Tuesday, April 27, 2010

M.I.A.'s new video, with some thoughts about radical art

This is very graphic, very disturbing, and-- I would argue-- important to see:

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.



So a few thoughts:

This is the kind of art I've been talking about (see previous posts about poetry). At best, it's transformative; even at worst, it makes you feel SOMETHING BEYOND a rush of endorphins from a pretty melody, a tinge of nostalgia from a sad song or a smile from a clever punchline. To me, this is what art should be.

That being said, I feel that it's a missed opportunity to present images (or words) that are so impactful, and then just leave them. As a socially-conscious artist, it's tempting to tell an audience/listener "here's this; do something with it," but I think the reality is that almost everyone has no idea what to do with these feelings, these thoughts, these impulses.

So that's why it's doubly important to tie radical/progressive art to an actual radical/progressive movement. Here in the Twin Cities, this was a big conclusion that came out of the recent "Vices to Verses" hip hop and activism conference: how can people who care about their community plug in? How can people who are pissed off about police brutality, American imperialism, Arizona's immigration laws, the public school system, the prison/industrial complex or a whole host of other issues get involved and make a difference? And when we, as artists, stir up these kinds of sentiments in our fans and listeners, what is our responsibility to point them in a particular direction?

Lots of questions. Working on the answers. Big things happening this year, and I'm not talking about music.

Finally, here's another video that had a big impact on me, in terms of how I see music and art in general, Dizzee Rascal's "Sirens:"

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