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Portraying Unease : the Art and Politics of Uncomfortable Attachments

Authors: Suneson, Ellen;

Portraying Unease : the Art and Politics of Uncomfortable Attachments

Abstract

Portraying Unease critically discusses a tendency amongst politicized scholars to endow artworks with traits of subversion and political productivity. Artworks that address structural discrimination, such as heterosexism, racism, or ableism, are often described as possessing qualities that can challenge unjust systems or initiate political change. This thesis considers hope and belief in the political utility of visual art in terms of an emotional attachment: an anticipatory emotional bond to a set of promises concerning art’s abilities. It follows the work of five artists: Laura Aguilar (US), T.J. Dedeaux-Norris (US), Sands Murray-Wassink (NE), Jenny Grönvall (SE), and Xandra Ibarra (US), for whom the act of attributing hopes of social or political change to art is portrayed as a source of depression, insecurity, self-doubt, embarrassment, and a sense of being stuck. When one turns to art in search of its potential political efficacy one risks, the author argues, using a framework wherein representations of specific kinds of weaknesses, failures, or institutional attachments become associated with scholarly discomfort or embarrassment.

Country
Sweden
Related Organizations
Keywords

emotional responses, affect theory, hope, subversion, contemporary art, Art History, performance art, feminist theory, repair, institutional attachment, institutional promises, self-doubt, visual methodology, queer feminist theory, embarrassment, attachment

113 references, page 1 of 12

1. Harmony Hammond, Wrappings: Essays on Feminism, Art and the Martial Arts (New York City: TSL Press (Time and Space Limited Press), 1984), p. 99. I thank Sands Murray-Wassink for making me aware of Hammond's definition of feminist art by including it in his work Process Event #2: RELATIONSHIPS. Feminist Legacies, Queer Intimacies (epistolary exchange with curator Aimar Arriola, 2020-2021).

2. Amelia Jones, In between Subjects: A Critical Genealogy of Queer Performance (London: Routledge, 2021), p. xvi.

3. Heather Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 4.

4. Ibid.

5. See for example: José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009), p. 3.

6. Sara Ahmed, “Happy Objects”, in Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds.), The Aefct Theory Reader (Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press, 2010), 29-51.

7. Ibid., p. 41.

8. Ibid., p. 33.

9. Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History, p. 4.

10. Irit Rogo,f “Tiny Anguishes: Reflections on Nagging, Scholastic Embarrassment, and Feminist Art History”, diefrences: A Jour - nal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 4/3 (1992), 38+, and Sianne Ngai, Ugly Feelings (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer- sity Press, 2005).

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    influence
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
0
Average
Average
Average
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