"Instead of asking: what is the relationship of a work of art to the relationships of production of the time? Is it in accord with them, is it reactionary or does it strive to overthrow them, is it revolutionary?—in place of this question, or in any case before asking this question, I would like to propose another. Before I ask: how does a literary work stand in relation to the relationships of production of a period, I would like to ask: how does it stand in them?" - W.B.
Sure, art can be built around or decorated with political themes at a given artist's discretion. But more fundamentally, art is substantially political to the extent that it is produced by pursuing certain strategies within a certain social context. Is its originality or relevance strictly equal to the ways in which the artist steps outside the sandbox to grapple with the conditions of production that make it possible?
We will explore this question as a group using Benjamin's essay "The Author as Producer" as a starting point:
Bring the preparatory reading along with your experiences of trying to produce creative work in the real world and we'll see how Benjamin's ideas stand up.