OUR COLUMNIST MIKE TAKES OUR DEBATE ON THE ROLE OF ART TO A NEW LEVEL:
‘As an eternal optimist, yes of course. I find it every day in people that I meet and deal with in a human manner. It’s the fabricated world of art, consumerism and fashion that is problematic.
I sense from your blog, which by the way helps me feel in touch with what is happening in my field in the centers of the Art World, that there is an aroma of desperation. Galleries are desperately trying to find the “new” to sell to those who have little idea of what art is. It’s as if many sense that our culture is under stress and is changing, but has not yet decided on the change. Modernism has run its course and now the vultures are feeding on the corpse before a new set of values comes into place. As humans strive for control, we are starting to realize the one area we can’t control is our ecosystem, our planet. We like to think we are somehow above it or outside of it, but the reality is we are a part of it, and we are doing terrible damage to our home. I suspect that my children will grow up in a world where the struggle to create a new sense of what it means to be human on our planet is played out. It will not be easy, peaceful or cooperative, but I feel it will become moreso as time goes on. We focus very much on the now and forget the past, which is Modernism very mechanism. Forget tradition and strive for the new, even if it’s half-baked crap. I think the world has had enough.
I had an exhibition in Damascus in 2008, and one of the mouthpieces of the regime bought one of my works. I spoke to her as a person and explained the inspiration for the work, which she could connect with. It was a real connection. She is now struggling for survival in the current war in Syria, as she is completely invested in the current governing regime. The falsity of the regime has led to people having had enough, to the point of sacrificing their lives, their family’s security and their society in the attempt to make a better world for themselves and their next generations. This is a real example of the nugget of gold I am speaking of.
After the show, I had an exhibition in the university in Dubai where I was working at the time. It was about 150 drawing that had led to the Damascus work (about 20 works) to show the process of the development of the work for the students in our programs. At the end, as I was leaving soon for Australia, I gave all the works to anyone who wanted them. They all found homes, and I felt they also, for some, acted as reminders of how important sincerity of purpose and execution was for any visual artist. It is the unknown and unsung efforts individuals that lead to changing minds one at a time. I often feel my work as a teacher is as important, if not more important, than my work as an artist.
Your blog is yet one more voice of honesty and a call to have the courage to demand more from art and artist, and to shine the light on the vacuous Art Market and the small and greedy players, who are feasting on corpse of our society. Every word, every sincere work of art, every opinion in contrary to the Artspeak nonsense that pervades the Market that sells art and fashion as one and the same, is one step towards creating a set of values that will lead art and artists of the next generation, who will demand more of their institutions and give more to their society.
You and I may never have any great accolades, but our efforts will effect those people who come in touch with them. This is a great achievement, and if it goes beyond that, then it’s all icing.
Yes, there are many nuggets all around. One just needs to have the patience and persistence to sift through the mud. I would very much like to see shows that you think are good and hear why you think they are good. It’s easy to show what’s superficial and market-driven, but have you seen any work that is outside of that. Probably hard to find, as they don’t get the PR as they are not on the Market.’