Friday, October 31, 2008

Inhabiting Political Art

Must an artist inhabit the role she presumes to represent? How does this role connect to the political revolutionary?

Bile, one of Nuruddin Farah's protagonists in Links, explains, "an artist representing an image cannot presume to be an artist unless he is able to be the very figure being represented. Likewise, a man with a radical image who's spent years in detention for political reasons must act forthrightly and without fear of the consequences."

The comment links the artist and the radical. Both must act forthrightly and without fear to have an impact. But, what does it mean to be the figure being represented? An artist can inhabit the revolutionary role with an imagination that builds characters, scenes, and story through links to the real. Or, the artist can be the firgure represented and present a realist version of events from personal memory in order to convey a political point. The artist can be either inside or outside, but either way must present a threshold for the reader to pass through, which evokes meaning and provokes response. How does the artist reach that point?

13 comments:

Christian said...

To say that an artist must 'lose themselves in their art' is greatly overdramatic, but in order to be truly effective an artists must challenge the viewer, something they can only do through passion. If an artists is hesitant or uncommitted about their vision of truth, their art will have no more impact then the hollow rhetoric of a mainstream politician- to be a radical artistically or politically requires passion.

ahelton said...

I don't think the artist must actually "be the very figure represented," but like Christian said the artist must desire and passion about what he is painting, singing, writing..etc. However, he must also understand "the very figure being represented." If he cannot understand it, then everything presented is just a lie. It has no more power than a dictator without people to dictate. Part of art is provoking people into action and motivating them to discover truth. How can this be done with a lie?

lindsay said...

The figure being represented is symbolizing a mere topic in which the artist understands and wishes to express. With not having an understanding of the "figure" the artist does not have a clear concept. With presenting a threshold in which the reader to pass through is really just evoking emotion in art in which the reader can relate to. with not understanding the truth behind the figure the artist lose sense of emotion and is less likely to reach the point of evoking meaning. If an artist wishes in an attempt to let the reader interpret art in which he or she does not fully understand, just to see what evokes the reader, I believe the artist is allowing the reader to have more of an impact of the “figure”

TexasAggie09 said...

No, I do not think the artist has to inhabit the role they represent. Anyone can relate with an action, emotion, or physical/political event. The figure represented is the connection one has with that piece of art or situation. It seems Bile is describing how one can relate stronger with the actual experience than someone who has not. I believe you can have the same feelings towards something even though you may not have experienced it. But if you have, in Bile's case, then you must act without fear and be a difference.

sikes688 said...

I believe the artist must inhabit the role of the represented, but not to the fullest extent. In order to relate a deep understanding of the subject matter, the artist must incorporate elements that may be alien to him or her, and use this new perspective to create these symbols. The artist can then let go of these elements, not without effect, but it doesn't mean that the artist is stuck in a role like an actor. He or she can call upon these elements at will.

lu2009 said...

If the artist is the figure being represented he will be able to portray a different side and story to the audience. I don't think the artist has to be the subject being represented, but if he is then the audience will get the story or view from the inside. If the artist understands the subject or has heard stories then he is portraying the subject the way he sees it, which may not necessarily be the truth, and if an artist portrays something that he knows nothing about then he is evoking false meaning

Caitlin Van Wagoner said...

i am not sure if it is necessary for the artist to entirely become the figure of image, he or she represents but the artist must be able to explore it thoroughly. the artist must be able to create meaning to attach the characters they represent. i believe that this can be done through introspection, self-projection or actual experience. in this way the artist must have some sort of referential experience with the subject matter they are portraying. i liked what some other people said about passion. i define passion as giving over yourself entirely to a person, cause, idea, etc., and as history has taught us from great passion comes great achievement, both artistic or personal.

mimi7557 said...

To an extent, I think the artist must inhabit the role they are trying to represent. In doing so, the emotions related to that role come easily and the artist can express those feelings. Just like an actor submerges himself in his role to be able to understand and portray that role to his audience, other types of artists should attempt to do the same thing. It allows deeper understanding that results in the audience's understanding as well.

bailarina said...

The artist doesn't need to be what he or she represents. When talking about literature, many great books are written by authors who are nothing like their characters. This allows readers to see an outside interpretation of a certain type of person, and then allows them to make their own interpretation.

Yet, I have to agree with Christian and Ahelton when they say that the artist must at least understand the subject represented. Otherwise, there will be no depth to the character.

ZJCH said...

"Deep understanding" and abstract ideas is what art is all about. The artist has to understand his piece somewhat, but it is up to us, as the viewers, to analyze the art and come up with what the piece symbolizes or represents. Art is meant to appeal to our emotions, and each different piece could mean a little something different to each person that views it and gets something out of it. I do not believe an artist must "be the very figure represented" as long as the art can find some meaning for those that view and analyze it.

Jacob Lo said...

One can see, hear, smell and even taste art at every corner in life. Because it is everywhere, and because it is so easily accessable the art that stands out and separates itself from the crowd are ones that have meaning and provoke emotion.
Art that actually passes the test of time has the ability to stand out by arousing these senses. How the artist reaches their point is irrelevant.
Some argue that art which was made from the "inside" of the conflict is more pure and real. Others disagree and believe that because the artist was involved, the art they produce is biased and distorted. These people believe therefore that art from the "outside" is more credible.
The side from which art was made is irrelevant. One could cite several examples of it from the inside and the out. What matters is that it can stand out and separate itself from the countless forms of other art all around. Art that does this evokes meaning and provokes our senses.

Pellerino87 said...

An artist must have a basic knowledge of the subject-matter he or she wishes to portray. In order to properly represent the message to be conveyed, the artist can't just b.s. his or her message. If they do, people will be tempted to shoot holes through the message and question its validity. Furthermore, this will provide for a much deeper meaning of his or her art for the viewer to understand.

hdgie411 said...

If you are going to be an 'artist', you must be a first hand representation of the event. For example, when painting the devestating effects of a war, you need to have first hand knowledge and experience to back up your art. If the artist is unable to be lost in the role, then their art is detached and less reflective of the realities. By using their first hand experience, they can better translate their experiences and meaning.