EDITORIAL : Could ‘Not Doing Art’ Be a Solution for Young Artists? / Johny ML
JohnyML, Editor in Chief of Art Tehelka says that the present way of making art by the artists will not take them to any possible future, let alone present. His advice to the young artists is to ‘stop doing art’ altogether. But there is more to his views. Read on..
My critique on proposal writing and my insistence that the young artists should go back to their studios in the last editorial of Art Tehelka had brought both accolades and brickbats for me. In this editorial I make a few suggestions regarding the kinds of supportive systems that the young artists could develop in order to keep the autonomy of their artistic lives as well as artistic creations for many had raised the question, what they would do otherwise if they did not write funding proposals, during the last two weeks. Weak hearted young artists and those youngsters who aspire to be artists without much preparation other than having some sort of an over confidence and a lot of shamelessness to abuse elders in the social media should not read this editorial because it is definitely going to agitate them further. Young art curators and critics who delve more in socializing, bitching and shadow fighting than doing some serious work on curatorial practice and criticism also should keep off from this editorial because it is going to hurt their ego terribly.
In art parlance, the word ‘struggle’ has got various intensities depending on who uses the word in what context. During the market boom years when everyone was getting some pieces of the profit cake the word ‘struggle’ was temporarily forgotten. Being an artist became the smoothest occupation as far as a young artist was concerned. None was applying for teaching posts or looking for some job in advertising companies. More or less everybody could create their work spaces or studios, develop a life style, polish their social skills including proficiency in English speaking and present a world view a little bit different than what the previous generations of artists had presented. Everyone was optimistic and as everyone was getting opportunities, competition and backbiting among the peer groups were almost absent. In such a scenario, it was not a surprise that the word ‘struggle’ took a backbench or nearly got erased from the daily give and take between the artists. Unfortunately, the word ‘struggle’ has come to the art parlance in the recent post-boom years. The proposal writers these days mention the struggles that they undergo in order to create their art.
I say, do not struggle. This world does not want your art that too created out of your ‘struggle’. The world wants something affirmative as well as critical. The world wants to see the continuities in cultures. With philological and anthropological studies making more and more inroads into the plate tectonic theories and with them explaining the origin of human beings and the myths related to it convincingly and scientifically, we get to see a new world of knowledge and cultures emerging against or parallel to the existing chaotic world with so many warring factions in the name of race, nationalism and religion; the sublime world of intelligence and future planning where art functions as a part of the super structure, demands the kind of art which explores not only the physical world of appearances but also the latent and nascent worlds of imaginations. Scientists, artists, social scientists, programmers, economists and so on have turned to the historical continuities of human existence and to the possible areas of collaborations between the natural and the imaginary worlds and have come up with the idea of linking the present world to the past origins than envisioning a future world where human beings would live an exclusive life devoid of nature and its other subjects. In that scenario the world in general is looking for the unexplored possibilities of human mind and consciousness (both individual and universal) and let me tell you skill is an integral part of such future.
The current interest for the tribal and folk art should be seen against this fact. The future world is not based on mere futuristic projections, but based on a future that has connections with the primordial origins and the archetypes. Our modernism or all what happened with the advent of industrialization of the world have only helped in scaling down and freezing the massive explorations of human capacities for the majority was pushed into the factories and the later democracies in order to catch up with the modernism/s which had already set the benchmarks for development also followed suit without thinking differently. They too pushed their people into factories and other sweatshops. That’s why we do not have a Renaissance of that scale which we had witnessed in the 15th and 16th CE in Europe first and in smaller scales in different parts of the world in the later centuries. But I could say for sure that 20th century has not created a Renaissance anywhere; it created only war. It created individuals like Tagore who showed us the possibility of bringing a Renaissance around again. But factories do not produce the sublime; they produce products. Renaissance was never a product oriented culture. This century, that is 21st century, intelligent people have already realized that the present way of production-consumption and profit making would eventually send all people into a sort of limbo or into suicide or else into mere anarchy, which would not aspire for a socio-political-cultural-economic change.
If the world is looking for tribal and folk art, it is not just because they are fascinated by tribal and folk expressions. They are looking for something fresh, innocent and not contaminated by the production-consumption-profit equations. It is symbolic at present and we need to understand that symbolism. The world is looking for that kind of art produced by artists who are having a sort of inclination for a Renaissance mindset. This is a mindset that helps the artists to see things holistically, as god would do. An artist could become anything including a statesman in such a scenario because the artist is a part of the continuity that has created greatest minds in the world from time immemorial. The present day artist therefore should be the essence of all what has gone past. If some agencies are asking the youngsters to write proposals because they have their economic and weakening hegemonic cultural and political positions which they want to hold on to and maintain from collapsing by employing many artists from the developing countries to get involved in their projects and proliferate those ideas like bees would take pollens from the foreign flower beds. It is a cultural sweatshop activity. It is a post-capitalist piece meal work in the conveyor belt mode.
I would say stop making art if you don’t feel that you are not a part of the greater scheme of the universe. If you cannot see things holistically and see your origins right from the beginning of the world through your intuitions and express those through your thoroughly honed skills, please, please do not make art. You struggle is not needed. If you are trying to be a Van Gogh of today or if you are trying to say that your struggle is not about just surviving in the material world but it is more about the spiritual struggle pertaining to hone a new language, I would say, still your struggle is not needed for this world because doctors, engineers, programmers, film makers, musicians, dancers, scientists, gamers, designers, actors and so on are actually developing a futuristic world through realizing the origins. They are creating a world for coexistence, beauty, truth and harmony. They are actually creating rivulets of ideas between outwardly fighting religions. Who needs your struggle? Nobody. Stop doing art. If you feel suffocated and if you feel you die without doing it, then pick up your pen, paper, pencil, colors, canvas, clay, wood, laptop or whatever and then do your art. Again, your art is not needed. Your art is only needed when you blend your visions with your skill. Conceptual art is bound to die and it will. Project based art is bound to die and it will soon. Because the world is asking for the people to see their past when they all were together in the same continent and speaking the same language, singing the music of heaven and creating a harmonious world.
Look at the galleries. They are profit makers. They are needed here because the system is so much so that it would take some more years to change the way of showing the works. I see a world right in front of my eyes where the art lover goes in search of the visionary artist who lives like a bard of the world, sans borders. Your art is shown now and nobody seeing your art except for a few people like me. Be the creators of the world, then the whole world will look at you. For that you need both a sense of origin and completely honed skilled. You cannot be a half archer to be Arjun. Your art the way you are doing it currently is not needed by the world. Look at the film world; it is changing. The films are talking more and more about a cosmic world of co-existence. More and more animal based animations are being made. The world is half without animals and birds. The film makers have realized that. These are not just created for the children; they are for the mature world. Look at the social media. Majority of the videos posted there are talking about co-existence. Half-baked and half-bred hooligans still talk about nationalism. The world has gone miles ahead. The world has touched its origins and seen the beauty. The future of art lies in the capacity of the artists to create a harmonious world. Your growth into the level of god is expected; anything less goes out of the window.
My dear artist, your struggle is not needed anymore. You stop doing your art. Do not write proposals, do not ask for funds. Do a job, earn money and live happily. Your art is not needed. Do anything other than doing art. You will find your peace there. If you want to have a car, a house and family, do a job that would give you enough money to earn all these. Do not crave for these and do your art at once. Stop doing art. Those who have stopped doing art after my exhortation through this editorial will find peace with their own selves. But listen carefully, if you feel like doing nothing else other than doing art, do not complain. Just do it. But doing your art will not make you an artist of the future world. Only when you turn into a Renaissance person, then only you will become an artist who would endure the way the artists in the history have endured. When you develop the renaissance view, you would not care about who says what about your art because you are the god who creates the art. When I say Renaissance do not interpret it as a 15th and 16th century affair. You will repeat the same folly that some of my detractors committed after reading my last editorial. They took the world laptop literally; the whole argument was about laptop. Let your focus not be on Renaissance as a historical category. Let it be a metaphorical push so that you could become the god-creator or the creator-god. Only then your art would endure and would make any sense to the world. Stop doing art.
(All images taken from the net are for illustrative purposes only)