German Music

Art’s Complicity in Authoritarianism

Notes on Artists’ Literacies, Part 2

In Part 1, I described how a public ‘illiteracy’ in the disjunctive synthesis of collage allowed authoritarian atrocity to occur in plain sight.

The author paying his bills as a younger man, and not likely making the world a better place.
An old-fashioned way to control a population. Photo by Suzy Brooks on Unsplash
A nice young man in a stock photo being dominated. Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
The make-believe Time Magazine which hangs at Trump golf clubs
While Andy Warhol was designing store windows to get by, real tanks still rolled across Europe, Asia, and Latin America to exert control over millions. The amplified impact of an artist’s “day job” has changed dramatically since. © The Andy Warhol Foundation

The ‘impact’ of artists on our culture has been enormous — contrary to the usual line of despairing thought among eternally struggling artists. It’s just that it’s probably not the impact we had really intended to have.

The problem posed, then, is how do artists and filmmakers make a living without either overtly producing political or economic propaganda, or serving with complicity in the construction of a narrative landscape that only consolidates hierarchies of power?



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Andrew Freiband

Filmmaker, Teacher, Researcher, Founder and Director of the Artists Literacies Institute (