There is no separation between art and politics. It is no use to pretend you are a “clean skin” not soiled by the machinations of money and power. In the end your work is a commodity. You are a participant, a cog in the machine, working for the Man somewhere along the assembly line. You can withdraw your participation in the political process and let civil society be shaped by others. Your work can ignore injustice, be pretty or ugly, convey deep meaning or celebrate frivolous insights. It may be full of colour and demonstrate your cleverness and skill. In the end it is what it is. It can be become a public commodity or relegated to a cupboard. In the end it is still a commodity.
Which brings me to art and politics.
Spontaneous lines or shapes are all very well, but in the end the image must be visually coherent to offer the viewer a chance to be involved. A drawing may be obscure, if void of context or the viewer lacks empathy with the image. Work needs context.
(To be expanded)
The following drawing was made for social media as part of a political campaign to free the cartoonist Ali Durrani, known as Mr EatenFish and others refugee held on island camps by our government. The chained fish in the image refer to Ali’s story of being “plucked from the sea” and held in indefinite detention on Nauru and Manus Islands. (He is now free and living in Norway). The skeletal fish remains refer to the deaths by suicide or assault known at the time of making the drawing. The movement is striving for freedom. The words provide some contextual hints. However, I suspect the drawing’s intended potency is less clear without the context.
Artists and their work show glimpses of their world. The internet bombards us with images even when we don’t go looking for them. Someone will repost – the good, the bad and the awful. Many reflect the superficial or clever wit, or the sublime or down right scary insights into the human psyche. Some evoke deep unknown feelings. All convey values of someone. It is what it is.
My work is personal. I draw on moments captured and thoughts remembered. Most are obscure and require the context of my life. My drawings are not comfortable, or pretty but I do strive for an aesthetic and a design logic.
This post is me probing the known to identify the unknown, trying to work out what to pursue in my final years….there are a few loose ends kicking around..including one living in my mother’s boarding house during the 1950s. This storyline includes art, politics, food and survival. There must be something in that.