In conducting some recent interviews for the Big Questions, a theme that has come up often has been the impact of art on social awareness and activism. In this three part series I am presenting several different takes on what is art in the 21st century, in an atempt to discover if art in itself can produce social change.
In the interview with Daniel Heyman, a painter and print maker, we discussed different issues facing visual art in the 21st century. We started off discussing the globalization of art, and then went on to compare the realms of photography and painting, and the way they impact their audience. Heyman went on to discuss how artist can prevent their art from becoming a spectacle, and the power of art to shock. Daniel Heyman concludes by describing a project he was involved with, creating portraits of the prisoners of the Abu Ghraib prison, and how in interviewing them and painting their portaits, he allowed them to become individuals. He helped them move beyond the media spectacle of a tortured man, their expressions hidden under a hood. Through his art he allowed to world to finaly see their face and hear their story.
What is the role of an artist in this world where images have become commodities?
How would you compare the impact of a photograph with the visual power of painting and drawing?
How do you escape the temptation of your art becoming a spectacle?