Imagine a world in which art is forbidden! Art galleries would close. Books would vanish. Pop stars would shed their glamour overnight. Advertising would cease, television would die. We could refocus our vision not on a succession of false images but on the world as it is. A stillness would fill the air. Art has provided us with fantasy worlds, escapes from reality. For whatever else it is, art is not reality. Soap operas, novels, movies; concerts, the theatre, poetry. None of these are real as a starving child is real, as a town without water is real. Art is the glamorous escape, the transformation that shields us from the world we live in. Injustice, endemic disease, famine, war. Those are real. Art has replaced religion as the opiate of the people just as the artist has replaced the priest as the voice of the spirit. Once we reached inside ourselves to find God / truth /really / etc. Now we find only art. We are regulated by our addictions and art hm become an addiction. We struggle through life in a drugged dream, searching for escape, for brighter fantasies, longer voyages of the imagination, louder music. Another’s life is always more interesting than our own. It is only those who have given up art who can experience the true nature of creation. Now, a self-perpetuating elite sell art as a commodity for the wealthy who have everything while making the artists themselves rich beyond their wildest dreams. Art is money. It is ironic that the myth of the artist celebrates suffering while it is those who have never heard of art, the poor and wretched of our earth, who truly suffer. To call one person an artist is to deny another the equal right of vision. Paint all the paintings black and celebrate the dead art: there is no booze in hell. We tum away from mountains of food that rot in storage while acres the globe humans grow too weak to eat because it is time for our favorite TV program. We live up to our knees in blood, wasting not only hours but days – whole lifetimes – in the bind belief that art is good, art is pure, art is its own justification – and a nightmare scourges our planet. Until we end famine there will be no peace. Artists are murderers! Artists are murderers just as surely as is the soldier who sights down the barrel of a gun to shoot an unarmed civilian. Without art, life would be unendurable! We would have to transform this world. Overnight, one person’s dream can become a nation’s future – but we do not seize power because we are enchanted by art. Forbid art and revolution would follow: the withholding of creative action is the only weapon left. Seeing and creating are the same activity. Those who create art are also creating the starving. In a world in which art is forbidden the deserts would flower. Give up art. Save the starving.
(from OVO 14 Suffering March 1992)