As a ‘critic at large’, Chris Thurman has engaged with the work of theatre practitioners, musicians, dancers, visual artists and writers from across the South African arts spectrum. In this collection of journalistic essays, reviews and interviews produced over the course of five years, he not only explores the role of the arts – and the challenges facing artists – in a country still completing its transition to democracy, but also asks provocative questions about a range of social and political issues. Informed by an awareness of South Africa’s complex cultural history/histories, At Large offers a snapshot (or, rather, a series of snapshots) of the arts in the country during the early years of the twenty-first century, providing insight into the production and reception of both ‘local’ and ‘global’ artistic phenomena.
Where would we be without the movements that corroborate our feelings and desires and make a practical difference in our lives? In a timely fashion, this book challenges our understanding of craft activity. Creating a Better Place to Live: The Argument for Craft Education reads as a social critique that champions the culture and relevance of this practice in a refreshing way. A redefined account of craft activity is given, while different positions are postulated as to its role. This book asserts that the teaching, professional practice, and policy making of craft activity needs to change in order to benefit society in a more constructive manner. Far from being just an adjunct to production requirements and a slave to economic conceptions of life, the theory, history, and contemporary practice of craft activity can be utilized considerately to create a better environment for us all. The delights, hard hitting conceptions, foibles, and intelligence of craft work are debated. This discourse argues that craft activity is vital for living well and is a voice of freedom, common observation, collective effort, and reason that can affect our social cohesion, sympathetic unity, independence, and passions in life.
The book studies the demystification of art in the 20th century by a variety of contemporary French authors, from sociologists to philosophers, who commented on the meaning and function of art. Most of these writers who are famous in their own disciplines for their innovative ideas, share an interest in art criticism, which channels their particular philosophies and esthetic interests. Postmodern theorists like Duve and Bourdieu see art as social posturing and a manifestation of cultural fetishism in this age of the "n'importe quoi." Mathematician philosopher Michel Serres and psychoanalyst semiotician Kristeva share an interest in similar Renaissance paintings. All postmodern writers who choose to comment on art turn to masters of past time, who illustrate best their personal esthetics. This choice also reveals their indifference, if not aversion, for contemporary art, in which most see and deplore the death of art, culture, and history today. Such reluctance at looking at the contemporary esthetic expressions of the human condition also explains their own similar stylistic expression, which is frequently morose in character, and often apocalyptic in tone and content.