How might we, as artists, be or become a voice of influence and significance in a world overloaded with the noisy blend of news, info, and entertainment? This question haunts me in a summer where human tragedy, unrest and irrational fear dominate the news.
I feel confused and alarmed as a totally irresponsible maniac has become a potential US president, dictatorship has returned to Turkey and in Holland our mr xenophobia Wilders is on the top of every poll.
To be an artist today is a blessing and a burden. To dedicate your life to seeking beauty, meaning and imagination is enriching.
Beauty = observation.
To see meaning = understanding.
Imagination = creation.
Bringing this together, an artist can create the most potent antidote to cynicism. Artists can help us to calmly observe, to connect with our surroundings and imagine a way forward.
That’s very practical.
But sharing your artistic work is not easy. To ask for attention of the others—to invite smartphone addicted, television overloaded, news-obese minds to your slow world of reflection is almost impossible.
I want to propose: let’s drop the whole concept.
Yes, art is good, but it prevents artists to do something that’s great.
Let’s bury art in our museums with all honour, respect and gratitude.
these great works of art
—pieces of music,
thoughtful statements of poetry,
beauty and insight
from all centuries—
Nothing less than the essence of our civilisation.
The great stories of the past
established the rules and values of our society.
In the expression lies the candor of originality and invention.
The imagination of thinkers and builders
directed the people to explore new territories
and to break trough their limits and expectations.
Let’s acknowledge the value of this tradition.
And let’s understand that it’s time now to let it go.
Only when we free ourselves from being “the artist”, only when we stop to compete for attention among a limited audience of higher educated, art-minded people, only when we give up the endeavour to create that masterpiece, conquer that stage, be the queen of the dance floor or create a buzz on a large art show, we might find the freedom and focus to play a role of significance in the world of today.
I know how much investment it takes to become a classical musician, an actor, comedian, dancer of a rock hero. I know how hard it is to maintain a position among colleagues, to build your reputation and credibility. It’s a prison that we build, maintain and guard for each other.
It’s incredible how easily artists agree to stay within their designated place, the narrow framework of a stage, a publication, a role, a position where artists compete for attention and battle to sell tickets. Is this the arena where you want to be? It’s absorbing your most precious assets: your time, your talent, your imagination and your dedication.
Let’s stop this waste.
Let’s forget art and find a bigger purpose for the power of beauty, imagination and creativity.
But first, tell me: is there a good reason to maintain this concept of “art”? Why should we name ourselves “artists”? Do we need such label to distinguish ourselves and what we do?