Marx’s Nightmare

The screen in the drawing shows ‘The Dream,’ an 1883 painting by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. It shows, in typical symbolist fashion, a homeless man asleep in an ironically idyllic landscape, dreaming of Love, Fame and Wealth shown as 3 floating hotties. The magic lantern show is just about over and the hotties will go home with Capital as Love, Fame and Wealth tend to do. The creator/created, the artist/dreamer is left with nothing when the happy foursome departs.

The slide of Pierre’s painting is an re-presentation of an art object, a symbolizing of a illusion that homeless man can dream that he can get some love, fame and/or wealth. An illusion times four. Capitalists are tricky that way.

‘Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks,’ says Karl Marx. Thusly Capital takes art as labor and turns it into agitprop, propaganda to perpetuate the above corporatist deception. It is a tool capital uses to suck life from art and call it wealth/fame/love then keeps it all to itself.

More Marx: ‘Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society.’ Sad to say there is no ‘society’ these days to compel. Were a progressive leaning government to try, Capital would buy it off. Remember when ‘labor saving’ device was a good thing? Capital, these days would make it ‘labor replacing’ and use it to kill ‘living labor.’ Maybe not actual kill the laborer, just his or her career.

Illusion times five. That’s what my drawing makes it. So why do I make art? Why did  Pierre make art? How do I use art? How is or was Pierre’s used? And why do I show Capital using art the way he does?

More Marx, ‘Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.’ That meaning, I guess, that art is useful–a means not an end–as both therapy and propaganda. That meaning artists–me, for sure and Pierre, maybe–use art as therapy, as a confession is OK. No harm is done.

But when art is used as personal propaganda to justify reaching for a piece of an immortal movement, it’s not so OK. Isn’t it just the artist wanting to use art as the corporatists use it? to use it as tool to gain Wealth, Fame and Love?  An artist, despite, is no more righteous than the rich.