Viv on Class art

Viv Albertine was the guitarist with the punk band The Slits, and still one of the most vocal and opinionated of her generation. This is her take on the loss of working class artists.

“The arts are dominated by the middle classes and yes, it does matter. No art is going to change anything when it’s made by the ruling class: it won’t move the world forward. Contemporary music has become mere entertainment no matter how many tattoos, torn jeans ad leather jackets you dress it up in.

Pop and rock comes from the blues and folk: it was outsider music, and used to be one of the few routes working-class people had to escape the confined prescribed for them by society. When I saw the Sex Pistols play I thought, this is the first time I’ve seen someone like me on stage. And the experience gave me the courage to have a go, too – even though I had no female role models and couldn’t play an instrument.

Instead of dismissing people when they raise the vaild point that the arts are dominated by the middle classes (I’m not saying what they make is not enjoyable, but there’s something they canot give), how about people in privileged positions helping to open the door for the less privileged? If they are given a glimpse of hope or validation, like I was, they will grab at the chance of making art. What they have to say, and how they say it, will benefit us all.”

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