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07 October 2009

The Art of Politics

Nothing causes me more frustration than to hear someone proclaim that politics and religion have no place in art.  I will resist the urge to roll my eyes and then dismiss such proclamations as the drivel of the ignorant, since such persons have perhaps never heard of artists like Michelangelo or Francisco de Goya.  I suppose the works of Dante Alighieri, Arthur Miller and even Charlie Chaplin are  probably unknown to them as well. 

A while back, my Iraq War protest work, No Bravery was banned from an art site because the work incorporated a photograph of the nude body of a deceased child (you really have to view the work to understand the description).  Because the administrators of the site were painting with a very broad brush, a wonderful painting based on the Pultizer Prize winning photograph of Nick Ut was also removed from the site.  Some time later the rules were changed so that No Bravery could have been republished on the site, but I chose not to do so because I knew it would start another firestorm of protest from those who abhor political art and writing that is just left of the KKK.  Strange as it may seem, those who complain the loudest about what they perceive as political art are quite adept at producing political propaganda poorly disguised as art.  I speak of course about the images of Obama as the Joker snipped from the Internet, tweaked a bit, and uploaded for sale as original art.  But who am I to judge the ethics of such conduct or of a commercial entity that would permit the sale of unoriginal propaganda images? Making a buck is the Capitalist way, and ethics be damned.

Political art may or may not represent a top selling genre for art sites on the Internet,  it is nonetheless a valid form of artistic expression.  There is an argument to be made that political propaganda is artistic expression worthy of recognition.

Those who oppose the inclusion of political art and writing from the Left fail to recognize that they may be cutting their noses off to spite their faces.  A photograph of the America flag, waving gloriously in the wind with the words "In God We Trust" scrawled across the front in a generic font is every bit as political as No Bravery.  The soaring eagles and photos of children placing flags on the graves of their deceased soldier parent carries a strong political message just as Bringer of Liberty carries a strong political message.   The only difference is my art is critical and calls out the hypocrites to hold them responsible; their art glorifies the hypocrites and the lies.

Those who are critical of political art fail to recognize that photographs of children starving in undeveloped regions of the world with a plea to click the link and make a donation is in fact, political art.  Photographs, graphic designs and paintings of endangered animals and a call to save them from extinction is political art.

God bless America; America love it or leave it; never forget 9-11; save the whales; save the mud skipper; save the mountain gorilla; save the planet; go green;  or go to hell - it's all political art.  Ban the left and the right will not be far behind.  Sometimes the brush is broad.

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