Protesting for a Prefigurative Community

The idea of a protest as a mass demonstration of dissent is changed in the twenty first century because the neo liberal system of the western world has developed way of commodifing everything from food to lifestyles. All the Citizens have been given the price of becoming better citizens, to dress up, make up and having expensive and perfect possessions. On the working environment they are encouraged to be individualist and entrepreneur as to gain sponsorship they need for making an impact on the world economy.

Maintaining the social system, as Brexit shown, is a predictable way that people would have taken as this makes them feel protected and confident. The same system had incorporated so many different cultures and countercultures is claiming nationality and building racist walls. The act that the cities her in the UK are completely controlled by CCTVs does make it more scaring s the culture is regressing they could become instrument of control over unwanted people and also future predicting machines that control opposition movements.

The people coming on the streets for the anti-Brexit march this July were 30,000 but did not achieve much since the new prime minister of the conservatory part, Theresa May, passed a new earing threshold of £ 35,000 that almost caused the deportation of a school teacher. Politics feel unbounded to economics as much as the beginning of the first industrialization but still incapable of embracing change for a deep renovation in society that could led to a prefigurative community either good or bad.

As Brexit will take place, control will just increase and a new ideology of closure spread. This is moment for artists committed to social political change to over think the traditional street protest and to curate a strategy for a prefigurative community which, quoting the reporter Margot Adler, enables people to acknowledge their bonds with other people and with nature, while political tactics are not communicating and systemizing one.

References

YouTube. (2016). HyperNormalisation by Adam Curtis BBC Documentary 2016 – Part 1. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5IQevTbfa4 [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Dpaonthenet.net. (2016). Seeing beyond the cameras: predicting movements in CCTV blind spots. [online] Available at: http://www.dpaonthenet.net/article/55545/Seeing-beyond-the-cameras–predicting-movements-in-CCTV-blind-spots.aspx [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Matt Dathan, A. (2016). Anyone from a non-EU country living in the UK must earn more than £35,000 if they want to stay. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-urged-to-rethink-new-35000-earnings-threshold-for-non-eu-migrants-as-teachers-face-a6814841.html [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016

Duncombe, S. (2002). Cultural resistance reader. London: Verso.

YouTube. (2016). Tactical Performance: Thinking Theatrically for Powerful Protest: Larry Bogad at TEDxUCDavis. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psRuhwkwt5Q [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

‘AN OPEN LETTER TO CRITICS WRITING ABOUT POLITICAL ART’ by Stephen Duncombe & Steven Lambert

              

As a feedback for the meeting on the current state of artistic activism, Duncombe and Lambert decided to write a letter to art critics as it emerged the need to create a method of evaluation for the delicate theme of political art.

An artist committing his talent to a political cause has to think further than his mere technical possibilities and image his artwork as a campaign i.e. a piece which is functional to the aim of changing what people see of the world. Since the action of the people towards positive progress is what the political artist has in mind, an analysis of his audience is essential for laying the hypothetical ways in which his artwork could affect this people.

There are two different types of political art, one that represent reality and another one, to which Duncombe and Lambert refer, whose aims are provoking change and making sense out of this world, but only the latter is concerned with transcending the boundaries of the public’s culture. The art critic is bounded to the public too since the audience for political art is broader and their moral judgments have to be respected in order to really measure the effectiveness of the artist’s communication.

Political art history can be read through the histories of social movements and textbook on marketing, advertising and public relations, so the critic who wants to examine political art has to study history and ideologies in order to evaluate the medium. Political art is connected with the times and the social circumstance, thus its medium is a selected after political consideration on the audience to become the message.

The art critic must consider aesthetics to the extent they don’t compromise the message expressed but help it reaching popularity. Therefore the political art critic becomes part of the team by delivering instructive critiques that help the artist or stop him by achieving his cause and transform society.

ELISA MELODIA               

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My choice of investigating the political art involved in world changing events derived from the readings over Greenberg’s critics on Dada and Bauhaus. I could not believe that Dada was a failed revolution because is saw its influences all over the 20th century history of counter culture posters and it has postmodern repetitions still. Moreover, the interest in the role of visual communication in political protests as well as at its service of propaganda helped me giving a meaning to the sketches I was doing for Vivienne Westwood ‘climate revolution’ magazine and personal poster-art. Photojournalism, photomontage, design and political art is nowadays so entangled into the newspaper that I am hoping to gain from this course relevant insight on how to use                                           art as a journalistic tool as well as an activist one.

 

Report and evaluation of the Interview “EL SEED’S NEW HOME” by Emily McDermott

 

EMILY MCDERMOTT: So I know you decided to revisit your Tunisian heritage in your teens. What sparked that decision?

EL SEED: It was an identity crisis. I was born and raised in France, but I never really felt French, so I needed to find something that I was more connected to. I used to go back to Tunisia every summer, but I was more into the language, my Arabic roots. I couldn’t know about my culture, my history, without learning the language, so I started learning Arabic—reading, writing. I used to speak Arabic before that, but Tunisian Arabic dialect. Step by step, I discovered calligraphy. I painted before and I just brought the calligraphy into my artwork. That’s how everything started. The funny thing is the fact that going back to my roots made me feel French.

MCDERMOTT: Really? How did it make you feel French?

SEED: In France, they make you feel that you cannot be two things at the same time. You can’t be French and Arabic; you can’t be French and Muslim. When actually, you have one identity made of different parts. Depending on where you are, at what time in your life, some things are higher or deeper. That’s what I understood later: that I’m French and Tunisian, and I’m accepting the French part of my identity.

MCDERMOTT: When was the first time you painted on the streets?

SEED: ’98 in France. [It was] just a small drawing, like a guy with hair. I wrote the name of a friend from my neighborhood. It was just a teenager piece.

MCDERMOTT: Was it around then that you created your name?

SEED: Yeah, “eL Seed” came at the same time. It was inspired by the French play Le Cid by Pierre Corneille. It was seeing “Le Cid” coming from the Arabic name “el sayed,” which means “the master, the man.” So I called myself like that because I was 16; I said, “Yes, I’m the man.” That’s how it started.

MCDERMOTT: As you grew older, did you consider changing it? What did you think about calling yourself “the man” or “the master?”

SEED: Oh no, I changed it. I used to write it “scid,” and I changed it a few years ago to “seed,” like “the seed,” going back to Arabic, getting back to my roots.

MCDERMOTT: So coming from France and having Tunisian heritage, how did you come to open a studio space at Alerskal Avenue in Dubai?

SEED: I was based in Montreal and then I left and moved to the region. I did an art residency in a place called Tashkeel. I noticed I liked the region, I like the energy, and I think Dubai is a good place. There’s this energy here that I was needing. I felt like I needed a studio, like I needed to be based here. I knew about this initiative Alserkal and this other space called d3 [the Dubai Design District]. Then we talked with Alerskal, I think a year ago, and it was just a conversation on and off. In September, I said “You know what, I’m just going to take this space,” and I decided to take it.

MCDERMOTT: How has Dubai influenced you? It’s such a global, transient place, and you work on such a global scale…

SEED: You meet a lot of people coming from a lot of different places. Even me, I’m always in transit. I don’t stay anywhere too long. I like the energy that I found when I came here the first time. I start knowing people, and people start knowing me as well. Then the opportunity, the support you can find here—you can’t find that anywhere else. It’s inspiring. I think to be in this kind of community, you have The Odd Piece opposite my studio, the Ikonhouse, and galleries—people in transit from one door to another door. It’s like somebody will buy something from The Odd Piece, and then they’ll come visit my studio. It’s a network that’s created.

MCDERMOTT: How do you select where you’re going to do one of your installations, and from that, what inspires the quote you paint?

SEED: It depends on the topic I’m exploring. I’ve been working a lot with identity and roots, being part of your roots. I went into this topic where I was trying to break the stereotype of Arabic language. The non-translation work, this is where I make the switch, where you don’t need to translate. Today, I’m more into the perception scope of a work; I’m exploring this concept of perception and how people can look at someone, look at the community, and put in so much judgment, so much stereotype, so much misconception. I’m trying to create artwork that makes people, and myself, think about judgment as a reflex. This is something that must be changed.

MCDERMOTT: You obviously draw many quotes from philosophical books and religious texts. What have you been reading lately that you find inspiring?

SEED: Right now I’m reading Colonel Chabert, a French book about this military guy who fights for Napoleon and that everybody thinks is dead, but then he comes back. I’m also rereading Orientalism from Edward Said. It’s a really tough book. I read it a few years ago and I’m trying to read it again. That’s the kind of stuff I’m into now. I was reading a lot about Coptic art recently because I’m working on a project in the Coptic community. Sometimes the reading is related to something I do, sometimes it’s not. I feel like every time I read something, there’s a quote or something that comes [into the work] later. There’s nothing that happens by coincidence. It’s fate, I would say.

MCDERMOTT: In your TED Talk, when talking about the fact that not everyone can read or understand your works, you said, “You don’t need know the meaning to feel the piece.” Can you expand upon that idea?

SEED: I’ve seen it personally that people have a natural sensibility to Arabic script. I don’t know it if it’s because of the shape, I don’t know what it is in this script that makes it so universal. But even if you don’t understand it, you still have this feeling; you can feel the piece of art in front of you. I say, “It touches your soul before it touches your eyes.” This is a true thing, because everywhere I’ve been, from South Africa to Brazil, people are connected to it. For me, art is a way to bring people together. You can put people on the same level, the perception is the same. You can bring a worker, like a cleaning guy, or the richest guy on earth, and they will have the same feeling or they would be able to feel the same. Art brings people back to their sensibility as human beings. This is the purpose of art: To bring people together and bring back the humanity as well.

Published 01/29/16

 

CRITICAL EVALUATION of EMILY MCDERMOTT INTERVIEW

During Quoz arts Festival Emily McDermott visited the Mural artist El Seed to his new studio in Dubai where she could interview him after the visiting hours. She designed the interview in four phases.

The first part researches the personal identity and the history of the artist going beyond the artist as we know it. The interviewer aims at understanding El Seed’s design as a subject and investigates the roots of his art…. This way the interviewer draws a connection line between the reader and the interviewed as she did with the informal title “El Seed New Home” in which every reader could identify. Avoiding in this phase, to talk about the career, McDermott Goes into personal intimacy of the teenager he used to be with his insecurities over a mixed race and diversity.
The interest then shifts to the origins of the artist’s name and his public image; the interviewer dedicates two questions to the explanation of the artistic identity that as graffiti writer lies behind the invented name that is an alter ego brought up by his French education and the belonging to Tunisian Culture .
In the third phase McDermott, ask the artist his impression on his new house and to describe his lifestyle in Dubai; the intro explaining the occasion of her visit, the Quoz arts Festival, reveal an interest in promoting the venue and the event to a western public even if the interview is mainly on the artist profile. The interviewer probably edited the answer on Dubai in order to add dynamism, as it is a real concentrate of incredible places.

The Art works are finally examined trough design with a didactic effect on the public who learns how to look at the art work. The artist’s philosophy projects the reader into the future which seem sparkling as an external link to his last TED talk is included. Emily McDermott questions in a simple and informal way while she shapes a humble profile, for the artist to be closer to the people.

 

The contemporary role of the mural “Man at the Crossroads” by the Mexican artist Diego Riviera

 

Many are the  voices in history that are been shut by government rules, the meaning of the world terrorism has changed so much since then. The Utopian colonization by one same philosophy over the country was conceived as a mean to reunite people in united masses but the failure of this project provoked a radical change and the redefinition of peoples’ role in society and consequent rights.

Back then, when? In the black and white photographic history of the 20th century, a sparkling light of colour did attracted the attention to the developing welfare society. The world, divided by Ideologies followed the myth of a man, in totalized masses, against everything thus becoming extremely effective to attain to the order, which was so critical that managed to abolish discussion, as thought was considered a weapon. However these where years of deep beliefs and strong affirmations. Freemans were now writing for them self, big as the state, and thus feeling empowered to fully express their ideals. Figurative representation had rejoiced of the vibrant changes brought by the regimes, which reclaiming the rebirth of traditions gave artists and writers plenty historical “ideal” subjects on which to reimagine the modern men.

The development of this cultural impulse has taken different shapes around the globe. While is common the ideal men of totalitarianism as a strong father and a hero of the Roman history, the case of Mexican people remains unique because they were influenced by the Russian revolution of proletariat, which was taken as a principal subject for the art of the period.

Mexico lived one hundred years of revolutionary days that saw the fall of over sixty governments…Only in the first years of the 20th century the development of a strong thought, the empowerment of the proletariat, attempted to smash the only hope for the end of anarchy. Their official voice was Francisco Madero who eventually allied with the peasant too, the Zapatistas, , to organize a revolution against the long and undemocratic dictatorship of Diaz.

Madero is killed and his successor, Carranza, creates the constitution helped that a party that is conservative democrat. The latter orientation was far too conservative to include the Zapatistas in the plan, since they were far more radical and progressive. They grouped in Morelos that was later invaded by the government army. A classist dictatorship was reshaping and the disintegration of the army only, could have brought another wave of upraises. No much later Zapatistas and Alvaro Obregon with a part of the army allied with the support of the communist labour party. Obregon then becomes president and the Zapatistas win their causes. Revolution was integrated in the name of his party who saw brilliant leaders who committed then to social right, fighting organized criminality, improving education and welfar

064                         _dsc4516              Zapatistas were peasant warriors lead by Massimiliano Zapata ( right side photo)

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Since the advent of the constitutionalists, the state agreed to free itself from European influences including the Roman Catholic religion. Symbols of faith and colonization were to be replaced with the “Mexican model” a common set of traditional means of expression that withdraw elements from the Mexican true culture: the Pre-Colombian one. Throughout the revolution was incorporated by many artisans who were brought together by the “Manifesto of The Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors” Technical workers where linked to the art and so the arts where closer to their struggles. The proletariat became the subject of many sacral places which already had a function of speaking to the masses. The new beliefs fell on work, and community, therefore the holy trinity of the laic faith was replaced by the three entities of the worker, peasant and the Indian, of the revolutionary society.

The Painters of the Murals movement saw in the painting of walls the perfect place as mean to expressing an art that depicted the everyday life and the human struggles with the emphasis on the historical shaped by the action of the people. The location of the mural arts where the temples of history and the paintings means to liberate the masses from oppression. Diego Riviera a real popular Mexican artist and writer made politics the matter of his paintings and were themselves his ways of collaborating in the communist party.

Diego Riviera believed in the Mexican Model and was of the political idea that the nation’s culture was a product and a possession of the people. He read Marx, and followed the Russian revolution with a particular affection towards Lenin. Diego Riviera had painted churches and important institutes in Europe, Soviets and America with crowds and emblematic anthropologic symbols in the style of the pre-Colombian societies sculptures that emphasized virility and strength of the body. The events depicted did not lack of a hint to his politics.

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Example of Pre colombian art whose features of the human body are much more different than the classical idols

 

The commitment to the revolutionary case which was continuously fervent strengthen his belief in the theories and (critiques) of Lenin who dedicated a series of speaks to the role of painting and literature in the communist revolution. Diego was then invited to America to paint some murals, first in Detroit and in New York. The modern industry sparkled there and Riviera had the occasion of visiting some factories from inside. He was fascinated by the American technological achievements but didn’t realized that the American society wasn’t based on the manufactural work of the people in the assembly line, but in abstract fluxes of money. In Detroit he painted the rumours of that new age of development: metallic wheels screeching and the production’s elements anthropomorphized in the meeting of the man with the machine as the ruling spirit of the future’s progress.

As a consequence Diego was eventually invited to New York, they flash light city, by Nelson Rockefeller to paint another of his murals. His experience of American glorious development seemed to be symbolized in the Rockefeller centre. He made a contract with Rockefeller, the sketches were accepted and he started the painting “The man at the crossroads” . Riviera did accept the conditions of the contract, strictly stating the impossibility of changing the sketches and so on…

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Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future

 

 

 

 

Riviera wanted to trigger his power and depicted the face of Lenin, the rhetor of the revolution and of masses in movement, a brilliant terrorist whose talks on the rights of the masses were threatening to the capitalist power still setting and expanding the control of its members. When he was asked to delete the face he had preferred the physical destruction than the conceptual, so Rockefeller contented him by ordering an immediate demolition of the whole wall he was painting on.

 

The painting was a crowded representation of many stereotypical characters in society. The workers masses and the intellectuals of America were positioned on the opposite site of the canvas while, an ideal a man stayed in the middle surrounded by four ideological ellipses, evoking the spinning blades of a plane. The shapes contain complex compositions of contact gears, while the other two incorporate microscopic biological cells. He unites the machine and the working man with classical examples too, white statues one head missing with the fasces the other one with a book and no hands. A message of integration and peace, appearing to be sponsored by Lenin and Trotsky.

Diego Riviera career as a mural political artist changed almost suddenly, he dedicated himself to more traditional representation that could communicate the life of the indigenes to the modern Mexican people. And he eventually managed to reproduce the Manhattan mural in Mexico City where he added the presence of Nelson Rockefeller, next to syphilis cells, apparently to celebrate development in medical sciences. The American experience changed his life and his needs, and Riviera never painted political art anymore but the painting’s scandal became subject for the movie “the Crossroads” and was quoted in the film “Frida” , in Hollywood.

Riviera style of painting become revolutionary only outside his country and shocked the world with the walls as means of representation, capable of speaking to the people whose alienation could have been disrupted. Diego gave voice the thousands of people but the different reality he was working in didn’t recognize his wish for inclusion of the masses in the ruling system which he expressed by painting the face of man who spoke for the proletariat, in the chiasmus puzzle of the picture, as wish of good luck “for a better social organization” too. In the industry he saw the force of man’s action empowered and was fascinated by the results but also conscious of the importance of arguing for the respect of the working class.

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The painting has an incredible force in its placement, a public space, helped by the conditions of the new constitutions could recreate public imagery and celebrate people’s culture. Political manifestations happening on the streets are always accompanied by symbolic features that are left along their passage. But Diego was not only a politician, -as he stated- but primarily a painter who’s duty was to represent the emotional and moral side of politics and society, thus being capable of moving hearts; This why it should have exactly where it was supposed to because, being in Mexico, it has become a mausoleum for the martyr painting. Is the first political mural to be so ostentatiously destroyed in the world, to show the active role of representation on people, thus empowering visual culture as a means to reach for rights and democracy. The fact it has been destroyed showed how the world was in fact not democratic still for its scope vanishes when freedom of expression is obtained.

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