Art and war: the state of affairs
Make art, not war. How would that actually be?
We’re currently witnessing a revival of a war mentality of traumatic negative presence, which has remained deeply and firmly rooted in our collective memory since World War II.
Competing narratives seek to explain and legitimate the current state of affairs, while we’re caught up in a whirlpool of events and urgency. First the global pandemic, the invisible war. Then a more palpable form of the monster that grabs us slowly. Currently regional, but with a huge potential for further escalation.
Where’s the whole truth? What to believe in and what not? And to which extent? So many questions, so few broken answers like shards of shattered dreams ... But so many possibilities, too. Still. In spite of everything.
You may call me a dreamer or a wishful thinker. I’m an artist, therefore I believe. Not in clear-cut answers, but in possibilities. Because art means possibilities and, ultimately, Freedom. Yes, Freedom with a capital.
Is there any hope left for a peaceful world? With all my heart, I believe there is. Because I believe we, humans, have the capacity to achieve transformational change. And I strongly believe there exists in each of us the potential to create so much beauty.
As I wrote in a previous blog post, art is first and foremost transformation. Metamorphosis. Change. Transformation is at the heart of The Pointless Artist. It’s central to everything I blog and podcast about. Kind of the pivotal point. You know exactly what I mean.
With a touch of a magic wand, art transforms immediate reality into something else, subtle, and boundless. It’s not about escapism, but about chances and lots of creativity. It’s not about one single, obvious, foreseeable solution, but about multiple options, which allude to a single, big, fat answer, and the freedom to choose from them.
There's a deep connection between art and our present-day human history: both of them are about transformation in all its aspects. But there’s also a fundamental difference between the two: art has taken quantum leaps since the dawn of humanity and has reached higher levels of consciousness since then. Not history, which keeps going round in circles and kind of repeating itself ad infinitum.
Art can transcend reality and has alone the power to break the suffering-laden cycle of history.
I agree with Yuval Noah Harari, as expressed in his article published in The Economist on 9 February 2022, that right now we’re facing a fundamental choice between the law of the jungle and the law of good sense and, ultimately, of the heart, I’d say. In Harari's own words, the question is:
“Can humans change the way they behave, or does history repeat itself endlessly, with humans forever condemned to re-enact past tragedies without changing anything except the décor?”
I say yes, we can. If we embrace the possibility of a mind change and we break the cycle of human experience in which history repeats itself regularly. Through art, one of our most powerful antidotes to war.
We have two unmemorable options: a military or a peaceful one regardless of the cultural and historical differences in the construction of our national identities and our attitudes toward cross-border political cooperation.
Our human history is currently at stake. As it has been so many times before. Where are we gonna go with it? What should the direction of human history be from now on?
Don't say this question is not for artists, but for politicians. This is a question for each one of us and for all of us together. It's the fundamental question under the present circumstances. Such a question doesn't have one single answer, but rather calls for pluralism, diversity, and most importantly, openness to brighter possibilities.
"As a historian I do believe in the possibility of change. I don’t think this is naivety—it’s realism." (Yuval Noah Harari)
I don’t know what will happen next as I can’t predict the course of history. But, as an artist, I do believe in the possibility of change from within. I don't think this is wishful thinking, naivety, or escapism. Rather, it’s realism and my unshakable belief that every moment of our lives is an opportunity to change our direction.
"There is never a moment in our lives when taking a new route is not an option." (Charles de Foucauld)
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Recognise your pointlessness and keep creating!
From Germany with love,