Short Interview with Adam Krause


Adam Krause has been actively performing and recording music for more than half his life. He is also the author of numerous essays on the intersection between avant-garde art and radical politics, many of which appear in a new book from New Compass Press. We wanted to let him explain in his own words why his Art as Politics is needed.

What is the general idea behind the book? Why did you write it?

— The book focuses on the ways in which the commodification of popular art and the museumification of high art have forced the products of human creativity out of their proper role. Rather than art and culture being a source of shared value and meaning, a sort of creative commons that we can all draw upon and contribute to, we are left with nothing more than either just commodities or untouchable paintings behind glass. Beyond this simple assessment of the situation, there are suggestions for how the arts could become more meaningful and socially useful.

I wrote the book because after years of recording and performing music, I was becoming increasingly troubled by the way things are done and the ambitions people have for their work. “Making it big” should not be the goal of any art. Art should succeed or fail on its own terms, judged separately from the concerns of the market. Once freed from the market, decentralized, and democratized, art can become far more socially useful as well as more personally and politically transformative.

What is the relationship between avant-garde art and radical politics?

— The term “avant-garde” is now used to refer to any strange or experimental art, but it has a more specific art historical connotation, referring to groups like Dada, Fluxus, or the Provos, all of whom were often quite political. The Dadaists in Berlin, for instance, could hardly be discussed without mentioning their objections to WWI. As time has passed, however, this aspect has been marginalized so that it often appears that they staged a series of artistically provocative acts in a political vacuum. Although I don’t discuss any of the aforementioned movements at any length, a main focus of this book involves showing ways in which the artistic and political cross-pollination pioneered by the historical avant-garde can be re-established and re-imagined by building and expanding on these existing traditions.   

What kind of readers do you hope to attract? And what do you hope they will gain from reading your book?

— This book will probably appeal most to people who are already artistically active and would like their work to take on an increased socio-political dimension. Hopefully, a large number of artists and musicians will read it and rethink what they do and why they do it. In my wildest dreams, I imagine an international network of artists and musicians springing up who are not focused on “making it big,” but rather, on transforming their communities.

However, the book is general enough, and makes a point of explaining any art-theory jargon, that it should be of interest to anyone concerned with resisting the seemingly endless encroachment of capitalism into just about every facet of our lives.

Thanks! Check out Adam Krause's new book, Art As Politics.