People Involved in Art Production and Distribution Hold a Unique Social Responsibility
by Georgi Dimitrov
Art is a political, a strategic medium. Its most important function is to form the way we think, to predetermine our decisions and actions. Art is the substance of culture which creates the values of our society. It explains both the similarities and the differences between us. It can build bridges, but it may also provoke conflict. Therefore, the people involved in art production and distribution hold a unique social responsibility. The seeds that we plant today are essential for tomorrow’s harvest of social tendencies.
If we analyse the ongoing processes that take place in our society, we will conclude that our continuous endeavours towards material progress have led to various scientific and technological advancements. For instance, we live in comfortable and secure – even earthquake proof – buildings; we could instantly transfer our thoughts to the other side of the planet and practically be there in less than a day. We have defeated many illnesses that were incurable in the past. These achievements facilitate and save millions of lives across the so-called developed world.
But yet, they are unknown to the majority of the earth’s population of which one quarter still lives without electricity and only a third of it uses the internet. Today billions of people survive without access to basic human needs such as fresh water, food, medical supplies and education. Slavery does still exist. Even in the developed world. It is wrapped into a cellophane and it is euphemistically called corporate career. Apparently, there is nothing new under the sun – the allocation of wealth is uneven just as it was 5.000 years ago. So where exactly is the human progress here?
Furthermore, disregarding the values of all non-western cultures and ignoring the finite nature of the earthly resources, we constantly try to outsmart our natural environment. Short term, “scientific” solutions are being applied in order to quench our civilisation’s thirst to subdue and to possess. Thus, we generate a tremendous failure record and leave a heavy legacy of debt to the future generations. It is ridiculous to believe that nature can be conquered or tamed. And yet, we do not give up this predictable race while, nature is always a step ahead.
No doubt, today’s modern society is in a deep ethical crisis. A crisis of the senses I would say. There is a devastating global tendency of alienation which results in our inability to communicate with each other. We look, but we do not see; we hear, but do not listen; we memorise, but fail to remember; we touch – without a feeling; we dwell together, but we are so far apart… We live, as if we are already dead.
If we think about it, creativity in the developed world is mainly exercised today between the shelves of the supermarket or in the process of changing tv channels thanks to the remote control. In fact, this is one of the major issues of contemporary society. And I do not mean that we should be all aiming at
becoming the next Leonardo da Vinci or inventing a new fire and a new wheel. The problem is that we use our knowledge and inventions in the wrongest direction possible; automatically, without any historical or long-term consideration.
Certainly, the media has contributed a lot to the imposition of overconsumption as the determinant of our daily agenda. It constantly stimulates our fears and prejudices. But not only the media has been dominated by the increasingly powerful corporations. Each day the national legislatures pass laws in order to ensure the longevity of their economic interests. Moreover, corporations have expropriated the educational function from the schools and the academia. They act as implicit mentors to the students or directly train their employees in corporate procedures and policies. This is how today’s relations of production enter our homes and bring up our children.
An aging father once gave each of his three sons an equal amount of money. He commanded them to go on a journey and bring back home the most valuable commodity in the world. With it, he said, you will fill up your rooms and I will decide which one of you will inherit my fortune. It took a couple of years for the three men to return home. The eldest son brought in a huge stack of hay. What will you use it for, asked the father, who started coughing when he neared his room. I will become an animal merchant and this is what I will feed the animals with. Good, said the father and carried on to the next room which was full of cotton bolls. What will you need all of this cotton for, asked the sneezing father. To produce textiles and clothes, replied the second son. Very good, said the father and moved on to inspect the room of his youngest son. When he entered the room it was clean and tidy – there was nothing but a lighted lamp in the middle of the table. What did you do with the money I gave you, asked the stunned father. I went to school, replied the young man, and with what was left I bought this lamp to fill up my room with light.
Light captures truth, contours it.
Creates a universal form, a beat.
Whose brightness spheric is, a unity
that turns our optics obsolete.
This old Indian story will remain with an open end. Everyone can choose by themselves: into whose hands did the old man’s fortune go to? My personal preference goes for the youngest son. Not only for I was the one who composed the verse above, but also because of my strong belief that it is strictly we who create the brightness of today’s social context.
Georgi Dimitrov(b. 1980) is a Bulgarian artist whose work is based on the principles of non-objective and constructive art. After several years of work and studies in Africa, America and New Zealand he graduates in International Relations from Victoria University of Wellington and returns to Bulgaria in 2004. Since then he has employed various media such as painting, graphic design, video art, photography, music and text. In 2010 he founded the nonsofia association- a non-profit entity that offers institutional support for non-objective art in Bulgaria. Two years later he organised orthogonal: international forum for non-objective art. His work concerns topics such as the belief in progress through rational means, human nature and subjectivity, the beauty of absurdity, inter-dimensional transformation of objects, etc. He aims at achieving one highest ratio between the scale of an idea and its optimised visualisation.
The above text is taken from the opening speech held on the occasion of Gottfried Honnegger’s sculpture inauguration at Haus Bill, Zumikon Switzerland, 2013.