Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tropicalia and its significance to us.

I'm getting most of this info from Caetano Veloso's book "Tropical Truth". What these artists were trying to do in Brazil in the '60s was to combine avant-garde artistic ideas with social commitment. They attempted to make socially relevant art that could be popular without talking down to their audience or watering down their innovative ideas. Their idea of concrete social commitment was different from what the norm is as well in that they didn't buy into the idea that people on the bottom of society should be treated as paper cut outs inserted into someone's ideology. Instead, the people that they celebrated and talked about were the people as they actually existed in Brazil, complete with lots of regional cultural variations. They were willing to make references to people liking Coca-Cola even though it didn't fit in with official ideology about how people should be. Through this approach they also avoided nationalism while expressing their support for their society.

To me all of these factors are important and are things that we can learn from today. Popularizing avant-garde ideas and art, fusing that with social relevance and in fact redefining what the objective of social relevance really is. If this strategy is performed right it can hopefully avoid all of the establishment ideas that usually go along with package deals like these, including that of folks such as the later surrealists who subordinated their avant-garde ideas to official Communist doctrine more or less. Instead, living vibrant art is possible, art that says more than what can be written on the back of postage stamps.

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