POWER AND POLITICS IN ART
This is a big subject for a blog post. So goodness knows where to begin.
First of all, what is art? Then what is ‘power and politics’? Then how does one fit in with the other?
Big Ben at Westminster.
What is art?
Art is the result of creating something beautiful or imaginative. There are lots of different kinds of art.
For my blog posts I focus on the visual arts rather than performing, written, or audible arts. So usually there is nothing about films, theatre, music, poems, plays, books, etc. Sorry.
In the visual art world that includes painting, sculpture, print-making, fashion, design, architecture, and ceramics. Hats off to Grayson Perry who creates in almost all these categories.
But, to make life more simple, let us discard 3D art and craft as well. We can focus just on my territory, painting and print-making. Phew!
But that still leaves a HUGE area to cover.
What do we mean by ‘power and politics’?
There are definitions that say that power and politics are two different conflicting things. Power is the ability to get something done through ‘persuasion or coercion’. Politics is how societies control the exercise of power.
But the phrase ‘power and politics’ is vague and is meant to cover both forces.
What we can whittle it down to is … how society acts as a whole to be a major influence on activity.
Art versus power and politics.
One focus is on the wonder of individual creativity, while the other highlights the fact that we are not alone but instead everyone is a part of a greater whole.
Every artist making art is a member of human society.
As a full time professional artist for over 50 years I can think of occasions when that sentence made sense, and other occasions when it did not.
Was my art ‘pushed’ by me into society?
Or was my art ‘pulled out of me’ by social force?
Ah-ha! Now we can see where the topic is heading.
The reason why ‘power and politics in art’ is a compelling subject is that it obliges us to focus on the nature of art.
Is making art a single solitary wonderful creative experience and art is the product? Therefore I am super-important. And so are all other artists.
Or is making art an activity that is a result of the enormous force of evolution that has caused human society? Therefore society is super-important.
Well, obviously both answers are correct. It is not one-or-the-other.
They are either end of the same rainbow.
We have two super strong factors in our art making, art appreciation, and art understanding.
1 The individual creator factor.
2 The humankind-as-a-whole factor.
And ‘power and politics’ is part of the second one.
This blog will have to accept the enormity of the subject, and the difficulty of coming to any other conclusion other than ….WOW!