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Things Done Change

The Cultural Politics of Recent Black Artists in Britain

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Eddie Chambers

1980s Britain witnessed the brassy, multifaceted emergence of a new generation of young, Black-British artists. Practitioners such as Sonia Boyce and Keith Piper were exhibited in galleries up and down the country and reviewed approvingly. But as the 1980s generation gradually but noticeably fell out of favour, the 1990s produced an intriguing new type of Black-British artist. Ambitious, media-savvy, successful artists such as Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, and Yinka Shonibare made extensive use of the Black image (or, at least, images of Black peo¬ple, and visuals evocative of Africa), but did so in ways that set them apart from earlier Black artists. Not only did these artists occupy the curatorial and gallery spaces nominally reserved for a slightly older generation but, with aplomb, audacity, and purpose, they also claimed previously unimaginable new spaces. Their successes dwarfed those of any previous Black artists in Britain. Back-to-back Turner Prize victories, critically acclaimed Fourth Plinth commissions, and no end of adulatory media attention set them apart.
What happened to Black-British artists during the 1990s is the chronicle around which Things Done Change is built. The extraordinary changes that the profile of Black-British artists went through are dis¬cussed in a lively, authoritative, and detailed narrative. In the evolving history of Black-British artists, many factors have played their part. The art world’s turning away from work judged to be overly ‘political’ and ‘issue-based’; the ascendancy of Blair’s New Labour government, determined to locate a bright and friendly type of ‘diversity’ at the heart of its identity; the emergence of the precocious and hegemonic yBa grouping; governmental shenanigans; the tragic murder of Black Londoner Stephen Lawrence – all these factors and many others underpin the telling of this fascinating story.
Things Done Change represents a timely and important contribution to the building of more credible, inclusive, and nuanced art histories. The book avoids treating and discussing Black artists as practitioners wholly separate and distinct from their counterparts. Nor does the book seek to present a rosy and varnished account of Black-British artists. With its multiple references to Black music, in its title, several of its chapter headings, and citations evoked by artists themselves, Things Done Change makes a singular and compelling narrative that reflects, as well as draws on, wider cultural mani¬festations and events in the socio-political arena.

Why Look at Plants?

The Botanical Emergence in Contemporary Art

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Edited by Giovanni Aloi

Why Look at Plants? proposes a thought-provoking and fascinating look into the emerging cultural politics of plant-presence in contemporary art. Through the original contributions of artists, scholars, and curators who have creatively engaged with the ultimate otherness of plants in their work, this volume maps and problematizes new intra-active, agential interconnectedness involving human-non-human biosystems central to artistic and philosophical discourses of the Anthropocene.

Plant’s fixity, perceived passivity, and resilient silence have relegated the vegetal world to the cultural background of human civilization. However, the recent emergence of plants in the gallery space constitutes a wake-up-call to reappraise this relationship at a time of deep ecological and ontological crisis. Why Look at Plants? challenges readers’ pre-established notions through a diverse gathering of insights, stories, experiences, perspectives, and arguments encompassing multiple disciplines, media, and methodologies.

Word and Music Studies

Essays in Honor of Steven Paul Scher and on Cultural Identity and the Musical Stage

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Edited by Suzanne M. Lodato, Suzanne Aspden and Walter Bernhart

The eighteen interdisciplinary essays in this volume were presented in 2001 in Sydney, Australia, at the Third International Conference on Word and Music Studies, which was sponsored by The International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA). The conference celebrated the sixty-fifth birthday of Steven Paul Scher, arguably the central figure in word and music studies during the last thirty-five years. The first section of this volume comprises ten articles that discuss, or are methodologically based upon, Scher’s many analyses of and critical commentaries on the field, particularly on interrelationships between words and music. The authors cover such topics as semiotics, intermediality, hermeneutics, the de-essentialization of the arts, and the works of a wide range of literary figures and composers that include Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Proust, T. S. Eliot, Goethe, Hölderlin, Mann, Britten, Schubert, Schumann, and Wagner. The second section consists of a second set of papers presented at the conference that are devoted to a different area of word and music studies: cultural identity and the musical stage. Eight scholars investigate – and often problematize – widespread assumptions regarding ‘national’ and ‘cultural’ music, language, plots, and production values in musical stage works. Topics include the National Socialists’ construction of German national identity; reception-based examinations of cultural identity and various “national” opera styles; and the means by which composers, librettists, and lyricists have attempted to establish national or cultural identity through their stage works.

Word and Music Studies: Defining the Field

Proceedings of the First International Conference on Word and Music Studies at Graz, 1997

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Edited by Walter Bernhart, Steven Paul Scher and Werner Wolf

The nineteen interdisciplinary essays assembled in WORD AND MUSIC STUDIES I were first presented in 1997 at the founding conference of the International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA) in Graz, Austria. Diverse in subject matter, theoretical orientation, critical approach, and interpretive strategy, they share a keen scholarly interest in contemporary word-music reflection. Registering the impact of cultural studies on word-music relations, as manifested in the 'new musicology' and other 'historicist' approaches, the volume aims to assess the entire field of word and music studies, to define its subject, objectives, and methodology and to describe the field's state of the art. Within the broader context of generic, structural, performative, and ideological considerations concerning the manifold interrelations between literature and music, contributors explore wide-ranging topics, such as the vexing question of terminology (e.g. 'word and music', 'melopoetics', 'interart', 'intermedial', 'transmedial'); inquiry into the meaning, narrative potential, and verbalization of music; analysis of texted music (the Lied and opera) and instrumental music; and discussion of individual issues (e.g. 'ekphrasis', 'musicalization of fiction', 'word music', and 'verbal music') and interart loanwords (e.g. 'narrativity', 'counterpoint', and 'leitmotif').

The Slavic Dossier

Medieval Archaeology in the Soviet Republic of Moldova: Between State Propaganda and Scholarly Endeavor

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Iurie Stamati

In The Slavic Dossier, Iurie Stamati’s objective is to understand the reasons for the emergence of two different discourses on the place of the Slavs on the territory of Moldova and their role in the genesis of Moldovans and their culture during the medieval period in the Soviet archaeology. His analysis goes beyond the utilitarian perception of Soviet archeology. To achieve this, Stamati not only questions the political contexts in which these discourses emerged, but also looks at the history of the Moldovan archaeological field, personal profiles of archaeologists, their theoretical and ideological attachment, relationships and interactions with each other inside and outside the archaeological field.