Driving out from Austin today, I began to think a bit about art and it's place in our world and lives. That is, art somewhat broadly defined...like paintings, photography, music, performance art, etc.
And I began to think about how our culture is so theraputic. Because of that, it seems the art of the American society is very theraputic...and therefore sometimes anemic and self-centered. Not that art for therapy sake isn't important (in fact, I would argue that it is a huge part of good art), but art that ends with catharsis could simply be empty and hollow in its own sort of way.
You see, I have been considering the prophetic and revolutionary role of art and how much of that seems lost in our world today. Or at least in my everyday vision.
In certain places and times, art has been used to start revolution, announce solidarity, pave the way for change.
Strangely, art has in several ways come under the umbrella of entertainment. And the purpose of entertainment is very different from the purpose of art. Dollars and numbers versus momentum and movement.
So partner the capitalistic intentions of entertainment with a society that loves to emotionally masturbate to other people's exhibitionistic therapy and you get the oh so over-rated music of America (and perhaps the rest of the world as well).
Michael tells me that good art must come from truth...and that is why the theraputic role of art is important. It has to come from a place that is true to us. But if it ends there, it is merely therapy. Can't we move from there to a place where truth doesn't just comfort people (which is important), but where it moves people to newness, creativity, imagination.
Isn't it the artists job to open peoples eyes, ears, and minds to a better way, a better day, a better world? Ought not more artists use their craft to describe the injustice/unwholeness of our world and offer subversive counter-narratives that bring about justice/wholeness?
It seems like some musicians are dabbling in these things with their lives or talking about them interviews, but seldom are they incorporating it into their art (although certainly some are). For example, Chris Martin of Coldplay in every picture has a 'MAKE TRADE FAIR' thing on his person. But has he written any songs about it? Is it such a segregated thing for him that it isn't a place of truth to write from? Perhaps it's simply a logo? I'd like to think not, but who knows?