As I was exiting Kentish Town tube yesterday I was greeted by the sound of the ‘YOU ARE YOUR IPHONE’ guy enthusiastically wielding his megaphone 🙂 Have you ever come across this guy? After a few repetitions of this namesake he proceeded to tell us not to worry because there are ‘thousands of undercover police in the area’. I am not worried, but thanks all the same.
I kind of admire Y.A.Y.I.P. man for his initiative, and his passion for getting people to ask questions, but I can’t help thinking that his thinly veiled anger isn’t the best way forward.
Today’s topic is how to rant effectively and teapots. We’ll leave the teapots for now. But how on earth can you be clever and subversive without browbeating?
Last year I went to see a screening of ‘The Stoning of Soraya M.’ at the Amnesty headquarters (you can watch the trailer here). It is an incredibly beautiful film in many respects, and begins by poignantly depicting a young Iranian woman’s struggle against societal prejudice, oppression and corruption. However, the problem with it is that everyone already agrees that stoning is wrong, and sadly the film barely veered from this blindingly obvious fact. The extremely graphic depiction of Soraya’s bloody end, somehow managed to numb and traumatize the audience in equal measure.
The arts provide the perfect space for saying something else, throwing a curve-ball that opens our eyes to a perspective we wouldn’t already have thought of. It’s not necessary to bosh someone over the head with your point, and you don’t need to give every gory detail, just get someone’s imagination started and leave them to get on with it!
That is why I particularly like this piece of art (this is the teapot bit) which I recently came across at the Delecate Mayhem Gallery in Covent Garden. In the artist’s words: “‘You’re a Terrorist’ is a work made in response to the recent craze by politicians to label arms opposition groups as ‘terrorists’. The work’s image and text is a play on the idiom, ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ and illustrates that over simplified dehumanizing labels are misguided from either side of an argument.”
Although simplisic and naive seeming at first, through a few simple shapes Neil O’Brien is evoking an important question about the way we think of the so-called terrorist ‘other’ and the way our own governments’ actions have been perceived by the ordinary people who have found themselves bundled into this category. The medium used – needlework- resonates with the experiences of women and children, who are often the worst effected by regional strife.
Ai Wei Wei is another brillo example of an artist who has got the rant-factor just right. You can read his recent musings here.
Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this post! I have had enough writing now.