Politics is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance - organised control over a community or a state.
Art and Politics
Art from the 1960s onwards was infused by political activism and engaged with dramatic and social cultural change particularly in Europe and the US. Political issues such as peace and the opposition to war, nuclear weapons and campaign for nuclear disarmament, environmentalism, animal welfare, voting rights, social inequality, lack of opportunity, sexual and racial discrimination, prejudice against gay people, disabled people, older people for example, amongst a myriad of causes, all found an expression in contemporary visual culture.
Some of Modern Art Oxford's exhibitions have focused on experiences of marginalised and victimised communities, such as an exhibition in 1985 of paintings made by survivors of Hiroshima, and 'Life after Chernobyl: A Hard Rain' in 1992.
East Timor 1974-1992 Years of Silence: Images of Resistance (1992/1992) by Various ArtistsModern Art Oxford
This group exhibition explored the social and political legacies of conflict and war in East Timor: 1974 to 1992.
Photographer David Goldblatt's exhibition at Modern Art Oxford in 2003 documented the social, personal and political upheavals in South Africa from the 1950s to the early 2000s.
Contemporary Art of Today: Politics (2017) by Modern Art OxfordModern Art Oxford
Critiquing systems of power
Artists continue to produce controversial, unflinching political works that expose systems of power and influence, many of which have focused on unethical investment or exploitative labour practices of multinational corporations, as well as power relations within the art world itself.
Otobong Nkanga creates landscapes with clean, hard-edged lines that address the political and ecological impacts of Nigeria's oil industry.
A Breed Apart (1978/1978) by Hans HaackeModern Art Oxford
Art as politics
Hans Haacke is known for his incisive photographs, sculptures and installations that expose the workings of institutions from major museums to corporations. Haacke engages audiences through the use of stark imagery, deadpan text and public surveys, which invite us to reconsider our assumptions about his subjects.
In 1978 Haacke was invited to make new work for his exhibition at Modern Art Oxford. He became interested in the Apartheid connections of Oxfordshire’s largest employer, the nationalised conglomerate British Leyland (BL), which was supplying military vehicles to the South African government. His response was a series of seven photo-collages, which juxtaposed scenes of racial violence, with Jaguar advertisements and quotations from corporate press releases, the UN Security Council, and the UK parliament.
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