This is a model of how to do it: find the cracks in the crumbling capitalist wall and fill them.
This is a model of how to do it: find the cracks in the crumbling capitalist wall and fill them.
Walking thoughts… ideas come to mind, walking here and there and back: to the el, the wine store, to the Fresh Grocer. Sometimes they kick off something that comes back to me. A couple days ago, I was thinking about artists—not ART, artists. About making a living (or at least, paying for art materials), in a capitalist system, when one is a confirmed, convicted, solidarity-convinced anti-capitalist. And it occurred to me, that one could look at the problems through the lens of class—that the structures and machinery of class reproduce themselves on particular strata, and this seemed particularly helpful to me in understanding what artists deal with.
The connecting point in these thoughts, was meritocracy—how, because class is not like castes, frozen across generations for all time, but somewhat permeable, it’s easy to ignore how class, in itself, is as unchanging as an South Asian caste system. That individuals are able to climb the ladder, does nothing to overthrow the range of beliefs that justify class inequalities for those who benefit from them, or to offer serious challenge to the ideologies that use those beliefs.
What beliefs? The ‘natural’ superiority of men… (white men), is way up there at the top: patriarchy and Euro-Anglo-American racism–used to excuse, what otherwise would make what capitalism, colonialism, slavery, have done, and continue to do, to the mass humanity, intolerable. What does that have to do with, meritocracy? With art? With the capitalist class system?
Capitalism creates, maintains, and perpetuates inequality. All the way back to the Adam Smith, this has been acknowledged, and because it so flies in the face of the most minimally developed sense of justice, is addressed in all the ideological variants that would defend and promote capitalism. For Adam Smith—it was the Invisible Hand, which, (grossly misused since) would correct the worst abuses, and prevent capitalism from becoming what it has, in face, become. But nothing has been more useful, or done greater violence, the social Darwinism and eugenics. Here was the perfect foil, the perfect answer, to justify belief in the inferiority of the masses, and if an individual here and there, rose up and proved themselves superior to their birth—the genetic mythology perfectly accounted for it, and supported those who would protect the superior races and individuals, while justifying their suppression, and attempts to control, or better, if they proved less than useful and docile–eradicate the untermenchen.
How perfectly the Art World recapitulates this! With its gallery to investor pipeline, a gatekeeper system, meant to identify the Elite, and (hopefully) erase from memory, if not from life itself all the outsiders! Women! Blacks! Colonials! A Patriarchal system (where are the women from how many generations past?) Where are non-Euro artists and their work, but as appropriated by the (even if late-acknowledged) Masters? There is such thing, as ART, let alone, an “Art WORLD!” … if it is not as varied and multiple as there are worlds and peoples! If it doesn’t crash through and DESTROY the gatekeepers and their system!
Those were my walking thoughts… how, I asked myself. .how is it possible, for anyone who calls THEMSELVES an artist—to accept this system? To define their idea of ‘success’ by it’s terms? To not throw themselves into the struggle to create—to IMAGINE… as artists do.. a new and better world?
As I walked to the super market, I wondered what would happen if I were arrested, sentence to years or life (which wouldn’t be that long for me) in prison? I kept thinking about Murphy Cat and Merlin. Who would take care of them? And if I were to be released in a few years… would they know me? Would they be angry with me? Would they think that I’d abandoned them?
Of such thoughts are daydreams made in a Fascist State.
I think… these are going to be terrible times. Many of us won’t survive. If we are serious about resistance–about what it is we’re fighting, we have to accept that, as any soldier who goes into battle has to accept what may come. As the soldier finds courage and strength in mutual care of their comrades, so too, we need to draw strength from our comrades–by caring and supporting them, by being willing to lay our lives on the line that some us, at least, will survive. That some of us may live through these day or years to take up the never finished task, of making a humanly habitable world for all.
Breaking windows and burning limos isn’t in itself, revolution, but those humans out there on the street, those multi-pronouned humans all in black, with their AntiFA flags, were doing important work for the revolution to come. That kind of action doesn’t build alternative structures, but they demonstrate what courage looks like, and their actions FUCK the taboo around property. How do we destroy capitalism if we are horrified at breaking a fucking window!?!
We can’t build a new world, the world we want, with the old rules and laws and taboos. Those are all there to protect the wealthy, to suck wealth from the masses, to oppress and destroy marginalized people and all who oppose them.
Fuck their rules! Fuck their taboos, their laws–all of which must be be judged by their consequences, and by nothing else! The rules and laws were made by humans; humans can accept or discard or make them new, as is fitting and just for all!
The Black Block today were out there breaking, not just windows, but the cordons of our thinking, of how we perceive our present world, burning the effigies of Property! I tip my hat to them–and thank them. I call them, Comrades!
Solidarity! Love! Imagination! RESISTANCE!
There is no more powerful tool for changing ideas, shifting cultural zeitgeist, and resisting authoritarianism than art. While theatre is not the biggest bat artists wield, our impact on the culture is not nil, especially if you include community theatre and school plays, and we must. Resistance to the Trump regime is the most crucial political battle of our lifetimes because this regime– and the zeitgesit behind it– stands to undo progress in every area of our society. Trump, Pence, McConnell, Ryan et al are actively seeking to impoverish you to enrich themselves, roll back every civil rights and workers’ rights gain of the past 100 years, eliminate every consumer protection, eliminate the social safety net, and pretend you begged them to do it. It’s telling that the very first appointee of the incoming administration was an amoral white nationalist, and the very first act of the new Congress was…
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I’ve started adding titles to my work.
No, these titles weren’t on my mind while I was making these pieces. They’re partly tongue in cheek… but only partly so. While I don’t think metaphorically when I work–don’t think in words much at all, beyond… “where did I leave the cap to the cadmium yellow?” … I feel, deeply so, the conflict between what it means to make art in this time, feel deeply the impossibility of escaping the grinding jaws of capitalism that inevitably turn whatever an artist does into a commodity, reduced to exchange value. There’s no escape — the most explicit anti-capitalist, revolutionary call to arms–can expect no better fate, its message reduced to a decoration on some wealthy collectors wall. Better oblivion. Better to burn them all.
…better still… to do what I’m compelled to do.
I will not give anyone else the power of judgement over my work. If you think my art merely decorative, serving no revolutionary purpose… these titles express something of why I think you are wrong. To explore the pleasures of the eye–with a clear conscience, does mean having that eye turned to the future–to a world on the other side of capitalist domination and all the evils sheltered within it–a world whose form we cannot yet imagine, let alone see.
This is a conflict rooted deep in my heart and thoughts, it fills my perception of everything in this present world. I do hope… whether I’m successful or not… that the visual pleasures of my art, however slight, may in some way keep alive the faith… that there exists more than what we see now, keep alive the hope of revolution, faith in what we will build when we are free from these Empires of Money and Death.
So yes, the titles are a kind of joke… but serious joke, nonetheless.
I find that can only read John Berger’s essay in Landscapes, Revolutionary Undoing: on Max Raphael’s The Demands of Art, a page, or paragraph at a time, without being brought to full stop. Here is one of those passages, where I have to close the book to take it in.
“There is not a significant artist in the world who is not asking himself whether his art is justified — not on account of the quality of his talent, but on account of the relevance of art to the demands of the time in which he is living.”
I have to stop because these thoughts have been troubling me, and the more assured I am–the more confident I become in my creative powers, the more troubling they become, trouble me to the point, that I’ve come to believe that that to make art for our times is impossible, or rather–that there can be no validation here in the making of art–not in this world, for us as artists. Justification, if it’s to come, will have to wait for the new age.
To go on making art, then, is–must be–an act of faith–that against all evidence–or in its absence, which comes to the same thing, what we do will have to find it’s meaning elsewhere, in the world we must create if we are to survive for long on this planet. A world that does not now exist, except as a dream and a necessity.
It isn’t enough to be ‘topical,’ to be what others would call, relevant–that is, to make art that serves the revolution–an impossibility, because the revolution, whatever form it will take, is still invisible, and the best we can do to directly serve the cause–is make propaganda–pieces to encourage and embolden our would-be revolutionaries. There is nothing wrong with that. Such efforts are needed. But whatever is of use now, will not have the power to resist being usurped, and put to uses antithetical to the revolution, and to the world we are called upon to build.
This is different than the old hope in posterity, a posterity that would be like us, but with greater understanding. This is a faith in a new reality. What we make now, we see only with the eyes and mind of this reality. That which will exist in the new reality, is present now, present in the art we are making–and yet, but beyond our ability to in the eye of our imagining. That’s the nature of our faith, the faith we must have. That if we are true to the promptings of our own vision, we will bring forth work that exists now, both in and beyond our time, visible in the present only as a work of the the present–but pregnant with a future no eye as yet can see.
18″ x 24″ Acrylic on wood.
Layering. Interested in giving an impression of depth, without resorting to geometric perspective. Pollock, of course… but also, the illusion that one is looking at something… both real, and mysterious, like Hubble photos, or electron microscopy… in color. right click on photo for more detail.
View GALLERY HERE.
Goby’s Journal: December 23, 2016
Stasi, Trump, Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice
In an age when anyone who hears us speak, in person, or through social media, students in our classrooms, our patients or customers–when anyone might feel empowered by the Trumpocracy, to report you, to troll you, to try to get you fired, blacklisted, kicked off a plane…
It would be well, were we to revive the long neglected subjunctive voice.
To polish our skills at not quite saying what we mean.
If one were to imagine oneself, say, in 1956 East Berlin, one would find ways, even in front of a class, of speaking to those who “had ears to hear,” without giving cause to those who would take you down, were they so inclined. Which brings to mind–that phrase, “those who have ears to hear” — the language used by Jesus in the Gospels: speaking in parables. Jesus, too, lived under a hostile power. How much of that language was made to pass safely through the Roman occupation?
We aren’t at that level, yet… of Stasi, say… where no one, not even our most radical friends, can be trusted, because anyone can be made to be an informant. Let them only describe what will happen to your children, your aging parents, should you refuse. But this is where we are headed.
I have heard stories. Some reported in news, some seen on social media. Would that it were true that nothing of the kind had happened to anyone I know.
Be careful. Don’t say anything in private you wouldn’t say in public, cause… nothing is private. Learn from poets how to say more and less and other than what you mean.
20″ x 16″ Acrylic on canvas
There’s no message here. Just colors. Useless… because, to pursue what is of no use, in a world where nothing is valued, and everything is used…a world where Death, with all leaders and all parties as its agents, uses us all, this, in itself, is an act of defiance and rebellion.
View GALLERY HERE./>