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Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures

Book relating to a publication, 2007
Published by: Iniva and The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Year published: 2007
Number of pages: 232
ISBN: 978-1-899846-44-3

image of Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures

One of four books in a series titled Annotating Art’s Histories, jointly published by The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts and iniva the Institute of International Visual Arts, London. Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures was published in 2007 and edited by Kobena Mercer.

From the book’s back cover: “How does pop art translate across cultures? What does pop art look like through a post-colonial lens? This collection casts new light on the aesthetics and politics of pop by bringing cross-cultural perspectives to focus on the shifting boundaries of ‘high’ and ‘low’ across different national and international contexts.

Artists have long challenged the discourse of officialdom by turning to dissident elements in vernacular cultures. Exploring practices that range from the recycling of consumerist leftovers in Chicano rasquachismo to the painterly pastiche of Hindu ‘photo-gods’, innovative studies reveal how unexpected antagonisms in the social life of images have also questioned the categories of ‘folk’, ‘nation’ and ‘people’ in the visual culture of modernity. When Mao goes pop, should we view the results as avant-garde, anti-modern or post-modern? Who ‘owns’ popular culture in South Africa or Brazil? Why is hybridity so closely associated with the carnivalesque and the grotesque?

Taking a fresh look at global transitions from modernism to post-modernism, the critical revision put forward in Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures radically expands our understanding of the late 20th-century period from which our working definitions of contemporary art are drawn.”

The book’s contributors were: Kobena Mercer, Middlesex University; Holly Barnet-Sanchez, University of New Mexico; Gavin Butt, Goldsmiths College; Geeta Kapur (Writer and Curator, New Delhi); Martina Köppel-Yang (Writer and Curator, Paris); Colin Richards, University of the Witwatersrand; and Sônia Salzstein, Universidade de São Paulo.

The book’s contents:

Introduction, Kobena Mercer

‘Stop That Acting!’: Performance and Authenticity in Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason, Gavin Butt

Chicano/a Critical Practices: Reflections on Tomás Ybarra-Frausto’s Concept of Rasquachismo, Holly Barnnet-Sanchez

Pop as a Crisis in the Public Sphere, Sônia Salzstein

The Uncommon Universe of Bhupen Khakhar, Geeta Kapur

Tropes of the Grotesque in the Black Avant-Garde, Kobena Mercer

Off the Wall: Mr Peanut and Other Mod Cons, Colin Richards

75% Red, 20% Black and 5% White: Pop Aesthetics in Post-Revolutionary China, Martina Köppel -Yang

List of Illustrations

Select Bibliography



The book’s flyleaf carried the following endorsement:

“Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures in an incisive, critical intervention into the scene of history-making specific to accounts of modernism. This book and its companion volumes are part of that rare intellectual event which everyone committed to fuller understanding of the history of 20th-century artistic cultures will find indispensable. It reminds us that though the history of modernism is far from finished, it is today entering a new frontier, and thus facing a wider horizon of interpretive, theoretical and historical possibilities. Nothing more can attest to the renewed energy of this historical realignment than the dexterous care with which the essays in this collection engage with old modernist blind spots. What makes this critical enterprise most rewarding is the care with which Kobena Mercer in his inimitable thoroughness has faced the edifice of that historical blind spot and has given future scholars the tools to help construct the future history of modernism.” Okwui Enwezor, [then] Dean of Academic Affairs, San Francisco Art Institute

The book’s cover features a detail of North Philly Niggah, 1975, by Barkley L. Hendricks

Related people + view all 33

»  David Hammons

Born, 1943 in USA

»  Gavin Jantjes

Born, 1948 in Cape Town, South Africa

»  Kobena Mercer

Born, 1960 in Ghana

»  Betye Saar

Born, 1923 - 1929 (probably 1926) in Los Angeles, California

»  Andy Warhol

Born, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA. Died, 1987