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RPD Ear and John Singleton Copely, The Death of Major Peirson 6 January 1781 -2000

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In the UK, art's central positioning on ideas of social rank, race, and national identity was for a long time overlooked. While many artists have been active in this field, the work produced rarely positions itself against the aesthetic and administrative modus operandi that houses it. One consequence is that a self-image emerges in an art public for whom it is usual to assume that those attending 'intellectual pursuits' and 'culturally prestigious events' etc are above the mundanity of social conflict and who indeed positively cultivate the view of themselves as social liberals with 'anti-' or 'post-' racist memorabilia. Giving a few naughty artists the odd bit of gallery space or web space can then be used as a pretext for the careful shunting of these problems outside of the 'purified' high-cultural sphere. The creators of social conflict are thereafter located only in the vast majority of peoples not in attendance during events of cultural prestige. Exclusion from this elevated world can thus be written off as self-inflicted. It is 'common sense' then that the 'other' cultures are racist get togethers of uninspired ignorance that create the social conflict and that, in a culturally prestigious location, works of art directly about social rank, race, or national identity would be unnecessarily preaching to the converted.


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