A question on the minds of many of my artist friends is how can our art play a role in the current crises, and is what we have been doing up to now even relevant at this time of revolutionary change? I think it's common for artists, at any time, to doubt the relevance and effectiveness of their work. But now, more than ever, we need to remind our selves that art has always been central to any resistance movement.
Art gives people courage and confidence in trying times. It holds fast to a vision of a world that we want to see, to the values of peace with justice, of beauty and the erotic, of freedom in all its forms. Art's greatest power lies in its power to transform, to unite, to deescalate a violent situation, to counter despair, to lift spirits, to have fun – to dance! – while we go about doing the important work of changing the world.
The darkest time is right before the dawn, and we should take heart in that. We are living in amazing times, where setbacks and reactionary moments are bound to happen, but just when we feel all is lost tremendous victories can arrive with lightening speed. Think gay rights, women's rights, the fall of Apartheid, liberation movements around the world, from the Arab Spring to the uniting of the tribes at Standing Rock, all coming to pass within our very short lifetimes.
Take heart. Our greatest enemy is fear. Our greatest friend is our community. We need to practice reaching out to one another and come together as never before. We will survive. We will endure.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• The Purpose of Art
• The Potential of Art and the Limits of Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
• "I Will Dance"
• A Beautiful Collaboration
• Desert Dancer: A Story That Matters
• Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
• A Spirit of Defiance
• In Istanbul, Protests of Both Stillness and Motion
• John Pilger on Resisting Empire
• Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
• Actually, There's No Question About It
Related Off-site Links:
Awakening Courage in the Era of Trumpism – Nozomi Hayase (The Huffington Post, November 25, 2016).
At Standing Rock and Beyond, What Is to Be Done? – Eric Martin (The New York Times, November 25, 2016).
The Indigenous Revolution – Julian Brave Noisecat (Jacobin, November 24, 2016).
Blessed Are the Dissidents – Mike Stafford (Patheos, November 22, 2016).
Image: Bangarra Dance Theatre's Daniel Riley McKinley and Waangenga Blanco in Blak, a dance that explores the harsh realities of urban influence on indigenous life, the rituals that mark the transition between childhood and adulthood, and the importance of keeping a spiritual relationship with the land. Bangarra Dance Theatre has been described as "one of Australia’s premier national Indigenous performing arts companies."