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Dystopian and Utopian Impulses in Art Making

The World We Want

An exploration of diverse art practices that attempt to offer new ways of understanding and being in the world.

Contemporary art has a complex relationship with crisis. On the one hand, art can draw us toward apocalypse: it charts unfolding chaos, reflects and amplifies the effects of crisis, and shows us the dystopian in both our daily life and in our imagined futures. On the other hand, art’s complexity helps us fathom the uncertainty of the world, question and challenge the order of things, and allows us to imagine new ways of living and being—to make new worlds.

This collection of written and visual essays includes artistic responses to various crises—including the climate emergency, global and local inequalities, and the COVID-19 pandemic—and suggests new forms of collectivity and collaboration within artistic practice. It surveys a wide variety of practices, oriented from the perspective of Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Art making has always responded to the world; the essays in this collection explore how artists are adapting to a world in crisis. The contributions to this book are arranged in four sections: artistic responses; critical reflections, new curatorial approaches, and the art school reimagined. Alongside the written chapters, three photographic essays provide specific examples of new visual forms in artistic practice under crisis conditions.

408 pages | 32 color plates, 80 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

Art: Art--General Studies

Education: Education--General Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Contemporary Art and Crisis
Grace McQuilten and Daniel Palmer

Part One: Artistic Responses

1.Imagining Beyond the Dystopia-in-Progress: Rehearsing an Indigenised Future ‘Australia’ Through Public Art
Robert Walton and Claire G. Coleman
2.Weentayoothan – Which way?
Vicki Couzens
3.The Space in Between Us: Photographic Portraiture, Social Distancing and Touch
Cherine Fahd
4.A Melting Landscape: Mapping the Eco-Acoustics of the Swiss Alps
Philip Samartzis
5.Survivalist Samplers: Restoring Sampling Traditions and Utopian Perspectives
Sera Waters
6.Presenting the News Anew
The News Network Project (Alison Alder, Marian Crawford and Richard Harding)
7.Practising Utopias
Sophia Cai, Bigoa Chuol, Gabriela Georges, John Mashar with Tania Cañas and Bruno Catalán

Visual Essay 1: Heather Hesterman, Inland Sea, 2020

Part Two: Critical Reflections

8.Contemporary Artists Responding to Domestic Violence Crises: The Art of Giving Up
Madeleine Clark
9.Refugees, Neighbours and the Question of Empathy: Jakkai Siributr’s There’s No Place
Zara Stanhope
10.The Thorny Question of Art and Economy
Nancy Mauro-Flude and Kate Rich
11.Imagine a World Without Zoonotic Viruses
Keely Macarow
12.Writing About Art from Behind the Inclined Rock (A Geological Allegory for the Third Millennium)
Susan Ballard

Visual Essay 2: Clare McCracken, Lisbon Dreaming, 2021

Part Three: New Curatorial Approaches

13.Amor Mundi: Towards a Curatorial Ethics for Climate Crisis
Tara McDowell
14.Art and Curation in Times of Crises: The Gentle Activism of ‘Bruised Food’
Marnie Badham and Francis Maravillas
15.Hong Kong’s Utopian Dream: Art, Nostalgia and Identity
Kelly Chan
16.Thinking With, and Acting From, This Place: Caring in and Through our Practices
Jacina Leong

Visual Essay 3: Ben Sheppard, Scribble Me This... 2020

Part Four: The Art School Reimagined

17.Unsettling Projects: Keeping Art Schools Agile Through Dialogue and Disruption in Times of Crisis
Fiona Lee
18.Towards Community Praxis in Community-Oriented Art Education
Kelly Hussey-Smith

Contributor Biographies

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