Society for Visual Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In her study on socially engaged art, art historian Claire Bishop has proposed a concept “ethic turn” (Bishop 2010) to distinguish socially engaged art from aesthetic autonomy. Although Bishop addresses the issue of ethic turn by contextualizing it within avant-garde history, she does not clearly examine the meaning of ethic turn in the whole process of artistic creation. However, it is audience’s responses and their substantial reflections on the consequences of social engagement shape these works an ethic turn. Whereas most of the studies on socially engaged art concentrate on art products/artworks, in this paper, I shift the attention to the audience. In doing so, I investigate into “Yangdeng Art Cooperatives” (2012-present) - a socially engaged art project in a rural area of Southwest China. Drawing upon ethnographic research in Yangdeng, I discuss how audience response is highly associated with their everyday affect, such as desire to consumerism and fantasy toward urban life in their everyday life activities. This everyday affect, stimulated by the art production in Yangdeng Cooperatives, which in turn facilitates subject formation of local people, forms their subjecthood that is everyday and affective. As such, this paper addresses how socially engaged art interacts with the everyday affect of a rural community and how it shapes the “ethic turn” of art by incorporating visual anthropology into art history, rural studies, and everyday life studies.