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Bouncy Rides: Art n Politics


The Short Image is where I’ll offer each Thursday a few words on art, culture, and elsewhere. This week, vote for art.

It’s not that I’m not political. It’s that I believe in human spaces that are extra-political.

It’s not that I don’t like political art. Sometimes I like art that’s didactic and political. There are things wrong in the world; art in its small ways can right them.

Opinions confuse me. Amanda, my girlfriend, told me she wondered how long I’d get away with playing both sides of the fence in this column. Making a statement about art, then granting its opposite. I don’t know, but every time I make an argument, I want to take it back. Someone’s opinion is right until someone else refutes it. Maybe that’s a matter of my advantage—white guy, able-bodied, American.

Nate Hill, the artist who developed White Power Milk, makes political art. I can tell because of the symbols involved: white milk, white women, white women gargling white milk. But what’s he saying, exactly? I know there are people who know, who say it’s about race, gender, class. I believe them, but still I’m confused.

I like Hill’s art. It comes from many sides, positing then refuting, and then again. His work is so political it strays close to its opposite, to making an argument that politics is more than political, that it’s double-dealing, messy, doubling-back, ambivalent, enormous.

Hill talks to us politically because everything we say is such. Our brains are an inherently political organ, made up as they are of political units, like language and sociability. But that’s not all it is, is it? Isn’t spirit—whatever that is—extra-political? And how about love? Oh yes, it’s resolutely political, I’ll grant you, but resolutely not as well.

I’m quickly confused. Nate Hill’s art may be self-serving and simplistic. I’ve heard people say so and wondered if they were right. But I like how it plays and bounces, makes light of itself. It’s mischievous and goading and fun. It’s so serious.

Joseph Young
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About The Author

Joseph Young

Joseph Young lives in Baltimore. He has written about art for many magazines, newspapers, and websites, and his book of very short stories, Easter Rabbit (Publishing Genius), was released in 2009. His art has been seen in galleries and other venues in Baltimore and beyond. Check out his digital collage series, Newer Comics.

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