Is Art Futile in a Very Political World
  • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 03, 2017

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

During these currently harsh political times, musicians and all artists in general are experiencing a lot of different emotions. Some feel compelled to speak their opinion and react by making art while others feel the need to stay out of it and focus on their regular process, unaffected. Some even step back because they feel that the creative process is ineffective and maybe selfish when there are much more "serious" things going on.

An artist that has us questioning all of this is Grimes, who recently released her self-directed video for "Venus Fly (ft. Janelle Monae)." Along with the preview on Instagram, she included this caption:

"sometimes it feels futile to be making art in this cruel and extreme political climate, but some of the brightest moments of the last few months for me and for a lot of you, i suspect, have come from seeing @janellemonae's amazing and positive vision of the future, especially when we are being introduced to so many possible dystopian futures. Thanks to for giving so much time, energy and creativity to this project... as a director editor, creative director i also feel like is my strongest work, and i can't wait to share w y'all.

thanks @tidal for being amazing patrons of the arts!! and @route_eleven ! my amazing team! (i know i just used amazing twice but woke up and my mind is devoid of adjectives at this early hour)------------> forgot to add earlier #femthefuture"


#TidalXVenusfly ::::: streaming exclusively on Tidal Feb 2 :::::: ----------------------- sometimes it feels futile to be making art in this cruel and extreme political climate, but some of the brightest moments of the last few months for me and for a lot of you, i suspect, have come from seeing @janellemonae 's amazing and positive vision of the future, especially when we are being introduced to so many possible dystopian futures. Thanks to for giving so much time, energy and creativity to this project ?????? as a director editor, creative director i also feel like is my strongest work, and i can't wait to share w y'all. thanks @tidal for being amazing patrons of the arts!! and @route_eleven !????my amazing team! (i know i just used amazing twice but woke up and my mind is devoid of adjectives at this early hour)------------> forgot to add earlier #femthefuture

A video posted by Grimezsz (@grimes) on



Although this song was released before the election, it is still packed with a feminine punch - something that is so important right now, given that the ongoing fight for women's rights is at an all-time high. And Grimes referring to her latest work as futile says a lot about the current state of the world.

Or sometimes people take the music out of context and just relate every song that comes out right now to Trump's presidency (like I just did with "Venus Fly," oops). Father John Misty for instance, admitted to Pitchfork that his latest album, Pure Comedy, was written in 2015, prior to the election. But it looks like he had some sort of psychic power while writing, because now the lines in his songs are very literal. Like in the album's title track, when he sings, "Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?" or on "Two Wildly Different Perspectives," when he sings, "One side says 'Kill 'em all' / The other says 'Line those killers up against the wall' / But either way some blood is shed / Thanks to our cooperation on both sides." Sure, the video components that came along with the music featured inauguration footage, but apparently that was just because it "was kind of irresistible," given the timing. And why the hell not? Maybe FJM had no intentions of making a politcally-fueled album, but maybe now he can take this coincidence as a gift and roll with it, as the folk singer-songwriter version of To Pimp A Butterfly. (Dare I say it? Well I think I just did).



Although Mac Demarco is trying to stay out of the conversation, he agrees that it's challenging to not be political. Being his laid-back self when talking about his upcoming LP This Old Dog, he told Pitchfork, "I think it's kind of hard for anybody to not really be political these days, but I dont think the album really reflects that too much. But, you know, I live in the States and things are really crazy right now. I try not to talk about it publicly too much."

Angel Olsen's contribution to the anti-Trump compilation, Our First 100 Days was actually an outtake from MY WOMAN, once again written prior to the election. However, so many people connected to it and hell, obviously she thought it was appropriate to slap an anti-Trump label on it. "To have a glimpse of the dream," she sings...



Would we have Pablo Picasso's Guernica if it weren't for the Spanish Civil War? Or Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam! without war? It's something that is now looked at way beyond its years and expands forever - something that fifteen year olds who may not have personally experienced the war can either learn from or simply enjoy. And whichever one it is, isn't that a good thing? In the wise words of Nina Simone, "an artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times." And don't you want the art to live on? Don't you think it is important that our children, who may not have directly lived through Trump's presidency, enjoys and understands the art that was made during that period?

guernica pablo picasso


whaam roy lichtenstein


Treat your art as a positive takeaway from all of this is negative stuff. Channel that anger into something creative and use it as inspiration. Yes, being an artist - especially during a time like this - can feel pointless, but staying silent is not a very good option. Artistic contribution is used to lift people's spirits, and it is needed now more than ever.

"Keep on making art..." Thanks, Cleo Wade.

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