Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Modern Role of the Artist.

I just listened to a BBC Radio 3 programme about art as a means of tackling difficult emotional debates and complex, modern social dilemmas. The programme was presented by Matthew Sweet and featured a lecture by Tom Shakespeare. A lot of the following is reiterating and giving my own views on what was said in the programme.

This is something that strikes me as interesting right away as I can relate it to my own work looking at British society and the class system. Art has long been used to highlight contentious subjects in an impacting way. Art moves people and makes people think at a deep level, it opens our minds. Looking at a piece of art evokes hundreds of emotions and thoughts and these can help us tackle difficult problems in the world and our lives. People can relate to art, they can see it on a number of levels in a way which one can’t with statistics or scientific facts. The emotions evoked through art is what allows us to dwell on difficult subjects in a way which rationality can’t.

One of the points made was that an artist should force people to think. I thought this was obvious, I’ve said this since my school days that good art is something which makes you ask questions. It was suggested that artists should be seen as intellectuals in our societies and I agree. The degree to which artists research and follow various enquiries can be equal to any scientist or philosopher.
Art is difficult, it is a life long commitment to a form of enquiry, it’s research before it’s communication. Artists have a greater responsibility than we can imagine.
Art is a means of communicating and opening a platform for public debate on subjects that affect us all but are often only addressed in specialist scientific jargon. Art can speak to our human condition about complicated social and moral dilemmas, when science can’t reach the average layman. I would like to see a greater responsibility put on artists to challenge and enquire into problematic areas and to communicate their findings. I would also like to see the funding available for artists to do this. It would improve the contemporary art world and result in more work with real social and cultural value and less trite and trivial art made for the market.

I’ve said my little bit, now listen to the programme.

No comments: