hey Lee --
there goes my once-a-year rant on art. back to the salt mines now.
On Sun, 7 Nov 2004, Lee Wells wrote:
> Very beautifully stated.
> On 11/7/04 11:04 AM, "Joy Garnett" <email@example.com
>> Consider this: "Art" is not about directly activating political
>> change. Sorry, but that's a head-in-the-clouds notion. Enacting political
>> change requires far simpler instruments. Art is not simple; it
>> is not a good way to communicate a "simple message" to a vast number of
>> people in record time. No matter how rad or avante-whatever or rhizomatic
>> and networky artists may think they are, they--we--are elitists. Yes YOU. Me.
>> And that's okay. Relax over that *e* word, because the alternative is
>> Britney. Your choice.
>> Art is slow, often obtuse, has been known to--when it's truly complex and
>> resonant--muddy the waters in ways that cannot perhaps be immediately
>> understood. But as Ezra Pound pointed out in the ABC of Reading, being
>> capable of making artwork that is accessible on more than one level is
>> something we should aspire to... Note: this forms the POLAR OPPOSITE
>> strategy to the political activist modus operandi. (ie: ABC of Reading is
>> a really good book to argue with).
>> That's not to say that there isn't good or great political art; but
>> political art is not about preaching some side of something. I always
>> hoped it was about exploding the limiting thought frameworks we've become
>> inured to, or something crazy and impossible like that. "Bad" political
>> art is bad because it becomes propaganda all too readily. Even angry and
>> in-your-face art (David Wojnarowicz; Leon Golub) doesn't have to be a
>> one-liner. Art is slow (a cool medium, in McLuhan terms), is not a crowd
>> pusher, may not even be a crowd-pleaser (often it isn't) and is OPEN TO
>> MULTIPLE INTERPRETATIONS. Once again: not a great activist strategy. But
>> it is essential that it be so; complexity and open-endedness is what's
>> lacking in our mainstream culture. The America of Disney and Dubya is
>> not big on complexity; (this complexity is why we lost the election this
>> So what does that mean? We should give up on open-ended complexity? Uh,
>> no, sorry. And I forgive you for missing the point and thinking my
>> paintings are like some sentimental expressionist Family of Man thing. I
>> forgive you because Ezra Pound says it's really important that our stuff is
>> accessible and multivalent, and he's right.
>> This does not mean I think artists aren't capable of making good art that
>> reflects their convictions; only that I think most people think in black
>> and white and that art is one of the few places where all the shades of
>> grey live. Art both as a practice and as a consumer experience is something
>> subtler and stranger and more open-ended than agitprop or mere expression
>> of angst. Any toddler can effectively express angst. So let's not be
>> On Sun, 7 Nov 2004, Jason Van Anden wrote:
>>> Many of my personal favorites.
>>> To me, this list demonstrates that frustration from the political climate an
>>> artist lives in can serve as an awesome muse. Unfortunately, more often than
>>> not, the product of politically motivated fine art serves as a historical
>>> artifact of the time the artist lived in, rather than fuel for change.
>>> I do not mean to dismiss the efforts of artists who express their feelings by
>>> making art about the times they live in. I was very touched by your drawings
>>> of every single soldier killed in combat in Iraq, as I am when I see Joy's
>>> paintings of people struggling and fighting in the world. Someday, if this
>>> country gets back on track, these works will resonate with an audience who
>>> will reflect about how far we have come since. At this moment in time
>>> though, I believe they preach to the choir. As noble an endeavor as it may
>>> be to make fine art to inspire change, more often than not I do not think it
>>> is the best suited activity to accomplish that goal.
>>> I am not suggesting people stop making art that expresses angst about the
>>> world they live in. I just think that artists shouldn't fool themselves into
>>> believing that just because we are good at making imagery, that this is the
>>> best way we can invest our time to cause change.
>>> Unless you are able to make art that clearly communicates a message that will
>>> compel those you are trying to convince to consider a different way, and
>>> present it somewhere they will see it (ie: Michael Moore, Deigo Rivera), we
>>> are working in a vacuum. Better to volunteer for an organization doing
>>> whatever takes (licking stamps, answering the phone, canvassing
>>> neighborhoods) and then go home and vent with your muse to help win the peace
>>> after we win the ground war.
>>> I was suprised that you left John Lennon out of your list. A very popular
>>> artist who mostly wrote love songs, and then leveraged his celebrity into
>>> truly effective activism.
>>> Give Peace a Chance!
>>> Jason Van Anden
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>> -> post: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> -> questions: email@example.com
>> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
>> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
>> -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org
web site is open to non-members
>> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
>> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php