Extreme Art vs Extremism


The Metamodern, The Arts. The metamodern aesthetic for the digital culture. Art Against ISIS. Ammar Salim.

By EJ Wickes
Painting (top) by Ammar Salim (Al Jazeera)

For our art to be more relevant to life we need a keen understanding of the world around us. Artists and emphatic people have always been producing work that resists a world wracked with political violence and social unrest. From environments of frustration and desperation, art becomes the inherent tool and the most extreme form of expression available. These are contemporary examples of visual art and spoken works from Arab and Islamic artists filled with an impassioned sense of the world around them.

The Metamodern, The Arts. Extreme Art vs Extremism, by EJ Wickes.The bigger the population, the higher percentage of extreme opinions will coalesce. The Arab nations represent a vast population that follows Islam and within that, Yazidis as well as Christians. Cutting through a diverse cross section of Arab and Islamic cultures lies a subculture of artists. Whether secular in belief or true to Islam and other faiths, like the rest of the free world, they too abhor extremism. And quite often it is the artists, risking free expression in defending many beliefs, who pay the ultimate price.

These works represent the metamodern transition of political activism in art that transcends the postmodern’s final lap. An extreme propaganda battle is raging over the social network platforms between the free world and the Islamic State. Using art, poetry and spoken word to express their own truths, now Muslim artists from all over the world are presenting their views through very socially relevant mediums.

Along with a surge of anti-radicalism in art comes the cyber antagonists known as Anonymous. As an undisclosed network of anti-establishment cyber-subversives, they are not without their theatrical charm. Their art is in the doing as they pursue an “interactive” underground digital war against ISIS Inc. by bringing down their recruiting and PRopaganda sites, whenever and wherever possible.

The video showing the martyrs in orange does not show any beheading. But the video has to exist to make the words more relevant to the viewer. Art does not censor. Art is a universal language and honest art is never politically correct.


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