(Illustration: The Philosopher (2004) André Martins De Barros)
This year the subject of philosophy of the French Baccalaureate, was not trivial: "Do artistic practices transform the world?"
A good opportunity for The December Art Group to drop its brushes and pick up its pen to think about it with you.
Why talk about "artistic practices" and not just "art"?
The plural used in the subject statement "artistic practices" refers to the different forms of art. The main subject of this topic is art, of course, but more specifically the question of artistic practices. Art is considered here as a creative force: it is not only the work of the painter, it is also the work of the sculptor who transforms the material to give it a form, it is the musician who works the sound material, or the filmmaker who takes and edits the shots, of the novelist,....
Can these artistic practices, strictly speaking, create something new?
The various artistic practices transform the matter by making emerge other possibilities from the natural given (new sounds, new forms) but they do not transform the world in itself. The aesthetic objects are first of all imaginary objects. They constitute an interpretation of the world and not a real transformation: a landscape interprets the world but does not modify it. The work of art is a world in itself, it does not transform the world. It is this which distinguishes the artistic practices from the technique. The artist uses the techniques to put them at the service of his imagination whereas the technician aims at transforming concretely the nature.
The idea, here, is that any artistic practice starts from a data which already exists and which the artist will modify, which does not necessarily transform the world, but makes of it a less true reproduction.
To want to change the world by the art is often to put the aesthetic revolutions in the service of the political revolutions. See for example the Russian constructivists and the Italian futurists.
What if artistic practices did not change the world, but the perception we have of it?
It is not a question of changing the concrete life of society but of bringing about a spiritual revolution by inducing a new relationship with the world and with oneself.
Contemplating works of art or attending a concert, for example, has the power to reveal to us another world in the sense of another reality to which we had no access.
But any artistic practice does not necessarily induce a transformation of the world. Only the genius gives rules to the art and can, by his vision, renew the way of perceiving the real.
It is above all our subjective world that an artistic practice changes.
An artistic practice cannot change the world taken as a whole, but the world or the reality of the person involved in this practice. The artist is then a photographic revelator of the world, by making us see what we do not see daily, too much taken that we summoned by our common and daily vision.
In this sense, even if it is advisable to distinguish them from any other practice, the artist practices seem to us well "to contribute to make worlds and to change the life" according to the expression of Arthur Rimbaud.
The December Art Group.