Together to the Beach
Anxiety, Art and Activism in the End Times proposes an alternate way to discuss social action and art by including analyses of emotionality. While drawing from extant theory, Hsu radicalizes certain implications of traditional theories of politics, economics, sociology, etc. by inserting a call to acknowledge and prioritize an understanding of the emotional discomfort, or anxiety, that often motivates artistic activism. In engaging with broad-ranging fields of work, including the Occupy movement, the global food movement, plant sentience theories, science fiction, intersex narrative in film, migrant labor experiences and post-slavery art, this essay deeply questions the role and efficacy of resistance tactics as they originate from emotions and interpersonal relationships. Theory on Holiday considers the origins of philosophy in Greek religious theoria as a sort of holiday which involves journey, contemplation of alterity, and community. The author then brings the notion of holiday back into theory and art today by examining a broad range of phenomena ranging from chatroulette and smoking to art by Olafur Eliasson and Christian Marclay. Episodic or cyclic, and goal-less (unless aiming at happiness, suspension, or difference, is a goal), distinct from utopic teleological models, the notion of holiday has a certain modesty. Unlike political projects or any serious transcendence project, but akin to art, holiday must deliver its promise immediately. The essay takes a picaresque form, offering neither argument nor solution, while exploring the formal and ethical implications of virtues such as lightness, humor, surface, and serenity.