The poet Gerald Stern, who died last Friday at the age of 97, spent his life thundering against the mendacity and abuse of power; rebelling against all forms of authority, big and small; defying social conventions; and wielding his finely honed writing on behalf of the demonized, forgotten and oppressed. He was one of our great political poets. Poetry, he believed, had to speak to the grand and minute issues that define our lives. He was outrageous and profane, often in choice Yiddish, French and German. He was incredibly funny, but most of all brave. Rules were there, in his mind, to be broken. Power, no matter who held it, was an evil to be fought. Artists should be eternal heretics and rebels. He strung together obscenities to describe poets and artists who diluted their talent and sold out for status, grants, prizes, the blandness demanded by poetry journals and magazines like The New Yorker, and the death trap of tenured professorships.
In perhaps their most controversial protest yet, two Just Stop Oil activists poured tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting in London’s National Gallery. The gallery said the painting itself was not damaged because the canvass was protected by glass. The action comes as Just Stop Oil has been protesting in London for two weeks with a demand that the UK government stop all new oil and gas exploration. “What is worth more, art or life?” 21-year-old demonstrator Phoebe Plummer said as she glued her hand to the wall below the painting. “Is it worth more than food? More than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Since Sept. 26, almost 200 workers have been on strike — not reporting for work in person or virtually — at one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S. with over 240,000 works of art from around the world. Members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 397, affiliated with AFSCME District Council 47, voted for union representation in a landslide, 89% “yes” vote in August 2020. Since then, the PMA Board of Trustees and executive management have refused to come to an agreement with the PMA Union. After over two years of fruitless talks, after filing a lengthy Unfair Labor Practice charge against museum management, after a strike authorization vote of 99% and after holding a one-day warning strike Sept. 16, workers finally walked off the job Sept. 26.
Roger Waters, the British rock legend and co-founder of Pink Floyd, is in the midst of his “This Is Not A Drill” tour. In his concerts he weds his musical genius to the most pressing social issues of our day, including permanent war, police violence, the crimes of Israeli occupation against the Palestinians, the killing of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and the imprisonment of Julian Assange. Waters has been an outspoken opponent of the NATO-fueled war in Ukraine, and a vocal supporter of contemporary social movements such as the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and global protests against police violence from the United States to Brazil and Britain. He joins The Chris Hedges Report for a wide-ranging conversation: from his youth and musical career to the political worldview that undergirds his provocative ‘This Is Not A Drill‘ tour.
Here's a fanciful but almost-real scenario: the bees, squirrels, geese, bugs, trees, and other species of your local park have decided that they've had enough of human aggression and abuse. They're not going to take it anymore, and rise up and demand equal rights with humans. Through a series of interspecies assemblies, a treaty is negotiated to ensure that every living being in the local ecosystem can flourish. This scenario is a "live action role-playing" (LARP) game devised by Furtherfield, a London-based arts collective as part of its stewardship of part of the Victorian-era Finsbury Park. Over the next three years, Furtherfield is inviting humans to don masks and play the roles of each of seven species in negotiating "The Treaty of Finsbury Park 2025" -- the name of the project.
More than 600,000 people in the United States have died of coronavirus since the pandemic began, a number that is incomprehensible. Few people understand the magnitude of this loss more than 14-year-old Madeleine Fugate. Since April 2020, the eighth grader from California has spent her weekends constructing the Covid Memorial Quilt, a tribute to the casualties of the virus.
At the High Line, a popular tourist attraction in New York City, visitors to the West side of Lower Manhattan ascend above street level to what was once an elevated freight train line and is now a tranquil and architecturally intriguing promenade. Here walkers enjoy a park-like openness; with fellow strollers they experience urban beauty, art and the wonder of comradeship.
Minneapolis didn’t get here alone. The actions and decisions of many people created the challenges facing the city. Solving them will require the work of many people, too. But before anything changes, people need to start listening to each other. Imagine if Derek Chauvin had listened to George Floyd and let him breathe. A 46-year-old man and father of five would not have died. Minneapolis would not have burned. The city would not have had over $1 billion in damage. And communities would not have had to deal with the fallout of the most expensive civil disorder in U.S. history. After Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, the site of his death turned into a memorial to honor Floyd’s life.
Political cartoons have helped us make sense of the world in which we live since they first appeared in the 18th century–though some, like the iconic cartoonist Mr. Fish, argue the art predates even newspapers. Although it’s an art form that is in many ways dying out, there are a precious few political cartoonists out there that still understand the importance of speaking truth to power through insightful humor and visual commentary. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” the inimitable Dwayne Booth (AKA Mr. Fish) joins host Robert Scheer to talk about his life, his passion, his art, and...
On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to artist and cartoonist Dwayne Booth, aka Mr. Fish, about the cultural requirement for revolution. Mr. Fish's new book is ‘Nobody Left – Conversations with Famous Radicals, Progressives and Cultural Icons About the End of Dissent, Revolution and Liberalism in America’. Among those featured are: Joan Baez, Wavy Gravy, Lewis Lapham, Paul Krassner, Tariq Ali, Robert Scheer, Dennis Kucinich, Norman Mailer, Howard Zinn, Abbie Hoffman, Jon Stewart, and Lenny Bruce.
A group of five designers at the internationally known SmithGroup Architecture firm set up a metallic cubic structure on the National Mall to frame the struggle of Black Lives in America. The public display titled “Society’s Cage” is a 14 foot cube pavilion timed for the 57th anniversary of the March On Washington and is made from the hidden components of sky scrapers. It depicts an architect’s visualization of ongoing racial inequality in the United States and asks the question, “What is the value of Black life in America?” The cube is constructed from 484 vertical rusted conduit pipes attached to a large metal plate, supported by four large metal supports on a pavilion, resembling a cage. One in four bars are connected to the floor, representing the rate Blacks will be incarcerated. A four-part, 8 minute, 46 second music composition, the same time length of time of George Floyd’s tragic murder, sets the mood.
The massive protests in Los Angeles in response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others organized through the Black Lives Matter movement generated an outpouring of engaging and provocative visual artworks. Open-air installations, murals, posters, “street art” works, and similar efforts abound, many in my Venice/Mar Vista neighborhood where I regularly jog. I participated in many of those protests and saw some of these efforts personally. Cumulatively, these, and similar works throughout the United States and the world, have added to the burgeoning tradition of political art—a movement that has inspired social activists for centuries.