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The Synthetic PropositionConceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art$
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Nizan Shaked

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784992750

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784992750.001.0001

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The synthetic proposition: conceptualism as political art

The synthetic proposition: conceptualism as political art

(p.113) 3 The synthetic proposition: conceptualism as political art
The Synthetic Proposition

Nizan Shaked

Manchester University Press

This chapter takes a comparative look at several models of interdisciplinary conceptualist practices that responded critically to Conceptual Art’s original claims. Artists responded to a limitation they identified in the narrow focus of early Conceptual Art, and turned to the social, the political, and the “life-world,” external to the hermeneutic definition of art. When this second wind of conceptualism integrated external subject matter, it was no longer in the modernist sense of art and politics. Synthetic conceptualism incorporated the basic investigations of Conceptual Art to form a complex method of artmaking that was deconstructive just as it was referential. Artists integrated a meta-critique to reveal frameworks that endowed artistic language and strategies with pre-conceived meaning. Three artists exemplify this shift. Adrian Piper transitioned from an analysis of the art object as a factor of time and space to the role of cultural forms in formulating gendered and racialised social meaning; Mary Kelly from labour and gender issues to the discourse of the subject; and Martha Rosler from the documentary mode to the critique of representation in mass media.

Keywords:   Contemporary art, Conceptualism, Post-conceptual art, Meta-critique, Adrian Piper, Mary Kelly, Martha Rosler, Silvia Kolbowski

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