“A status of indie(pendence) from profit-oriented market, or semiocapital, or any other apparatuses of Capital cannot possibly spring out of nowhere. Such position is negotiated, seized, through objective and material action, through working for more disposable income, through developing an alternative locus of power or through actually taking hold of the forces of production. To conceive of it as a mere ‘privilege’ is to snatch it from the social and place it within the realm of the individual and the universe of his/her labor – each of us with our own little, private rebellions.
Revolutionary cultural work in some sense follows the logic of capital but only in the realization that a formal rejection of capital (through embracing full-time revolutionary work, sustained financially by the support of the masses by being part of the masses) requires the execution of art within the ranks of the ruling system…While it may seem that some revolutionary cultural work mimics reactionary art in the field of form, such similarities are only symptoms of the social-ness of form vis-a-vis society as a whole and the embeddedness of art to life. To reject these forms as not radical enough lies on the assumption that mainstream/ popular culture is fully controlled by the ruling class, when in fact pop culture is an unending flux of contestations between social forces.”
Suarez’s essay can be read at this link.
Like conscience, the phantom of the Rizalian tradition continues to haunt us even today at the cusp of communicative capitalism and surplus digital technology. Perhaps the persistence of ‘socially-conscious’ art, from the time of the Propagandists, Jose Maria Sison’s Second Propaganda Movement, until today’s incarnations only emphasize the continuing dominance of the elitist patronage-centric art market, sustained by the rich, and the dominance of art-as-entertainment-as-commodity in Philippine commercialized culture.
Yet the old contradiction between ‘elitist’ art vs ‘socially-conscious’ art, framed within the conditions of Philippine culture and society, chronically re-phrased as the drama between the formalists vs Marxists, art-for-art’s-sake vs commited art, Villa vs Lopez, Almario vs Guillermo, and other countless permutations, seems to be founded on the lack of contemporary theorization on the subject of Philippine art and commitment, apart from the usual bearings set by the colonial-learning academia and…
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