Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“Every budding dictatorship begins by muzzling the artists, because they’re a mouthy lot and they don’t line up and salute very easily.” 

Margaret Atwood

For an author who uses words so beautifully, I loved how Margaret Atwood went for "they're a mouthy lot". It seems such a simple and accurate description of many artists - people who are trying to say something that might be challenging; people who are expressing concerns, thoughts, fears and desires in ways that require engagement and  exploration.

Not all artists do this of course - many times artists are expressing beauty, dreams and hopes; or reflecting their surroundings, the quiet corners of their homes, their live and their landscapes.

With regard to this quote, my mind does turn to the political cartoonists who so often tell us the truth with biting and aching simplicity. They can ruthlessly strip away the rhetoric and show us the real sentiments or outcomes that lie behind or below the obfuscation.

My mind also turns to the graffiti artists and the slogans that get written in protest. These public acts of defiance are what I guess she is getting to here.

I wonder what sort of protest art I would participate in, and I expect I am likely a quiet protester - making small works that say something; but which don't shout.

I think artists can also try to tell us of a better, brighter more beautiful future. They can remind us of the good in the world and can encourage us to seek out the best in ourselves.

Some lane way art in Melbourne.


  1. I think the WAY you make art, conduct business, deal with the arty world (or not), every little decision you make in life is a political statement --- the most effective protest is not the content, but the conduct of art/life...

    1. Hi Ronnie, I figure politics is one of the paradigms thru which the world and our actions can be viewed. I think the way I live my life is also an ethical-moral statement and choice, a personal statement about my hopes and expectations…lots of tricky stuff. Different protests probably work at different times - short, sharp loud ones, and the drip-drip drip type ones. I also think content can and does matter at times - it can stop you in your tracks and change your direction; irrespective of knowing how the artist lived their life. Certainly the way we choose to live our are/life has impact at other times and in other ways… I guess I should be a libran but I'm not; seeing this way one time, that way another time…!

  2. A wonderful quote that, from Margaret Attwood ... It reminds me of a favourite of mine by Edmund Burke that reads 'All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing'. Both equally chilling and a reminder of the value of defiance. I only hope I'd have the courage and would not be too quiet a protestor ...

    1. Yes Charlton - it is good tone reminded f the value of defiance. I think I do quiet protest work in my daily life, but like you, would hope that I might have the courage be louder when really needed.


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