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Art Now: The Patriotism of Dissent

 

Is dissent unpatriotic? Is total support of the President the only acceptable response to the 2003 war with Iraq, to the curtailment of civil rights, to invasions of privacy, to the Patriot Act, and to the Total Information Awareness Program? Americans are overwhelmed by rhetoric from political leaders maligning dissent as unpatriotic and a conservative media-fostered hypersensitivity to criticism of George W. Bush and government decisions. The concurrent consolidation in corporate media ownership means diminishing opportunities for alternative views – which do, in fact, exist – to be heard. Voices of dissent in the United States are increasingly silenced by self-censorship on the part of media conglomerates and public stigmatization of protest as “un-American.” The most easily accessible media, commercial networks and newspapers have alarmingly homogeneous information and reportage.

NCAC is committed to defending freedom of expression, opposing censorship in all its forms, and rehabilitating America’s tradition of strong civic dialogue and freedom to criticize the government. An integral component of our work is to make visible voices of dissent that are absent from mainstream channels of information. Via Artnow, NCAC provides a forum to highlight the true diversity of artistic voices, and to create a meeting place for artists and politically concerned individuals.

At no moment in the last decade has there been such an upsurge of engaged art. In conjunction with local and world grassroots political actions, artists have spoken – individually or in collaborations – to admonish, rebuke and dissent against a new global climate of militarism and waning civil liberties. Artists have reached out to impact and shape world opinion by subverting media images, culture jamming, issuing mission statements, signing petitions to the government, joining activist groups and inventing creative ways of expressing dissent. Art Now features a sample of the many efforts by the worldwide art communities to pro-actively shape the debates over peace and war, liberty, and security.

This web site contains images and information about concrete responses to major sociopolitical events by artists, curators, writers, musicians, and filmmakers, as well as performance spaces, museums and art-related web sites. We are specifically looking for work that provides a perspective on the current state of the world as defined by recent events in the United States, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

And please tell us about your projects – even if they are in the planning stage, even if they are just concepts. This might be a way to find others who will collaborate with you and help you bring your ideas to life. To let us know about your project, contact Svetlana Mintcheva. Phone: 212.807.6222 x23 / Fax: 212.807.6245 / E-mail: artnow@ncac.org.