I don't think we learn much or grow by surrounding ourselves with sympathetic people. I prefer to be surrounded by a spectrum of opinions rather than by people who all like the same art and feel art is about the same things.
I think there is an artistic apartheid in the UK.. if you're not left of centre and have come through some academic institution you really don't get into the art debate in the UK.
In my view because artists pursue independently their vision of the world..this makes artists more likely to be independent thinkers.. because by the nature of our practice we have (or should have) the will to be independent of the political mainstream.. more so than any conviction that one grouping, establishment or a single philosophical position is correct. I have strong and probably quite unpopular views on the type of art receiving State subsidises in the UK and there really is no general platform for open discussion of this... rather like global warming (sorry I mean climate change). In my experience where the debate ends the creativity quickly dries up as well... that's probably why I find much contemporary art in the UK insular, self absorbed and frankly.. dull.
In my opinion artists generally deal with ideas.. and because we deal with visual ideas we are quite capable of bringing a "different perspective" to an established debate, not seen in the wider social context. We are less interested in the actual political application of these ideas and political loyalties but artists generally explore ideas. Free and open debate is the anvil on which new ideas are hammered into some form of coherent shape. In a healthy society artists should generally be challenging accepted ideas and truisms.. we explore visual ideas and therefore the idea of any rigid "truth" should be met with suspicion by artists. We are less likely to follow the debate we are generally more likely to create, renew or stimulate debate. I think its healthy that when the "truth is proclaimed".. artists eye this declaration with suspicion.
In European history over the last couple of centuries "creatives" have always been close to the heart of the evolving debate. But with the expansion of education the debate has been largely hijacked by educational establishments. It seems only right that the internet should create and sustain forums for the exchange of international ideas and theseart sites are probably the modern equivalent of the Parisian cafes in Picasso's day.
At this time I see society as in urgent need of fresh thinking and new vision.. the right/left thing is largely redundant.. society needs its "creative thinkers" now to find a way through the mess.
In fact I would go further and say the absence of genuinely creative rather than economic and political thinking across our society has lead to our present predicament. Of course there are many creative people out there in many walks of life but I do not believe their voice is being heard where it matters because of a media controlled by narrow economic interest on the one hand and politically entrenched people on the other.
Take the political establishment for example 50 years ago the party system in the UK was a mix of the brave, the out spoken and tenacious mavericks. These days our political classes tend to go to university directly from school and have little or no experience of life beyond, and yet these people are almost completely in control of our political system.
(Interesting that this is by far my most visited blog post)
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