Almost everywhere around the world, regardless of political ideology or thought, art and culture are connected to general shared values of freedom, autonomy, equality and self-fulfillment. The stark contrast with those countries and cultures where nowadays the free access to and dissemination of modern art still is perceived as a threat, requires us in these times of crisis, globalization and migration, to pay attention to and reflect upon the relation between (modern) art, the individual, society and the concept of freedom.
Although it is not meaningful to want to define modern art, it can be argued that probably in all social and political relevant definitions, expression and communication are always mentioned. In socially sustainable art the expression as form is subordinate to substantive communicative function! Interpretation or confrontation as tension serves as balance in the (power) relationship between individuals, society or culture.
Freedom, the individual and society.
Societies exist by the extent to wich standards and values are accepted and supported and the extent to which each individual therein can express itself free and autonomous.
The freedom of the individual is determined by its ability to have and express an opinion that may differ from the conventional. Freedom of choice or autonomy and comparison of different standards and values are also related to the knowledge that every individual has gained.
Individual freedom and autonomy mean also that everybody, on the basis of reasonable knowledge of their choices, should be able to give direction to their own existence. This freedom is unattainable for someone who is able to have only one way of looking to live. Such a person is no master of his existence, but will probably mostly be driven by prejudices, ignorance, habits or guilt prevailing from culture or religion.
Art, freedom and the individual.
Knowledge, gathered through science, philosophy, politics or religion, offers images of our environment and critical options to compare our experiences and choices to. One could say that the language or metaphor that is used by art and literature, is more powerful and direct partly due to it’s independency of society.
Different from the structured and functional language of science, religion and politics, the language of the imagination and reflection, by the multitude of its shapes, incites to look every time again and tests our critical jugdment
The innovative aspect of art is in the critical perception, confrontation, dialogue and ultimately in mediation, resolution or new vision.
Art and literature are able to stimulate the self-consciousness and the imagination of people, provide in-sight in their own existence and offer alternative ways to look at life. More ‘Art’ is often inherent in a greater chance of freedom.
Art, freedom, the individual and society.
A society, which as a collective of individuals, is not open to modern art, is anxious that these autonomous individuals will change the norms, values and identity of their society, compared to surrounding societies and cultures. Thats why usually in times of changing conditions, modernity is accepted, as long as the ruling power and the stability/controlling structures, religion, are not affected.
ArtCommunicator, Peter Debets