7th February 2014
Towards a revision of the political aesthetics of craft
In recent years, craft values and ways of producing have staged something of a resurgence and acquired an urban-radical edge in contrast to their earlier more parochial and homespun image. In the context of an emerging craft challenge to the work-ethic obsessions of consumer-culture and its often ugly and wasteful forms of mass production, my talk will consider the ways in which craft might be reclaimed as a component of an avant-garde, post-consumerist political imaginary rather than dismissed for its association with pre-modern social relations and hedonist limits. It will thus contest the generally dismissive attitudes of many on the Left to any ‘return’ to a craft ethos and aesthetics. A main target here will be the abstraction and detached radicalism of those Marxist-Adornian critics who view art as alone offering any kind of redemptive vision of a post-capitalist future.
Kate Soper is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at London Metropolitan University, and a Visiting Professor at Brighton University. She has published widely on environmental philosophy, aesthetics of nature, theory of needs and consumption, and cultural theory. Her books include On Human Needs (Harvester, 1986); Humanism and Anti-Humanism (Hutchinson, 1986); Troubled Pleasures (Verso, 1990);What is Nature? Culture, Politics and the Non-Human (Blackwell, 1995). She was lead researcher on the project on ‘Alternative Hedonism’ in the ESRC/AHRC funded ‘Cultures of Consumption’ programme, and has recently co-edited Citizenship and Consumption (Palgrave, 2008) and The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently (Palgrave, 2009).