Rik Leaf, of Tribe of One says:

Over the Edge

If the entertainment industry hasn't hit rock bottom, then I am amazed at how far it is possible to go down. It's a self-aggrandizing caricature of creativity adorned with garish accessories droning incessantly like a swarm of killer bees. I know I'm not the only one saying, "This is the pinnacle of rock & roll?" Where is the raspy open throated growl of dissention accompanied by thrashing distortion and tribal drums?

I'm certainly no expert on art history. I've never even been a student of art or history, but I know artists have played a much more significant role throughout history, especially in times of crisis than we are now.

When art wasn't relegated to the periphery as mindless distraction and used as a marketing tool to sell running shoes and blue jeans. Bringing art, and particularly art that represented the revolution, to the masses, motivated Russia's revolutionary artists. The French neoclassical artists became synonymous with their revolution. Today's musical mediocrity and lack of invention I believe has everything to do with how we view its relevance to our circumstances and ourselves as artists.

Many people wonder why socio-political content is even on an artist's web site. What does the impending war in Iraq have to do with being a musician? Who do I think I am even trying to connect the two?

Good question.

"We live in an age when people want to reinvent a whole bunch of demarcation lines and say, 'If you're a rock band don't step across the line into news coverage. We reporters do that! If you're a highbrow writer don't write about popular culture, we have popular-culture writers who do that!' I think all creative activity, in fact, is a process of destroying frontiers. You take your voice into a place where it hasn't been before and the friction is the interesting thing. And the sparks are the work."
Salman Rushdie, U2 At the End of the World

Once artists start to color inside the lines we lose the unexpected shades and creations that come from interacting with people who aren't like us, who don't think like us and who hold many views and opinions contrary to our own. The grinding off of our rough edges from what Salman calls the "friction" always produces more interesting and enduring work than we would have on our own. Whether we know it or not, one of the biggest reasons pop culture sucks so bad right now, is because it has nothing to say. It has been given a big stage; big sound, bright lights and an endorsement deal as long as it doesn't say anything.

Artists have unique abilities and resources and, therefore, unique obligations to speak out and further social justice through public activities like street performances, poetry readings, visual arts exhibitions, dance, rallies, protests, stories, fiction, art and photography, poetry, book, music and film reviews, relevant news, interviews and profiles, and personal essays, just to name a few.

What good fortune for those of us in power that people do not think. Adolf Hitler

We need to reconsider our abilities in light of the current state of affairs. We need to think. We need to pursue truth for ourselves and not simply open up and swallow what Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson tell us each night. There is an immanent war brewing in Iraq, and another war being waged right now for our minds by those who know that if we can be manipulated into seeing the world through their eyes, we will remain the subservient mass.

"We live in an age when the people who mediate the work of creative artists to the public actually don't understand something that the public and the artists both understand. So in the middle there is this block."
"I like when people go over the edge and invite you to go with them."
Salman Rushdie, U2, At the End of the World

Are you coming?
Rik Leaf