Kim Charnley: Sociopolitical Aesthetics

Sociopolitical Aesthetics 
Art, Crisis and Neoliberalism

Kim Charnley

Published by Bloomsbury, 2021
ISBN 9781350008748

Since the turn of the millennium, protests, meetings, schoolrooms, reading groups and many other social forms have been proposed as artworks or, more ambiguously, as interventions that are somewhere between art and politics. Kim Charnley’s Sociopolitical Aesthetics traces key currents of theory and practice, mapping them against the dominant experience of the last decade: crisis.

Drawing upon leading artists and theorists within this field – including Hito Steyerl, Marina Vishmidt, Art & Language, Gregory Sholette, John Roberts and Dave Beech – Sociopolitical Aesthetics argues for a new interpretation of the relationship between socially-engaged art and neoliberalism. Kim Charnley explores the possibility that neoliberalism has destabilized the art system so that it is no longer able to absorb and neutralize dissent. As a result, the relationship between aesthetics and politics is experienced with fresh urgency and militancy.

Kim Charnley speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about the political punditry of Artist Taxi Driver and the political sloganeering of Tim Etchells, the limits of institutional sociality in the work of Tania Bruguera, the various guises of institutional critique, and what these developments owe to the conceptual art practices of the 1970s.

Dr Kim Charnley is an art historian and theorist at the Open University.

The works we discuss: