The Destructive Nature Of Art
The act of making art is a political act because it entails the act of destruction as part of the process. For the piece to become what it needs to be, nothing can be too precious--a word, a brushstroke, a scene in a play, an image. You have to be willing to destroy for the greater good of the piece, for what the piece needs to be. There is a very good chance that what is uncovered in the debris will be the truth. Admittedly, it may not be the truth that is uncovered, but it will be a step toward the truth. Staying put will not lead you to the truth.
Our politicians and idealogues could learn from artists as they attempt to make their societies. They should note as we delete, paint out, tear up our work. When their statues and ideals are so precious in the name of tradition, society stagnates. When a statue or an ideal becomes more important than the greater good in the pursuit of truth, society fails, no differently than a novel would fail if it weren't edited aggressively.
Also, it is important to understand that art is the pursuit of truth. That statement seems to baffle many people, including many people who self identify as artists. There is no denying the truth when it appears. But if you're clinging to your art school ways, the longer you've been out of art school the more you'll stagnate and your work will lapse into cliche. If you refuse to abandon what many artists I've met passionately defend as tradition, not because tradition is bad, but because they hide their fear of risk under the flag of tradition, refusing to acknowledge aesthetics that don't fall under their definition of tradition, they will stagnate, become idealogues clinging to their tradition like a drowning person would cling to a plank of wood in the ocean. No one would consciously desire that about themselves.
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John Greiner-Ferris is an artist in the Boston area. Sometimes he makes images. Sometimes he writes. Sometimes he does both.