Sensationalism in Racial Art

As social movements and news coverage responding to minority oppression gain traction, so does the force of racial and LGBTQ identity politics in the Art World. While the attention brought to these pressing issues in society is valiant and necessary, the unfortunate end of this momentum is sensationalism.

“. . . there is a new wave of contemporary work influenced by racial injustices, one that has arisen in the last two years and is decidedly more sensational, predominantly focusing on pain and trauma inflicted upon the black body. Artists have made systemic racism look sexy; galleries have made it desirable for collectors. It has, in other words, gone mainstream. With this paradoxical commercial focus, political art that responds to issues surrounding race is in danger of becoming mere spectacle, a provocation marketed for consumption, rather than a catalyst for social change.”1

Because access to fine art is still largely exclusivist, savored by the educated elite, the dissonance of viewing art about the adverse by the privileged can be unsettling, to say the least.

Aldridge, Taylor Renee. “Black Bodies, White Cube: The Problem with Contemporary Art’s Appropriation of Race“. Art News. 11 July 2016.


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