Archive for social change

artRiot opening!

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, awol monk, Climate change, Culture, Feminism, Festivals, Folk music, Grafitti, lililth half dressed, Music, photos, political music, politics, radical art, Street art, Sydney, sydney fringe with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2010 by Desert Rat Shorty

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Thanks to all who came to the opening of our artRiot exhibition and supporting radical art in Sydney.

Thanks to to Jagath Dheerasekara for the photos.

artRiot: art for radical social change

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Culture, Feminism, Music, Newtown, Party, political music, radical art, Street art, sydney fringe with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by Desert Rat Shorty

The Lurkers are part of the artRiot collective, which is curating a multi-disciplinary exhibition and performance as part of the Sydney Fringe (10-26 Sept 2010). 

We’re currently on the hunt for radical artists whose creativity is changing the world. Submissions are now open!

We are seeking art from Sydney-based artists that can change people’s lives and help to create radical social change for a better future.

Expressions of interest are now open for an interactive, multidisciplinary exhibition upstairs at the Annandale Hotel as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.

artRiot is looking for radical works: the exhibition is not targeted at working families and it’s not a feel-good campaign.  It’s about meaningful art that is honest, uncompromising and dangerous in a way that dares audiences to believe in a radically different world.  Any art form is fair game: music, fashion, sculpture, photography, fashion, crafting, graffiti, tattooing, painting, poetry or any other form of creative expression.

We know that art can change the world – from Peter Dombrovski’s pivotal photograph of the Franklin River to the music at the heart of the struggle against the apartheid in South Africa. We’re asking contemporary Sydney artists to show how their art is creating radical social change.

Round one expressions of interest close May 31st.  The exhibition will run at the Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst from the 20th September to the 3rd October.  Submit your ideas here: http://artriot.org.au/eoi/  

For more information check the website or email contact [AT] artriot .org.au 

Please forward to friends, comrades and conspirators.

What makes music political?

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Climate change, Copenhagen, Culture, Folk music, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2010 by Desert Rat Shorty

What is it that makes songs more meaningful than the musical equivalent of dinner party conversation??

I think it all comes down to whether the music is a catalyst for change of some kind.  Just because a song is about a political issue, if it doesn’t make anyone or anything change then I don’t think you can call it political song.  The change can be in action – people changing their behaviour because of the song or the experience.  Or it could be people changing their mind about something as a result of the music.

Eric Drooker's 'People vs Military'

Eric Drooker's 'People vs Military'

Ok, bear with me while I pull out some complicated sounding language…  Collective singing is an experiential metaphor for collective action.  What I mean is that rather than just using a metaphor as a verbal illustration, you actually get people participating in a ‘collective action’.  Through singing together, people experience the power and togetherness of acting in a group.  Singing all by yourself is scary and exposing.  Same as political action – it’s scary confronting a police line or a coal train all by yourself.  So collective singing gives people the direct experience that doing things collectively gives power.  However, it’s not enough just to sing – that’s just step one!  Then you have to take that feeling and apply it into political action.

Image by Oxfam

We have more power collectively than we do alone

Music and performance can be political in other ways.  There are lots of examples from theatre that can be equally applied to music.  Brecht used the technique of Verfrumdungseffekt – roughly translated this means “alienation effect” or “making strange”.  The way it works is that evoke contrasting feelings in people by putting things together that don’t really match.  So you tell a funny story and make people laugh.  But the joke is followed immediately by a song that is sort of related but tragically sad.  So it gets people thinking about the same thing from two different points of view, and question their own assumptions about something.  People wonder why they laughed at the funny joke when it’s actually really sad.

Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes and and The Weavers were involved in Agit Prop theatre, after the style of Brecht.  They appropriated lots of old tunes like hymns and traditional folk tunes that people know in their bones.  That way, people feel like they already know the song, and are singing along before they realise it.  And articulating a political view is a really important step in taking action. (Incidentally, the Nazis also used this technique, which has meant that many German people now associate those songs with the Nazis and have stopped singing those songs).

And in another example from theatre… Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty aimed to spur people into action in a different way.  He would assault the senses, with bright lights, smelly fish, bad language… whatever.  Often it would be offensive or cruel.  The point is to provoke a visceral response in the audience.  Music can use this technique in a way – offending people is not always bad.  It can get people thinking and acting differently as a result.  You just need to be thoughtful about how you offend people and for what purpose.

Music can also be a way of bringing people together for political organising.  Anne Feeney did a superlative job of this at a gig we played together in Copenhagen.   She used her songs to inspire people into action.  And she used them as an excuse to start some conversations like any good union organiser would do with a group.  “Who got arrested this week?”, she asked the crowd.  A few people had.  “Did they take you to the cells?  And did they take you names?  Did you have to pay to get out?  No? Good” (The crowd cheers).  “In my opinion if you haven’t been in a position to get arrested, you haven’t been doing shit”.  Or something to that effect.  Followed by her song Have You Been to Jail For Justice.

If you have anything to add (or dispute!) I’d love to hear it.