Arresting Images: Impolitic Art and Uncivil Actions

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Although contemporary art may sometimes shock us, more alarming are recent attempts to regulate its display. Drawing upon extensive interviews, a broad sampling of media accounts, legal documents and his own observations of important events, sociologist Steven Dubin surveys the recent trend in censorship of the visual arts, photography and film, as well as artistic upstarts such as video and performance art. He examines the dual meaning of arresting images—both the nature of art work which disarms its viewers and the social reaction to it. Arresting Images examines the battles which erupt when artists address such controversial issues as racial polarization, AIDS, gay-bashing and sexual inequality in their work.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Dubin (sociology, SUNY) combines sociological and aesthetic approaches in this survey of major altercations in the ongoing culture wars. He examines cases chiefly from the visual arts and photography, beginning with the heated dispute over the portrait of Mayor Washington of Chicago in 1988. His selections all exhibit the crucial elements of a social controversy: a sense of threatened values and subsequent attempts by power groups to mobilize in response to these threats. Dubin views censorship as a social process initiated by both the political right and the political left and takes a hard look at the infighting and conflict among artists themselves over freedom of expression. Although it covers familiar territory, Arresting Images provides a fresh look at the social, political, and psychological forces influencing the American art world today. Recommended.-- Jacqueline Adams, Carroll Cty. P.L., Westminster, Md.
Studying events from 1988 through the present, Dubin (sociology, SUNY, Purchase) examines the battles that erupt when artists depict particular types of people and activities, assessing the charges of irreverence and subversion and capturing the dynamics of the disputes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415908931
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 402
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven C. Dubin is Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Purchase, where he directs the Social Sciences and the Arts program. He is the author of Bureaucratizing the Muse: Public Funds and the Cultural Worker.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Politics Of Diversion 12
2 The Bachelor Stripped Bare 26
3 Hue And Cry 44
4 Spiritual Tests 79
5 Rally 'Round The Flag 102
6 The Body As Spectacle 125
7 Gay Images And The Social Construction Of Acceptability 159
8 AIDS: Bearing Witness 197
9 Defenders Of The Faith: Twentieth Century Puritans and Connoisseurs 226
10 Artists En Garde 249
11 The Government As Patron: Angel Or Demon? 278
12 The Art Of Controversy 294
Notes 313
Index 369
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