In a piece for the New Statesman, veteran political artist Peter Kennard believes we are living through “an exciting time for political art”—and I'm definitely not one to disagree. While Banksy continues to grab the headlines, Kennard argues he's just the poster boy for a increasingly influential movement of artists whose political commitments are communicated on canvas, in clay, and in the case of Santa's Ghetto, on 425 miles of concrete wall that imprisons Palestinians in their own land.
Sticking up a poster or painting the Separation Wall in the West Bank might sound inconsequential, but these are highly practical ways to help, in contrast to the intellectual interventions prevalent in much contemporary art. They contribute to a town and a people that are having their lifeblood strangled out of them.
In this context, it is important that the work communicates directly to the Palestinian people. While there has been a move to take on contemporary issues in a direct way in the theatre, in visual art the idea still holds that if you have something to say about the world, you have to hide it behind theory and obscurity. It sometimes seems that Britain's art colleges turn out experts in camouflage, rather than fine art.
If you're in London, drop by the Pump House Gallery to check out “Uncertified Documents” a retrospective of work by Peter Kennard that opens on January 30.
Also of interest:
Book: Dispatches from an Unofficial Art Artist: Peter Kennard
Bethlehem banks on Banksy to boost tourism
Banksy replaces Paris Hilton albums with altered version
The New Yorker reveals the face of Banksy
(Image by Peter Kennard)