Thursday, April 14, 2011

Disability Aesthetics and Politics

There is always a connection between art and politics and so it is with disability aesthetics and politics. Disability is connected with politics as long as there is a discourse around the identity of the disabled people and as long as it refers to the struggles of disabled people to be free to identify (or not) themselves in order to be accountable and visible in the social arena. The connection between aesthetics and politics (or art and politics) is so huge that I wish I could properly analyze it here, but as long as aesthetics are referred to the constituents of beauty and to the power of this beauty to subvert the existing orders of perceiving and understanding the world, or to emancipate the people, or to give the power to the people to emancipate themselves, then the connection of aesthetics (or art) and politics is quite obvious. The relation of disability aesthetics and politics came into my mind as I was reading the post of 'Spananart's Blog - Information about visual art in Suriname' to a work of Mona Liza from the Surinamese artist Kurt Nahar.

"Every image, every word that does not fit within the general consensus of what is considered socially acceptable, is excluded, deleted, literally removed from sight. The result? Cultural flatness: Productions, exhibitions, that are easily digestible, to the taste of a wider public and described by the majority as being ‘beautiful’.

Is this true beauty? No. But it does teach us something about the general view on ‘beauty’. It thus could have something to do with being proper, acceptable,…This is where the relation between ‘the good’ and ‘the beautiful’ comes into play. It also clearly ascertains that there are standards, generally accepted amongst the majority of people, for what is considered ‘beautiful’. Even though it is true that this only applies when these people have also been brought up with the same rules about what beauty is. Because beauty is of course culturally and socially determined. A Chinese person has other ideas about a beautiful vase as does one from African descent. Kitsch is beautiful to the art lover as long as it’s from Jeff Koons or one of his followers. For a “similar” statuette on the mantel of the retired laborer he shows only disdain."

Read the rest of the post here.

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