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Arts and Democracy

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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. Continue reading

Sing for Democracy? – Alex Wells – ICD Program Director

Mohamed Mounir (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Mounir), an Egyptian singer known as “The King” for his wildly popular mix of classical Arabic, Nubian, jazz, reggae and pop music, released a song called “Ezzai” in February of 2011. It was banned in Egypt, but Mounir posted a version on facebook accompanied with powerful images of Tahrir, and it went absolutely viral. Continue reading

Arts role in social movements – Michelle Karunaratne – ICD Programme Coordinator

The use and function of art is a topic that has been subject to much debate. Art can be political and perhaps instigate social change. It can express emotions and expressions of social critique or simply be aesthetic pieces of work. The reason behind the art work as the artist intended it may also be different from the interpretation that the general populace may come to have.

Considering the ambiguous nature of art I hope to explore how art can promote democratic ideal and allow for freedom of expression although at the same time art has been used as a tool for propaganda.

The capacity that art has to move people has been exploited by dictators throughout history, for example Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the will financed by Aldolf Hitler and other works of art in its many different forms that were commissioned by dictators.

Nevertheless many works of art are associated with the notion of democracy as artists have freedom of expression. Democratic societies create space for variety and allows criticism allowing artists a free reign over their work to produce unique works of art. Works of art have been symbols of rebellions against regimes and dictatorships. Painting by artists such as Jacques-Louis David are now popular symbols of the French revolution.

A modern example of arts playing a role in social movements is offered by the arts and democracy project which recently hosted a conference on the role arts and culture had to play in the social movements in Egypt and Lybia.

Throughout history art as inspired people, changed perceptions, challenged norms and brought new revolutionary concepts to the masses. Despite the role that art can play in propaganda it still has had an immense influence on democratic movements throughout history, which perhaps demonstrates the power of art to inspire strong emotions among humans and the openness of art to interpretation.

The End of History—The Death of Art? – Alex Wells- ICD Programme director

Democracies make the best art—or so says Jonathan Jones for the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2010/apr/06/art-democracy-general-election) in a widely commented article last year. Jones’ straw man is the well-worn claim that “dictatorships are good for art,” thanks in part to huge state spending on artistic monument and in part to the audacious life of the creative dissident; his rebuttal is that, from Athens through Whitman through modern jazz, a cult of freedom has generated the “liberty and energy” that supports great forms of expression. Continue reading

Weekly theme: Art and Democracy

by Letizia Binda-Partensky

Rafael’s School of Athens represents the revival, in the High Renaissance, of core values inherited from the classical era. Two founding fathers of political philosophy occupy center stage: Plato, pointing to the sky, and Aristotle, to the ground. Continue reading

The London Art as Cultural Diplomacy ConferenceAugust 21st, 2013

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