Art in Society

Posted by Brooke McGowen | Sun Nov 14th 2010 11:56 a.m.

1. The Role of Art in Society
Must art be concerned with social problems?
To demand social or political reactivity from art may be asking too much.
Art in our times is usually called upon to compensate us for the unbearableness of reality, a substitute for lost pleasures and the medial promise of imagined fulfillment.
Opium for the people, but not for everyone.
In the modern art world, art is enjoyed as a collusive luxury, the sacred hybrid flowers of the white cube, the fin de siècle excrescence of a remote art world.
Art as the sycophantic parasite of the wealthy cannot unfold its game, its potential to break through the miasma of obtuseness that blinds us.
Should art be reduced to distraction, entertainment, like a Hollywood movie, the galleries resembling low budget theme parks? McArt?
We are looking to art to help us see our situation more clearly, not to obfuscate it. We are looking to art to help us find new ways to interpret and transform reality.

2. Street Art and Public Space
Street art seemed to be a viable alternative to private art, however this attempt of artists to escape the tyranny of the art market and to reclaim public space has been countered with devastating force by the police.
Street artists are subject to criminalization and extreme jail sentences (Posterboy is presently serving 11 months).
New York is practically expunged of what used to be one of its trademarks, top-quality artistic work in public space.
Why are the regulations for graffiti enforced so vehemently whereas littering and idling are not?
The selling of public space is a huge business that our tax money is used to defend.
The right of commercial business to invade our field of vision with their advertising is sovereign.
This right is challenged by street artists and by a movement called culture jamming, which is also subject to persecution.

3. Art and Advertising
Throughout history, civilizations have relied on visual art to convey and spread their ideas, often producing art of timeless quality.
Unfortunately in modern society, advertising has taken over the two-dimensional surface and harnessed art’s mind-shaping potential for commercial purposes.
The damage to human thinking has been inevitable, using this powerful medium to instil brands or consumer behaviour in people’s brains. The result is a population who think in brand names. They define themselves as consumers.
The education of free-thinking individuals goes beyond the freedom of choice of which brand to buy, beyond the “educated consumer”.
Freedom of thought is the ability to associate between many pieces of information in your brain, but it is only possible when these things are there to connect. The more knowledge, the more freedom.
Freedom of speech without freedom of thought is not an option.
The difference between art and advertising is art is not in the service of a commercial product. Art is in the service of a deeper understanding of life.

4. The Power of Art
Visual art is a high-power medium.
It attacks the optical nerve at the speed of light, bombarding the brain with images that become deeply imbedded in the subconscious with long term effects on the receptor’s thinking.
It is a gut medium, appealing to the pre-language part of the brain. You feel a picture without being able to explain it.
Your description of your dream the next morning may seem pale compared to the wild intensity of the dream which language barely expresses.
That is the power of a picture.
Destroy the Pharaoh’s image and you destroy his power. Thou shalt not make a picture of the Lord, the picture may become more powerful than the idea and we will have idolatry, or even American Idol.
Once the political power of imagery is recognized, it becomes understandable why there is a tight control on public art, and why radical art is outlawed.
The power of art to present new ideas and to introduce a new way of seeing things makes art predestined to be a means of changing people’s thinking.

5. Art and Money
Art must be free from monetary interests.
An artist that is trying to conform to the market or appeal to some specific audience will not have the freedom she needs to speak the unspeakable.
Art must be separated from material aspirations in order to applicate its consciousness-changing attributes.
Art in the service of financial gain defeats its purpose. Art in the service of business is will only provide a smokescreen for corporate interests.
So if big business is not to have a future role in sponsoring art, who will?
Art that is subsidized by the government is just as prone to be ingratiating to its sponsors.
So must radical artists live on the edge of starvation?
The solution can be found in the form of a few radical-minded galleries that are willing to give art its freedom, and to support artists in creating an art form that offers more than just a respite from everyday life, that opens new channels of thought and enables new insights into the future of our society.

  • A. Andreas | Sun Nov 14th 2010 12:30 p.m.
    Hi Brooke

    interesting statements!

    Are you willing to contribute this to
    'Reclaim the Mind's call for submissions?



    Andreas Maria Jacobs
  • Brooke McGowen | Mon Nov 15th 2010 10:55 a.m.
    Thank you for your kind words and recommendation.
    I will definitely submit my article to "Reclaim the Minds", since this is exactly what I am trying to say.
    We need to reclaim our thinking and that includes reclaiming our field of vision which has been usurped by commercial interests.
    Thanks, Brooke
  • Duncan Alexander | Tue Nov 16th 2010 3:35 p.m.
  • John McArdle | Sat Nov 27th 2010 7:22 a.m.
    Can I get that McART BIGGIE SIZED? Oh man!Check this out! To have the luxury of creating art, not for money prestige fame or ego? I own(no mortgage) a small farm.In upstate New York,there are several barns.(perfect retreat spaces) Ithaca Binghamton area.I Own A diesel tour bus,14 passsenger with hydraulic wheelchair lift 1500LB. capacity. I,m Partners in a sound company, The WiZ & bABYLon joHN sound. I,m in 3 bands(techically)I,m "the drummer" Yak ReMiX,(phunk /improv/jazz. Dub Astronauts,(reggea) and Lethal InJectTion.(in your face hardcore rock/punk.) I am starting to paint and do outdoor "zen like" landscaping sculpture pieces. As well as pieces made from salvaged matierials old used broken etc. Also video and photos. I have many many eclectic friends who do all kinds of things, i.e. artists/sculptures philosophers naturalists, wild edible foragers (plants fruits and mushrooms). My life is as interesting and diverse and fun as it could possibly be. Yet there is a lacking and a dismal mourning for more, while witnessing the demise of our planet in it's consumer based petro-chemical age.I still seek more, more art more friends more fun,more money! yes money. Mostly to be able to help my friends. I recently did a free plumbing job for a friend who otherwise could not afford it and even paid for the parts and matierials? My skill sets include residential plumbing carpentry and electrical. Commercial salvage, demolition/fabrication/installation. I've learned so much in my lifetime. Yet something is still lacking? I cannot really say exactly what? I want a utopia for all kindhearted wise and gentle people that I know. Do you have any suggestions?
  • A. Andreas | Sat Nov 27th 2010 8:36 a.m.

    you always can try to submit your thoughts
    texts, visuals etc. 2:

    Reclaim the Mind!
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