Telling stories with imagination.

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Essentials

Will and I have just got back from watching Aftermath in the Old Vic Tunnels - a verbatim piece about civilian fallout from the Iraq invasions. So apart from prompting immediate comparisons with Waiting - our verbatim piece about the civilian fallout from the war on terror in this country - and the comparisons are striking, it prompted a very heated discussion on the tube about the essentialness of art.

Initially the question Will posed was 'What's the point of art?' Not in some navel-gazing, why-do we-bother-trying-to-make-a-living-as-artists way but rather to interrogate the necessity of why we make the work we do. We very nearly headed down the dead end side-street of trying to define art which is always a pointless exercise ending in semantics and reductionism. That's too big a can of worms to open on the District line at half past nine. But really the argument... discussion, was about what do we need art for. To which amazingly we did manage to find an answer. Or at least an answer to what it is we want from art - which (from Will) was:

'to be educated, to learn - to learn something of what it is to be human. To be made a better person. To become a better person.'

Not in the grand and earnest way that sounds as soon as I write it down, but simply to be changed, to be moved by the experience of art, to share in someone else's experience. Which is what the best art does to us and for us. And as I write this all down - trying desperately to remember Will's beautiful and profound thoughts on it as we walked down the road from the tube he says (he's sitting next to me as I type) 'it's about compassion - it IS about sharing in someone else's experience'. And that's what it is that you learn, you learn that the world is not always simply what you knew already. And so you feel.

p.s. The debate's not over - expect another instalment - Will's piping up again and pointing out that we only had half of the discussion, because the other function of art (for Will) is as a medium to challenge, to question. Which, I should say, Aftermath does brilliantly - it's also very moving - it closes tomorrow, but catch it if you can. And more on art's power to challenge anon...

No comments:

Post a Comment