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Functional Anarchism(s) and the Theory of Global Contemporary Art


Functional Anarchism(s) and the Theory of Global Contemporary Art

Rattray, Michael Frederick (2014) Functional Anarchism(s) and the Theory of Global Contemporary Art. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Functional Anarchism(s) and the Theory of Global Contemporary Art investigates the intersection of art and anarchist philosophy in order to shed light on the phenomenon of global contemporary art. Many scholars have addressed the impact of anarchism upon modern art, yet such studies tend to stop short of the contemporary era and do not consider that anarchist philosophy is a latent influence upon contemporary art. This thesis explores how anarchist ideas continue to pervade contemporary art practices and discourses, and I argue that anarchist philosophy is increasingly relevant to a contemporary art world in the process of becoming globalized. This thesis therefore provides a critical re-reading of anarchist literature, select avant-garde theories, and art historical scholarship, in order to provide a newly relevant genealogy that helps to account for a theory of the global contemporary art world. Much of this thesis focuses on a critical reassessment of the modern art paradigm in order to show that there is a viable theoretical foundation for a discussion of today’s global art world as a kind of anarchism.

The intersection of art and anarchism opens a theoretical trajectory that I call functional anarchism(s). This trajectory explores the freedom of the artist to evade institutional coercion and to provide alternative models that problematize the status of the art object and the role the artist plays in contemporary life. Functional anarchism(s) is a theory that explains the latent presence of anarchism in the art world. I argue there is an anarchist moral kernel of free creativity that is intended to produce social betterment and this moral kernel is commensurate with the moral conscience required of the artist in the theory of global art and the global contemporary artist. Following anarchist thought, the artist produces a unique labour and I posit that the zone of freedom current contemporary global art enjoys is a kind of creative nothing where the unique labour of the artist is actualized. As such, this study seeks to account for a debordered contemporary art that is transnational, individualized, discontinuous, and shifting in formation. This study argues that the contemporary global art world is a place where anarchism is not only functioning, but also expected and normalized to such a degree that many do not notice its presence.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Rattray, Michael Frederick
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:23 January 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Johanne
Keywords:Art History, Contemporary, Global Art, Anarchism, Anarchist Studies, Andrew Dadson, Santiago Sierra, Brian Jungen, Functional Anarchism, Global Contemporary Art, Global, Canada,
ID Code:978256
Deposited On:16 Jun 2014 13:56
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46


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