The aesthetic exception

Essays on art, theatre, and politics

By Tony Fisher

The aesthetic exception
Hardcover -
  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170163
  • Publish Date: Jun 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • Price: £85.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170156
  • Publish Date: Jun 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Buy Now £85.00

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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-7016-3
    • Pages: 288
    • Price: £85.00
    • Published Date: June 2023


    The aesthetic exception theorises anew the relation between art and politics. It challenges critical trends that discount the role of aesthetic autonomy, to impulsively reassert art as an effective form of social engagement. But it equally challenges those on the flipside of the efficacy debate, who insist that art's politics is limited to a recondite space of 'autonomous resistance'. The book shows how each side of the efficacy debate overlooks art's exceptional status and its social mediations. Mobilising philosophy and cultural theory, and employing examples from visual art, performance, and theatre, it proposes four alternative tests to 'effect' to offer a nuanced account of art's political character. Those tests examine how art relates to politics as a practice that articulates its historical conjuncture, and how it prefigures the 'new' through simulations capable of activating the political life of the spectator.


    'Starting with a seemingly simple question 'Can art be political?', this book opens a Pandora's box that reveals the paradoxical nature of the relationship between art and life, the impossibility of taxonomy of political theatre, on the one hand, and its potential as a hermeneutical tool, on the other, and when it comes to postdramatic theatre and theory - nothing is anymore as it seemed before . The depth of analysis is impressive, whenever we feel we have reached a conceptual stable ground, Fisher probes further and invites us to question deeper!'
    Silvija Jestrovic, University of Warwick

    'Fisher is a joy to read! He writes with clarity and urgency but without oversimplification and gratuitous polemic. He draws on the whole toolkit of interdisciplinary thought and covers a vast terrain in contemporary theatre, but he never relies on jargon and avoids any form of superficiality . with cautious optimism, [he] takes the lead of key artists and heads out towards new horizons of possibility, en route, he has revitalized our understanding of both politics and aesthetics.'
    Nikos Papastergiadis, University of Melbourne


    Introduction The horizon of the aesthetic

    Part I The aesthetic exception
    1 The paradox of the aesthetic exception
    2 Crossing the threshold
    3 The institution of art: critical and theoretical reflections

    Part II Political art after the communicative turn
    4 The classical debate revisited: Sartre, Brecht, Adorno
    5 Art of the communicative turn: Habermas and the political
    6 What is the proper way to display a US flag? - the work of
    "dissensual speech" in art

    Part III Taxonomy of the political theatre
    7 Foundational problems and problems of foundation
    8 Displacement effects: Althusser's "Brecht" and the theatre
    of the conjuncture
    9 Activist theatre of the conjuncture: the case of Janam and the
    street theatre in India
    10 The "closure" of the political theatre and the critique
    of post-dramatic reason
    11 The political theatre redefined
    12 The theatre of the planetary conjuncture: Milo Rau's
    Congo Tribunal
    13 On taxonomic strategies


    Tony Fisher is Reader in Theatre and Philosophy at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

    The aesthetic exception

    By Tony Fisher

    Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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