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Paperback | $27.00 Trade | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780262633505 | 232 pp. | 7.25 x 9.25 in | 27 color illus.| July 2007
Not for sale in the Middle East, Israel, Africa, or Western Europe.

Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures

Edited by Kobena Mercer


How does pop art translate across cultures? What does pop art look like through a postcolonial lens? In the global marketplace of images, artists have long challenged the discourse of officialdom by turning to dissident elements in the languages of vernacular culture. This volume casts new light on the aesthetics and politics of pop by taking a cross-cultural perspective on what happens when everyday objects are taken out of one context and repositioned in the language of art.

Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures examines practices that range from the recycling of consumerist waste in Chicano "rasquachismo" to the painterly pastiche of Hindu "photo-gods," exploring the semiotic transformations that arise when art reveals unexpected antagonisms in the social life of images. Showing how boundaries marking "high" and "low" are further corroded by strategies that question categories of "folk," "nation," and "people" in the global culture of modernity, this book breaks new ground in understanding pop art's ambiguous reaction to (and compliance with) the dynamics of high capitalism. When Mao goes pop, should we see the results as avant-garde, anti-modern, or postmodern? Who "owns" popular culture in South Africa or Brazil? The critical revision proposed by this third volume in the Annotating Art's Histories series dramatically expands the world map of the period from which our definitions of contemporary art are drawn.

Holly Barnet-Sanchez, Gavin Butt, Geeta Kapur, Martina Koppel-Yang, Kobena Mercer, Colin Richards, and Sonia Salzstein

About the Editor

Kobena Mercer is a writer and critic living in London. He is the editor of Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures, Cosmopolitan Modernisms, and Discrepant Abstraction (all published by The MIT Press and inIVA), author of Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies, and an inaugural recipient of the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, presented by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.