Political Art; does it exist

“There is an aesthetic dimension in the politics and there is a political dimension in art. This is why I consider that it is not useful to make a distinction between political and non-political art… (Chantal Mouffe, 2007)”

Political Art is not a new word, but still it sounds like something odd, for many politics and art  are totally different thing and even opposite, but when we come out of the classical definitions of art, the current/ongoing scenario has something to redefine/rediscover and reinvest; this whole discussion of art that can’t be political, and art (even if it is not vocally the political art) that is political in their content and concern.

With the coming influences and acceptances of new media art such as video, installation, and specially the performance art, art get more closer to society, to general masses and it became a socio/cultural happening now. No I am not telling here that before it was not having the socio/cultural concerns, but here I am trying to say that these newer forms of expression made a difference, it created much more widened space for dialogue and involvement with the audience.

Such as the philosophical/ critical concepts and theories like deconstruction, structuralism and post modernism have made a great change in all forms of creativity and artistic expression. With the coming of the idea of “end of history”, and “death of author” politics became a very integral part of art, politics that can be anything in any form, it is not necessary here to wearing a slogan (written on t-shirt/cap), or acting/writing/painting something like poster art or kitsch.

In India political art is in practice from a long time, if you see the works done by Chittaprasad or Somnath Hore, or Zainul Abedin or Ramkinkar Baij, there are clear political influences on their artworks, and now in the contemporary time artists like Inder Salim, or Sunil Gupta or Ram Rahman, they are also doing more or less the art works inspired or influenced by politics.

But here one can make a very interesting difference between these two groups, the first lot of artists were doing the very clear/vocal or direct, pure political art works, and the current artists are working in some other directions. There works are more suggestive not direct, they are not doing pure political artworks, but they are making a parallel line and also a new way to thinking about politics and art too.

With the coming of internet and social networking sites and new technologies, now we are living in a time that is heavily bombarded by ideas, information and thoughts. And politics also is having many new faces now, it’s not only political politics, but there are social politics, caste politics, gender politics, sex politics, status politics, etc.

And these things have made the clear difference between that pure political art works and the works that are dealing with different forms of politics, either it is politics of nationality/migration/identity/ or the most recent politics of sex/gender/class/cast politics. But there are differences and these differences can’t be ignored on the name of development or change of time or changes in life style.

So, now these are some key points to start this dialogue and all are welcome to share their views and take this further.

R. Ritesh

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