image via Ecole De La Montagne Rouge
As part of the Howl Arts Collective Festival, CKUT FM invited four panelists to discuss artistic resistances to austerity in a live broadcast at Casa del Popolo. In discussing the relation between art and the movement against austerity in Montreal, the chief question was: What is the role of artists in the fight against austerity?
According to the panel – which included artists Edith Brunette and François Lemieux, graphic designer Kevin Yuen Kit Lo, and photojournalist Amru Salahuddien- artists have a choice: they can use their creativity to smooth over the bumps or they can reveal societal tensions through their creations.
However, if art can be used as a space where it is possible to dream, to envision a new future and to picture new social relations, then artists have not only the option, but the responsibility to define and depict an anti-oppressive future in order to raise awareness about austerity and engage discussion.
In addition to the discussion by the four panelists, La Chorale du Peuple, founded in 2011 during the occupation of Square Victoria, denounced neo-liberal policies and inequality through their songs: “Que la vie est belle” and “Ça fait rire les Libéraux.”
A problem underlined by Amru Salahuddien, an Egyptian photojournalist who was on the ground during the Egyptian uprising, was the lack of connections within the international anti-austerity movement. Though the fight against capitalism seems to be a fight that has a certain level of continuity across time and space, the lack of links, not only on an international level, but also within our own communities, has rendered the anti-austerity movement quasi-ineffective.
Salahuddien parallelled the Egyptian and Quebecois students, stating, “while in Egypt, bullets were used against the protesters, the weapon used by the government against Quebecois students was neglect.”
Despite the possibility of connections between these two groups of protesters, Salahuddien criticized the fact that very little support was given to either group by the other: that, though our world is said to be shrinking through technology and social media, there is little global awareness or concern for movements that do not affect us directly.
Concluding the discussion was a conversation about hope, where panelists suggested that if art is used as a tool in the fight against capitalism and the structures of power, it is because artists have hope for a better future, despite their use of seemingly sinister artistic tools, like irony or dystopia, in depicting their criticisms.
Thank you to Howl Arts Collective and to Casa del Popolo for hosting this interesting panel discussion- click here for more events happening this weekend!
Jiliane Golczyk, 23 Apr 2015, Montréal