Fred Hampton & Vaclav Havel

“I am…I am a revolutionary.”

(Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, assassinated by the FBI & Chicago Police December 4, 1969)

“If we start with the presupposition that art constitutes a distinctive way of seeking truth — truth in the broadest sense of the word, that is, chiefly the truth of the artist’s inner experience — then there is only one art, whose sole criterion is the power, the authenticity, the revelatory insight, the courage and suggestiveness with which it seeks its truth, or perhaps the urgency and profundity of this truth. Thus, from the standpoint of the work and its worth it is irrelevant to which political ideas the artist as a citizen claims allegiance, which ideas he would like to serve with his work or whether he holds any such ideas at all. And just as the attractiveness or repulsiveness of political ideas guarantees nothing about a work of art and likewise does not disqualify it in advance, so, too, whether or not an artist is interested in politics neither authorizes nor disqualifies him at the start. If so much of the art shown in official exhibits is indeed below average, and better art can be found only on the periphery of public art (in marginal or seem-official exhibition halls) or entirely beyond public view (in studios), then this is so not because the creators of the former involve themselves in politics while those of the latter do not, but simply because the prospect of public recognition and lucrative commissions in our country, today more than at other times and in other places, is incompatible with that stubborn, uncompromising effort to reach out for some personal truth without which, it seems, there can be no real art. The more an artist compromises to oblige power and gain advantages, the less good art can we expect from him; the more freely and independently, by contrast, he does his own thing — whether with the expression of a ‘rebellious bohemian’ or without it — the better his chances of creating something good — though it remains only a chance: what is uncompromising need not automatically be good.”

“Six Asides About Culture” an essay from Vaclav Havel or Living in Truth Hradecek (Prague) 11 August 1984

Laura Siersema is composer of Aberfan (7 pianos, voice and tools of rescue), a sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization.  All donations are tax deductible.  Your contribution ensures we can return to the studio to complete its recording.