The relationship between art and politics has never been an easy one.
The artist is a cultural trouble-maker by profession, illuminating the human condition in ways that upset received wisdom and inspire angst in the powerful. This is why the Church dedicated such effort to censorship and tyrants seldom brook the dissent of novelists and playwrights. Politics yearns to mould our conscience but only art speaks to our soul. So politics tries to influence art, to set parameters for dangerous thinking and disruptive imaginations. The tension that results is essential to the cultural freedoms of liberal societies.
But what happens when that tension is absent, when artists are subsumed into the machinery of politics and their art sublimated to a cause? What becomes of art’s duty to challenge, to provoke, to pursue truth wherever it leads?
The answer is to be found in Scotland, where much of the artistic world…
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