Conversation, Writing

Micchelli: How art can effect political change

At Art:21 Blog, the Flash Points guest blogger series is focusing on art and politics this month. Today, Brooklyn Rail writer/editor Tom Micchelli, after seeing a performance of The Investigation, a 1966 documentary drama by Peter Weiss (1916-1982), considers how art can effect political change.

“The question implies an integral, activist role within a progressive agenda, yet the history of politics and art since Jacques-Louis David is fraught with paradoxes and complexities.

Art�s essential element�its ability to transcend the circumstances of its creation�can be best described as ‘news that stays news.’ But to do so would be to quote the radical modernist American poet and Fascist sympathizer, Ezra Pound. And so you begin to sense the difficulty of the problem. Political change requires a collective engagement with a clear set of goals. While self-criticism is helpful and at times mandatory, nothing can be accomplished without a steadfast commitment to the cause. Art�s staying power is embedded in its interrogatory, multifaceted, subversive, uncomfortable and often self-contradictory apprehension of truth.”

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