Monday, October 13, 2008

The Art of Democracy: War and Empire at Meridian Gallery

Art of Democracy is building a network of exhibitions and events that will all take place in the fall of 2008. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Puerto Rico, Muncie, and several more locations are planning exhibitions. Join us as we work to amplify artistic voices willing to speak out in this dangerous hour.

The so-called Patriot Act gives the FBI the authority to issue national security letters to ordinary American citizens that can order them to unconditionally comply with demands for information while forbidding them to discuss the order with anyone - including family members or an attorney - without the prospect of facing jail time.

How will you feel if you get a national security letter from an abusive agent of the government – and you can’t even tell your best friend? Will you feel better knowing you said nothing while it was still legal to dissent?

The art is a mixed bag of decent graphics, good intentions and strong emotions. However, as art, well, some of it's not very good. But in this instance, I'm willing to waive some of my artistic criteria for the sake of the message. Whether it will reach anybody not already convinced is hard to tell. None of it has the power of Edward R. Morrow's documentary on migrant workers which shocked my generation. The music lacks the punch of "A hard rain's gonna fall" or "We shall overcome." But it's a different time, different mores. We are closer than we know to having our civil liberties taken away so I'm glad that it exists at all.

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