Wages of Change - Politics of Art
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Images credits: Brown Political Review
Art can never be separated from politics. If you observe carefully, the government of every country is using Art media to establish its rule. If we want to bring fundamental changes. We've to use our Art & Media as Weapons.
- Govind Nihalani, Party (1984)
Lately, we exist in a contemporary culture where our millennials applaud art because art and aesthetics are often experienced all over the planet, making people smile while sharing social graces and perspectives on critical aspects of politics. Since Art and politics are inextricably connected, entwined, and are inherently correlated. Modern art has commonalities with democratic representation, such as its post-fundamental aspect. But it would not reshape art into politics, though described as The Political Art. Democratic politics necessitate socioeconomic, political, and cultural cooperation; this engagement must, in fact, transcend the barrier predicted under the foundations of the representative democracy paradigm. People embrace art to voice their opinion about the happenings that sustain them. This would involve directly and metaphorically expressing their views on subjects related to society.
When the authorities pay no attention or detract from issues, contemporary art and aesthetics flourish, challenging the limitations of artistic activity to enhance the realms within which political action should take place. Art and Politics expressed a hazardous distrust that curbed regular people’s naivety and purity, despite withholding their absolute certainty.
Art is indeed a step towards creating a sensation that should not be defined, compelling the public to question their clustering approach. Art is highlighted for striking people with lingering questions and rattling the system. Art narrative is a dilemma for the wider public since it requires creativity, talent, sentiments, and vision; Yet, don't ever hope art will get you through the acceptable political systems.
Art amid democracy can only ever be ambivalent; otherwise, it is propaganda. In what seems like a democratic and political framework, art raises awareness by articulating problems that today's political leaders would never be able to address. Art in democracy is unexplainable without contemplating the socioeconomic mechanisms that have constructed, represented, dispersed, and recognized it.
“What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate, or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How is it possible to be uninterested in other men and by virtue of what cold nonchalance can you detach yourself from the life that they supply so copiously? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”
Images credits: BBC
Political art is an equivocal term, when I assert that this work of art is blatantly political, I'm taking its purpose into consideration. It’s a concept that has been widely overused by artists who want to be political activists in the modern day.
Political art sometimes picks a side in a political dispute. Such a notion of political art argues that it's inconceivable to identify what's really political unilaterally, and as such the boundary between the political and the non-political must be made. Many claim that often social concerns are really not political matters and that political art can only take a stance if political parties or at minimum political movements hold contradictory viewpoints on social issues.
Remained aware that anything outstanding and original in the way of creative thought was a jarring note and a stride toward Revolution
Many works of art, like protest poetry, essentially furnish the reader with a plethora of ideas to explore and contemplate. Certain art may be quite valuable for having different concepts for a brighter political world. Sometimes art is more confusing, emphasizing the living embodiment of what it senses as flaws. Nagarjuna is often regarded as the king of political poetry in India. Throughout the 1975 emergency period, he penned arguably his most creative poems. His work is multilayered, with several narratives that might be interpreted as diasporic anthropology, culminating in aesthetic reflection.
In her "We Don’t Need Another Hero" artwork, Barbara Kruger used dramatic irony, parody, and imitation. In the current political sphere, parody has been the most prevalent form of Art. Here, identity is imitated through humor and attempts to solve the implicit structure, while political beliefs are challenged by using their domain to portray the art.
Politics and meme culture have been intertwined in the last three to four years involving leaders such as Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, and Xi Jinping. This, in which art engages in politics via the Internet, is certainly gaining popularity. This, in my opinion, signifies and influences a great deal on a social media level.
Propaganda: The Art of Political Indoctrination
Propaganda Art is a form to push a narrative at the detriment of language, satire, aesthetics, and plausibility, rather than to construct meaning or empower a community to address any issues. It's a form of subterfuge in which the betterment is more political or monetary than aesthetic. Propaganda is quite popular within political parties and the media. When it comes to poetry as being an art form, sometimes it's about politics, but that can't be solely political from the poet's perspective. Sometimes, poems composed or inferred only for political purposes succeed as propaganda. The cornerstone of propaganda seems to be that artists are concerned with power management rather than Aesthetics. The artist, on the other hand, suggests delving into the imagination or developing a clear understanding of an expressive form, or presenting a realistic or somehow engaging tale that impresses and uplifts the consumer without really letting down one ‘s belief.
“Propaganda is concerned with the management of opinions and attitudes by the direct manipulation of social suggestion rather than by altering other conditions in the environment or in the organism with the chief function… to demolish the enemy’s will to fight by intensifying depression, disillusionment, and disagreement.”
The Theory of Political Propaganda, HD Lasswell
Political and aesthetic extremism:
Artists and authorities, fueled by arrogance and ideology, feel like lords of a whole course of developing either art or states. I'm sketching a distinction here between two sorts of political and aesthetic extremism, as both were extreme propaganda of their time.
Avant-Garde Propaganda Art:
A Russian strategy of collective teaching of collective efforts in which art was required to pinpoint itself alongside the spearhead of a proletariat whether it intended to indulge in the state’s revolutionary aims. This hopes to achieve a confluence of art and life such as through radical behavior, with the goal of rewriting political institutions in a specific country.
Totalitarian Propaganda Art:
Refers to the intensity of history and social expression in severe authoritarian states which is also intended to obscure the disparities in the art of many tyrannies. It is being used to characterize the scenarios of politics, democracy, and autocracy as staunchly antithetical, which endangers people to the establishment of propaganda in technologically advanced societies.
One of the historic examples of this Propaganda Art is from the WWI, Poster featuring Lord Kitchener aiming at the viewer which was designed by Alfred Leete in 1914. This poster emphasizes perspective to catch the viewer's attention to the key areas. The gesturing arm's haloing used new aesthetic precepts to provide the impression that he was already gazing at the observer, personalizing the immersive appeal.
The First World War led to the birth of this art of Propaganda; this wasn’t just a tussle between nations but on an unparalleled scale, creating the means and urge for altering and affecting international perception and state intent.
So Sorry (Series of India Today Group) is another example of propaganda that blatantly appreciates the current regime and glorifies the ruling party. This Politoon is intended to berate individuals who are supposed to be unfriendly to the ruling party or partner institutions.
Images credits: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazis understood the psychological, political, and social significance of propaganda art, and even with the intensification of democracy, Nazi ideology became more compelling than ever, necessitating stricter control.
With the emergence of nationalism, propaganda throughout this digital society aims to integrate realism through the clear and present existence of danger and split citizens in order to strengthen the needs of the magnified power, therefore by executing aggregate desires using arrays of mass aesthetic initiatives. It is well accepted that propaganda might be quite efficient in weakening opinions during periods of strife, and it is destroying aesthetics in democracy.
I think that cartoonists and comedians have a tangible effect on this artistic expression of Issues because they blend comedy and politics together to provide insights into power dynamics, significant societal issues, and occurrences. The difficulty with this type of art is that it has to be so prominent in order to draw attention since there is so much more going on in politics on the ground. Indian art is articulated with knowledge of a persisting understanding of the past as relating it to the present. The integration of poetry, pens, thoughts, and aesthetics has been significant, creative, and extremely original during successive invasions.
Cartoons (such as Common Man) created by R.K. Laxman are more like experiences in which satire is experienced at the moment. But some artists have been mutilating the religions in the name of entertainment and art, which is evoked as a cultural clash, Munawar Farooqui controversy hurts the religious harmony of Indians. India has a historical heritage as a heated debate regarding who defines enlightened aesthetics. Indian Political artists are so sensitive to the feelings and reactions of the audience. Many reasonable and rebellious artists prefer to think that if anything is politically and socially meaningful about a nation and society should be seen as information, interpreted as a string of messages or assertions.
Artistic Expression Implies A Certain Amount Of Accountability.
Rapidly expanding responsiveness to unwritten history, nationality, and religion will come into conflict with something like a long-standing pledge to free speech and secularism. They do not consider that a work of art may seek to use a religious metaphor, initiate a roughness in the audience, or explore ambivalences.
The threshold of spontaneous artistic expression and indeed the liberty of everyone else "to not be confronted with what they feel abhorrent" is pretty minimal.
We seem to be in liaison with it when we engage in the art, so we might let the other "explain" us while endeavoring to "understand.
We are generally sure to feel both offended and affected, bewildered and enticed when we encounter art. Our reaction is unfettered, and there's no means which protects us from misunderstandings. That can be harmful, but it could also allow us to endure complexity and conflict. We wouldn't have the inclination to criticize the work, which is far too unusual within our perspective or to downplay its variances. Artists who use propaganda to incite hatred should always realize that everybody else has the privilege of not being susceptible to what individuals find offensive.
At the end of the film Party, a blooded figure of Naseeruddin shah walks out of the shadows with his tongue cut not being able to say what he pleased as a poet and seeing the end of his political revolution, No one knows which movement will lead these artists next but walking towards a goal-striving to achieve it no matter what it takes is their duty. Because the biggest crime is to see your dreams die.
BY ABHISHEK UPADHYAY