GEORGES LENTZ - composer / sound artist
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Art - Surface and Spirit
At a time when art is increasingly synonymous with glittering surface, thrilling spectacle, political campaigning or pure unapologetic fun, it is more important than ever to risk being unfashionable and re-affirm the great SPIRITUAL dimension of art. While there is of course nothing wrong with simply having fun and while it is certainly crucial to point out pressing social/environmental issues, art can do so much more than simply give us a good time or make us politically-aware citizens. My natural inclination and temperament is to flee the marketplace, head for the hills and seek my own voice in total silence and radical isolation - at the very real risk of hearing nothing at all.
Great Art (with capital letters!) must be defended today against the onslaught of politically correct bean-counters and worshippers at the temple of economic viability as a category still emphatically relevant. No less than the health and sanity of our civilisation is at stake. Art should of course present an enticing surface that draws us in (taking advantage of the possibilities opened up by technology and being critically open-minded about more advanced trends in vernacular culture), and it should course face the harsh realities of the world, but all these influences ultimately need to be subsumed, digested and transcended for art to touch on its metaphysical essence, its real domain for as long as it has been around. Such a conception of 'spirituality' must never be confused with 'conservatism' - all truly spiritual art has always been RADICAL art.
At the dawn of this third millennium, a time torn between the extremes of religious indifference and religious fanaticism and marked by the curse of easy populist answers to complex questions, a time defined by the self-inflicted (and irrevocable?) degradation of the planet that sustains us, we'd do well to admit that we are not one inch closer to answering the age-old questions of our human condition - Does this world have a meaning? Is there a place for the Divine in it? In the absence of the Divine, can there be a moral world? etc etc. More importantly, we are not one inch further from these questions retaining all their burning relevance.
Fashions come and go. History, including the history of the mind, is not unilinear. What is deemed irrelevant today need not be irrelevant tomorrow. But will it take a dire wake-up call for us to emerge from our merry dance of shallowness, shortsightedness, mindlessness and babble, and remember the essential questions that define us as humans? The 21st century's musings about these questions will be an integral part of the great ongoing tapestry of human thought.
G. L. 2009