George Orwell; a visual tribute
Call for Submissions:
Submissions are invited from artists operating a variety of visual disciplines to contribute their visual interpretation of Orwell’s relevance to contemporary creative thought. A suitable venue is currently being sought for exhibition, but all submissions will be presented in an online gallery. Full details will be sent upon receipt of an expression of interest to the e-mail below.
“The enemies of intellectual liberty always try to present their case as a plea for discipline versus individualism.”
― George Orwell, All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays
Although he was not a visual artist and art criticism does not figure prominently in his work, George Orwell is one of the most visually descriptive of writers this or any country has produced. The freedom of the individual to think independently of state permissions was always his first principle. Perhaps this is why so many visual artists identify with his work. Certainly, over the last several months, I have been engaged in more and more discussions about Orwell and the prescience of his ideas.
The increasing frequency of these conversations has encouraged me to propose an exhibition as tribute to Orwell. As artists and citizens, we need his intellectual honesty as much now as we ever did; more so, in these times in which activities in the visual arts are seen as a ‘soft option’, and honest political analysis is denigrated as ‘fake news’ .
I hesitate to argue the interests Orwell would have pursued in 2017, but I am sure he would have followed the exploration [and exploitation] of cyberspace with keen interest. Its potential both as an empowering, democratising, creative tool and also its potential for mass control and individual coercion by state and multinational would surely have attracted his attentions.
Preliminary discussions with fellow artists have identified several areas of our contemporary world which carry with them what may be termed ‘Orwellian’ overtones.
1] Systems of surveillance in both public and private spaces
2] Character profiling through the process of information gathering [often surrendered unknowingly and/or voluntarily by the subject]
3] The insidiousness of the advertising and marketing industries [the background for personal revolt in “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”]
4] The provision of cyber ‘Prole food’; online pornography, gambling and sports coverage with which to blunt or deflect any appetite for constructive social change.
5] The continued desecration of the environment [The central thrust of ‘Coming up for Air’]
6] ‘Brexit’ What it means to be Nationalistic in the 21st Century [The Lion and the Unicorn]