AFRaKaReN on Why Art Is Power

Posted by | March 15, 2013 | News, Speaker & Columnist | No Comments
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Che had the opportunity to interview AFRaKaReN as part of his Art Is Power series on Huffington Post, a column where Che Kothari asks artists to succinctly define the power of art.

Before we had written language, we had storytellers. Their role was critical: without paper and pen the passing down of stories by word of mouth was the only way communities could preserve the lessons they’d learned and the his/herstories they lived. AFRaKaReN is one of our village’s storytellers.

These days it can be hard to hear an authentic voice… I mean we’d all have to sit still for a minute and listen. But if we could just turn our smartphones off, taking in an artist like AFRaKaReN can move you in a way that’s increasingly rare.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard AFRaKaReN speak. She caught me totally off guard. Her vibe is so chill I’ll admit it wasn’t until part way through her first piece that I realized she was taking me somewhere truly profound. The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca calls this power “duende”, the force that happens when an artist is so connected to the truth of their form that it becomes elevated to a transcendent experience. Without the support of the community, artists who have this kind of power often live on the fringes and there is a real danger the art can be lost. Lorca understood the importance of standing behind this kind of critical work: he rallied other artists around a group of impoverished gypsy outcasts to save the art of flamenco — he was later killed, both for this and his own work. By its nature this kind of art threatens the status quo. It is literal power, and the ruling class will always try to bury it, whether in a ditch or in a vast sea of fluffy pop music.

You can read the rest of this interview with AFRaKaReN on Huffington Post