from The Day Digest [Ukraine] Publication date: 3rd November 2011
Letters to Ukraine – 9
What use is art? This most plural question has no singular reply. Pleasure, celebration, insight… each must answer for herself. For me, contemporary art needs some hand in bridge-building. So many of our problems (economic-ecological-social) arise from excessive specialisation. Among our narrow-sighted experts, who sees the landscape entire? Who beckons us away from the simplistic riverbank where we slumber, to the precipices where one must be receptive, awake? Radical, connective art helps society to stay alert to itself; but much modern/postmodern art says either “Ah, let’s just sleep together” or “Find my impossible treasure – but with no map from me”. Of course, the greatest art needs no map, isn’t bound by social utility; it has its own reasons for being; but it can prompt us to see (perhaps even to cross) certain barriers we might otherwise miss or ignore. The State may attempt to control or isolate, but bridge-makers persuade and liberate – or is all persuasion reserved for speech-writers and advertisers? Artistic bridge-making demands courage. Refusal is a kind of bridge too. The King, ordering his prospective Queen to love him, heard her reply: Always. Fearing for her head, she sacrificed her heart. Genuine art is the gutsy Queen who can say No.
Mario Petrucci is an award-winning poet, ecologist, physicist and avant-garde essayist.