lucid thoughts on hard actions

April 21, 2010

Red wine, Lipstick, and the World in my hand, Maria Elvorith

‘Red wine, Lipstick and the World in my hand’, 2009

Lately I have noticed two types of artists. Those who steer away from issues triggered by the ‘climate change topic’, and those who openly (or subtly) discuss it through their artwork. Those who stay away from it, tend to do so timidly. It is not that they don’t understand the importance or feel passionately about it, but that where their artwork is concerned they would rather not be viewed as ‘preaching’. On the other hand, there are those who aren’t afraid of being labelled anarchic, or – dare it be said – brimming on activism. Working as a ‘tool’ to press forward someone else’s agenda is one thing (and not something that I personally encourage), but doing something because you genuinely care – becasue every iota in you moves you towards it and there is no way you can ignore it – is something entirely different. We can learn this from the Russian Wanderers and the Zen monks.

That is not to infer that all artists should be talking about the issues surrounding climate change just as it would be absurd to declare that all artists should address feminism, but that we shouldn’t be quick to criticse those who actually have the guts to stand up and say – ‘well forget what the galleries and institutions dictate – forget what the collectors buy – this is what I believe in, this is what affects me, and this is what i want to communicate’, because it is often these artists who develop some of the greatest changes in art form*.

If art is a mirror to the now, a reflection of the self and a hint at what the future can be, then what is happening in the now is something that simply can not be ignored and the evidence of it will inevitably filter through into anything that is created. Ultimately, it’s about having the courage to stand up for what you believe in, whether it includes climate change or not.

*It should not to be assumed that they will be sensational and shocking – in fact, some of the greatest new movements produced incredibly subtle and simple artworks (the Zen monks circa 14 Century, for example). Personally, the beauty in simplicity together with a deep relationship with nature is what I believe our eyes and soul are aching for.


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