Arts and Identity

Should ‘the arts’ be used as a way of constructing - or reconstructing - a sense of who we are as individuals, as society, or as a nation? To what extent does this sort of thinking undermine any notion of universalism in the arts, or does the shift mean we must reconstitute an idea of what universalism means?

The arts have long been used as a way of exploring self-understanding, but as the idea of making clear critical judgments about artworks comes under fire, does the current focus on respecting cultural differences reflect a deeper lack of critical authority? And to what extent does it ‘dumb down’ people’s ability to appreciate and enjoy culture more generally?

Thursday 1 February 2001

The Politics of Art

Gustav Metzger and Mark Wallinger at the ICA, London, 8 February 2001

Society cannot function without visual art, said Gustav Metzger, after spending an hour and a half apparently arguing for the extermination of humanity.

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