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Brand, Peg Zeglin. Revising the Aesthetic-Nonaesthetic Distinction: The Aesthetic Value of Activist Art
2010, In Peg Zeglin Brand & Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds.), Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Penn State Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: This essay will explore the role that the aesthetic-nonaesthetic distinction plays in assessing activist art by women and artists of color. First, I shall review one traditional line of philosophical thought and show how it serves as the foundation for three types of reasons typically given for artworks reputed to lack aesthetic value. I develop two of the three reasons by examining the recent writings opposed to the aesthetic value of activist art by well-known art critic Donald Kuspit, pointing out his aberrant use of ‘obscene’. Kuspit’s examples of activist art – the work of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Adrian Piper – are presented in light of his charges. I then explore Piper’s art in depth in order to outline ways of expanding the notion of aesthetic value beyond its traditional confines. Finally, I suggest moving beyond entrenched, traditional patterns of assessment and invite underrepresented voices to contribute to the emerging discussion of the multiplicity of aesthetic values.

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Goehr, Lydia. Political music and the politics of music
1994, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1):99-112.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: On September 24th, 1947, a composer with “an international reputation” became the first Holly wood artist to be called before the Committee on Un-American Activities [HUAC]. The charge against him was that his music had aided the Communist infiltration of the motion-picture industry.’ A significant part of his defense con sisted in his claim that he was only a musician and thus not responsible for any part of a Com munist conspiracy. What is peculiar is that he almost got away with this unlikely defense, unlikely because he had spent much of his life developing a political music consistent with the ideals of Communism. In the end, the Commit tee caught him out on technical grounds: it found a history of inaccurate statements in his visa applications. The composer was deported. It was the second exile of his life: the first had been from Germany ten years earlier.

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