Art & Conflict

from Art Threat


A review of:
Conflict – Time – Photography @ Tate Modern, London
Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War @ Pallant Gallery, Chichester
Brute @ arthouse1, London

We have just returned from Tate Modern and the exhibition Conflict-Time-Photography. On the cover of the exhibition catalogue is the photo of a statue. It’s on the tower of Dresden City Hall, a rare survivor of the fire bombing of the city just months before the ending of the Second World War. Go to Source

Dream-voice. Dream-thought. Making art without the words.


I dreamed… drempt… (never liked ‘dreamed’ as past tense. Just don’t sound right)… that I was painting. A very large–very long painting. Dream-voice said: good that you used your whole vocabulary of brush strokes. (Like with traditional Chinese paintings–different classes of strokes for … mountain, bamboo leaves, etc… only this was not representational). Then the thought-voice said Continue reading “Dream-voice. Dream-thought. Making art without the words.”

Will they know what killed us?


Do you sometimes wonder–500 million years after the last human perishes in our current mass extinction, how, of those more resilient life forms, some may develop consciousness, learn to do science, and ponder in amazement at the remains that now and then emerge, of what kind of creatures must of made these things, and what happened to bring about about their end… some giant space object? Aliens? Will they entertain the idea that it was mass suicide–one that took so many other life forms with them? Will that give them pause to reflect on their own way of life, that they might not repeat our folly?

Living in Imagination

Spirit Stick
Spirit Stick: Photo by Lillian Dunn. The snake is a toilet paper tube, colored with crayons.

But are these powers real? you ask. Real, as imagination is real, as the world opens to us, yes, and we live within our wonder. Within—not outside examining, measuring, weighing from the cyclic year of endless drought, but timeless, or timeleaping making memories, our lives out of dreams—outing our dreams and finding them in things, the things we make and do: in poems, in art, in the work of our bodies. Now and then it happens, and we don’t know what it is that has happened—a feather and a sash on a walking stick becomes or was both dream and waking action, know it by how it persists, endures, the dream that comes again changing forms, begging recognition, understanding… not in explanation or translation (so called, interpretation), but in following where it leads.

Continue reading “Living in Imagination”

Posterity Art & the Artist in a post-capitalist world.

Putting the last few posts together.

I started muddling with the question of how, if we give up, or can no longer believe in the possibility of posterity–of how this effects what I do as an artist, given the central role this idea has played through the history of Euro-American traditions?

The problem was, I was thinking in terms of the individual. Such that–where an artist might once have imagined a future where his (not so much, if you were a woman) art would find a place, even if rejected in his own lifetime.

Perhaps that qualification (not so much for women), unlocks the puzzle. I mean, the way that idea has played out in the marginalization of women and minorities in the arts–because it has been part of a struggle, not for immediate recognition alone, but for a place in a mythic future. A struggle for and against erasure from collective memory–the arts (again, in Eruo-American traditions), being a repository of that collective memory. Every art museum is evidence of this.

So maybe it’s the struggle for collective memory that is my real interest here–a merging of personal identity into an imagined future collective one.

Isn’t this what we mean by ‘posterity?’

Understood as a field of conflict in the class wars, rather than primarily a struggle for the individual to earn a living, makes all the difference. The struggle to earn a living, then, to find a place for one’s art in the world, becomes something much greater, and the question about posterity–and how we are to think of our art in absence of this idea, isn’t about the absence of our belief in the future, but the necessity of erasing what that has meant up till now, if we are to begin to think clearly about the place of art in a post capitalist world.