Art Kettle, The

Is art a mode of control? Does our desire to create constrain us as effectively as our desire to consume?

In contemporary society, art is that which appears to open up all of those possibilities that our daily lives would close down, with developments in community art, art therapy, and public art extending this seemingly liberating effect to us all. But what if art is a mode of control? What if art operates to kettle us as effectively as, if much more subtly than, recent police curtailment of protestors in public squares in London?

The Art Kettle argues that our capacities for imagination, creativity, even resistance, in being apparently fostered by art are being channelled safely and to no purpose, all the better for our continued subjection to the round of means and ends that defines our profit-driven Western democracies. Through analysis of contemporary artworks and an intriguing account of the later decades of the Victorian age, The Art Kettle would convince us to question the ways in which we currently feel ourselves to be free and to begin to practice for a better future, a future founded in our past, when fundamentalism was a kind of courage, art a kind of craft, and needlepoint a kind of revolution.