…and the ethics of it…
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
I participated in another amazing lecture by Jamie Holman, this time regarding ethics and our own perception and framework as artists. We discussed legal responsibility together with conceptual ethics, and what it means for all the people involved.
Breaking the boundaries of ethics means that someone somewhere is potentially getting hurt, that we are invading his own space, uninvited, that there is a power struggle, and a form of control.
What is the message in those pieces? A question that I asked myself was: why are we spending (wasting) one hour talking about the ethics of a picture instead of discussing why a child is dying! Can we, as artists, take risks? What about offending people? Can I make pieces which push ethical boundaries of people with disabilities, of a different religion, or do I have to stick into being politically correct and censor myself and my own beliefs? Where is the fine line between my own freedom of speech and others feeling not accepted, or eventually mocked?
Is there ANY OTHER WAY I could convey my message without raising ethical issues?
What follows is a personal statement I wrote up as a framework on my own path as an artist. References are to be found below.
Values, Beliefs & Ethics
My name is Matilde and I am creative. I create whether I am writing, drawing, painting, cooking, cleaning, thinking, praying, living, or working as a therapist.
This is what I would address as personal congruency: there is not a mask or a uniform that I wear or take off while swapping roles. This is my own personal integrity.
The only difference that I would address now is that during my role as a therapist I am fully aware that my clients are vulnerable: this is the reason why they come to me. When acting as an artist, the vulnerability of the viewers is not my scope nor my responsibility.
My responsibility is to make art to the best of my abilities.
My professional ethical code as an artist is as follow as in Principles, Values, and Good Practice. These principles will apply whether I work alone or/and collaborate with students, trainees, artists, colleagues, tutors, mentors, entities, groups, charities, galleries, promoters, agents, or the like; this to ensure that anyone is treated with the same level of respect, that what I produce meets the necessary standards, and that anyone involved is protected from exploitation or abuse by anyone with professional power or authority over them. Anyone involved will receive the same commitment and ethical standards.
My fundamental Values and Beliefs as an artist are defined as below:
I strongly believe that art and its creations should be educational, courageous, audacious, inspirational, revolutionary, subversive, radical, infective, and potentially ephemeral;
Creations should push emotional boundaries, create constructive discussions, broaden people’s horizons, shake fixed constructs, ideologies and pre-concepts. Art should make people consider the unknown, the unsaid, the unheard, the unseen, and the never-felt. Art should surprise. It should be mischievous;
Art should always be meaningful;
Art should be used as a catalyst for social change and to convey a message;
Art should be a platform to find unification among personal differences;
Art doesn’t have to shock but can shock. Viewers should welcome discomfort;
I believe in freedom of expression;
I believe in my own autonomy to be a self-regulating being;
I believe in a fair and impartial consideration of colleagues, fellow artists and their work;
I believe that a piece of work defined as controversial is not unethical by default;
I believe that given all circumstances, regardless of the work produced, I take full responsibility for the work produced and will be accountable for my decision-making process and outcome;
I believe in care, respect, dedication, attentiveness and value for the practice, craft, space, tools, techniques, creative process, works produced, fellow colleagues and their works;
I believe in the courage and risk-taking encountered in the expression of own creativity;
I believe in the diligence and patience needed to achieve creative results;
I believe in the responsibility of personal identity and integrity while creating;
I believe in the honesty between what is written on this document, and its practice;
I believe in the creation of a peer creative support group to exchange constructive practical and theoretical feedback, assist in critical thinking and ethical dilemmas, ownership, legal issues, copyrights infringement, plagiarism, professional judgement, or when needing support to act courageously;
As an artist, I respectfully consider the viewers of my work as equally knowledgeable, perceptive and understanding;
There is no need for certainty, perfection, gravity during the creative process. My primary concern as an artist is to create the best art / piece / work and to the best of my abilities and intent;
I promise that I will work with dedication, commitment, and safety; ethically and keeping accurate record of the researches and projects undertaken;
I promise that I will look for training, workshops and collaborations in order to deepen my skills, knowledge, and involvement with the creative community;
I promise that honesty and openness will be paramount, and any project will be carried out by paying attention to any legal requirements;
Whenever my work and production will involve other people, I will ensure at all times that no one will ever be exploited nor abused; instead I will make sure that, depending on their roles, their identity will always be valued, protected and respected and that there will be at all times an agreement on how the work together will proceed; I will make sure that they will always be working with consent; all parties involved will be aware of what is requested to them, everything will be communicated clearly, and boundaries will be respected at all times;
I promise that people will always be made aware of potentially any risk involved in the work, making sure they have properly understood the requirements and effects of their involvements and consistently monitoring their experience during the collaboration.
Ideas and concepts expressed have been amended, adapted and expanded from: