Information for artists!
Artists Liberation article in draft form by Barbara Breckenfeld
Draft Policy Statement For Artists' Liberation
Basic To All Humans, All Cultures
Creativity is a vital, distinguishing part of human intelligence. It is precisely the ability to construct a new response to each new situation. This basic human qualify is found in all human beings. Creative thinking is also the source for all artistic, musical, dramatic, literary, and dance creations. Thus, all human beings are potential artist. Everyone possesses the basic equipment to function in that way. This is illustrated by the fact that artists are found in every culture, religion, class , nationality, gender, and age group. In every identifiable group there are artists. All cultures of the world have produced prolific works of art of all kinds. These have played an important role in daily life since prehistoric times.
Some Realities About Artists
- Creativity reflects human beings' true nature:brilliant, flexible, powerful, resourceful, playful,loving, and appreciative of the beauty of the world.
- All humans have the potential to be artists because of the innate characteristics of human intelligence.
- Being an artist, creating art works is being a leader and playing an important role in society through generating and introducing fresh ideas.
-Artists have traditionally taken the lead in pioneering new ideas. These ideas, revolutionary at one time, become assimilated and are put to use and constitute our cultural body of knowledge.For example, the impressionist painters developed a new way to perceive and paint reality, which is no very popular but was once considered outrageous.
-Millions of artists have created throughout the years and have permanently enriched and improved all of humankind's daily lives. This includes clothing and cookware, religious objects and musics, as well as stories and many other things which enliven the home, workplace, or religious ceremonies from early times up through the present.
- Art enhances people's lives by providing stimulation and relaxation. It also serves a very important role in reminding us that this world is a good and beautiful place to live.
- Art and artists provide culture diplomacy, a window for people to communicate as people through their cutler or national alienation and estrangement. A few examples of this include Ravi Shankar, the indian sitar virtuoso, the Russian Ballet, the great popularity of black artists from Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith, to Chubby Checker, Aretha Franklin, and Jamaican Reggae's Bob Marley. These are important roles because they allow groups to see humanness and beauty in other peoples they've been taught to fear and hate.
- Making art is work. Artists are workers. An object of art or work of music, dance,drama, poetry, or fiction is valuable because a human made it. It has additional value because it communicates an essential truth to many people.
-The artists is more important than the art produced. Human life is vastly more valuable than any inanimate object, but this fact is consumed in our profits-over-people world.
- What makes certain people art its is a commitment of time and energy to being an artist, to facing the struggles and savoring the boys, and reading. Whether or not a person has done any creative work in the last day, week, month, or year is incidental. A person becomes an artist because he/she decided to do so:once an artists, always an artist.
- The distinctions we find between "fine art" and "craft" or "folk art," " folk music" and "classical music" are misleading/ These terms imply relative value that reflect only cultural attitudes that wealth and education make someone or something superior. All varieties of art forms are important and meaningful contributions to the human sphere and deserve our attention and support.
- Artists are not naturally elitist. Many people do act that way due to ways they've gotten hurt in the society. Most artists are very lonely and terrified of any number of things, throughout no fault of their own. Elitist behavior is an unsuccessful attempt on their part to cope with their feelings. The unfortunate side to elitism is that it reinforces the isolation of artists from other people, especially the working class, and strictly limits the issues dealt with in the work. When, out of fear, the artists retreats into more and more obscure concepts, others often feel their intelligence has been invalidated, so they draw away, and the artist's isolation is complete.
-The correct role of art to bring new ideas into society is sometimes con sued and becomes "anything new or different is art". This is a rigid attitude; creativity is characterized by flexible fresh ideas.
- There are no limits to what any people can have or deserve to have in their lives. Many artists have glimpsed a part of this idea, or have applied it to one area of the world. This attitude can be taken by anyone, with great results.
- What is art? This is a worthy question, and one without a precise answer. Art seems to be an intentional act of creation which exhibits human intelligence tackling a problem or making a statement through some chosen vehicle for expression. What seems to distinguish something as art are the signs of the intelligence at work, solving a problem, or finding a fresh combination of elements that communicates more effectively.
- It is great to be an artists! Artists spend lots of time in contact with the beauty of our world. Tehe act of creating is one which puts people in touch with their inherent power. This has been described as feeling unity with the universe. To be an artists is an endlessly stimulating and fascinating challenge, with the limits set only buy the art its. To be an artists is to attempt to use fully the enormous capacity of flexible human intelligence. THese aspects may also be associated with pain and discouragement, but these are temporary external pressures. The inherent nature of being an artists is that it is GOOD!
What The Society is Like
A. All People are Oppressed.
We presently live in a world dominated by capitalism. It is composed of class societies in which a few people wont he land, capital, or factor ( means of producing wealth) and the rest of the people ( the majority) work for them ( directly or indirectly) changing raw materials into products of greater value.
In a capitalist society the worker is paid a wage for her/his work. this wage is a small portion of the actual value of the object that his/her work imparted to it. This division of wealth and labor is entirely arbitrary in terms of relative values of humans, but the " owners" of the wealth have a stock in keepings things the same way, as well as there being an historical precedent.
Our societies have evolved over the centuries in a way that keeps groups of people from upsetting the statues quo: division. As long as people can't cooperate with each other, no one group will ever gain sufficient strength to overthrow the present system. This division is aced on fear and mistreatment, stemming from the universal mistreatment received as children. This mistreatment, when not dealt with, makes us ready to reverse roles and mistreat another person rather that endure any further mistreatment ourselves. Based on the mistreatment we receive, we learn to fear and mistrust other people, especially people who appear to be different from ourselves. The way our societies have developed, any way of reason someone can be identified as different is used against her/him. The attitudes are found on a personal level between individuals, and they are also found fossilized in the laws and practices of the institutions of our culture. This is the mechanism of oppression. All people in our society are oppressed as young people, and generally for other reasons, too.
The content of oppression is that "these people are inferior because they are x's" which also becomes internalized by the recipient into "I am inferior because I am an x." Because of this the content is very similar from oppression to oppression. ONce one group has been singled out for targeting in this way, the door is open to target anyone. The reality about oppression is that its role is solely to keep people divided and prevent them from using their innate power to over-throw bad systems of government. (Perhaps the stability brought about by the divide-and-conquer method was an advance for civilization at one time, but it is now an antiquated relic.) It achieves this by convincing the members of the target group that the reason for their oppression is their x-ness , or some other group's x-ness, but in reality that is only the excuse. A person's age, nationality, religion, gender, race, occupation, language, etc. is never a sufficient reason to justify their mistreatment or oppression. It is only an excuse for economics exploitation. In reality, economics is the basis for all oppression.
B. How Artists Are Oppressed.
Through this process, artists are systematically mistreated on the pretense of their being artists. They are attacked ( as in anyone in our society who stands out) for having powerful and different visions, for not conforming to the narrow confines of society at any given time, and for sharing their ideas with others through their work. These reasons do not justify the oppression. There is nothing inherent in being an artist which justifies the oppression. In a world without oppression these qualities will be valued, but presently they are used as excuses for systematic and institutional mistreatment.
For example, many people are outcasts from society and disowned by their families, simply for being artists. This loss of support is doubly hard because it is very difficult for artists to earn enough money to live on from their art. They are faced with the voice to live on a minimum budget, pursuing their artistic goals and giving up much hope for any economic satiability or comfort. Or they can hold two jobs, one to provide regular income, but sapping energy continually from the artist's work, while the artists spends his/her "free" time furthering the chosen career.
In every culture the patterns of oppression and pressures to conform have in one way or another stopped almost everyone from realizing the full possibilities of their mind's creative power In spite of this, many people have succeeded in holding onto parts of it, although they may not call themselves artists. These are the people who sing in the church choir every week, play in their community orchestra, or are "Sunday painters." Those who do call themselves artist seem to be those who ha ve decided to make a full-time commitment, face the oppression, and create anyway. It is making that commitment which brings one face to face with the full force of the oppression, yet which also provides the strength to continue to create.
Artists are oppressed everywhere. However, different cultures have more (or less) flexibility in certain areas. Japan, for example, has designated certain artists as National Living Treasures. They receive financial stipends as well as acclaim. Many South and Latin American countries have diplomats who are also poets with large followings.
The economic stems, with few exceptions, requires artists in the U.S. to hold two jobs, one to make money to survive and support the other, that of doing art work, creating. This system all but denies the artist freedom to create without pressures of time or money. in addition, minimal value is given to most work produced unless the artists is popular or dead, or both. This is due to the profits to be made from scarce items. Even less value is allotted to the human who created the work. but galleries and agents profit and make livings from merchandizing artists' works, and collector profit from the increase in value of work over time and its resale velue. Thus the art its is the prototypical wage worker, who receives only a fraction of the actual worth of the object produced by his or her labors, and is often isolated from other wage workers.
Because so few artists achieve wide renown or commercial success, there is great pressure to conform to the style of work currently popular, and to complete with other artists for the supposedly few existing chances to succeed. Although some artists are successful because their work is great ( for example, the Beatles, Picasso), artistic success has only partially to do with any kind of merit. It has lots to do with what a promoter thinks will be profitable. It is very arbitrary who gets promoted and who becomes popular, but it has great bearing on relative financial security for the artist. That continuing security hangs on producing more commercially profitable work. Still the successful artist is receiving only a small fraction of the profits produced by the work.
We as artists have been systematically degraded, underpaid, persecuted, dehumanized, worshipped, put on pedestals, ignored, and despised for centuries. A commonly held belief is that art is great, but to be an artists is bad. In this way people have failed to regard us as human. As artists we are praised to the skies for our work and criticized for the ways we've given up. This is the fuel for stereotypes. The tread marks of the oppression show, in detail, the struggles and scars every artists has had to face in order to keep creating, whether they show up as elitism, irresponsibility, or some other difficulty. It has seemed that we have had to sacrifice other parts of our humanness in order to hang on to the ability to create. This is not true, at least not if we know we can become free of our feelings. But we have been incorrectly convinced that the oppression was our fault for being artists, instead of the common but unjust treatment of workers in a society based around economic profitability.
As artists we have trained part of that vital component of human intelligence: creativity. It is the ability to think freshly, to dream the impossible dream and realize that dream and share the visions with others. The potential power of that work is to communicate so successfully that people will change their perspectives, their actions, their lives. Art can put people back in touch with the beauty and goodness of our world that exists outside the cloud of pain, confusion, and numbness of daily life. The oppression has made its make on art that is commercialized, trivialized, elitist, or never created. The true power of all forms of art has yet to be seen fully, but it has been glimpsed. It is time to grab hold of that power with both hands and use it to change the world.
C. Myths and Stereotypes Vs. Reality.
While myths and stereotypes do not accurately reflect reality, i is useful when giving the broadest consideration to the world today for artists to look at the attitudes which abound. These widely held attitudes fail to take individual differences into account but offer information from which we can learn. Those funny ideas we get to having about each other are the telltale sings ( ring-around-the-collar) of distress patterns frozen into the practices of our society and passed down from generation to generation.
The stereotypes of artists reveal the content of the oppression and we are all too familiar: Artists are crazy geniuses, loners, impoverished, irresponsible, and out of touch with reality. Often a drunk or drug addict, artists are tortured, unhappy soul,s possessed of a burning, driving compulsion to create, which a normal, well-adjusted person would overcome. Artists represent the bad element in society. People don't usually hope their children will grow up and become an artist.
There are also " positive" stereotypes: Artists are playful, childlike, and joyous. Artists are mystical and possess an inherited or god-given talent. Artists are dedicated, but always poor and struggling. Artists are special, rare, peculiar, and different.
All of these ideas reflect some truth about the hurts of the oppression as well as how people really are, but both positive and negative views distract from seeing the fact that first and foremost, artists are human beings and that it is part of natural human functioning to create. These attitudes that artists aren't "like us" serve to invalidate every individual's thinking and creativity. Further it isolates the artist from the society and allows people to dismiss the importance and value of what they have done.
Some additional myths about artists and works of art: only certain people are talented enough to be artists. being an artists is not a real job: producing works of art is not real work, therefore artists are lazy. What artists do produced has little or no value. Very few artists can make a living from their work.
The concept of talent is a misleading one. The ia of talent as an inherited trait reinforces the ideas that only certain people can be artists. It mistakenly credits the excellence of art work to something beyond individual control ( genetics). The ability to create in general and specifically within a particular art form is something learned and practiced. We don't know enough about infants' pre-disposition to certain activities to speculate if we all start with equal abilities, or if some people do in fact have greater natural ability. Either way, all human beings possess enormous potential to be creative in a variety of ways, and never lose that potential. In fact, creating is dimly work . Like any other it has its ups and downs, but it consists of skills that generally improve with practice and use.
Our cultural-economic system both degrades and worships art. both are dehumanizing. The mass popularity of certain musicians, actors and actresses, the reverence for a famous painter, dancer or writer and their work are examples of the latter. In our economic systems where a person's worht is measured in dollars, and people who work as artists generally go unpaid for their labors, the artists is greatly undervalued and oppressed economically. Our society relies on artists and other thinker to generate new ideas, while it simultaneously provides numerous economic obstacles to their flourishing. Not many artists do make their living from art, or even related activities, although it is possible and requires ingenuity and persistence ( and sometimes luck)
The attitude of art as a luxury is another dent in the economic reality of being an artist. Art, which provides meaning and enrichment to people's lives daily, is not viewed as necessary for survival, or only for the very rich who can afford it. These reinforce the incorrect impression that enjoyment and participation in the arts is out of reach for most people.
Some additional misconceptions relating to art works and economics: the value of art work is judged by the amount paid for it. This idea ignores any value found in the content of the work unless it translates into money. This reflects the importance placed on profits over people in our economically dominated culture. The reality is that artists, as people, are more important than the art they produce.
Art work doesn't reach its real value until the artists is dead. With the passage of time, the new ideas of artists become better accepted into the cultural mainstream. This frequently occurs after the artists is dead. When there is popular demand for a limited number of art works, profit-minded business people demand higher prices for work and up goes the price. This distracts from the human value contained in a piece that is difficult to compare to dollar values, a feel as the value of the human who created it.
Older art work (old masters) is seen as more important than recent work. Some older work has continued to be important and relevant to millions of people. Some art work has not sustained popularity beyond its own era. It is easier for many people ( particularly without art training) to appreciate and enjoy older art work for a variety of reasons: the work is more familiar; it has become absorbed into the culture consciousness; in the case of visual art, it contains recognizable images, or music contains familiar intervals of sounds, or the aesthetics of the ballet are also familiar to many of us.
There is certainly no reason to continue to enjoy and appreciate old works of art. There is much we can learn from them, but they are not more important or better simply because they are old or have proved their popularity. One of the import roles art plays is to introduce new ideas into society. These ideas don't necessarily involve profits or become popular. The overriding pressure of things to be profitable does have a repressive effect on work produced and promoted, even in the U.S. which is often regarded as the most "free" country.
What Are Major issue For Artists?
A. Reclaiming Power from Terror and Isolation.
The greatest hurt contained within artists' oppression is isolation. isolation from other artists and isolation from the general public. The invalidation on people's thinking works both ways; artists strive to push out their limits, and the public feels dumb, uninitiated, and "can't understand." There are unquestionably many elitist attitudes that have been forced upon artists as a part of the oppression. Artists' attempts to push out limits are not always successful as creations. It is important that they try new things.
It is important that artists respect their audiences' ability to think and expect them to be able to understand the work. Arstists often feel that nobody likes or understands their work except for a few close associates. This is not a chosen attitude; it is a desperate attempt to explain others' lack of support, so that the artist can keep creating.
The importance of art teachers (of all kinds) has been underrated for too long. The ability to convey positive and accurate ideas about artists' art making to students (of any age) in a class or lesson can and often does permanently change an individual's perspective about on or more of the arts. This is especially true of encouragement of the individual to take their creating seriously enough to allow their own ideas to emerge.
The more people in the general population can be influenced positively toward the arts and can make creating a part of life, the more hospitable the world will be for all people to create until the oppressive system is changed.
The situation for artist economically has been documented; there are no easy solutions to economics oppression. The only real solution is to end the oppression. Yet it is important that we not give up our goals of earning our livings as artists. This will be possible for us. It is not as far from reach as we are accustomed to thinking. Once we stop believing the half-truths and lies the society perpetrates, we will find that there are more opportunities to succeed in a wide variety of ways than we have assumed. The fierce competition we fear is fiercer when we respect our fears. This is not to deny the existence of oppression. It is very real. We do have to deal with it at its source, the conic basis for all oppressions, class societies. And we must not settle for anything less than freedom for all people. But we do not have to wait passively for that event. We can make our lives better now, and we can do that together. As we do so, we will help to bring about the ending of all oppression.
Let us find economic solutions to having enough creative time and good working conditions, proper space, equipment, materials and supplies, adequate safety gear for toxic, substances, resource materials, child care, and what else?
There are high-paying part time jobs, foundations offering grants and fellowships, patrons, and many more possibilities yet to be dreamed up. Let us cooperate in creating them.
Let us humanize from within the present system of distributing and promoting artists' work, and create workable alternatives outside it. It is time we request and expect constantly good treatment for ourselves and our work from the promoters and agents and that we give and receive the same from our fellow artists.
What does Artists' Liberation Mean?
Artists' liberation means the liberation of all people from oppression, for one group cannot achieve its liberation in isolation. The world cannot genuinely be freed while even one person is oppressed. Artists' liberation means the end of class societies based upon economic exploitation. It means the end of the forms of oppression which divide the economically oppressed.
In a world freed of dominance of "the profit motive," people's jobs will be safe, not dangerous, and not so tedious as to leave them chronically exhausted and despairing. Jobs will challenge and stimulate people, make use of their greatest abilities. In this world, all people will be inherently valued. Artists will be valued as human beings, above their work, and both they and their work will flourish in a climate of economic and supportive well-being. Without profit as the number-one motive, human values will rightfully take precedence over canonically motivated ones. Artists will exhibit and sell their work in a system that benefits, respects, and supports artists, their work, and their public audience. People will certainly discuss each other's work in constructive ways, but there will be no need for critics as such, because it will be understood that all artists deserve support and that there is enough to go around. Cultural leaders of all types will be newsmakers, cultural events will make headlines, and artists of all kinds will rank amongst the heroes and heroines of the world.
Artists' liberation will in particular mean the end of patterns which exhibit creativity and all full uses of human intelligence and self-doubt and self-criticism. As people recover form the effete of these inhibitions, their lives will flower with a wide assortment of creative activity. In short, it will become a part of daily life. As more and more people can see themselves as artists, and as artists see the change in the climate of attitudes and economics for themselves, the barriers between "the public" and "the art world" will diminish, and both will become more accessible to thee other. Artists will become powerful, well-respected, and sought-after members of a society in which they participate fully on all levels.
Artists' liberation will mean more art!! Artists' liberation will bring the end of internalized artists' oppression. Artists will enjoy each other's whole-hearted support and respect, and will share and collaborate with each other to extend their visions still further. Since the limited use of financial resources for profit-making will end, competition between artists or any other people will become a thing of the past.
We will sees confident, relaxed, powerful human beings secure in their role in society, thoughtfully tackling the problems of the time, with the resource to push their ideas past all the old limits.
How will we achieve artists' liberation?
Re-evaluation Counseling as a Tool
In RC through consistent Co-Counseling and participation in classes, support groups, and workshops, we will discharge away the patterns of terror and isolation, reclaim our power and take pride in being a fully human artists living in a good world. We will build strong artists' support groups where people can get close, share goals, and think about each other in the long run. We can use the direction for complete pride, "It's great to be an artists!" We can invite act other to use the women's commitment to end internalized oppression, "I solemn promise to never again settle for anything less than absolutely everything." We will seek, trough discharge, attitude and action both in ang our of RC to end patterns of internalized artists' oppression within ourselves and between artists. We will model pride, support, and cooperation amongst artists, and take the attitude that this world is a good place to live. We will use and reclaim our creativity as a natural human activity for all people. We will encourage others to reclaim their creativity, offering the phrase, "I'm an artists." Together and individually we will reach for solutions to wider world issues of ending nuclear armament and making the world free for all people. As we dishrag about all these issues, checking our new ideas, we will continue to increase the accuracy of our thinking. We will revise this draft policy as we go. We will write specific policies for each group of artists: visual artists, musicians, painters, pianists, etc. and use these policies as guidelines for our work in the wider world!
In the wider world we will achieve artists' and all people's liberation through sharing our understanding that the world is good and reality is benign. Through our art work and the other activities we choose, as people comprehend this idea, they will become freer to change their attitudes and behavior.
From this position we can give art a place in our daily life ( if it doesn't already have one). We can familiarize ourselves and others with local as well as national and international artists of all types and find appropriate ways to support their endeavors. We can recognize the value of artists' organizations and join them to meet other artists and support their projects as well as to offer oujr perspective.
As artists living in a good world temporarily dominated by societies oppressive to its inhabitants, we must address the issues of our time as artists, such as female liberation ending nuclear proliferation, and ending racism of all kinds. We mush also address artists' issues. We must end our patterns of elitism and isolation and build allies as we determine what other roles artists will play in creating a free world.
Who Will Be Our Allies?
Let us seek to build allies in as many other groups as possible. Since every human being is a potential, if not actual, artist, anyone who can be helped to realize that they too are artists could become an ally. Here is where the role of the art(music, drama, dance, poetry) teacher has been underestimated. Those who have contact with thousands of young people have a big part in how people view themselves in relation to the arts. Adult education teachers also have an important role in continuing to encourage people to create. There are, in part alliance-building jobs.
It is also important for us to recognize specific sections of the population as being natural allies to artists. Both women and the working class are found in all sectors of society, as are artists. Those groups are similar to artists in that they face issues of safe working conditions, fair payment, and general degradation and economic hardship. Many, many artists hold working-class jobs for survival. It is in the working class that artists belong. As prototypical wage-workers, we must throw our strength with the group most equipped to change the society as we link arms with our other allies around the globe.