Thursday, November 20, 2008

"political art"

hi folks
i've been in philadelphia all week leading a choreography workshop through the Mascher Collective and so i've been remiss in getting the most recent info up on the blog. now that the info about the action is up on the dtw blog and the emails are passing around some more interest is coming my way. this is great, although at the same time different participants are having to back out because of scheduling conflicts. ah! it's a lot to manage and i'm getting confused as to what is going on and i feel bad about the curtness of my response to folks but i'm struggling a bit to make this thing go forward. i keep hoping to get at least 30 people involved in the action. i think i need to send another mass email out about the action, and i probably need to set up a fucking facebook page about it too. i'll keep looking for participants up to the last minute, though... so if you're on the fence about whether or not to do this, you have a little more time!

so interestingly enough a big topic this week that keeps coming up over and over in the workshop that i'm leading here is the viability of (self-consciously named) "political art." it's such an age old question of course. does it work? is it good? can it hold up to our aesthetic expectations? and so on and so on. so many great questions are being brought up in the workshop, i feel like it's impossible for me to even remember all of them to put them down here. i guess it's just interesting to me how these questions often plague dance contexts, and how much they seem to be related to a larger anxiety that we hold about the relevance/utility of dance in general. it seems somewhat a product of our self-absorption to get too caught up in these questions. i'm thinking of lots of different people here. i remember reading the book Who Cares (published by Creative Time), and there's this part where artist/writer Coco Fusco talks about how it drives her crazy that her students use the looming fear of potential "exploitation" as an excuse for not making art that engages topics beyond the students' immediate world. i also think about how it's our privilege as u.s. based artists to "decide" whether or not we want our work to be "political," when there are so many other places where this isn't exactly a choice. the very desire to express has been criminalized at varying points in our own history of course. maybe people feel far away from that now?? i don't know... again, i'm reminded of the fact that at least two of the people who i talked to about participating in foi2008 were afraid to participate because of the potential for violent response. so obviously there's something going on there....

i wish i could just transcribe all of the things that came up today in the conversation that we had in the workshop, but of course, i can't. however, i do want to include here a quote from a Judith Malina article that i had the workshop students read and which i found inspiring. it's from an article titled "The Work of an Anarchist Theater":

"The role of the artist in the social structure follows the need of the changing times:
In time of social stasis: to activate
In time of germination: to invent fertile new forms
In time of revolution: to extend the possibilities of peace and liberty
In time of violence: to make peace
In time of despair: to give hope
In time of silence: to sing out"

one of the students in the workshop today commented how it's possible to think that right now we're in all of these conditions, all of these different "times." mostly, i think it was interesting to consider that our perceptions of "artist" and "politics" are often dangerously static. i like that this article considers how these entities are temporal, contextual.

1 comment:

helpgetthewordout said...

im glad you act knowledge how its our privilege as u.s. based artist to “decide” ,,, and not just the u.s. but I think this goes for everyone in all of the World, who has this kind of freedom/ privilege

im also glad you brought up how people have been criminalized at various points in our own history from their desires to express, this is good stuff to remember and if anything, to continue to fuel ourselves, to remember how it was, to experience how it is and to think of how it can become, its cool and it’s a good opportunity, for NOW !

but yet, not to forget that till this day we can still be criminalized for our desires to express (in a different way) this is something we should always be aware of and not taken for granted

to pee outside or inside, that is a decision to be made, and there is a chance to be punished for peeing outside but if your outside and have no inside to go, what do you do, when you gotta pee you gotta pee and you either hold it in and fuck up your bladder or you let it all out, watering the flowers to grow

my question about political art is, who is it for,