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July 25, 2007


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It would be petty to examine too closely the unspoken sense of what seems to be a paraphrase above: "across the barriers." The generous spirit of your post is honorable.

If the zeitgeist calls for art as/in action, one dilemma is how the artists calling upon revolution can avoid seeming cloistered within the trappings of the "Art World":

What is odd is that these often adhere a little too tightly to the photojournalism/Magnum model to be thrown into the rarefied arty context of this show [the Venice Biennial]. The memory piece on Wael Zwaiter, Kara Walker’s silhouettes, Ed Burtynsky’s Chinese photos and another artist’s drawings of U.S. war dead could all be combined with writing, and not necessarily didactic writing, to tell us about ourselves in ways that include history and current events and that go beyond aesthetics. They don’t have to be relegated to the weird insular art world — in fact they may have more power outside of that world. #

What to do with art in a moment when things appear to be moving too quickly for art?


Tom, the website does not tell the group's story very well. The artists are street artists, hip hop mostly. They are not people in the art biz. Young, poor in Oakland. From that they may go on the road to dance at a demonstration, or do a festival at a college. This is very low to the ground. "What if the poor spoke up, artfully, and without hatred, or rancor, in love and hope, in their languages of poetry, dance, and music, what would that be like?" Art in Action is such a phenomenon.

O Lucky Man

I'd sure like to see those dance moves, Chief. ;-)

Surely, though, that is a great idea. Too bad they don't have vid or pics of that WTO face-off on the site.



Some of the organizers have studied under organizers from the 60's. The principles of nonviolence have been taken to heart. Courage is the quality that struck me in talking with them. Quiet courage. I asked them, "Do you think conflict, when it comes, will help or hurt your movement?" They did not know how to answer, but it seems to me that they will find themselves raised to prominence quickly when Martial Law is declared, the demonstrations begin, and the conflict goes live. "Going live" is their term for the moment of truth when the in the public square thousands of people meet and the outcome cannot be visualized and all participants go on instinct or training. These activists are training as dancers train for a public performance. And when it goes live they stand on the buses and dance, holding a sign, "We are nonviolent." That is the discipline, the art form. Elsewhere in the scene a store window is broken. On the evening news that scene will be played over and over. But the thousands will remember the woman on the buses, trained in ballet, and modern dance, performing live.

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