CHRIS FREMANTLE

Nature and purpose of art

Posted in Civics, Texts by chrisfremantle on June 11, 2007

“You see in this country for instance (Britain) writers are not involved in the sort of things I’m doing, because it’s a much more settled society, writers write to entertain, they raise questions of individual existence, the angst of the individual. But for a Nigerian writer in my position you can’t go into that. Literature has to be combative, you cannot have art for art’s sake. The art must do something to transform the lives of a community, of a nation, and for that reason you see literature has a different purpose altogether in that sort of society – completely different from here….

And a writer doesn’t earn money in Nigeria, because although you have a 100 million people, most of them cannot read and write there, so literature has a different purpose. So here I am, I’ve written 22 books, I’ve produced 150 episodes of a T.V. programme which everybody enjoys, but I’m poor!

But that is of no interest to me. What is of interest to me is that my art should be able to alter the lives of a large number of people, of a whole community, of an entire country, so that my literature has to be completely different, the stories I tell must have a different sort of purpose from the artist in the western world. And it’s not now an ego trip, it is serious, it is politics, it is economics, it’s everything, and art in that instance becomes so meaningful, both to the artist and to the consumers of that art.”
Ken Saro-Wiwa from ‘Without Walls’ Interview

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One Response

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  1. Reading « CHRIS FREMANTLE said, on December 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    […] See also Ken Saro-Wiwa’s comment on the nature and purpose of art. […]


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