20 November 2009

Art & Politics Don't Mix?

I hear it again and again, mostly from the mouths of those art world types eager to keep the thoroughly commercial dimension of their enterprise out of sight. They announce with great ardor that art and politics are like oil and water, or that political art is uniformly inferior to the allegedly unadulterated product. But if art is a way to communicate, what it communicates, and what we (artists and audiences) are communicating about or for is variable. So writing politics out of the conversation - a blatant intellectual and cultural gerrymander - seems, well, a bit daft. The relations between art and politics are going to alter with time and space. That does not mean that there is no relation, but that the relation is inconstant. In the hoopla surrounding the twentieth anniversary of the fall of communism there have been a series of press reports about events (rightly) celebrating the role of ~ gasp! ~ artists in that process. One does not have to look far afield; look here and here for instance.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


20 November, 2009 19:57  
Blogger Tom White said...

the problem is that many commercial artists refuse to acknowledge or address politics through their art because they are afraid it will alienate the people they want to buy their work. The truth is that great art often alienates a vast amount of people and polarises opinion. I could spend all day listing important political art and art movements - in fact it is often the case that politics actually drives artists to create the art they do.

24 November, 2009 17:18  
Blogger Sophie Wright said...

There are so many instances of art and politics mixing - in particular look at all the debates about climate change and art in the wake of Copenhagen. Check out our photography exhibition Political Landscapes at the Magnum Photos Print Room in London: http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.ExhibitionDetail_VPage&pid=2K1HRGNFEC
Documentary photography, but also art.
If you are looking specifically for contemporary art look at the GSK Contemporaries exhibition at the Royal Academy. Entitled Earth: Art of a Changing World it is not all successful but includes some interesting work: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/gsk-contemporary-season-2009/
Madeline Bunting touched on the hesitancy of the art market to get involved in "propaganda" at Copenhagen in http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/dec/02/climate-change-art-earth-rethink.

29 December, 2009 08:11  

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