subversiveimaginationfron “Debate about how artists express political content in their work has been disappointingly  constrained” in  America, according to  Becker in her  introduction to this  collection of essays by  intellectuals and artists  from a number of  different nationalities  and perspectives.  Highlights of part one, “Personal  Responsibility and Political Contingencies,” include  Page Dubois’s  discussion of  autonomous art (as opposed to political art)  as a relatively new idea and Kathy Acker’s brassy parable of a post-modern writer struggling with her loss of belief in the possibility of “art in this culture.” Part two, “Decolonizing the Imagination,” features Becker’s own prescription to read Marcuse as a “stronghold against the nihilism and denigration that at times threaten to engulf” our current sensibility; and Michael Eric Dyson’s consideration of the “new black cinema” and its potential for effecting social change. The book ends in a section titled “Theorizing the Future,” in which Henry Giroux’s discussion of the false image of progressiveness in Benetton ads and B. Ruby Rich’s first-person meditation on how the “old models for political engagement in art are not working” project views of an art world to come. While much of the language here is academic (“Rap developed as a relatively independent expression of black male artistic rebellion against the black bourgeois Weltanschauung “), the overall subject matter extends well beyond academe to post-revolutionary Czechoslovakia, an activist’s prison life and struggling artists in Mexico City.”

-Publishers Weekly

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