online: 2 may 2005
modified: 2, 4 may 2005

30 april 2005 can art change society?

21:35 can art change society?

Sarah Kent (perhaps as informed and constructive a critic as there is) says* that Joseph Beuys was perhaps the last 20th century artist to believe that art can do so, or that an artist can, in his teaching and example, be a shamanic presence that (or who) can influence thought and actions of others (link to my unpublished letter to the art magazine Untitled re this - but i've not got the application that will open it...)...

yes, it can (change society).

but with these qualifications:

'art' 'artist' 'society' are all dysfunctional namings that impede or prevent perception of what IS effective influence between these processes... not things...

this whole Tate Modern, and Joseph Beuys's whole life, are effective influences of a kind, even if only as art business or destructive isolatings of the content of art from the governing economic processes of wealth-creation, or worse.

but i still believe there are more effective, less negative ways of thinking and acting re this - (see J W von Goethe, Wilhelm Richard Wagner, John Cage, William Shakespeare, and yes Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp... and tribal action, all so culturally integrative)...

in ways of acting 'as myth'...(while effectively dealing with 'the selfish gene', and such reductionisms)...

i feel that these thoughts are leading somewhere - perhaps i'll be able to continue later?

2 may 2005:
Re-reading these fragmentary thoughts in the light/darkness of the note of 22 april 2005 (the end of the 20th century) i realise that the question 'can art change society?' can only be answered if its elements are thought of as parts of a whole, not as separate 'things'...

for instance:

1. 'art' perceived not a professional specialisation but as a quality of all action (even that of natural growth)

2. 'artist' perceived not as a special kind of person but as anyone who is taking care to do something both purposelessly (for its own sake) and with intended purpose

3. 'society' perceived not as 'them' (or as people in control of all of us) but as the collective presence of everyone, our undivided effect, existence, interaction (= 'history')

These three parts (separated here in order to explore their connection?) are not so much 'facts' as 'aspects of continuity', as anyone can discover or create it once specialisation is perceived not as fact of nature but as destructive and immobilising myth or superstition...

So: art ceases to be a profession and becomes a transformation of society, a way of living connectively!

...I hope these intuitions are beginning to make sense...

*I was in the Tate Modern Gallery, the former power station, listening to the voice of Sarah Kent through a handset for visitors.

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