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Art, Politics, and a New Paradigm

by Daiva Citvarienė

The second half of the 20th century - culture and art theory diagnosed the crisis of Western civilization. The apocalyptic motives of decline, end, and death have replaced the belief in modernisation and progress.
And yet, alongside with the deconstruction of contemporary culture, a new movement for a holistic paradigm, participation aesthetics and modern humanism is being promoted in art criticism and theory, political philosophy, physics, psychology, and other fields. The idea of a new paradigm reinstates in cultural discourse concepts like meaning, responsibility, morality, ethics and love to the surrounding world.
The contemporary art scene displays symptoms of a rekindled art’s interest in social, political, and economic problems. This may be perceived as escaping the overwhelming crisis or a sincere attempt to become ‘part of life’. Voices are becoming prominent that the essence of nowadays’ art is to acknowledge the needs of the world, to embrace reality, and obliterate the limits between art and life.
To be part of the epoch making social and political events seemed attractive to avant-garde artists of the early 20th century, yet politics and art have never been closer as in the 60’s. The 70s saw emerge quite a number of outstanding artists who do not shun political and social pathos. Artists who proclaim holistic ideas perceive their role as sending an alarm signal. Participation aesthetics implies responsibility and communication.
Modernist theory dissociates art from society and morality. Yet on the other hand, cultural objects are transformed into economic values. Therefore rebuilding the myths of consciousness may break this union of capitalism and culture. Also, art, as a process that helps people, may become aesthetically more valuable than art that provides only visual satisfaction. The emerging new paradigm encourages perceive art in the context of general processes. Among the new categories, the concept of artist’s responsibility is no longer just romantic rhetoric, but an inevitable condition for his survival.

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