Permit Yourself to Imagine

Permit yourself to imagine.

Once accomplished, travel is unrestricted, borders nonexistent, walls breached.

How? Slingshot.  Molotov. Spray paint. Lines of code. Guitar. Microphone.

Crisis or socially activist art offers the possibility of a crucial narrative, which is not new but suppressed.

We’ve been locked into a singular system, which serves official culture.

We are flummoxed by thinking alternatively. Any alternative.

Art must penetrate this numbness. Subvert the official narrative, cut through the advertising and propaganda. Negate marketing. Opening the between space.

Temptations are everywhere. In fact, you’ve likely accepted most without reading the service agreement. We relinquish control for convenience and security: freedom in exchange for a superficial sense of belonging.

But there is this: “One was born into this life to share the time that repeatedly exists between moments: the time of Becoming, before Being risks to confront one yet again with undefeated despair.” – John Berger

As a writer, art critic and political activist, John Berger offers a point of reference in the relational dynamic that artists have to the world around them. More importantly, Berger is representative of the type of progressive writer whose work is driven by a desire to confront the status quo. Refusing to participate in prescribed ideals of marketplace and authority, the artist/writer/revolutionary creates new methods of engagement.

Situational art is confrontational, “the immoral subversion of the existing order.” It informs the discourse with immediacy. Artists are in a unique position to engage directly with the established value system, call it into question and mobilize against it.

If a distinction between commercial and activist art no longer exists than the medium(s) an artist uses no longer need to be relegated to a single surface or conversation. The subversion happens while viewing.

The Molotov cocktail is the canvas. The canvas is our body, the inner city, barrio. ‘Hood.

Courage of the imagining mind.


The proceeding manifesto was a response to a series of art pieces produced by Enrique Lugo, AKA Chikle–a long time friend and collaborator–to be included as a text for his group show at the San Diego Repertory Theater. This is simultaneously a reaction of a reaction to both the art presented there and to the musical A Hammer, A Bell, and a Song to Sing, now playing at the Rep inspired by the life and work of Pete Seeger. The show will be up January 10–29, 2012 on the Lyceum Stage.

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