For something so seemingly gentle an occupation art really does get up some peoples noses. Take the artist Owen Maseko in Zimbabwe for example, being arrested and having an exhibition closed. By all accounts the imagery was not a walk in the park, but then neither was Zimbabwe’s recent history. An artist’s reflection of that you might say.

In a different and a wider sense I agree that some art can be inflammatory because of the subject matter and the close proximity to defenders for or against its denial or existence. But really, is that attitude no different than with some people getting outraged at NWA rapping about stuff in the 80’s and 90’s? what were they going to rap about ? a walk in the park perhaps?.

 

NWA 2

Now Zimbabwe, and this artist’s (and other Zimbabwean artists) are obviously coming up against a regime which would prefer them to just shut up entirely, never mind to stop painting pictures of their histories grim reality. An acceptance of which on a daily basis I imagine every citizen faces in every aspect of their lives there.

But what is it about imagery that holds such strong sway when it comes to censorship and acceptance. We know this is nothing new; for centuries established and not so established kings and queens, religious hierarchy’s and the wealthy have bought the favours of artists to portray a kind of propaganda.

Religious paintings

Part Triptych of Le Cellier Jean Bellegambe

On the lines of non art/information delivery;

TV news is apparently having a renewed popularity rush with the imagery of video reporting – alongside its move to the internet and moving-image-reportage (delivered to your flat screen or where ever) the written media is feeling a squeeze in the presence of this visually captivating information over the finely crafted word. We like to see and hear stuff delivered by a human form – I guess it keeps our senses fully occupied. And perhaps it is also way of delivering a padded out slightly more entertaining version of what would be very tightly scripted or written news in a more traditional talking head style.

I get that video holds strong, and, still talking about dry stuff here, but I’m the first person to watch the vid rather than read the manual (personally I need glasses to read in any depth especially on the screen) but is it also easier all round?. Maybe though there is a little bit more to it than this, a combination of a sort of time poor attention deficit and being told information? bite size stuff.

Art and the delivery of artistic expression;

Art has been, up until recently, usually defined by a static image or sculpture; something to contemplate. Is that where its unease creeps in with acceptability?. Art portrayed like this can, or encourages people to ponder, to look, to touch, to think and therefore not be told, but to hopefully engage and take stock. Therein I think lies its perceived power on one level alone – that of contemplation.

TV news, political spin, whatever visual and verbal imagery that fills and occupies our screens, 3g spaces and airwaves, does just that, fills up our senses on a roll if you like, with just enough time to take it in and hopefully form an opinion about it. But the written word and art, moving image or not, is there to take as long as you can, or would like, to contemplate its nuances and then to re-contemplate.

The internet has a lot of visual, verbal and written content that whether art or not, is there and can  be consumed and contemplated over and over again if wished. This is now being shifted into brackets and categories by business, policies and legislation.

I will be very interested to see in the near future, why some forms of expression are deemed not as acceptable as others. The reason why.

 

I think the written word, however it is produced will always have the same contemplative ability by the very fact it is static; so prompting the reader to absorb and imagine at their own pace and re read.

Books, publications and art have always been bones of contention, especially in the light of big social change.

I am sort of surprised the kinds of free expression seen on the internet have had comparative freedom of space for so long.

How we read the world around us has an impact on our perceptions and how we then act within it.

So art, being part of a freedom of expression, sort of comes with the remit to endeavour to reflect that. But all art, whether theatre and film along with the written word and the still image, be it painted, photograph or whatever, will always be a valuable part of our collective contemplative conscience.

As long as that expression is not stitched, tailored to suit or tidied up into acceptable baskets of truth or authenticity, because of political zeitgeist, fear of offending, of rocking a boat, or indeed in spite of that.

A friend once said she believed art was not about beauty per se, more about finding beauty within the sometimes unacceptable and unpalatable – so all the information we personally process everyday local or globally, can reach for some sort of contemplative acceptability of that.