Written 11 nov 1993 for a presentation at an Abuse Survivor's "Speakback" held in Waterbury, CT |Some Thoughts on Making Productive Social Change
Affecting Social Change is much more than mouthing slogans or sound bites | It can mean devoting hours - days - years - spending time with those who are reluctant and unwilling to hear the truths of others or to work at
changing existing social policy or considering other ways of living ||
Yet making the fundametal changes in the values that underlie oppressive social policies require interacting with those who oppose us | This must be done before we get to the voting booth, before we get to legislative committe hearings or publci forums | We need to get our points across and to affect change in board rooms and private offices; in juvenile and adult corrections, mental health, the courts, in educational, cultural, legislative and personal spheres ~ where ever decisions affecting all our lives are made regulalryl and daily ~ and we need to do this now!
We must infiltrate the meeting places of adversaries and decision makers who oppose eliminating wrongs | We must insist upon and make impact by directly negotiating polic change, laws and directions for the future | Once there, being heard, we have to make our points clearly enough to be effective advocates for change | Now, affecting change doesn't necessarily make for chit chat or small talk at parties | You won't be making friends with those you meet and confront at policy plannings or while negotiating change, nor will your own friends necessarily want to know about the details of your efforts ||
Even if we cannot immediately make changes to oppressive social policies or practices, our mere presence in some of these meeting places can prevent additional harmful policies from being implemented | Also ~ remember to stay in touch with others who know what you say to be true, and to refresh and replenish yourself from behind-the-scenes battles rather than burn yourself out | Stay healthy to battle successfully ||
WHAT PROMTED THE POST: Bill Pusztai, at his LiveJournal blog recently [05 Mar 2006|02:22pm] posed the question:
Aprés Midi d'une Faune (sp) just came on the itunes. Damn it feels like, despite their fractious arguments about how to make art and what was good and bad, those people took it for granted that art was something worth doing. A certainty I don't think we can ever again feel.
Or am I just making things up?
This was my response: I don't accept the premise that art is made [perhaps in greater quantity] during "politically stable times". Except, perhaps, for the latter 20th Century [the "commodification" period], artists have been seen as, and ofttimes expected to be change agents. Subversive in their approach to prodding the elite [generally the largest patrons of the arts] to question their own values and decision making.
Nor do I believe that the "traditional" media [painting, drawing, sculpture] are archaic means of expression. In my own experience, these apparent static media are only tools of expression and other tools come along for us to make use of, albeit after a learning curve on how to use them.
I work in conventional media [watercolor, oil, pen + ink]. My most "modern" media are photography and collage. It is what you show and how your viewers are impacted that make art worth doing. Living in an oppressive age is hardly a justification of backing off on being creative. Rather, it provides us a challenge and an obligation to keep the creative impulse flowing.