Art Up Against Political Systems
The theme of the first issue of Gazeta de Artă Politică is Art Up Against Political Systems, a recurring topic in debates about the positioning of artists in relation to various forms of power, as well as in those about the ubiquitous “resistance through culture”, about the need for politically involved art or about the radical nature of artistic endeavors which discuss the political.
We settled on this theme because we believed it was essential to problematize the artists’ role in society and the relevance of politically-charged interventions in a context where concepts such as the autonomy of the aesthetic, the neutrality of art or the apolitical artist are widespread. How can artists confront political systems? Does art stand a chance of reforming the political?
One conclusion that can be drawn from this first issue of the Gazeta, reading articles such as Dead Man’s Capitalism by Mihaela Michailov (a discussion of the play About Roşia Montană – Physically and Politically), The Surrealist Revolution in Interwar Romania by Valentina Iancu or Lala Panait’s piece about the occupation of the Teatro di Valle theatre in Rome, would be that art can function as a form of confrontational political involvement, not merely as a contemplative exercise. Fighting against the system sometimes means claiming social and political rights beyond the limits of “legality”, other times it means confronting marginalized topics or taking a stand against the official discourse.
At the same time, Dragan Batančev’s article on Yugoslav partisan film reminds us that the connection between art and power can be very ambiguous, relying on complicities that simply cannot be defined in clear-cut terms such as “opposition” versus “collaborationism.” In this sense, Batančev gives the example of the collaboration between then-President Josip Broz Tito and director Veljiko Bulajić for the film “The Battle of Neretva”, with the former as script consultant. Batančev’s piece reflects the intention of the G.A.P. to discuss the theme of artists confronting political systems not just form a local perspective, but within a regional and international historical context in order to bring into the discussion areas that are lesser known to the Romanian public sphere. We are thus attempting to shed light on several groups and artistic phenomena situated outside the cultural space of the West. In the interview conducted by David Schwartz, actor and political activist Faisal Abu Al Heja of the Freedom Theatre in Palestine talks about the possibility of a third Intifada (a rebellion against the occupation), which would be first and foremost a cultural one. For those at the Freedom Theatre, art has a clear, straightforward political stake. We, the coordinators of the G.A.P., share this belief and state it unequivocally, just like Costi Rogozanu does in this first issue of the Gazeta: It is in their very clear repositioning as social and political fighters that I see the opportunity for artists.
Mihaela Michailov, David Schwartz, Ionuț Sociu, Marius Bogdan Tudor
The theme of the next issue is Labor and Laborers: Representations, Contexts and Relationships in Art Institutions.
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