Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why not all join hands?

I’ve had blog block. Sorry about the no show Monday.

An old friend of mine runs and owns Bluestockings, the radical bookstore and activist center on the Lower East Side. While there yesterday, I heard talk about “actions,” skimmed through a book of maps prepared for future protest, noticed the sartorial choices of visitors, and realized to myself, “These people seem like artists!”

So what are the differences between activists and artists? As for me, what makes me the latter more than the former, is that I like be alone most of the time and I believe individual contribution is possible (which may just be ego). I’d really like to be part of a movement, a community, but, I shy away from groups. And, I confess, part of me wants the spotlight. I do think artists can make a mark on the world, but I tend to think activists are more successful at it.

What’s funny is that when art seeps into political action, I usually ignore it. I somehow look down on paper maché idols or even the Missile Dick Chicks. “That’s not art,” I say. And when political action comes into the gallery, I usually feel like it’s futile or uninteresting, unless it’s made complex through poetic gesture.

So, we’re back to square one. What are the terms of art and how can art make a difference?

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