From Concept to Action: Art in the Anthropocene

by Cameron Hughes

Since people first used blood and ash to paint depictions of their lives on the walls of caves, art (as a form of self expression) has held a place of particular importance in the constellation of capacities that make up our humanity. Art, as an open ended endeavor, allows for both the mirroring of our actuality as well as the conceptualization of infinite alternate realities – one of the few efforts left available to us that encourages (though not always) us to transfigure ideations from the metaphysical to the physical plane.
While capital has stunted our ability to consider radical alternatives to the present reality, art continues to offer a medium through which we might be able to leverage these ideas into the popular imagination. Is art the ultimate tool for this project? Certainly not, though it does present opportunities for a breach in normative politics – at least that’s what it meant for me as a young kid. Had I not stumbled on punk music, I would have likely never arrived at the place I am now (politically or physically). Can art serve as a potent self reflective lense – one that aids the biting critique that we must make of those who are willing to render our world uninhabitable? Yes. But can art save the world? No, again this not a possibility.

We must recognize both the practical application of art towards a liberatory project as well as its role as a necessary expression of human spirit. At Once utilizing it to imaginatively transfigure the world we find ourselves in, while also understanding and accepting its limits as physically transformative. 

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