Face Me; I Book You!: The Arts and Asocial Media
“If the poet can no longer speak for society,
but only for himself, then we are at the last ditch”
– Henry Miller
I remember setting up a Facebook profile with great reluctance a few years ago. I did not put up a single picture there for two years and I screened myself off with a pseudonym. Otherwise, any evil eye could peep into my soul or sitting room at will through the window of social media – never mind the much-vaunted self-protection modules on the site. All it would take is a hacker-style breach of all privacy protocols. Still, “resistance is futile” in the age of social media – particularly if you need it as a tool or do not want to risk ending up as a twenty-first century Luddite.
My creative activities eventually unmasked me and I am now a regular denizen of that cyber world even though I inhabit that space strictly for its utility. But a recent strange encounter from the most unexpectedly irritating of sources – another creative writer – confirms my suspicions in ways far in excess of my original worries and leads me to question the artist’s sense of social commitment in an age of “global babble.”
The Horror! The Horror!
Novelist Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer in conversation with Tony Burgess, novelist and scriptwriter
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: I first met you, though you do not know this, in a Book City in Toronto. I had been told by the ReLit people to size my finger for a ring in the event I won the prize and, gleefully, I had gone down to a jeweler in Bloor West to do this. Then, I went to look at all the books of the competition, as if I could still affect the outcome. I picked up Pontypool Changes Everything, your second novel, and I said to myself, “Shit, this guy is gonna win.” And I was right. I am glad I am no longer a jealous person. Dear Tony, tell me about your new YA mockery, Idaho Winter. Where does this strange hybrid originate?
Tony Burgess: Well, really it started with me wanting to write something my kids can read. It was taking the tradition, from, like, Little Dorrit on, of cruel childhoods – chewing that up with some high school drama teacher’s class performance of No Exit and a bad beta dupe of Night of the Hunter and some `rag and bone’ collections from under a kid’s bed and other hunks of stuff. The most important thing is making the writer the reader...
The Politics of Exclusion: The Undue Fixation of Western-Based African Curators on Contemporary African Diaspora Artists
There is a new phenomenon emerging in Europe and America as regards the curating of contemporary African art shows and the publication of surveys on the subject. It is without doubt that African artists living in the West are being preferred, and given better exposure, well above their counterparts still living in Africa. If it is an exhibition, the number of foreign-based artists always outweighs the number of continental – based African artists.
If it is the latest book survey on contemporary African art, it is all about African Diaspora artists, dotted with one or two well-known names based on the African continent. Contrary to what is actually happening on the ground, it is nearly always the same representative names re-circled from one show to the other, and from one book publication to the other, as if contemporary African art is caught in a static freeze of a granite rock.