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THE MIRROR THE OTHER: THE POLITICS OF ESTHETICS

“MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL, who’s the fairest one of all?” In the fairy tale the queen intoned her usual rhetorical question at the magic mirror. Imagine her surprise when one day the impertinent glass snapped back, “Snow White, of course!” The American cultural establishment started getting some similar back talk about 20 years ago, when the presence of African and then Latin, Native and Asian Americans, and women first became a significant factor on the cultural scene. They demanded to be recognized not only as artists but, like Snow White, as purveyors of esthetic values that were vastly different from those of the cultural establishment, i.e., the queen. This presence of so-called artists of color and women has forced the art world to grapple with the realization that an exclusively European, phallocentric criterion of culture would not continue to prevail.

But rather than expand the

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