Differential Aesthetics-Art Practices, Philosophy and Feminist Understandings

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The area of philosophy formerly known as aesthetics lags behind much recent thinking about culture. Its relevance to contemporary practice can seem highly questionable, and indeed it has been explicitly attacked as anti-radical or progressive.

Is it now possible to revisit those issues of value, judgment and sensuous experience that are the proper ground of traditional aesthetics without reinstating unitary understandings of 'the subject' or creating a 'new aestheticism'? What are the deep and serious reasons why feminism, gender studies, materialism, post colonialism and other radical approaches have been suspicious of these questions? Are they only of interest to Western critics, or does the practice of art internationally offer new insights? Contributors in Differential Aesthetics reference diverse thought and practices in China, Ireland, Britain, America, Malaysia, France, Australia in order to open out these questions and render the various discourses and disciplines more permeable to each other

Differential Aesthetics presents an international collection of essays by leading and new writers and includes artists and philosophers arguing that the philosophy of art must be rewritten for the information age, and that the work of feminists working in aesthetics has a major contribution to make in this. This is of relevance far beyond any narrow definition of feminism, and its absence from small debates of the issues, as there are on the left or in radical discussions of art, should be addressed. This book explores how the issues of sexed power, located subjectivity and the body in art are crucial in aesthetics, enabling the ground gained through the critical shift intoideology in the aftermath of the 1960s to be maintained. But equally, it addresses the contemporary art practices and historical questions that became highly problematic as a result. The (social) body and the material are indispensable. Historical issues in Western aesthetics are addressed from Plato, through Kant and the German Enlightenment, selected according to their centrality or persistence as structural, while contemporary art practices remain the primary reference point.

Focusing on visual art, but including contributions on writing, music, dance cyberart and film, this book bridges divisions in contemporary thought, and, crucially, practices, and points to greater understanding of the power and appeal of cultural production. The opening section insists on the need for any philosophy of art to maintain contact with the art of its time by presenting a selection of statements by artists and examples of their work. The essays also include contributions from individuals active both in theory and practice.

"This lively collection affords fresh insights into the world of contemporary aesthetics. Penny Florence and Nicola Foster have gathered together a select group of artists, philosophers, and critical theorists, who offer individual perspectives on the aesthetic tradition and its feminist critics and their pertinence for the practice of art today." Carolyn Korsmeyer

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Editorial Reviews

Florence (cultural theory, Falmouth College of Arts, UK) and Foster (history, theory of visual art, University College, Suffolk, UK) provide a variety of approaches to the elusive question of aesthetics, feminism, and the practice of art. The editors begin the volume with an introduction to philosophy and feminism then move into immediate examples of contemporary practice by featuring the statements and b&w reproductions of works by 15 artists. The remainder of the volume is devoted to essays by contributors who are academics in art history, film studies, philosophy, and photography on the Western roots of philosophy and feminism, the approaches of the German Enlightenment, and the possibilities of the future, with introductions provided to each section by the editors. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754614937
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 12/1/2000
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Colour Plates
List of Black and White Figures
List of Contributors
Pt. 1 Introduction: Philosophy and Feminism 1
Pt. 2 Contemporary Practices 19
Introduction 19
Artists' Statements
Mary Anson 26
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham 28
RyyA Bread 30
Vicki Feaver 32
Barbara Freeman 34
Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe 36
Lubaina Himid 38
Jo Hsieh 40
Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger 42
Valerie Reardon 44
Deborah Robinson 46
Lesley Sanderson 48
Nancy Spero 50
Yuen-yi Lo 52
Partou Zia 54
Pt. 3 In the (Western) Beginning 57
1 Love and Writing - Phaedrus and the Symposium 61
2 Beautiful Music - A Fixed Pitch? Plato, Music and Gender 75
Pt. 4 And Then There Was(German) Enlightenment 93
3 Kant's Ghost, Among Others 99
4 Aesthetics in the Gaps - Subverting the Sublime for a Female Subject 119
5 Living Dialectics, Aufhebung and Performance Art 141
6 Nancy Spero and Woman in Performance 161
Pt. 5 And There Shall be (Polyvalent) Beyond 175
7 Transgressing With-In-To the Feminine 185
8 The Gendering of Allegory: Mary Kelly's Post-Partum Document and Benjamin's Melancholy Dialectics 211
9 Feminism, Postmodernism and the Aesthetics of Parody 227
10 Cybertime: Towards an Aesthetics of Mutation and Evolution 247
11 The Morphology of the Mucous: Irigarayan Possibilities in the Material Practice of Art 261
12 A Matter of Paint: The Carnal Subject of Aesthetics 281
13 From Matter to Materialisations: Feminist Politics and the Aesthetics of Radical Difference 301
14 Working Hot: Materialising Practices 315
Bibliography 333
Index 355
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