chapter  14
11 Pages

Aesthetics of tension

WithAllan Antliff

This chapter explores anarchism’s ‘aesthetic of tension’ in contemporary art. Anarchism’s aesthetic of tension unfolds along social continuums we create, working within society from an engaged stance of immediacy that broaches no deferrals. Bringing the pleasure of creativity to its highest aesthetic pitch as a mode of being antithetical to workplace subjugation, the faction lends power to Au Travail/At Work’s disruptiveness, its capacity to foment an anarchist tension. The public museum, then, has an important aesthetic function as a pedagogical and political embodiment of ordering systems of value, constituting public consciousness along lines that reinforce the status quo. The Barnes Foundation is a classic case of museum as pedagogical tool for working-class cultural uplift, propagating the aesthetic tenets of an immensely wealthy eccentric. Considering the artwork as a site of prefiguration alongside critique invites other considerations related to the aesthetic of tension’s potential as a focal point for affinity, nurturing diversity and inclusivity without hierarchy.