Most business books advise wood be entrepreneurs that the proposed enterprise should have a higher purpose – a reason to exist.
This thinking has found its way into the art world. A bevy of consultants advise aspiring artists to create a brand story that presents a solution to a particular problem that people can get behind. In this frame, the artist provides the solution through his/her art and the brand story tells of the difference the art makes in the wider world.
Since I am sceptical of seemingly simple ideas that hide complexity, this to do was placed towards the bottom of a rather long list.
When the time finally came to move this pebble, I was not surprised to find that it hid a rather large rock formation. You see, art in all its forms, has no reason to exist other than for the pleasure it brings a small subset of the population. That’s it. The rest is sales & marketing.
Such thinking is an anathema in a culture obsessed with productivity and material gain that makes little allowance for the sublime. Rather, it seeks to denigrate art to a consumable that must be neatly categorised and labelled.
I still remember the awe I experienced in the presence of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Monet’s Water Lilies. Since those early days I have allowed myself to be awed many more times, including during a recent trip to Rome. Those of us who have had the privilege to gaze on any one of these great works would agree that they are the quintessence of humanity’s higher purpose.
This does not mean that artists cannot and should not aspire to contribute to society’ broader debate on issues that concern us all. I am deeply concerned with humanity’s impact on our biosphere and think that there are many important stories here that need to be told.
Such work will always be subordinate to my main purpose as a fine art photographer: To see beyond the usual and to express these transformations in my art.
We all have these moments. However, our collective obsession with productivity and gain means that only few are able to stay with it and express the song within fully. These people are artists and we seek them out because they remind us of our moments of greatest happiness – of our humanity.