Craftivism is a movement that aims to raise social consciousness through the medium of craft. This book introduces some of the ideas of the Craftivist Collective, a worldwide group making mini-banners and small urban installations that touch upon issues of environmentalism, corporate greed and gender equality in a warm, humorous way. A spoonful of craft helps the activism go down!
An inkstone, a piece of polished stone no bigger than an outstretched hand, is an instrument for grinding ink, an object of art, a token of exchange between friends or sovereign states, and a surface on which texts and images are carved. As such, the inkstone has been entangled with elite masculinity and the values of wen (culture, literature, civility) in China, Korea, and Japan for more than a millennium. However, for such a ubiquitous object in East Asia, it is virtually unknown in the Western world. Examining imperial workshops in the Forbidden City, the Duan quarries in Guangdong, the commercial workshops in Suzhou, and collectors homes in Fujian, The Social Life of Inkstones traces inkstones between court and society and shows how collaboration between craftsmen and scholars created a new social order in which the traditional hierarchy of head over hand no longer predominated. Dorothy Ko also highlights the craftswoman Gu Erniang, through whose work the artistry of inkstone-making achieved unprecedented refinement between the 1680s and 1730s. The Social Life of Inkstones explores the hidden history and cultural significance of the inkstone and puts the stonecutters and artisans on center stage.
Is art only art insofar as it refuses to be useful? At a moment when the boundaries between public and private have been radically redrawn--politically, economically and culturally--how do we understand art's ability to know the world, to develop our ethics, to express our sense of historical belonging and to be, in different ways to different people, useful? What's the Use? takes as a starting point the premise that art is best understood in dialogue with the social sphere, and examines how the exchange between art, knowledge and use has historically been set up and played out. Propositional and speculative--and deliberately inconclusive--the theorists and artists included in this volume seek an answer to a familiar question: how can art know, and change, the world?