How relevant is visual arts
In 2008, jargon from business and politics made systemic relevance and size (to big to fail) arguments for bank bailouts. Now the concern is greater. Is this time something more about the well-being of the people? The whole of society is at least more far-reaching and affected worldwide. One is experimenting with the differently assessed system relevance of activities, because this unfortunate term has become the leading one. Infrastructural importance for the functionality and public services when fighting the pandemic is currently the priority for systemic relevance, manageable, affordable and legally enforceable.
There are also concerns about artists and self-employed people, who are promoting and looking for further subsidies on the part of the state, driven by petitions, but artists do not initially appear relevant to the system, which sounds like dispensable and not urgently needed. Significant, but without any status in society. All sorts of media work, audience-deprived television, reactivated drive-in cinema, texts, photos and digital things are still possible, which already shows that it is not about general, about all artistic creation. Exceptions confirm that this is a man-made rule and not a law of nature.
System relevance. An unpleasant associative term. The system and the wider society are not the same. Here worlds and perspectives collide. If you follow Niklas Luhmann, the complex society is differentiated into different, autonomously acting and communicating subsystems (politics, science, law, economy, religion, art, morality, education, press / media,) What kind of “the system” is, on the other hand something is corona relevant is not very clearly recognizable. Securing livelihoods it is about health, security of supply, ability to act, economic power, basic rights, mass psychology, coping with fear, avoiding panic, diversion and development opportunities. Public, proximity, and gatherings are restricted.
Has the art that has just been launched in the live version at least remained socially relevant? Or do you overdo it when a lack of system relevance does not sound existentially important and suggests in-extinct chains of associations to art such as: luxury, elitist extra and ivory tower or breadless, gimmick and minor subject?
The culture and creative industries report 2018 contradicts this with 3% gross domestic product, 100 billion euros in added value alone without specific companies, institutions and associations, 1.7 million employees and 21.4 million visitors to all football games, but 34 million in theaters and concerts and 114 million in museums. As a creative, entertainment, tourism and merchandise economic factor, even for the black market laundering of organized crime, art is undisputedly influential and relevant to key figures, as a merchandise value. And after consumption? How does it work? What do you miss without encountering art? The other way round.
Is a hardware store more relevant to the system than a theater or museum just because it was allowed to open or because it generates more money? When shopping, is there a distinction between things that are important for workers to repair system-relevant facilities, decorative items, preparation for the gardening season, occupational therapy and superfluous entertainment? Do people remain more patient psychologically when they have something to do instead of just consuming media? Is work and existence everything in life? Between football, party and art, a feeling of loss seems to be felt, depending on one's taste. Above all, it is important to prevent uncertainty, despite polarizing media, politicians and conspiracy theorists. Does the hardware store help in a more system-relevant way, just because it can open, according to the stipulations of face masks and distance rules? If the distances in cinemas, pubs, concerts, museums and theaters were maintained, the offer is probably possible under the given room conditions. Whether the attainable audience volume makes economic sense depends on the individual case, on logistics and willingness to pay (currently a quarter of the room capacity and below 100). The fact that one can theoretically open reduces the claim to auxiliary programs. Good intentions are formulated for art, whereby the small print tends to limit afterwards. Systems and ways of thinking meet again.
There were free digital statements of help and existence including acting from the balcony, but by far more is at stake. Cultural workers are deprived of their livelihood to varying degrees. Many have no resources in the business sense, have no regular income, have to maintain the quality of their level (e.g. musicians) through constant practice. They can do visual or other art because they have studied it (ridiculed) and do not want to do anything else, because they do not see themselves as unqualified or unemployed, but as unemployed without being able to influence the circumstances and because classic sales channels have been cut off. The result is a dry spell, waiting loop, paralysis and existential fear. 95% have already had to accept part-time jobs in some art genres, basic security offers and their restrictive obligations (employability) lead even further away from the core activity and free intensity. One encounters the skepticism of administrative employees with different realities of life and the expected differences in ideas of common, usual, normal, acceptable. Frowning results in bothersome pressure to justify itself. Uncomfortable for both sides, but a communication element in a differentiated society. Music is more easily accepted as skill than art. Personal taste and the evaluation of performance interfere again. Unfortunately, this has long been an inexperienced discussion at school due to curricular minor subject assessment. Art is taken differently seriously, has meaning, but no value. Where is the relevance of art and culture in a society? In holiday speeches, everyday life, institutions, legislation, education system or mentality? Are there already Leopoldinesque think tanks for culture loss assessments? Truly complex, the social togetherness that is opposed to each other and small to practiced competitive thinking, rankings and likes.
Emergency aid and special funds that come close to the reality of life for artists should be discussed if the culture is not to be thinned out, which puts many in bread: organizers, directors, curators, gallery owners, tourism, overnight stays, gastronomy, public transport, taxi drivers, supervisors, Cleaning staff, student jobs ... Relevant interactions for rescue parachutes, scholarships or funding contracts.
You have to want to afford the unpredictable, badly paid and yet costly freedom and added value that culture offers. So in addition to doing without it and then idling with boredom, the surrogate in the network and the inventory at home and art in public space are currently available. Can you bridge the new situation in this way and have to get used to new solutions, rethink culture or just survive the doldrums and throw ballast or weak, but not unimportant, overboard and continue with a residual culture or patronage luck?
It can take months before events are possible again under the conditions of the distance rule, even in abundance, as the March edition showed. Club culture, music events, dance, singing, exhibition openings, etc. are impossible, endangered, evaporated or at the end. Controlled museum walks in clockwise direction with distance control and mask requirement without seating, since disinfection would have to be tough and reduce the enjoyment. Much provisional and online streamed is offered as a makeshift and to maintain presence. Is that the new digital culture of perception? Certainly not exclusively. Certain types of events are currently not feasible or financially feasible. It's different than in the post-war period or an economic crisis.
So what would be socially relevant, what do you miss, what does art in the original that appear to be outsourced?
It brings people together, stimulates them, creates experiences, trains of thought and objects that really touch them. They are more effective because you have set yourself up, because you let yourself be charismatically inspired, because a spark leaps over, because you feel a resonance - you find stimulation in a more meaningful state than on the couch. In a more complex way, the synapse traces are stimulated by brains and endowed with experiences and connections, with direct body resonance and mental stimulation, with changed patterns of action. Art also reveals grievances, provokes old structures, establishes new relationships, can be a catalyst for ideas, hopes, other solutions and fears, is a drive for sensuality, practice of tolerance, refinement of the senses, alertness of the mind, serenity of the mind, reflection of the Present, interpretation of the past, vision of the future. Art can have the power to set people free, to teach them to perceive them, to reorient them, to touch their hearts and to help them to react more joyfully to the constant changes.
Art brings you further, is evolution for the individual, partly revelation for humanity, a way out of the well-trodden tracks, a consolation. This time as a suggestion and an attempt to explain that needs to be analyzed in a much more differentiated manner and discussed across society and must not be dependent on my limited mind. Perhaps you can think of arguments not to do without and to intervene in a helpful way so that art and artists remain a lively and relevant part of society.
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