Can Art Survive the Culture Wars?

The second of two autumn 2018 ‘Tetley Talks’ on the themes of ‘Culture & Politics’

How do accusations of cultural appropriation affect the work of artists who draw inspiration from other cultures? Is the female nude still an acceptable subject for art in the #MeToo era? Should gallery curators remove works that reflect outmoded ideas which objectify women? Should plays be avoided if they sexualise young people? Should films be shelved if their directors are found to have behaved badly towards women and others? Are the culture wars threatening the future of the arts?

The arts have historically been preserved spheres of freedom. Organisations such as Index on Censorship campaign for free expression in the arts in the UK and internationally. Artists have historically fought against censorship and many make a point of challenging the boundaries of social propriety and artistic convention. But is it time to re-evaluate the work of artists who appear to objectify women and cultural minorities? Does such work legitimise and perpetuate unacceptable ideas and attitudes? Or should the arts be defended as a sphere of free expression, whatever the consequences? 

Dr Wendy Earle will explore what’s at stake for the arts as they become a battleground for the culture wars. 


Saturday 28 April 2018


3pm to 4:45pm




useful reading:

The Painting That Has Reopened Wounds Of American Racism, Edward Helmore, Guardian, 2 April 2017

Who’s Guilty When It Comes To Crimes Of Cultural Appropriation?, Lizzy Crocker, Daily Beast, 4 May 2017

In Defense of Cultural Appropriation, Kenan Malik, New York Times, 14 June 2017

Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible, K. Tempest Bradford, NPR, 28 June 2017

The New Puritans Waging War on Art, Wendy Earle, Spiked, 6 February 2018.

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