The Creative Underground : Art, Politics and Everyday Life book cover
1st Edition

The Creative Underground
Art, Politics and Everyday Life

ISBN 9781138886865
Published October 10, 2016 by Routledge
240 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Paul Clements champions the creative underground and expressions of difference through visionary avant-garde and resistant ideas. This is represented by an admixture of utopian literature, manifestos and lifestyles which challenge normality and attempt to reinvent society, as practiced for example, by radicals in bohemian enclaves or youth subcultures. He showcases a range of 'art' and participatory cultural practices that are examined sociopolitically and historically, employing key theoretical ideas which highlight their contribution to aesthetic thinking, political ideology, and public discourse. A reevaluation of the arts and progressive modernism can reinvigorate culture through active leisure and post-work possibilities beyond materialism and its constraints, thereby presenting alternatives to established understandings and everyday cultural processes. The book teases out the difficult relationship between the individual, culture and society especially in relation to autonomy and marginality, while arguing that the creative underground is crucial for a better world, as it offers enchantment, vitality and hope.

Table of Contents

1 Introducing the creative underground

2 Utopia

3 Manifestos

4 The avant-garde, autonomy and wider participation

5 Creative resistance: counterculture, subculture and counterpublics

6 Heterotopia, Bohemia and vignettes of creative underground practices

7 Work, play and a post-work scenario

8 Everyday life

9 Concluding words ....

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Paul Clements is a Lecturer at several universities, including Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK. He is the author of Charles Bukowski, Outsider Literature, and the Beat Movement (2013) also by Routledge.


"Profoundly imbued with both modern and postmodern philosophies of radical cultural history, this monograph is fundamental reading for exploring how subcultural arts practices affirm and resist everyday norms. Adopting theoretical ideas across the humanities and social sciences, Clements offers a novel outlook on the critical role of revolutionary art, (post-)avant-garde, politically inflected art manifestos, public participation and urban play, amongst others, in understanding the conceptual parameters as well as real-world impacts of what is termed underground art – including oft-unsolicited, insurrectional street art that deliberately operates in social and spatial interstices, typically in contravention of the institutional and conformist confines of the gallery. The eclectic argument is supported by an animated narration style, rich anecdotes and compelling facts, specifically providing deeper understandings of how art-led resistance has served as cultural and political compass of European history. Also, this work asks how both publics and counter-publics have come to define the ambiguous creative (dis)order of the present-day, ‘post-work’ economy. In all, it lives up to its rationale to map what public art has done, and can do, to make social change happen." - Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds


"The Creative Underground addresses, amongst other things, the question of ‘outsider art’, the role of play and utopian visions, avant-gardism and autonomy and creative resistance, and draws these themes together in a final discussion of how they relate to conceptions of everyday life." - Howard Feather, Radical Philosophy 2.03