Thursday 3 January 2019

More Good News

Clearly stung by my recent remarks, Radio 4 seems to be making an effort to redeem itself in this new year. Hot on the heels of the all-day reading of The Leopard on New Year's Day comes a bracingly forthright talk, The Art of Now: Identity Crisis, by writer and critic Sohrab Ahmari (author of The New Philistines). Ahmari's thesis, vigorously argued (but balanced by counter-arguments), is that identity politics and political point-scoring are stifling and seriously damaging the art world, leading to bad art, and fuelling narcissism, political conformity and social division. If artists limit their vision to their own lived experience and, worse, their own political views and politicised identity, the result is liable to be narrow, predictable and nugatory art, bathed in 'a bland wash of political slogans' (quotations from Foucault obligatory). Art's traditional search for truth and beauty is under threat – and so are actual artworks of which the activists don't approve and wish to see destroyed. Radio 4 describes Ahmari's programme as an 'impassioned polemic'. We could do with more of them, especially if they fly in the face of the all-pervasive cultural agenda represented, most of the time, by Radio 4 itself.
You can find The Art of Now: Identity Crisis on the Radio 4 website.


  1. Interesting documentary, we can only hope this re-purposing of art is temporary. When the "political artists" were interviewed my teeth did grind somewhat. All I heard was "me, me me..."

  2. Absolutely. And I'm fairly confident this won't last...

  3. Real artists can’t help looking for something fresh and the current stranglehold on the arts is, above all, boring. Art has to engage and interest people.