Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Disaster Relief in Arizona: Artists Respond

Lucy Lippard and her theories of local and public art have obviously had a big influence on how I think in general, and look at art in specific. What is it responding to? How does it situate itself: where does the artist come from, what are they attempting, do they claim any ownership of place, or even any knowledge of place? Pushing the Arizona hurricane metaphor a little further (and probably too far), I've seen some pretty cool video responses to Arizona's craptastic, scary, racist new immigration policy that seem to fit as representations of local art: they are responses to events, and of the place. I don't know the artists, I don't know the places they are made, but they are topical, and they're using a medium- youtube and other social media outlets (I discovered them on twitter, am sharing them on a blog via youtube)- that is topical.

I saw the first video by following La Frontera Times on twitter. La Frontera Times is a "daily digital newspaper about immigration reform. information activism and attitude." Alfredo Gutierrez tweets in English and Spanish about border issues, activist events, and frustrations. He linked to the following video, made by Andy Cobb (an artist I'm not familiar with). The video is a spot-on satire about race, differing methods of entering the country, sexism, and class and their relationship to current events in Arizona.

The second video was tweeted by Obey Giant aka Shepard Fairy, a "street artist" ala Banksy. He's like street-art gone big- you've seen the posters with the big black and white cut-out looking faces, and like Bansky, he has a store on his website. Unlike Banksy, his store actually sells stuff. Anyway, he's an artist, and he prominently links to this video of a bunch of different rappers from Arizona, rapping about SB 1070. The video starts out with footage of protests with families holding signs, puppets, etc, and voice overs of the news about SB 1070, and Governor Brewer announcing that she would sign the bill into law. The artists are passionate in words and appearance, and talk about how immigration is not the enemy and the dangers of racial profiling.