SM Thesis outline v3

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THESIS OUTLINE


INTRODUCTION
Proposition
-Proposition for art as propaganda (defined as a tool of worldmaking) within a world of competing realties
-Propaganda as taking place in a political arena of competing ideas. A competition that has erupted and is characterized by citizen-led forms of propaganda (memes, cypherpunks, artists, hacktivists, activists etc). bolstered by online media as well as a large base of civil societies.
-This paper analyzes the artist’s role in participating in popular propaganda.

Using the term Propaganda
-The term propaganda often elicits a knee-jerk negative response.
-Staal’s paper outlines the origin and coherence of propaganda within democracy in his thesis.
-Sinclair said all art is propaganda.
-My concern is with politically-instrumentalized art. I prefer the term propaganda art as I understand propaganda to be political art aimed at generating a worldview for the public. In other words, propaganda art is politically motivated artwork that can be used by political agents.
-The term propaganda invites careful reflection as well.


ART AS POLITICS
-art is political by nature
-The existence of art in a neoliberal and class-based sphere sets up art to have political stake.
-the historical co-optation and historical alignment of art with politics

-that means art is currently serving a politics. What ideology does contemporary propaganda serve today?
-That politics is neoliberal
-reference to 9.5 thesis that defines art world as operated by neoliberal elites as a class

-artists for a new politics: creating popular art propaganda
-Definition of art propaganda: propaganda as performance of power
-Staal defines three forms: Assemblism, Embedded practice, Organizational Art
-Performance suggests both the exercise of power as well as the staging/aesthetic representation of power.

-the difference between political art and propaganda:
-How is propagandic art different from any political art which has an embedded ideology? I would argue it is in its usability by political agents, with an audience outside the sphere of the art world.

-nothing new: propaganda art’s historical basis
-A very brief historical summary: Constructivism to Socialist Realism, Futurism to Nazi Germany, Abstract Impressionism to Contemporary Hollywood and gaming


NOW IS THE TIME
Theoretical basis for the political power of images
-The primacy of images and the following theoretical interpretations
-its ambiguous position as low-meaning/devalued (as per Groys; Going Public or Steyerl; Poor Image; or Benjamin; Mechanical Reproduction) coupled (paradoxically?) to its cultural primacy and authority.
-Levi Strauss – semblance of evidence (image documentation)
-Badiou – passion for the real as a staged event (image documentation)
-Groys – image as icon (a revolution) (image documentation)
-Flusser (and Steyerl)– images as causes of events (image documentation)

-Art as a Site of Creativity: why artists can make a difference beyond the art sphere
-As artists we are trained in visualities, subtleties of message, careful handling of issues, wide range of media, and resourcefulness.
-art as an effective tool for intervening in media. Propaganda through all channels: all mediums of print, radio , digital, art, non-art, etc.
-Creative force of artists as a source of new tactics: given that old tactics become blunted in the evolution of politics

-Now is the Time: The de-monopolization of ‘manufacturing consent’
the monopolization of mass media that has underpinned historical models of propaganda no longer holds true.
-Social media’s success in organizing the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, and many other public protests.

-sites of struggle: no longer the museum
-Artists should focus energy on the political sphere of action, currently taking the form of overt propaganda online, rather than in museums, galleries etc.
-Precarity has been identified by Judith Butler and Guy Standing as the new site of political struggle; and the defining condition that can bring about a ‘class’ solidarity organized to overcome it.
-Both Butler and Staal argue for a form of public mass movements termed “assembly”.

-high stakes
-Propaganda has been first and foremost dominated by the propaganda for The War on Terror.
-left can’t meme and other political failurs– what the art world can offer to the left

-the instrumentalization of art
-should we worry about art’s instrumentalization?
-I will argue that it does not threaten art institution’s independence.
-Aesthetic languages as per verbal language theories (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis ). In other words, can an aesthetic language operate upon a weltanschauung along the lines that a verbal languages operates


LANGUAGES OF POWER: DEVELOPING AN IMAGE-BASED LANGUAGE OF AESTHETICS
-aesthetic languages of power
-Currently a repetition of historical mix of counterculture art as in extreme right futurists and extreme left dadists (Cramer, lecture DNL Infliltration).

-Revolutionary left imagery and its relevance
-The aesthetics of popular propaganda are not created by artists ex nihilo
-Staal takes Butler’s reference of the visual collage of tents, signs and banners as an aesthetic vocabulary (Staal, p.310
-Not an Alternative takes up cordon tape and cement blocks and appropriates them as visual signifiers (Staal, p.323).

-Fascist imagery and its (possible) co-optation by left.
-Not unlike the right’s co-optation of transgressivity. Note Beyonce and her performance in stark contrast with Ai Weiwei’s staging.
-Fascism showed that the use of art could be used to provide a visible surface to complex or theoretical ideologies difficult to unravel or swallow.
-Groys analysis of the image as icon is not far from the function of fascist art: it places the world of image and symbol within the same realm as the everyday reality, where one prefigures the other and are not separate.

-other languages of power?
-look into ‘third way’ political models of Latin America


LENS-BASED CASE STUDIES
-Example 1: Yael Bartana’s “and Europe will be Stunned” and “What if Women Ruled the World?” (Fascist imagery)
-Example 2: Jordi Colomer (populist, revolutionary language)
-Example 3: my own work, alas!


CONCLUSION
-what is at stake for political art as politically useable art?
-new demands for solidarity across political and economic spectrum including development of the ‘precarait’ (Zizek, Davis, Chukrov)
-the jeapordizing of art’s autonomy in exchange for power
-why propaganda and instrumentalization doesn’t jeapordize art’s autonomy, and how the art object will continue to exist in a neoliberal model (so breathe easy)


REFERENCES
All carefully organized in Mendeley but off the top of my head:
Theoretical: Alain Badiou, Boris Groys, Vilem Flusser, Pierre Bourdieau, Jonas Staal, Judith Butler, Maria Hlavajova, Tania Bruguera, Stephen Wright, Slavoj Zizek, Ben Davis