Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Life and Others

In The Lives of Others, the German film about being an artist under the Stasi in East Germany circa 1984, the argument is made, loud and clear, that art is powerful. It is so powerful, in fact, that a repressive bureaucrat, moved by beauty, risks his entire life to protect the couple he is surveying. As an artist, this is my romantic ideal. Somehow, it is this dream – that art can make a difference – that keeps me going.
Towards the end of the film, there’s a scene where an ex-official teases the main character, blaming his lack of productivity on the fact that there’s no longer anything to fight against (the Wall had come down). Despite the risk of message art, art does need to fight against, it needs to challenge definitions, boundaries, and the status-quo. But, how successful is it nowadays?
I’m still not sure if art can make a difference. In the film, writing, journalism, has reverberations. This I can believe. But, how about other forms of art. Really.
Thank god for Jacques Rancière, who I am being introduced to in this month’s ArtForum. He’s just starting to convince me that there is hope.

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