Art and/as Anarchy: Portraying the Artist in a Society at War
Two South African novels, Congo Song (1943) by Stuart Cloete and Moxyland (2008) by Lauren Beukes, portray the central part played by artists and their work in the midst of a society on the brink of war. Both narratives are set in Africa: the one portraying a close-knit community in the Congo in 1939, facing the collapse of their colonial way of life, the other depicting the apocalyptic nature of a dystopian Cape Town in 2019, reflecting the global reality of environmental catastrophe,fatal epidemics and corporate tyranny. In both texts an artist plays a pivotal role within a group of characters, and their views of their work, the multiple manifestations of creative art and the relationship between their specific societies and what is regarded as art, form an integral part of the narrative whole. This paper focuses on the theme of how the arts can be connected to everyday life, and how the narratives exploit various textual strategies to link the creative urge with resistance against as well as support for destructive violence. It also discusses how the dimensions of space, time and character are structured to reveal,on the one hand,the quest for romantic aestheticism and,on the other hand, forecast the threats of cyberspace and genetically modified art.
Keywords: Romantic Aestheticism, Genetically Modified Art, Nanotechnology, Exotic Art
Prof. Henriette Roos
Professor, Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, University of South Africa