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Film and the Anarchist ImaginationExpanded Second Edition$
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Richard Porton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043338

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043338.001.0001

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The Elusive Anarchist Aesthetic

The Elusive Anarchist Aesthetic

(p.209) 5. The Elusive Anarchist Aesthetic
Film and the Anarchist Imagination

Richard Porton

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the anarchist aesthetic. All of the leading anarchist figures joined forces with influential figures from the arts. And members of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' aesthetic avant-gardes often aligned themselves with anarchists. This alliance can be attributed to “the highly individualistic, anti-official, and artistically revolutionary nature of so much avant-garde art since the late eighteenth century.” Yet although there have often been ties between aesthetic radicals and the libertarian left, it is not likely that necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of “anarchist art” will ever be formulated. A monolithic anarchist aesthetic must be dismissed as elusive and dubiously essentialist: unlike the Marxist aesthetic, the anarchist conception of art is not “normative,” but “is presented in the form of a project which leaves the door wide open to the future.” Nevertheless, superficial hints of the desire to merge aesthetic provocation with political rebellion are evident in films that deal with the antics of so-called “bohemians”; bohemianism has often been associated with anarchism.

Keywords:   anarchist aesthetic, aesthetic avant-gardes, anarchists, avant-garde art, aesthetic radicals, anarchist art, political rebellion, bohemianism, anarchism

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