Friday, March 25, 2011
The Artist as Creator of Propaganda
(photo courtesy of hobotraveler.com)
Mural of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, with his face removed. I wonder who painted it, and removed his face...maybe it was the same artist. As I wrote that last sentence I actually had a faint moment of déjà vu.
Is the freedom artists have to not create government propaganda one of the few freedoms that is never taken for granted? Or do people here in North America forget about how we can create whatever piece of art we think of?
It doesn't seem as though people, when they want to create, will create vast poems, stories, music and paintings to praise the government. That would be funny - going out on a warm summer evening to a grassy hilltop by my villa...with a soft breeze and the recent memory of my wife's legs wrapped around my body as she sits beside me...and painting a picture of Stephen Harper shaking hands with George W. Bush based on the inspiration of my surroundings and memories.
It's abnormal for anyone creating art to have that level of patriotic compassion. We create art to look inside ourselves and to express what we admire, or desire, or detest, or disagree with...not to indulge in patriotism (unless commissioned and depending on their morals). There are artists that take it upon themselves to do so, but from what I've seen they comprise the minority.
Which fuels the paradox of anti-conformity. "So what if I write stories promoting our Prime Minister's greatness...is that what's popular? I don't think so. That's why this is the cutting edge."
You'll be the name to know, a mainstay on the Oprah Network, praised by every famous literary convention and conference including the Meat Loaf with Dijon Mustard Box Social, winner of the Governal General's Award, wined and dined by the ghosts of Virginia Woolf and Hunter S. Thompson on a celestial plane, invited to partake in a seminar at the York Woods Public Library.
Maybe the real artists in our society don't forget that they have freedom of expression because they let it wash through them every day they choose. But I'm forgetting that people are still people, and one quality in a person doesn't rule out any other quality (as Thomas Harris wrote, I like his work). The issue of censorship in art is a huge issue - "You can say what you want but we still have to regulate it."
Does that mean that it's pointless to say anything at all?
It's plausible that people who don't create art are those who forget about their freedom of artistic expression.
I always marvel at concerts where people go crazy for musicians. It seems to me like these are people who've never attempted to create music themselves. If everyone who attended a concert was a musician, I think they'd be more grounded and not as fame-struck. They might have more appreciation for the artist's talent, but there'd be a common ground.
The audience should never forget the potential they have to learn what they want to learn.