Asking Necessary Questions
At a recent gathering of Philadelphia artists, I was asked what it means to be a “thriving artist” in your practice, in your home, and in your community. A page and a half of writing later, and the last phrase I drafted was “knowing the pieces I make are necessary.” We as a global society have hit a critical moment: we have been pushed too far. The tension between the haves and the have-nots is palpable, and I really do believe we are living on a potentially revolutionary cusp. When it comes to making art, how do we even learn to talk about these things (the imbalance of power the id as moral compass the racial divide historical omission the decay of the American Dream the narrativization of global catastrophe the origin of blame the meaning of whiteness the fine line between complicity and apathy the oppression of otherness the shackles of debt-based society)? These things are so embedded in our culture that they are difficult to fathom and admit, let alone process and change. While making Nothing To See Here, we are acutely aware that we don’t have the answers, but rather, as our dramaturg Ryan says, we are trying to sharpen the questions our society has left us with. It’s a strange experience, believing that an artistic exploration is necessary while at the same time thinking, “We’re not making a real contribution to the world. We’re just making art.” Ah, but isn’t that the rub? It’s not art’s job to posit the answers. Art will not save us; it’s not fair to put that kind of pressure on the work. But we can help ourselves understand the world we were born into, and art can be a tremendous tool in that process. One of my favorite parts of working on any Found show has always been talking with audience members afterward. People often want to navigate the chaos of our work with us, and I love that. If you come to this show, I hope you will start to ask some questions of yourself and of your community, and I hope you will ask some of those questions of us. I hope you will tell us about your life experience and think about it in juxtaposition to someone else’s life experience...not because any of us have any answers, but because we can all start to sharpen the questions together.
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