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Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Identity Politics

Identity Politics

Identity Politics Collage

Started: 1960

Ended: Present

"I take my identity from my politics, not my politics from my identity."

Summary

Does your identity as a black artist affect your ability to succeed in the art world? Are women less likely to be included in art history than men? Who gets to represent disabled bodies, and in what ways? Identity Politics is concerned with investigating these questions, and with the assertion and reflection of individual and group identities. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, artists of colour, LGBTQ+ artists and women in particular have used their art to stage and display experiences of identity and community, frequently referencing their marginalization, alienation or disconnection from wider society. These assertions of identity through artistic practice have transformed the curatorial practices of the art world and made a profound contribution to the shifting of society towards tolerance and acknowledgement of the significance of diverse identities.

Despite that important social function, the label of 'Identity Politics' is often used in contemporary journalism and mainstream media reflection in a derogatory fashion, with the implication that such work can only function in relation to a political project and does not have its own aesthetic or conceptual merit. However, many artists and academics argue that the questions this type of work raises about how humans relate to each other is one of the most important and necessary functions of art, and that the illustration of individual and specific experiences in new ways is essential to the development of artistic practice.

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