Criticism

Download 9.5 Theses on Art and Class by Ben Davis PDF

By Ben Davis

9.5 Theses on paintings and Class seeks to teach how a transparent figuring out of sophistication is sensible of what's at stake in a huge variety of modern art's such a lot power debates, from definitions of political artwork to the prestige of "outsider" and highway artwork to the query of the way we keep religion in artwork itself.

Ben Davis at present lives and works in big apple urban the place he's government Editor at Artinfo.

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Returning to the orienting example of Frampton’s letter, however, it bears mentioning that there is a difference between his labor as an artist and the labor of the other workers he mentions as benefiting from his work. In fact, the difference is encoded in the nature of the dispute itself: MoMA’s security guards and projectionists cannot decide whether or not they want to perform their roles, at least not if they want to keep their jobs; Frampton, on the other hand, retains the autonomy to say no, and can therefore bargain for better terms (whether or not he is in a position to win them).

The Marxist concept of the working class is far more dynamic. While employers utilize structural shifts—deregulation, industrial decline in one region, and so on—to weaken working-class organization and lower labor costs, these changes are not permanent barriers to working-class struggle. On the contrary, they guarantee that the working class will be compelled to resist. The revival of such resistance is a political and organizational question rather than a structural one. Marxism locates within capitalism—driven to accumulate capital through the expropriation of surplus value—the class whose labor turns the wheels of production, however shaped, and therefore possesses the power to transform it.

Some sense of that experience appears in the following pages, but probably not enough to do justice to how much my involvement in such events influenced my thought. It was the experience of taking part in actual social movements—aggravating, difficult, humbling, inelegant, but ultimately worthwhile—that helped to put the sometimes too self-important claims of art in perspective. As a consequence, I believe that activism has made my art criticism stronger, even where I was not directly writing about politics.

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