Roger Peet was the presenter for this week's Monday Night Lecture Series. He is a member of the Just Seeds cooperative, which is a group of artists who work collectively and independently. The name of the cooperative generates interest that the name of an individual artist cannot.
Peet primarily creates political art. His approach to art making itself took a front seat in the presentation as he has struggled with how art communicates and to whom. Early on he found that the art itself can take on a greater importance than the social issue that inspired it. In addition to this, the work will be understood to various degrees by different people and when filtered through the media the message can be lost. Even if a work or symbol is successful in making an impact, it eventually is co-opted into capitalism.
When trying to help the world, he warned that sometimes the solution can be poor or even more destructive than the problem it seeks to solve. Word for word, he stated, "Relax, there is no hope. Do the best you can without doing it selfishly." The cause that Peet felt most comfortable supporting is the empowerment of women all around the world. Once they are able to decide for themselves, the world will be a better place.
The lecture finished on a somewhat gloomy and hopeless note, that no doubt many people were uncomfortably struggling with. He admitted that representing a social issue with exclusively dark content is no where near as effective as when a little humor is added. An illustrated example he gave was of an armed officer (or soldier) wearing girls underpants on the outside of his uniform. The officer was one of hundreds of elements within a woodblock print. It is similar to a Where's Waldo hunt, if Waldo were girls underwear in a near apocalyptical world.
Roger Peet's lecture was quite good and I'm glad that I didn't miss it. Unfortunately, my review doesn't do him as much justice as I would like. I strongly encourage using the provided links to find more information on the artist and the Justseeds Cooperative. (I'm really not clear if it it spelt one way or another, so I'll do both!)
Some of my favorite quotes were:
"Destroy what destroys you."
"Beware instant solutions."
"Don't expect results, just keep making."
"Take the message outside the people who agree with you."