Saturday, 16 January 2010
North Korean propoganda poster, presumably the bad guys are US soldiers
Monument to the Third International, communist
More North Korean propoganda
so here's the question. i have been asked to, at great length it seems to me, define Art. and the question occured to me, can totalitarian art be considered truly Art, or is it merely propoganda? in the same vein you could ask if adverts have artistic value.
the other issue that popped up when i was discussing this with a friend earlier that there were several schools of art, with their own distinctive styles that grew up in the USSR, so yes it is. but then, this begs the question doesn't it, that are all products of a totalitarian society necessarily totalitarian in themselves. certainly, state controlled propoganda artists certainly produce totalitarian work, but does that discredit every artist in the school of Socialist Realism, for instance, a state sanctioned artistic ideaology though it was?
we don't call all art that derives from capitalist cultures "capitalist art", is this fair? no, i don't think it is. we can judge others very well, but we rarely look at ourselves. are not the endless barrage of adverts simply capitalist propoganda? could capitalism itself be considered a political and economic philosophy like communism, which with it's stranglehold on all aspects of life could itself be labelled totalitarian? much capitalist architecture is in my opinion blatantly totalitarian. many housing estates are clearly designed for the use of the riot police, and most of these new office blocks and housing units going up are clearly designed to make people feel small and powerless as far as i'm concerned.
think of that diamond skull. isn't that nothing more than a worship icon for senseless consumption, and how many of those diamonds came from the killing fields of Africa, mined by slave labour? This is true capitalist art, in my opinion, and i consider it a work of evil.
but to get back to the main point, can art, propoganda art in particular, really be called art. North Korea is an instructive country, as there is NO independent artwork coming out of there. look for pictures and videos of Arirang, the mass games, a stunning spectacle of ant-like cooperation. if you can call it cooperation