Artist as Activist

What a nice night for a ramble. Balmy. Full moon too. A full moon is said to be a good time to plant a seed, something to do with tides. Two weeks ago at the APAC conference ( thanks Jo Mangan) a seed was planted in my head listening to the brilliant Icelandic poet/politician Birgitta Jonsdottir. She gave a speech entitled Artist as Activist. She spoke about how the people of Iceland, artists included, acted in defence of the people of Iceland after the financial crises there. A mere poet, now one of the countries leading politicians, or a poetician as she prefers to be called. She spoke about Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning and the importance of whistleblowers. A seed was also planted in my head 2 years ago when I went on the boat to Wales with Donal O’Kelly, Sorcha Fox Andy Storey and a few others to act, as artists, in solidarity with whistleblower Chelsea Manning whose grandfather was from Rathmines and who blew the whistle on US military war crimes in Iraq. The Manning TruthFest was there in solidarity with Chelsea’s Welsh/Irish family. As we see the financial crisis play out in Greece you wonder if the activists there will be as successful as Iceland. Its the same struggle. What opportunity is there in Greece for an artist now? In Ireland too there are artists/activists beginning to take on the might of of the financial terrorists and war mongering elite who will stifle any sign of art and life if they are left unchallenged. I saw many of them in Sligo at APAC. I’ve been working with many of them for the last 6 months to put PalFest together. PalFest challenges the cruel genocidal regime enforced on Palestinian people, it blows the whistle on the extraordinary collective punishment inflicted on the whole nation there, artists included. No artist in Palestine can dance, sing, paint or act in those circumstances. So we must do that for them. In solidarity until they can do that freely themselves. Next week you can join in if you so wish. All these things are not unconnected. The taxpayers money is being sucked against the tide into busted banks and massive war machines that inflict these daily miseries on whole nations like Greece/Palestine/Iceland/Ireland instead of flowing into the arts or hospitals or education or anything useful or life-giving. The people of all these countries are suffering through various degrees of this same system, some countries (Palestine) disturbingly more than others. We can all challenge that system, as artists, as people, as whatever and in whatever way we can. And the time to do it is now. Swim with the tide. Act in solidarity and act in defiance of the life sucking system that would have us slaves to the anti-life, art-hating, money hungry so called elite. Anyway, thats my rambling over with. But if you’re out for a ramble yourself, nows a good time to plant a seed.

– Andy Cummins, PalFest Ireland

2nd July 2015