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Arts and Democracy

The relation between democracy and art -Elena Dragomir- ICD Program Coordinator

What is art? One may answer literature, paintings, drawings, sculpture and the list can go on. But the real question is what do we define as art? A book can’t be considered art only because it is a book.  It is also true that opinions differ from each other and what is considered art by some cannot be necessarily considered art by all of us. Moving on from the broad sense to a much clearer example that can illustrate the relation between democracy and art is looking at the communist propaganda that influenced art during the Cold War in Communist Eastern Europe. During the communist regimes poetry involved ‘worshipping’ the communist regime, especially its doctrine and its leader through rhymes. During the Cold War any form of  literature, paintings, sculptures, etc. that praised the communist doctrine, the communist regimes and its leaders were considered art, but they weren’t considered art or published anymore after the communist regimes they praised collapsed. True art is considered immortal and according to many critics and art lovers only what is immortal can be named art.

Although a piece of art is immortal, can we judge its quality only by its immortality? One may answer that the writer’s style of writing would determine the quality of  a book. Wouldn’t there be many examples in history where art cannot be considered true art although it is immortal and although it might be either beautifully written or painted? What is the purpose of an immortal painting which was painted carefully with every detail until it was made to resemble a photograph illustrating children dying of starvation and people killing each other through war like some Renaissance paintings illustrated hell from the painter’s point of view in a very realistic way. Many might argue, from art critics to ordinary people who love art that those paintings are unquestionably still art. What if it wasn’t a painting? What if it was a book? What if the book was as immortal as those paintings because it illustrates the same things in a very realistic way, but the difference is the images from the paintings no matter how real they looked never became reality while the images from the book became reality through time. Hitler published his book ‘Mein Kamf’ before the Second World War, many might like his style of writing, but not what he wrote because there is no purpose in promoting racism and the lack of tolerance. The lack of tolerance and racism will never bring peace. Hatred attracts hatred. Although love or friendship might be easily replaced with hatred, hatred is never easily replaced with love and friendship. In order to promote peace we must promote tolerance, not only through words, but also through actions. In order to promote freedom we must experience it, if we don’t experience it we must fight for it.   During authoritarian regimes people are forced to believe that they should conform to the regime’s doctrines and that they should adopt them as if they were their own ideas, if the people don’t adopt those ideas they have to pretend that they are adopting those ideas, when in fact they are against the whole doctrine. Out of fear they don’t rebel although they don’t agree to what is happening around them or they were fooled to believe in what the government preaches through massive propaganda. George Orwell’s 1984 is a good example of those situations, even though it is not considered a book based on real event. Although George Orwell used imaginary names for the countries in his book, the main ideas of his book, 1984 were inspired by the spread of communism in Eastern Europe. George Orwell promoted awareness about totalitarian regimes in general, especially communism through his book, thus promoting democracy. True art was made to promote peace, not war, love, not hatred. True art is not only immortal, but it seeks to promote the moral values of human kind. Therefore, not all immortal books are art. Although art is a part of culture and some books or movies might be racist or anti-Semitic a nation never purposely sought to destroy other nations, if it did the government or the totalitarian regime in charge of that country acted despite the will its people. People will always want peace and freedom! The only way to peace and freedom is through democracy and tolerance!


About icdblogsphereteam

We are the Blogsphere Team of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. We are the interactive part of the web resources of ICD. We spread culture and mutual understanding among cultures through blogs.


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The London Art as Cultural Diplomacy ConferenceAugust 21st, 2013


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