This week in particular I’ve been struggling with the how to articulate more specifically the work I am interested in, and exploring how its relevant to society. These thoughts triggered a larger question for me concerning how art is relevant today. As an artist I of course believe that art is necessary for all communities, but when I try to assess why that is I end up with emotional responses that are difficult to verbalize. I still haven’t found the statistical side to express why art is necessary, which is something I’d love to explore.
There were two articles that really helped trigger this thought for me. The first being an article in the UK, that discussed the UK Post Office declaring, “Acting is not a Proper Job.” The second being about Jafar Panahi, an Iranian filmmaker, who has been sentenced to prison for six years and prohibited from making films, due to a controversial film he created. I found both these readings to be alarming, and it made me ask the question: If people consider acting, or being an artist not to be a proper job, then what about it is provoking enough to sentence a man to prison for creating his art?
In Panahi’s case, reasons around his arrest are questionable. While he was technically arrested due to protesting, it is believed that his real crime may have been the remarks he made — and green scarf he wore, a symbol of resistance — as jury president at the Montreal Film Festival.
Panahi recently smuggled his project “This is not a film” out of the country, and now the film will be showing at several film festivals. In the “film,” which he recorded via iPhone, we over hear Panahi’s conversation with his lawyer. Panahi’s struggle makes me extremely thankful for freedom of speech.I often return to Vaclav Havel, a Czech playwright, whose work was banned for it’s content. In America censorship is seemingly so far away.
What we have to say as artists will not, and most of the time will not align with. Art challenges our perspective. As long as Art can provoke, it holds value.