Sunday, August 9, 2009

Being An Artist Means Bravery - Not Slavery

"When I first saw the Obama Joker poster on my block in April I tried to read the website featured in the upper right-hand corner, but it was too pixilated to decipher. Is anonymity part of the artist's message? Possibly. However, if anonymity is not a part of the message, can you blame the artist for wanting to remain anonymous given the irrational and racially-charged criticism the poster has received?

I find it hard to believe that the Obama Joker creator is the only serious detractor (assuming that it is a critical commentary) within the art community. And I'm sure the incendiary criticism will keep others from creating similar images. But regardless of political affiliation, the art community must embrace all rational dissenters. Art must not exclusively serve the interests of any presidential administration.

It's time for the art community to return to its historical role in political affairs, which means speaking to power, not on behalf of it. Which leads me to the second case where art enters politics on a mass scale. The power of art, in combination with the suppression of free speech or a free press, has been used as a tool by authoritarian governments to control their citizens. From Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il, art has been used to deify leaders while preserving the position of the ruling class. Most artists would not want to be referred to as tools of the state, but in the case of Obama's administration, that's exactly what they've been so far. "
-- Patrick Courrielche, speaking to my fellow artists - who have been acting like a bunch of pussies - on what their actual role is, using Reason.

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