Voices of Dissent

November 13, 1991

ices of Dissent

By Andrea Sharam

The market commodifies not only art but also artists. However, there are times of greater or lesser tension between the artist and the process of cooption.

During the 1960s and 1970s forms such as performance and conceptual work sought to resist commodification. The 1980s, however, have returned to "heroic" easel painting. The visual arts have stepped back into the museums and galleries.

Large numbers of people participated in community art activities during the '60s and '70s, but by the 1980s bureaucrats had consolidated their control of community arts. In England Thatcher was able to dismantle movements because of their reliance on the state. In Australia we have a situation that many people call "grant addiction".

Next April a festival called"Voices of Dissent" will seek to provide thematic unity to a range of arts activities that are based on the struggle for social change. Groups that use art to promote their cause are encouraged to participate.

Voices of Dissent invites all women's, gay and lesbian, Koori, peace, environment, social justice and community groups and any artist or art organisation to participate. The festival will act as an umbrella providing overall publicity for individual groups and acts, which will be responsible for their own event.

Planning for the festival is still in the early stages, and input and participation are most welcome. Help is needed financially but, more importantly, in the form of ideas and "in kind" support such as office space, equipment, photocopying, printing and publicity.

Write to: Voices of Dissent Cooperative Ltd, GPO Box 3217GG Melbourne Vic 3001, or ring Nigel Stone (03) 499 7477.

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