The validating mark of any given society, both to itself and the outside world, is its culture; the lens of that culture is its art. As such, art represents the struggle of society as it attempts to move humanity away from the natural order. The natural order is, as is plainly obvious, an entity of massive disorder and chaos ruled overwhelmingly by three driving forces; birth, death and sex.
Our culture and indeed most cultures of our race’s societies have attempted to disguise the brutishness of these most significant acts in our life by the concoction of rituals. The most elaborate and convoluted of these rituals revolve around that part of our lives that is with us the most frequent – sex. This is diluted and made palatable with romance, courtship, consent, marriage and particularly ritualistic, fetishism. Without these controls we are left with the blatant sexual act, that is crude, direct and if necessary, non-consensual. The rapist is at the apex of this natural pyramid. Those that profess a longing to ‘get back to nature’ are either deluding themselves to the actuality of nature, or they are dangerous.
They represent a return to the hierarchy of the survival of the fittest and as such are presenting themselves as the opposition of society. The more that society is rejected, the more that nature is espoused. Consequently, those that claim to live without the controlling factor of a society’s culture – from its language to its high art – should be treated with care or at the very least suspicion. It is plain then that art has a role to play in identifying for us significant factors of our culture, and in identifying them it can make aware to us areas that need further development for the benefit of society as a whole.
This is my justification of the role of artist and no matter what the field of production this role should be taken seriously. The artist has the ability simultaneously to turn peoples actions in favour of or against society. Society as most would agree is far from perfect but in terms of an origin in the natural order we have come a long way and with the aid of a developing culture we could go a lot further. It is plain from our development that we are a social creature, however this social behaviour naturally arises out of seeking ‘sameness’ to identify with. Because of the origin of this social ability we ‘naturally’ developed an intolerance of difference as a crude defence mechanism. But we are not natural animals – we are cultural animals and so a progression from this intolerance of race, religion, sex, sexuality, disability etc. is not only desirable but essential. Neither is just ‘tolerance’ acceptable as this still infers a basic desire to ignore, if not hate, despite accepting tolerance. What is really needed is full acceptance and celebration of difference.
Perhaps this is the last vestige of the truly natural within us – it is certainly the one aspect of the natural order that has caused most problems for the human race. All conflict is based upon a refusal to recognise difference as being desirable.
Street work in Brest, France.