August 5, 2008

Political Art, Post Talking Heads

Nicholas Grider has a recent post asking the question, "Can abstract art be political art?" Similarly, I had a post where I asked if queer art could be non-representational.

Thinking about it a little more, there are artists out there who are political (or queer, for that matter) that don't seem to let their other interests filter into their work.

Just the other day, David Byrne released the first track from his recent collaboration with Brian Eno. You can download (for free) Strange Overtones, the first song from the album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. It's their first collaboration since My Life in the Bush of Ghosts; check out the Bruce Conner video here.

David Byrne also keeps a quasi-blog, though lacking a place for feedback, comments and the like, it functions more like a TV, in that the communication is only one way (c'mon, David, even the NY Times allows comments). In some of the posts, one can find Byrne's political views that (for me) were the foundational undercurrents of the best Talking Heads stuff.

Listening to this first track makes me wonder, where did the politics go? I remember my limited edition copy of Speaking in Tongues, with the cover by Robert Rauchenberg (long disappeared). The last track was This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), which signaled a turning away from the world, politics (and their ramifications) to domestic insularity.

I'm hoping some of the other tracks on ETHWHT aren't more quirky Byrnistic slices of our world, a place that only exists by turning one's back on an apparent interest (expressed in his Journal) in our current angst.

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1 comment:

  1. There is a history of queer abstraction (or a queer history of abstraction) that runs in the US, I would say, from Rauschenberg/Johns (though the human trace is there) to Felix G-T, of course.

    Also there's John Tremblay, and another guy (maybe it was Tremblay) who made abstract drawings that were diagrams of gental positioning during queer orgies. So there's stuff out there, but scattered: something for you to write a book about.

    The main concern seems to be what, now, is "abstract", i.e. divorced from already being arrived at with a reading in mind. Also the political question of whether representation of "queer" is a responsibility for queer artists working with these ideas.

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