“I always took for granted that the best art was political and was revolutionary. It doesn’t mean that art has an agenda or a politics to argue; it means the questions being raised were explorations into kinds of change…” Toni Morrison
“Art is not a better, but an alternative existence; it is not an attempt to escape reality but the opposite, an attempt to animate it.” Joseph Brodsky
This has been a long and grueling campaign season, for the electorate as well as the candidates. Perhaps it has been a preparation for governance, for what lies ahead, for the intention and approach that will steer our next steps. But preparation is only useful in relation to ensuing action
In order to engage in effective action you must first find something that you value. Participation in the arts, as maker or audience, provides ways to take action that will engender our values and beliefs. When we engage in the arts things happen. Take action. Movement is all!
But the challenge becomes how to keep moving and yet simultaneously slow down. The Latin phrase festina lente means, “Make haste slowly”. Take action, but do so with consideration and reflection. The space between action and reflection provides room for growth and growth provides an impetus and avenue for art making. We make meaning in our lives by forging it with our hands. It requires sweat, consideration, and commitment.
It is action that forges the meaning and significance of a life. Working toward meaning is the point. In life, as in politics, it is critical to have some direction, and yet, we also need to envision the impossible goals that we are trying to achieve if we are ever going to achieve some of our possible goals.
We are living in very particular times that demand our response. No matter the immensity of the obstacles before us – political, financial, or spiritual, the one thing we cannot afford is inaction due to despair. The artist’s job is to stay alive and awake in the space between convictions and certainties. After the tragedy of 9/11 the playwright Charles L Mee Jr was asked” How are we supposed to function in these difficult times. How can we contribute anything useful in this (political) climate?” He replied, “You have a choice of two possible directions. Either you convince yourself that these are terrible times and things will never get better and so you decide to give up – or, you choose to believe that there will be a better times in the future. If that is the case, your job in these dark political and social times is to gather together everything you value and become a transport pack. Pack up what you cherish and carry it on your back into the future”.
And so, into the future we go, our pack on our back. Act today. Vote.
And then, you act: making art in an unpredictable world Anne Bogart, Routledge Press 2007