Friday, August 18, 2006

Propaganda Antidote: Guest Artist Doug Minkler

Artburn © Doug Minkler 2005

Poster Text: Artburn-- Artist's indigestion: caused by an overindulgence in aesthetics and a belief in the myth of "neutral or non-political art". Relief comes from an acknowledgement of the political function of art coupled with a balance of aesthetics and usefulness in the development of a healthy democratic society.

Printmaker Doug Minkler has been creating political artwork for decades. His powerful images, incisive text, and subject matter get right to the heart of the issue he's focused on. Doug also believes in the shareware concept and encourages free downloading, printing, and distribution of his poster art. What better way to circulate propoganda antidote? Minkler believes that artists have a unique and essential part to play in shaping political dialog.

Mayakovski: Art is a Hammer © Doug Minkler 2006

Minkler goes on to list what he considers the essential tasks an artist should undertake in times just like we're living through right now,

The Artist Role in Time of War

1. Support people of conscience (war resisters,
whistle blowers, freedom fighters).

2. Criticize life-threatening government policy
(imperial wars, social services cut, homeland security laws).

3. Expose the media's role in the lies
(scapegoating immigrants, corporate control, censorship).

4. Propose solutions (internationalism,
fair trade, environmental justice).

5. Question all norms and protocols
and Create as if your life depended on it.

Minkler calls all artists to this urgent task, even those who try to insulate themselves within their studios,

As for contemporary artists who have never raised their brushes in self-defense or in the defense of others, I would like to encourage you to lend your specific talents to envisioning a better future. Many artist friends have responded to this call by claiming that their form of expression is not suited to the requirements of effective propaganda, but this excuse is usually not founded in history. Artists of all stripes as unlikely as Mark Chagall, Joan Miro, Alice Neal and Jackson Pollock have all made artistic contributions to social struggles. Often the artist least expected to respond politically creates the most influential work. Other reluctant artists have told me that they did not feel qualified to design the future. They prefer to leave that job to more knowledgeable or politically aware persons. But this kind of abrogation of civic responsibility is characteristic of what has contributed to the demise of our democracy. The ominous proliferation of nuclear weapons and life-threatening environmental degradation proves that the policy of non-involvement is not working. It is paramount that we all take part in shaping the future.

Artists, in general, are resourceful, have a healthy intellectual curiosity, value justice and are highly suspicious of dogma. Although many do not publicly espouse their beliefs, they usually possess sound values--share the wealth, protect our natural resources, make love not war. We have developed our expressive skills and often view the world from a unique vantage point. This artistic perspective, often coming from our deep unconscious, can provide insights crucial to motivating, informing and problem solving.

At this time in history, the survival of our species is dependent on learning how to cooperate. Our enemies, who profit from capitalism, racism, and war, will try to mislead us, distract us, divide us, and destroy our organizations. Our job as artists is to create images that expose the ugliness of the exploiters but equally important, we must show viable alternatives to a better future.

Full Essay Here

Terrorists Wear Suits© Doug Minkler 2003
Poster Text: U.S. Corporations secretly sell brutal dictators everything from biochemical weapons to instruments of torture. U.S. companies illegally armed Saddam Hussein, in violation of international arms treaties.

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

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