Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What do the arts really say?

Recently I read an article about an Arab performer who said that arts doesn't change society. He has given up hope that people are really affected by what they see on stage. They just want to be entertained.

This is in sharp contrast to Moti Lerner, the Israeli playwright, who sees art and theatre as a way for the audience to change themselves. Lerner speaks to this when he says, “Theatre people must hold to the illusion that they can save their society by their art, that they can heal it. Yes. It is probably an illusion. We have experienced enough to know it. But let's not forget the power of illusions and the power of vision. Without vision, without illusions, nothing would change. Nothing would heal.”

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Art is a catalyst when people want it to be. Do the masses change themselves when they see a challenging play or read a provocative book? In most cases not. But do people change when they are open to change? Yes.

So what is the role of art in this process? It must be there searching for the ones who want to change. It must be probing and in the margins, as well as mainstream and popular. It must be audacious and political and it must be one-sided or balanced depending on the artist and their vision. The vision is the all important thing becuase that leads to the truth within the artist. Creating art by committee is not art. It is artificial, a product, a consumerist mentality.

What we are lacking today is imagination. It has been taken away by consumerism. Artists are our only hope because they are the ones who value imagination for imagination's sake, art for art's sake, vision for vision's sake. Value the artist and value the imagination, no matter where it leads.

No comments: