Art and/as Anarchy: Portraying the Artist in a Society at War

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Two South African novels, Congo Song (1943) by Stuart Cloete and Moxyland (2008) by Lauren Beukes, portray the central part played by artists and their work in the midst of a society on the brink of war. Both narratives are set in Africa: the one portraying a close-knit community in the Congo in 1939, facing the collapse of their colonial way of life, the other depicting the apocalyptic nature of a dystopian Cape Town in 2019, reflecting the global reality of environmental catastrophe,fatal epidemics and corporate tyranny. In both texts an artist plays a pivotal role within a group of characters, and their views of their work, the multiple manifestations of creative art and the relationship between their specific societies and what is regarded as art, form an integral part of the narrative whole. This paper focuses on the theme of how the arts can be connected to everyday life, and how the narratives exploit various textual strategies to link the creative urge with resistance against as well as support for destructive violence. It also discusses how the dimensions of space, time and character are structured to reveal,on the one hand,the quest for romantic aestheticism and,on the other hand, forecast the threats of cyberspace and genetically modified art.


Keywords: Romantic Aestheticism, Genetically Modified Art, Nanotechnology, Exotic Art
Stream: Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Henriette Roos

Professor, Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, University of South Africa
Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Prof Henriette Roos is Professor in the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature at the University of South Africa, a Distance Teaching University, in Pretoria, South Africa. Her field of specialization is the Novel, written in Afrikaans, English and Dutch, and studied from a comparative point of view. She has published extensively in all three languages, and is specifically interested in postcolonial, postmodern studies, and reading literature within the context of current socio-political events. Her latest publications include a contribution to a book Beyond the Border War (2008), i.e. a chapter on South African fiction portraying the wars of the 1980's; co-editing a special issue of a journal publishing a selection of conference papers on Congo literature, (to be published in March 2009)and doing research on the French-South African author Stuart Cloete. She is one of the vice-presidents of the Executive Bureau of the Fédération Internationale des Langues et Littératures Modernes(FILLM.)

Ref: A09P0289