chapter  8
30 Pages

Towards a theory of art activism

ByPaula Serafini

This chapter brings together the main ideas developed in previous chapters in order to suggest the beginnings of an interdisciplinary theory of art activism that is based on process. The chapter compares the different cases presented in the book, making comparisons across groups and bringing out the kinds of dynamics and patterns that were common across different kinds of practices. It presents findings on the process of collective identity building, the embodied and performative nature of performance-based art activism, the relationship between transgression and prefiguration, the politics of participation, and the way in which art activist groups relate to art institutions. Each of these aspects and processes is analysed by looking at how the tension and negotiation between the aesthetic and the political is manifested and experienced, thus building a framework that is centred on this tension as a key element that defines art activist practice. The chapter then moves on to a theoretical proposal on the relationship between the aesthetic and the political, and argues for prefigurative approaches to art activism as a way towards achieving a sustainable balance between aesthetic, strategic, and constructive objectives.