Blog as Samizdat

For those unfamiliar with the Russian term Samizdat, Wikipedia explains:

…it is the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature or other media in Soviet-bloc countries. Copies were made a few at a time, and those who received a copy would be expected to make more copies. This was often done by handwriting or typing.

This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.

Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: “I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and [may] get imprisoned for it.”

Why bring this up now? The recent election in Armenia has proven to be (yet again) that blogs can exercise some power in overcoming official narratives and it got me thinking….I believe art blogs can also challenge the dominant narratives being pushed down our throats by “official” media which marginalizes minority opinions. James Kalm (I wish he would use his real name) agrees and says as much at his recent article in the Brooklyn Rail, The Ethics of Aesthetics“:

It wasn’t till last fall that a valid possibility for the blogosphere evolved: that of moralistic watchdog, in essence, an art world “Bullshit Detector.”

Nowdays, we’re barraged by dull museum shows trumpeting a “cutting edge” aesthetic (think New Museum’s “Unmonumental”) or generic shows pretending to be fabulous (think LACMA’s Broad Museum of Contemporary Art).

I have always preferred culture blogs with a distinct (and sometimes unconventional) voice, even if I don’t agree with them all of the time…I’m thinking Art Fag City, Bloggy, Militant Art Bitch, or Oly’s Musings….there are many others but those were the first to come to mind.

By the way, the Guardian Newspaper and the OneWorld blog are also writing about the blog as samizdat.

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