Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Movingpictures 24: Happy May Day


The video above is a project called the Invisibles by the artist Nisha Duggal. Sing along - it's May Day. In the UK we push the bank holiday to the first Monday in May so we're working, but let's not work for more than 8 hours, eh? (The workers' holiday has its roots in the struggle for decent working hours, a struggle the people who would replace the holiday with something celebrating a battle or the empire are still engaged in.)

It's encouraging to see artists increasingly engaged in political thought, though hardly surprising what's going on. BBC Economics Editor Paul Mason has written this week about the way the Occupy movement in the US is challenging the contemporary art markets - it's a really interesting piece you can read here and view on the I-player here if you're quick. (It starts at 38 minutes in, though the earlier section with Hunt in full  pouting prefect mode, being defended by head boy Cameron, is worth watching, maybe with the sound down.) The visual arts market - where which collector you sell to (or your gallery will let you sell to) can be as strategic a decision as where you show or what you make - could probably do with a shake, although I suspect it will argue these are more designers than artists, more interested in reproduction than limited edition, not 'critically engaged'.

A final point of interest is that this piece is by the Economic Editor at the BBC not the Arts Editor. Paul Mason is an interesting character - I bought his book 'Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere' after reading an interview with him over at Mute, and will confess to feelings of optimism as I read its descriptions of global revolts, technological change and connections to historical patterns - he compares now to 1848. In the interview he concludes
 'I think people are very prepared to change lifestyles in a way that 100 years ago they weren’t. Back then it was assumed that everybody simply consumed everything they could possibly consume and the only thing that was in the way of it was money; people didn’t have any money. Now I think people, certainly in the West, are becoming very careful consumers. ...That’s a progress trajectory that can only continue. Peer driven behaviour change is quite powerful and it’s happening in a lot of different spheres.'

It's not quite 'arise ye starvelings from your slumber', but still...

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