I found the prep to this week very hard. I loved every moment of it, I was interested in the readings and the topic (especially) but my brain did not want to cooperate: I had to read some sentences seven times and still, they were eluding me. And I am not a stupid person! It was just one of those weeks, as a normal reaction to the previous two, during which wherever I sat, there I fell asleep.
I made sure that everything I needed was ready and at hand, that my working hours were comfortably spaced out, and that I had time to recuperate all the energies I used up emotionally during the first two weeks.
Still, you tell me wtf this sentence means:
In the end, I was ready-ish, or at least as ready as I could have been.
The readings for the week were: the Introduction in Heidegger reframed: interpreting key thinkers for the arts by Barbara Bolt and The Origin of the Work of Art by Martin Heidegger himself. The language was chaotic, hard, at times unnecessarily convoluted. But that's Heidegger for you. But the lecture by our own Tilo Reifenstein was mindblowing. As a European / non-British ( and I am not aware if I am the only one or not in the group) I felt heard, understood, emotionally seen and artistically comprehended. All thanks to Heidegger.
We are asked, by Heidegger to see art as something that's in the world and not separate from it. We are not talking here about aesthetic coating or a beautiful superimposed structure to appeal and comfort people but we are talking about sociology and the masses and history and philosophy. Art is philosophy. Art is connections by connecting the artist as a human being who makes art, with his own community. There is a form of art which is separated from Life, that art of the Museum-goers and culture-talking prosecco-in-hand kinda people which is totally segregated by what art should do and should be.
To explain this even further, Tilo used the example of the Barca Nostra artwork at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
The artwork by Christoph Büchel "Barca Nostra" is a fishing vessel which sank in 2015 and led to the death of all the migrants it was carrying in its hull (between 800 and 1100) with the exception of 28 people. This artwork is timeless and at the same time modern, contemporary because it shows what it is happening now in the Mediterranean Sea and that not many are aware of. At the same time, it is disputable because it has not been made by the artist, it involved a huge (unnecessary?) expense for the recovery of the vessel and the moving of it to Venice, it was somehow barely noticed as an artwork among all the vessels which are always in Venice regardless of the Biennale. And, as per usual, it was also culturally ignored:
I am leaving here just a link should you want to follow: here.
Art is connected to Life, to Today, to the big existential questions, to the monopolization of ideas, to the opening of the hearts to the reality of what is going on around the world. At this very moment, I am thinking about two images I have of Gormely's exhibition at the RA in November 2019:
The first one is an image from The Guardian and it hurts me every time I look at it if I think about the children drowned in the Mediterranean; the second one is an image I took at the Royal Academy and it made me cry... the insensitivity of the people there, taking pictures of this figure, this Subject with his head down, made me cry. No, it makes me cry, now. It hurts. Like the people laughing at Stewart Lee's programs because there is nothing to laugh about. I wrote more about those two pieces here.
What is it that we are looking at? An assembly of metal, steel, welding points? How does it feel to be British, English, and listening to someone who is not English describing part of your country as insensitive and cold and ignorant to what goes on in the world? What courage has Tilo shown this morning revealing how part of this society we are living in acts and reacts to Reality?
Art is not different from Time, or Space. Art is helping us who have been thrown into this world at this time to answer the questions of why we are here, what we have come here to do. Can we make sense of things? Can I make sense of chaos? Of my own chaos which then is magnified and reflected and reflected again in the chaos of everyone else around me? Art can then become a symbol, an un-concealed symbol of the Truth. Art compels us to keep on searching and looking for a meaning for why we are here.
How did I feel when I saw the images of my own country, and I have heard how my own country has reacted to the migrants' situation and to that boat exhibited there, in that city which is 90 minutes from where I lived?
Heidegger, in the end, has connected me again to Tracey Emin and her bed, to my alienation post-Brexit embodied in a figure by Gormley, to this courage of telling my side of the story which I know I am acquiring, to my love for critical thinking which I so crave from the people around me and which I find tremendously lacking, to Duchamp's Fountain as a historical piece not made (as the vessel) but placed there for all to see and for all to start questioning things and use this brain we have been given.
I am also leaving here the link to a documentary we discussed in the seminar:
This is just the trailer and the full documentary is on Netflix. This to show how Reality can be manipulated, easily. And that we all need a dollop of critical thinking.
Thank you, Martin H.!