Art, in every form conceivable, is a reflection and expression of the time and environment in which it evolves from. The greatest works throughout history have tended to have been created at moments of adversity and upheaval. The artist has and always will be a lightning rod of political and social change sometimes overtly but mostly through shifting societal consciousness. We introduce imagery into our work almost unconsciously as the masses adopt new standards and mores’.
There was a great prophet who said, ‘you strain at a gnat but you swallow a camel’ and it appears at this moment in time truer words have never been spoken. As artists our ‘right’ of autonomy, free speech and absence of fear of retribution is the absolute cornerstone of all that the ideal of creativity entails. To say or think that art is divorced from the concerns of everyday life and the events that swirl around us at breakneck speed would be to drive our heads into the sand and adopt the out of sight out of mind illusion.
We now see the political landscape come alive with those who promise to deliver each of us a better nation and world. These come in the form primarily of democrats and republicans and we the people align ourselves with whomever strikes a chord to our own concerns,beliefs and experiences. The names involved such as Trump, Obama, Clinton, Carson etc etc are just descriptions of philosophies and ideologies that might possibly be adopted as laws in the future if they each eventually get their own way and agenda. The way I see it though is that this process is really not about them but about us. They will get what they want if they succeed but will we or will we be forced to ‘agree’ with them under penalty of law and societal pressure?
How will these ideologies and reconstructed morals affect us as artists and people. Will we as artists and people swallow the proverbial camel under the guise of someone else knowing what is good for us or not? This brings me to what I am calling the Denali Principle. Do I really care about whether a 20 thousand foot mountain remains named after a President or returned to an original Alaskan name? I would ask how many of you even knew this was an issue or what Mt McKinley was named before? I surely didn’t. This appears to be another tool of division and determination. A getting used to adopting what others think is right for us not what we actually think is right for us. As artists this is potentially deadly and this path clearly shows the writing on the wall.
The gnat to me is the apparently important dilemma of which name is of such vital importance that it will change the history books and a small part of our social consciousness. The camel to me is the absolute denial of participation. Have any of us ever been asked in a clear way what we thought about Denali or the principle of a government of the people, for the people and by the people deciding for us. As artists this should send terror and chills down your spine as the world around you is being determined and shaped for you by others in darkness and isolation with the acknowledgement that we as people and citizens have no right of self determination and expression, the cornerstone of a free society and more importantly a creative individual.
So at moments I step back and ‘hope’ we find our way despite the power mongers and propaganda specialists who have mastered the art of manipulation and deception. I think of professional wrestlers. They battle it out and give a great and believable show but when it’s over they all go out together as drinking buddies and the crowd walks away believing the performance. Many of us will say that this one or that one is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will give me the best chance to my promised land but that’s the gnat. That’s the irresistable carrot on the string. Our being prodded and forced into their vision believing it is our American duty to obey without challenge and without a real actual meaningful say is the camel. As artists this might seem superfluous now but despite what we each might believe personally,when the day comes that you will be censored and influenced through laws and ideologies that passed through the halls of power in the dead of night without your awareness or participation the world as we have enjoyed it will be but a faint dream from another country that we all once knew.