Arts and politics

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Art is an illustration of what human beings cannot put into words, or language. It entails devising meanings through an intelligent agency, evoking an aesthetic response (Heller, 2018). Moreover, it is a method of communication where language is insufficient in explaining its content. Art creates visibility and makes what was previously unspoken known. Since what art elicit and exhibit is indescribable that is people find it hard to explain and delineate. The meaning of the art is made by both the audience and the artist such that it cannot be fully known. The meaning is multiplex and perpetual. Additionally, arts triggers the establishment of civilization that is it supports the development and the prevention of insurgent messages from being suppressed where it steers, mirrors, and discloses a political and morality alterations (Philosophynow.Org, 2018). Art plays a vital role in the formation of culture, and it is an emanation of thoughts and ideas from it. Also, we cannot wholly understand if it is isolated from its context. However, paradoxically, art can communicate past language and time alluring to people’s collective reality and connecting different communities.

To thoroughly examine the aspect of art and politics we analyze one of the theses by Alain Badiou (2004) in regards to the modern art that states “It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent.” That is, dominant postulate, he relates the contemporary art to the later day structures of ordering. Badiou (2004) suggests a participative simplification of art’s relation in accordance to modernity. The empire that Badiou (2004) talks about is not a politically developed state parallel to the old empires. However, he begins his explanation by stating notably the Roman Empire, a new reality system structure established on neo-liberal and market capitalism. The artists should not be concerned with what is rendered visible and what is accepted by this empire. Instead, politics of arts needs to be conveyed via making visible what an Empire cannot identify. A significant part of understanding, art, and government is on their historical path and their relationship via various epochs. Nonetheless, it is vital to consider the artistic possibility of art, to be the center of the political participation. As stated by Jacques Ranciere (2013) aesthetics, or aesthetic regime is different from the ethical and poetic regimes that defined art before. As Plato explained ethical regime lowers artwork to fickle and false representations whereas poetic regime renders the primary purpose of artwork to be a representation of beauty and imitation. Nevertheless, aesthetic regime breaks the obstacles imposed by poetic and ethical regime between practices of artists and social and the political domains, which endows art in thought, culture, and politics (Ranciere, 2013). Therefore, such outlook to arts and aesthetic explains people’s contemporary understanding of politics and art.

Leon Trotsky

According to Trotsky, he affirms that art posses a political predisposition if it has ‘quality’ aesthetic (Schneider, 2011). Every aspect of Trotsky on art contends the art autonomy and presently freed and not narrowed by ‘reality’ of politics. Trotsky is a big supporter of Marxism, and through his book Literature and Revolution, he illustrates how art was revolutionized. The book is an exposition of bourgeois art; it looks at its implications of new culture self-determining constitution and ways that the new needs of revolution brought change to the conventional forms of art that might come to be viewed in the future (Trotsky, 1923).         Therefore, Literature and revolution is an object of political decorous,  predicting a new culture that is past class as a category. Hence, it is false to say revolutionary art can be established by workers only. At the time of French revolution, tedious work, which directly, or indirectly reflected was not only created by the French artist but also the Germans. The French bourgeoisie who were mostly concerned about the revolution could provide sufficient strength to produce its imprint. This is also true to the proletariat who have little concern on culture in art as compared to politics.

Therefore, does this imply the party, oppositein its nature, holds a purely extended position in the art field? These arguments seem to be somewhat infantile (Trotsky, 2018). The method of Marxian has the chance to approximate the establishment of the new art, find the roots of all its sources, and assist the most progressive inclination through the vital enlightenment of the road. Art has to render its ways and by its means. Marxian methods are different from art method. The party guides the proletariat, but not the essential procedures of history. However, there are realms in that a party directly and imperatively leads. And there are realms in which it integrates and some it only orients itself. However, the domain of art an individual cannot command. Hence, it should give attribute to various artistic groups that are honestly striving to approach the revolution and assist in revolution poetic formulation.

One role of the party is to protect the historical interest of the working class since it takes conscious, systematic steps to prepare for new culture and hence modern art (Trotsky, 2018). The party comprehends the episodic traits of literary groups’ transition period and approximate them from the outlook of the place, where these groups are accupants and can are participants in the preparation of socialist culture. As a whole, the party offers protection on the working class historical interest and is objective and wise; thus has a double-edged caution.

Clement Greenberg

Civilization generates simultaneously different things such as a song, poem, painting, and a cover. All these four form the order of culture. However, the connection ends and questions arise, but the answer involves investigating on aesthetics. Therefore, according to Greenberg, it is wise to examine how aesthetic experience is met by a particular person, the society, and the historical context in which the exposure took place (Sharecom.Ca, 2018). Therefore, the political significance of art according to Greenberg artist and poets can absorb new perspective that become part of the advanced intellectual conscience in the 5th and 6th decades of the 19th century even though to some it was unconsciously.

Additionally, once avant-garde superseded in separating itself from the society it went ahead to turn around and renounce revolutionary and bourgeois politics. The revolution was left inside the community apart that led to confusion in ideological wrangles that art and poetry found unfavorable when they start to include the ‘precious’ self-evident beliefs upon, which culture had to rest. Thus, it realized the correct and most significant function of the avant-garde was not to “experiment” but to identify a path, which will make it possible for culture to thrive and move amidst the confusion in ideology and violence (Sharecom.Ca, 2018).

Political Significance of Art As Depicted By Various Artwork

Art is entwined with politics. Art has served a specific purpose from mimetic to corrective tool and disparities in social conditions and circumstances which has influenced it and shaped it. Artistic production has never alone duplicated reality. Even at the period of realism, it had the role of depicting the cruelty and everyday beauty of life to the audience. For instance, in the Nazi, the visual culture of the Soviet encompassed additional meanings that were in support of ideological stances (Widewall, 2018). Some created artwork that heavily supported ideological burden and praised political dominions. Contrary to such attitudes, other practices of artistic were often established where groups that had restricted access to the public realm. During the first half of the 20th century movement by avant-garde created aesthetic coup that was focused on not only discarding the observed emerging trends but also the social and moral customs. The phenomenon of avant-garde went against the prevailing customs of the time and opposed the primary culture and traditional styles. Avant-garde pointed the start of 20th century that made and outlined best-known artworks. Later on, a social movement was developed that consisted of those who were in support of their ideas, for instance, Black Arts Movement that advocated for Black Power and Feminist Art that arose due to the feminist movement. Since the ancient time, art has never been an artist personal reflection un gagged from the world, but it has been away of communication through contextual meaning. In the present society, different topics and socially-engaged stances are addressed by artist such as environment, sexual, racial, capitalist market system, and economic.

Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei

The artwork by Weiwei consists of a hundred million ceramic husks that are made to look alike in size, shape, and color as the counterparts from nature. 1600 unemployed artisan produced the husks in Jingdezhen town, China. The city of Jingdezhen imperial ceramic was created and existed since time immemorial. The work incorporates stories from past of China and current global production by industries and inequality systems perpetuated by this production. Made by unknown workers, sunflower seeds represent the mass manufacture of goods from China, the vulnerable positions of workers, the cultural and economic trades that exists in today’s humanity.

Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer

Levitated Mass is explained as the art of property, or sculpture. The artwork consists of large stones weighing 340 tons megalith that was taken from the quarry and placed above a trench surrounding the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and the La Brea Tar Pits an area where the prehistoric bones rest. The effort is simple as that of sunflower seeds. However, it makes a strong statement about the contemporary condition. The megalithis placed between an old location and modern location and a path for which people could walk symbolizes the hardship of the latter-day relationship among the ancient, the current, and the crushing nature forces threatened by exploitation of the capitalists that can put an end to delicate humanity existence.

Cézanne, Mont St. Victoire, 1902

Montagne St. Victoire is a hill found in south of France, and it faces the Aix-en-Provence. The paint has a symbolic entice to the region and was associated with the old Roman victory and various early festivals by Christians. When he was at the family house Cezanne was greeted daily by its unique silhouette. Together with scenes of the old Bibemus quarry, it becomes one of his favorite subject of landscape, which he painted repeatedly (Visual-Arts-Cork.Com, 2018).

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

Duchamp fountain is practically the first piece that represented conceptual art and has inspired many artists such as Grayson Perry. The fountain has led to different interpretations. For instance, Calvin Tomkins stated that one could make out “the veiled head of a classic Renaissance Madonna, or a seated Buddha, or perhaps more to the point, one of Brancusi polished erotic forms” (Phaidon, 2018). As the first conceptual work fountain, Duchamp shows the relationship between the labor of an artist and the supposed success of the work. Moreover, putting the urinal forward as Duchamp’s artwork who was raised in a small village along Rouen near the battlefields of the 1st world war was disrupting the consummate artist’s power and the critics who sat admiring and judging the awful brutalities of the war that had interrupted authority’s control.

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  1. Badiou, Alain. “Fifteen theses on contemporary art.” Lacanian ink 23 (2004): 103-119.
  2. “The Fascinating Tale Of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain | Art | Agenda | Phaidon.” Phaidon, 2018, http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2016/may/26/the-fascinating-tale-of-marcel-duchamps-fountain/.
  3. “Greenberg: Avant-Garde And Kitsch.” Sharecom.Ca, 2018, http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/kitsch.html.
  4. Heller, Daniel. “Art Definition – The Long Debate Over What Represents Art Continues.” Artgreet, 2018, https://artgreet.com/art-definition/.
  5. “Mont Sainte-Victoire Paintings, Cezanne: Analysis.” Visual-Arts-Cork.Com, 2018, http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/montagne-sainte-victoire.htm.
  6. Rancière, Jacques. Aisthesis: Scenes from the aesthetic regime of art. Verso, 2013.
  7. Schneider, Bret. “Cite A Website – Cite This For Me.” Platypus1917.Org, 2011, https://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Schneider_Trotsky.pdf.
  8. Trotsky, Leon. “Literatura irevolyutsiya.” Literature and Revolution’], in Revolutionary and Socialist Art (1923).
  9. Trotsky, Leon. “Leon Trotsky: Communist Policy Toward Art (1923).” Marxists.Org, 2018, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1923/art/tia23.htm.
  10. “The Strong Relation Between Art And Politics.” Widewalls, 2018, https://www.widewalls.ch/art-and-politics/.
  11. “What Is Art? And What Is Beauty? | Issue 108 | Philosophy Now.” Philosophynow.Org, 2018, https://philosophynow.org/issues/108/What_is_Art_and_or_What_is_Beauty.
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