Postmodernism v Racism

Postmodernism was a movement constructed with the purpose of ‘difference and otherness’ following the Civil Rights Movement in the mid to late 20th century. During this time society was breaking down the barriers of the bourgeois, collaborating high and low culture, questioning the authoritarians and taking back freedom.

Postmodernists saw race as a socially constructed category, not a natural selection process but an aesthetic separation of society created by us. It began to be challenged as cultures, ethnicity and races were expected to collaborate for an art movement.

In the 80-90s there was an outburst of hip hop graffiti and few museums devoted specifically to African Art, therefore showing a visual increased support for anti-racism. Art began to be layered, by this I mean there were many interpretations to be had from one piece and the lack of certainty intrigued.

Postmodernism rejects binary explanations like categorising Male and Female, this being another attack on the inequality within society. Tearing down the titles was very important as Evolutionary and Social Scientists became aware that beliefs about race (or other categorisation) was used to justify discrimination. This can still be seen within today’s society through stereotyping.

During the Civil Rights Movement, artists used this time to capture and express the changed within society. It was almost a way of publicising and documenting, but also opened the art world to a vaster array of races, ethnicity etc.

Post Black Art is a contemporary category of African Art. Within it, the artists combine racism and race almost to null one another. In this way, they are trying to expel race as an important theme, rejecting the idea that it matters. Rather than bringing light to the racism that is existing within society and attacking it, they simply try to rid the world of it.

However, a criticism of Postmodernism’s battle with race, is the lack of recognition of black women. Throughout readings, the main concern is “Black Men” within new African Art. The galleries suggesting they were African American Art, were mainly focused on the male stance, with very little negotiation between genders. Ironically, Postmodernism managed to still be subjective to gender, despite all the “need for change”.


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