What role do artists have in ensuring free and fair elections?
The first step in ensuring a fair election is to make sure that people are getting the right information. One of the things For Freedoms is doing through our get out the vote initiatives with Locust Street Group is packaging all of this nebulous and inaccessible information in a way that is inspiring and digestible.
How do you package it in a way that folks can understand and do something with?
I also believe that artists do not shy away from asking hard and complicated questions. Thinking about “free” part of that question makes me think about how the system is clearly trying to reduce freedoms behind the scenes and part of that is capitalist-driven—if we’re getting all of our information by the capitalist-incentivized platforms like social and mass media in order to transmit information, we’re never really going to get an unbiased and fair telling of a situation. Anytime it’s motivated by money there’s always something to be questioned.
We’re complicating and expanding what participation looks like but doing it in a way that undermines the system. We’re not trying to make money off of this, we’re trying to get people inspired and trying to promote a sense of responsibility about one’s role in society. And that could mean educating oneself or participating in the system. If you’re going to critique the system, how can you without knowing something about it? If you are participating in it, it is asking how do we offer solutions and contribute to creative problem solving. That’s what artists are doing. We’re thinking about how to move forward in a more equitable way rather than remain complicit in the comfort of a system that we know and recognize despite its inherent inequalities.
Artists are good at helping to imagine beyond what we know and can see. It seems radical but think about things people were doing and imagining 50 years ago. Now that kind of imaginative power is fundamental to creative process and pushing us towards justice.
Justice and voting are closely tied. How do you respond to those that say their vote doesn’t matter or won’t change anything?
I think that in terms of justice and voting the way that we think about justice in our society is very punitive based; an eye for an eye, you did this to me, therefore…There’s incarceration and a whole slew of punitive processes based on this idea of justice.
For Freedoms is redefining what justice is and what it looks like. We believe it’s not based on these concepts of good vs evil necessarily but people vs people. People are born into different circumstances and afforded different privileges based on things that we didn’t get to choose. That often determines the conditions under which we’re allowed to grow or flourish and understand the world we are a part of.
It’s about promoting this more collective idea of community and humanity.
It’s about us as individuals.
I think what artists are doing and what the campaign is doing is promoting this idea between innate connectivity between people. Even though we can’t see and feel the immediate connection between violence in other parts of the world, we’re seeing the destruction of humanity.
Joy is an undercurrent of your work. What is bringing you joy during this election cycle?
Joy is such an undercurrent of our work. Joy is a form of resistance, but it’s also a tool to combat the systemic and historic disenfranchisement of communities of color in particular. Through joy, through embodiment of joy, we’re better equipped to imagine. When we’re oppressed, and everything we do is centered around a lack of something, it’s hard to give a shit. It is hard to participate.
Joy is the thing that can help.
If you package the information in the language of joy, and you practice it—like we try to practice it as an organization in the ways we create, show up to a space, dialogue internally, modeling joy and messaging things around joy—we think it is a tool we can use to inspire.
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