On artists and social responsibility:
Augusto Boal, Brazilian "Theater of the Oppressed" founder on Democracy Now! yesterday:
Shakespeare... said in Hamlet that the theater... is like a mirror in which we look at the mirror and then we see our vices and our virtues. I think that's very nice, but I would like to have a mirror with some magic properties in which we could -- if we don't like the image that we have in front of us to allow us to penetrate into that mirror and then transform our image and then come back with our image transformed. The act of transforming, I always say, transforms she or he who acts. So to use the theater as a rehearsal for transformation of reality. This was my idea, but not my practice until the dictatorship was every time more severe on us and they started forbidding our plays, not allowing us to do our plays to do nothing. So when we lost our theater, we lost everything. We found theater.
Curator-critic Suzi Gablik, in "Beyond the Disciplines: Art without Borders":
In Western culture, artists aren't encouraged to be integral to the social, environmental, or spiritual life of the community. They do not train to engage with real-life problems. Instead they learn to be competitive with their products in the marketplace. All our institutions are defined by this market ideology—none have escaped. "Professional recognition" in the form of brisk sales and positive reviews still remains the primary pattern of thought that structures the internal rhythms of art-making. For a long time now, I have been questioning these premises; anyone who has ever read anything I have written will know that my books are meant as a challenge to our reigning paradigms of economic control and domination. They seek to expose the coercive propaganda of capitalism as a form of spiritual and ecological suicide—and they look at the Big Picture, always with a view to recovering from the estrangements of Western civilization. Instead of art-as-commodity, deprived of any useful social role, I believe that art can help us to participate in what geologian Thomas Berry deems the "great work"? of our time: moving from a devastating presence on the planet to a more benign presence.

1 comment:

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg said...

Thanks for posting this, Paul -- I'll have to see if I can find the interview, as I'm a big fan of Boal and his educational compadre Paulo Freire.