The book talks about the history of films that have been subversive in nature, first being used as tools by new, emerging, revolutionary groups (like the socialists and communists) and later being used against these very establishments. He also talks about subversion in a different sense, in the art of film making itself, in the portrayal of ideas, forms, shapes and direction - how they have responded over the years to a constant desire to challenge the existing norms and techniques of film-making (for example he talks about the movement of camera and camera angles as a revolution in itself). The artbook's review says:
So ahead of his time was Vogel that the ideas that he penned some 30 years ago are still relevant today, and readily accessible in this classic volume. Accompanied by over 300 rare film stills, Film as a Subversive Art analyzes how aesthetic, sexual, and ideological subversives use one of the most powerful art forms of our day to exchange or manipulate our conscious and unconscious, demystify visual taboos, destroy dated cinematic forms, and undermine existing value systems and institutions. This subversion of form, as well as of content, is placed within the context of the contemporary world view of science, philosophy, and modern art, and is illuminated by a detailed examination of over 500 films, including many banned, rarely seen, or never released works.
Grosz once said of his work:
I drew and painted out of a spirit of contradiction, trying in my works to convince the world that it was ugly, sick and mendacious
If you have ever heard of the Manhua comics, you will realize that what I am trying to say.
The first Manhua comic appeared on the Chinese market in 1928. The genre was used as a political tool during the Second World War and by Mao's regime, before being adopted by today's underground artists, intent on challenging the state.
During Mao's Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, comics were used as propaganda, featuring a smiling workforce and heroic images from folk legends.
In recent years, the artform has been adopted by a group of underground illustrators to challenge notions of freedom and modernisation in China.
Because of their subversive nature, Manhua comics are not granted licences to be sold in bookshops, so artists give away artwork or send it free to mobile phones.
[Offtopic note: Manhua comics now come to britain ]
Here's another take on subversive art blogging.
And Here's a really interesting depiction of subversive art in guerilla marketting.
IMO, the quest for subversion will forever remain as long as art remains; for there will always be opposition and curbs of varying form and degree in times to come. There will always be something to oppose and something to embrace, for change is the only constant, and without that, we cease to exist.