AMERICA’S YOUNG HEART by Nina Bhadreshwar


Why is America so obsessed with youth? Because America is young, it’s one of the youngest nations on the planet.  As it struggled to prove itself and develop the best civilisation, economy and democracy, a society built on the promises of its statutes and its people’s dreams of a better land than the ones they left, little time or space was left for art and culture.  And the world sniggered at its efforts and patronised it.  Or threw back-handed compliments like, ’Well, it certainly makes a lot of money!’ or ‘The production is very good.’ But basically it was patted on the head and not taken seriously.  Name me one American artist or literary who has been acknowledged publically in the world’s prizes: the Man Booker International Prize or the Nobel Prize for Literature?  Even in America itself, while the movie and music awards flourish, awards for art are shuffled about in the shadows. It is hard for a real artist in America. Yet, despite this, it has developed some of the fiercest, most original, prolific and visionary artists of the 20th century. Maybe it’s because it has had so many challenges and divisions; an artist only learns creativity through perimeters, boundaries and restrictions.

One thing is for sure: finally the real fruit of their labours is falling from the tree.


Following the political revolution of the 1960s came the American cultural revolution in the 1990s. Yet the rest of the world has feared its emotional voice, distrusted and maligned its spiritual questing in a country obsessed with religion and brands.  Each year, it is European or Commonwealth countries that receive the international arts awards. But for me, the true greats in both art and literature from the 20th century onwards, the visionaries, technicians and courageous gargoyles were always North American: Annie Proulx, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Baldwin, Elmore Leonard, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Falnnery O’Connor, Jeffrey Eugenides…All my artistic education and tendencies came from New York street and subway artists, L.A.’s and South America’s muralists. The art philosophy, all-out commitment and competition is the ethos I adopted; I cannot relate in my own time to European narcissism and reaction.


But America itself has spurned, censored and destroyed its greatest artists and prophets – terrified of their visions and their precision in writing history. It has sought to contain, commercialise and use them for its own ends – not believing in art for art’s sake. It is time now for art to be given its rightful place of empowerment, education and in establishing peace and healing in these emerging and wonderful States of America.  Without vision, the people will perish.  And TV and movies do not equal vision.



WHY A$AP, Jay Z , Kanye will not, despite their assertations, last the beyond the the contemporary: their art speaks only of themselves and their own glory, it follows the paradigms of the old world, the Master-slave relationship now inverted and the same hunger for wealth, the same moral bankruptcy.  They are not part of the cultural revolution- they are, in fact, the status quo from 30 years ago – the mirror image of the past.