In arts and activism the product gets all the glory. In the art world, an artist’s talent is judged by what she has created: the painting that hangs on the wall of a museum or is sold in a gallery, or the dramatic performance staged in a theater and watched by an audience. In the activist world, it is the demonstration or rally that one organizes that attracts people, gets media coverage, and influences politics. The same thing is true when you merge these two worlds in Artistic Activism. Look back on the examples we’ve showcased. What have we shown you? That’s right: the product that artistic activists have produced.
The obsession with the product is not unique to arts and activism, it is at the core of capitalism. Capitalism is based upon things: producing things and consuming things. It’s what Marx called the “fetishism of the commodity.” What’s overlooked when we focus on things is an understanding and appreciation of how things are made and who makes them – the “secret” of the commodity for Marx. In a word, what gets left out is the process of creation. Until we understand how things are made, how to make things will forever remain a mystery.
Too often artistic activism becomes only about these things, what we call a sort of “tactical myopia.” This often leads to an artistic activist practice only interested in replicating successful pieces; creating “best practices” that can be employed, in cookiecutter fashion, anyplace and at any time.
But creativity isn’t a product – it’s a process.
First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not…. Habit is persistence in practice.Octavia E. Butler
Kingsmen’s Louie Louie (the flubbed line is around 2 minutes in):
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