13 September 2012

Partisan Art for Singapore? A Reaction to Singapore's decision to withdraw from the Venice Biennale

The recent announcement of the withdrawal of Singapore's participation in the world's longest running art biennale, the Venice Biennale, has caused quite a bit of a reaction amongst selected communities on this tiny island republic; some claimed the move to be regressive, when Singapore has been laboriously building up a small but pretty formidable stable of artists and works of art for the past decade or so and with the Singapore Biennale, Singapore seems to be staking its more-than-proportionate (sized-wise) claim in the global art market (of course having a very hearty push from the economic might of the republic in the midst of the global financial meltdown).

The introduction of the phrase, community art, to be foregrounded, from hence forth, feels propagandistic and may I say, reminds one of Socialist Realism or equvalent art movements or initiatives taken in history by many governments which dubiously used for various agendas, sinister ones included (especially the fatalistically contested eras of the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s on continental Europe).

On the other hand, the UK is witnessing the curation of another form of art which is neither highly-placed, highly financed and highly profiled or politically agenda-ed community ones; it is a showcase, a celebration of the D.I.Y. culture of PUNK.

Event: Someday All The Adults Will Die - Punk Graphics 1971-1984
Venue: Hayward Gallery London
Duration: 13th Sep - 4th Nov 2012

See link here.

Schedule of Events :

Press View: 11am - 1pm Thursday 13 September

The event also includes a panel discussion which I believed has ended just and coinciding with the publication of a book (see below):

There will be a panel discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Johan Kugelberg (Thursday 13 September at 7pm, £10) . Tickets can be purchased here.

The panel discussion at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre will explore the provocative graphic art that developed alongside punk rock. Panelists will include Tony Drayton, editor of Ripped & Torn, one of the first UK punk fanzines, and Kill Your Pet Puppy - arguably one of the most aesthetically interesting anarcho-punk fanzines of the '80s; William Gibson, award winning writer and seminal cyberpunk novelist; John Holmstrom, writer, cartoonist and legendary editor of the iconic Punk magazine; and artist Gee Vaucher, whose record covers and newsletters for anarcho-punk band Crass in the late 1970s and early '80s influenced graphics for political protest as well as for music.

The exhibition coincides with the publication of Punk: An Aesthetic by Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage, published by Rizzoli.

Then over the Channel in the Netherlands, an upcoming event, Incubate festival, which will be featuring Simon Reynolds, who is going to give a talk on DIY Culture (I presume of today).   See link here.   The suspiciously sounding "community art" smacks of top-down political, hegemony-reinforcement of the state while the above 2 events are bottom-up groundswell movements which feel more genuine and more truly "community" or "communitarian".    
Official or commercial sponsorships often complicate matters in art or the arts; punk is an example of total ground-up cultural phenomenon which encompasse not just music and fashion, but also literature, graphic design, fanzines, and of course visual art and more. Just look at Gee Vaucher (a close associate of the UK anarcho-punk band, CRASS) and her iconoclastic art on the album covers and poster designs (Go to Existencil Press). Let us not forget Raymond Pettibon's controversial album/7 inch cover designs/posters for the legendary punk record label, SST Records (he is now a name in the institutionalised art world, with a Phaidon publication dedicated to him). How about Mike Kelly (R.I.P.) who also was deep in the freak/punk/DIY/art underground before he gained currency and art-world recognition from the 1980s onwards (also having a Phaidon book under his name).    
Let us create, celebrate, support and spread PARTISAN ART: an all-encompassing term for all people-oriented art movements (I almost forgot about the Riot Grrls!!!).   P.S. There are many such sub-cultural movements around in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan (not so sure about South Asia but definitely present and kicking amongst and beyond the South Asian communities over in Europe and the USA). Dig them out and celebrate them!   P.S.2 Some of these movements have sub-sub cultural movements which have strong queer and race platforms so another hotbed for curatorial purposes.

1 comment:

Sally J Clarke said...

The international art market...The Robert Hughes interview with Mugrabi in 'The Business of Art' says it all...