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The Art of Emergency

The Art of Emergency

Aesthetics and Aid in African Crises

by Chérie Rivers Ndaliko and Samuel Anderson
Publication Date: 03/02/2020
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The Art of Emergency: Aesthetics and Aid in African Crises charts the maneuvers of art through conflict zones across the African continent. Advancing diverse models for artistic and humanitarian alliance, the volume urges conscientious deliberation on the role of aesthetics in crisis throughintellectual engagement, artistic innovation, and administrative policy. Across Africa, artists increasingly turn to NGO sponsorship in pursuit of greater influence and funding, while simultaneously NGOs-both international and local-commission arts projects to buttress their interventions andachieve greater reach and marketability. The key values of artistic expression thus become "healing" and "sensitization," measured in turn by "impact" and "effectiveness." Such rubrics obscure the aesthetic complexities of the artworks and the power dynamics that inform their production. Clashesarise as foreign NGOs import foreign aesthetic models and preconceptions about their efficacy, alongside foreign interpretations of politics, medicine, psychology, trauma, memorialization, and so on. Meanwhile, each community embraces its own aesthetic precedents, often at odds with the intentionsof humanitarian agencies. The arts are a sphere in which different worldviews enter into conflict and conversation.To tackle the consequences of aid agency arts deployment, volume editors Samuel Mark Anderson and Cherie Rivers Ndaliko assemble ten case studies from across the African continent employing multiple media including music, sculpture, photography, drama, storytelling, ritual, and protest marches.Organized under three widespread yet under-analyzed objectives for arts in emergency - demonstration, distribution, and remediation - each case offers a different disciplinary and methodological perspective on a common complication in NGO-sponsored creativity. By shifting the discourse on artsactivism away from fixations on message and toward diverse investigations of aesthetics and power negotiations, The Art of Emergency brings into focus the conscious and unconscious configurations of humanitarian activism, the social lives it attempts to engage, and the often-fraught interactionsbetween the two.
Theory of music & musicology
Publication Date:
Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Country of origin:
United States
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