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Art, as told by Penny Rimbaud

Penny Rimbaud is a writer, poet, musician and activist, known for being a founding member of art collective and punk band Crass, who promotes anarchism as a political way of life and a movement of resistance.

As a writer, Penny has produced thought provoking work, often in response to cultural events - one of his most well known being Rocky Eyed, a poem targeting the British Conservative party and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher following the 1982 Falklands War, which later featured as the Crass album ‘Yes Sir, I Will

This is art, as told by Penny Rimbaud.

Art is…

To me? Is that part of the question as well? If it is, then what or which me is being referred to? The cognitive ‘I’, rich in Cartesian conceits, or the pre-cognitive ‘pre-I’ which, while knowing nothing at all, knows everything we need to know? One way or the other, I feel that art is lived in every fibre of our being and non-being; if it isn’t, then it’s not art.

Art is now, this moment, beyond description, and then art is now, this moment, beyond description all over again, ad infinitum. Art is heart where mind is left behind; quantum knows this, so why don’t we? Art is innate, speaking in tongues, the very voice of being and, perhaps, the only voice of being. Art is intimate, an act of love that cannot be possessed, but whereas paintings can be hung on walls, love can’t.  ‘For he so loved…?’ I think not.

Art is me, you, us; each one of us unique, each precious, each precise, each other. We are of the entirety and art is of the universal. Thus, and in short, art is us, and even if we don’t know it, it’s still us, lit by stardust.
 

The creative world’s best-kept secret?

The one about whom you ask is you; you are that one as I am that one. We are the one that is the many. Equally, your artistry is mine as much as my artistry is yours. We have known this throughout all time, which is no time but itself.

I am you as you are I. There is no one. We know this, we always have known it and always will know it. We are that we are not, and that is all and nothing at all. We are the universal other and so, as some form of concession to the given question, was Walt Whitman.

Free expression

I don’t find that balance and neither do I look for it. Isn’t it more a matter of looking for your true self that you might then claim your rightful place as a free being? Then, not only will you be free, you will also be the balance and a natural expression of it. This is the creative field from which real art emanates.  As I know it, there is no other way. In this sense, I am implying that it is the art which creates the artist, not the artist the art.  All else is artefact created by design; artisan maybe, but not art.

Finally, who am I to imagine what other people might enjoy? That, without doubt, is their business and it is not for me to seek to amuse them; to do so would be to patronise.

‘To thine own self be true’, but first of all find out just who or what that self might be.

The power of the artist

Again, by reversing the question it becomes more pertinent – what role does today’s society play for artists? In my case, the answer is simple - none. The very word ‘society’ rings of governance and I’ll have none of it, rather, I prefer to concentrate on the horizons of cultural event; the peaks of discourse that are heavens above and, so, beyond.

Interested not in society and how it is, but rather in how it might be if it wasn’t, I believe, wittingly or not, that I might contribute culturally, but certainly never knowingly to ‘society’ and all its multiple vanities.

I once noted that there are only two types of people - bohemians and the rest. In many respects I still hold to that view. Tonight I dined with Modigliani, tomorrow Kafka will call my name.

your artistry is mine as much as my artistry is yours

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