Friday, 4 September 2009

torrent of optimism

William Shaw also picks up on Bill McKibben's article for Grist, which celebrates the new torrent of art about climate change. In his piece McKibben said that artists are:

the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream. They sense trouble early, and rally to isolate and expose and defeat it.

(This blog countered: 'It would be nice if this were true. But it isn't.')

Shaw agrees. He suggests that identifying artists as the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream might be:

a hopelessly romantic idea, part of McKibben’s relentless optimism, an optimism that has sustained him for 20 years and more as a campaigner?

McKibben's torrent-of-art piece has a cheerleading ring to it. He's a critic and an activist (and very impressive in both roles) and in this recent Grist article he's clearly writing as an activist.

The trouble is, if art about climate change is going to have any genuine impact, it must meet critical standards, not campaigning ones. Otherwise, it's just marketing.

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