Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Here is

Andrew Clifford on the Emory Douglas discussion. Here is the link he refers to - from the Village Voice.


Unknown said...

an interesting read...

TO QUOTE THE CRITIC... If the show has a weakness it is that it doesn’t tell us enough about Douglas’ pre-Panther art training, and how he acquired his graphic skills. It also doesn’t provide a twentieth century art historical context, comparing him with other related activist artists, like Heartfield or Grosz for example. A fascinating (inspiring and disturbing) time capsule nonetheless. END QUOTE

Place the works in the context of the time they were framed. It is not about comparisons and the historical context is implicit in the work and the execution of that work. At the lecture on Monday night (which I was late for and only saw the slide show as it came to the more recent work), both Emory's words and the newer works discuss the issues are still very much part of now - racism, education, health, welfare. Do we ask always need to ask our artists/galleries to provide a twentieth century art historical context? Isn't that implicit in the fact they exist? Does the critic want someone to hold his hand?

At least he was inspired...

John Hurrell said...

All artists - even activist ones -like to get attention from the art world. That is no mystery: Emory accepted the residency and our lives in Auckland are the richer for it.

Questions of context are perfectly reasonable. Look at the second Douglas image down for example? Could that be inspired by Roy Lichtenstein? Why not ask such things? It doesn't take anything away from the work's original purpose.

Unknown said...

The question is what inspires acivist artists to produce their work - take the murals in the North of Ireland as an example. The context is about informing the people and providing an immediate response and great visual cues to gain support for the cause and not to get the attention of the art world. I feel the art world has a difficult relationship with activist art and only really bothers with it when there is money to be made out of it - Banksy for example.
The residency is a challenge to the art world to accept the validity of work such as Emory's and, it is a challenge for the students, few of whom will really understand the passion of producing activist art. It is not because the artist wants recognition from the art world!
As a practioner in activist art, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that, while some change has incurred in reaching better standards of human rights, health, welfare, education etc, there are many still suffering through corporate greed, creeping nationalism, a new imperialism, and more.
Emory and others still continue art activism on a daily basis – despite the art world.

Unknown said...

And one more thing: being inspired by other artists work is not a bad thing... I was inspired by the Cubans, the Cubans were inspired by Emory - we all take turns in providing inspiration... however, it is not a Lichtenstein - he wasn't an artist but I wouldn't say he was a poltical activist artist.

John Hurrell said...

Yes you are right,Lichtenstein wasn't a political activist artist. I was just saying the distance between 'life world' and 'art world' is not so wide. The two spheres effect each other.

Unknown said...

Correction: however, it is not a Lichtenstein - he WAS an artist but I wouldn't say he was a poltical activist artist..

Thanks John, I would agree that both spheres affect each other but that does not mean that "activist art" is a real accepted part of the "art world" and does little to be a part of it.

Perhaps this article provides the art historical context you may be interested in.