Art after the Hipster
Identity Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics
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“The hipster has become a crucial theoretical figure in the early 21st century. Wes Hill shows us why and points to the long genealogy behind the concept. The philosophical origins of the hipster might even go back to that most unhip philosopher, Immanuel Kant. One of the questions Hill leaves us with is whether the hipster’s days are numbered, whether when we’re all hip anybody is.”
—Rex Butler, Professor of Art History, Monash University
Evoking a level of animosity from a bygone cultural moment, the hipster belongs to a time when the economic advantages of cultural innovation in the arts were seriously believed. What that time was, and where we are now, is this book’s subject, examined through the lens of art history and the creativity hype of neoliberalism. Marking a transition from a period in Western art when irony and high-minded nonchalance reigned, the hipster appears in the context of contemporary art not as a critical standpoint in itself but as the continually deferred subject position of creative practice. Today, given the increasing impotence of the term “hipster,” proclamations of cultural discernment are overshadowed by ethical considerations of identity, making palpable an uncertainty about our capacity to untangle capitalism’s thirst for reinvention from the artist’s thirst for subverting norms.
Wes Hill lectures in Art History and Visual Culture at Southern Cross University, Australia. Previous publications include Emily Floyd: The Dawn (2014) and How Folklore Shaped Modern Art (2016).