lost and safe

[New] Great Depression Art

So I was reading a list of the up-shots of the death spiral that our nation’s economy ran headlong into, and found three that really caught my attention:

  1. Art and music are likely to get better when people have real struggles to cope with, instead of faceless nameless existential ennui like we have now.
  2. Regional/community economies may become stronger if managed properly.
  3. Increase in regional farming and self-sustaining food production will become an absolute necessity (victory gardens).

– [tmbchr]™: Positive Effects of the Coming Economic Depression

Then I began to wonder, if/when we began to see our own New Deal arts programs (or if we’ll even see anything like a “New Deal” at all), in what ways would they be implemented throughout the country?  Would they be implemented by federal government commissions at all?

The New Deal arts programs emphasized regionalism, social realism, class conflict, proletarian interpretations, and audience participation. The unstoppable collective powers of common man, contrasted to the failure of individualism, was a favorite theme.

I don’t think so.  What we’re going to see happen is the initiation of many public arts/service projects that originate from within the communities themselves.  A prime example is the Project.1 Biennial going on in New Orleans.  In one of the areas hardest hit by Katrina – the Lower Ninth Ward – structures that were once made to be permanent spaces of habitation are now being built as temporal constructs.  These semi-permanent structures attempt to reconstruct more than simple dwelling spaces; they revitalize and recognize a community that has very nearly been destroyed by apathetic and corrupt local, state, and federal governments.

Some of the art refers directly to Hurricane Katrina, like Ms. Mutu’s “ghost house,” which sits on the property of an elderly woman whose attempts to rebuild were stymied by a vanishing contractor. But most of it does not have to…At the United States Mint in the French Quarter, Stephen G. Rhodes, from Los Angeles, is building a Hall of Presidents in which the presidents themselves are largely absent.

The question is, how do you see this “bottom-up” origination of public art/service affecting the reconfiguration of the American social and political landscape?


Filed under: Acquire Knowledge & Understanding, Missives, , , ,

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