest in 2005 that succeeded in confounding reality and performativity while highlighting age-old issues of labor, gender and justice.
I highly recommend this excellent book to everyone.