Friday, September 30, 2016


Do you think an artist has any kind of social responsibility?

No. Because an artist has more important responsibilities which have to do with the creation of works of art and works of art are not sociologically motivated nor are they even particularly useful, I mean what is the use of Alice in Wonderland? The use of it is pleasure. 
People often tell artists that you have to be responsible but that is always a way of telling them not to do what they want. The thing that people value in art is that nobody owns it. It is just the artist’s voice (or I) doing what it wants because that is how it sees things and I think you want from art a unique and particular vision of one person. And we value that because you can’t just say, ‘Oh he’s just pushing this line or she is enthralled to this or that ideology or political grouping or whatever it might be. 
The point about the artist is that nobody owns you. You just say what you have to say because that’s how you see it. And that is the value of the thing. And if people don’t like that, I’m sorry but that’s what it is. You can’t ask it to be another thing. Art is irreverent. It is not good at keeping to the rules, it doesn’t do what it is told or supposed to do. 


priya vadhyar said...


The Mushroom Hunter said...

Well said. So I guess the responsibility of an artist is to refuse to let anyone else dictate the direction of her/his art, beforehand. But how about afterwards? Should the artist accept an interpretation of his work that goes against his/her intention and emotion? For instance, some would look at your beautiful drawing, imagine themselves in t hehouse, and feel protected by this huge tree over them. Others would fear that it fells on them. A political analyst would see that as a metaphor of house Russia in the shadow of imperialism. Etc. Does the artist have the responsibility to react to these comments? To defend her/his vision? Or should she/he accept, even embrace, the fact that, as soon as her/his art is shown to the public, it is subjected to the social structure and prejudice of a given time an place, and that only time will tell what remains of it?

pRiyA said...

@ The Mushroom Hunter:

Your comment was very interesting. Salman Rushdie spoke very well of course, but in the complete quotation, he goes on to contradict himself when he talks about Saul Bellow’s barking dog. The Bellow illustration that Rushdie gives shows that the artist DOES have a social responsibility – to open up the universe a little more.

So as someone else reading this quote pointed out to me: Rushdie’s example of Alice in Wonderland is hardly a book to illustrate his point. Then what about War and Peace or The God of Small Things?

Do I as an artist have to accept another’s interpretation of my work? Not anymore than I expect the other to accept my interpretation of my work. This is my reality and my point of view. Make of it what you will.

When a work of art does its job of making us attentive to the reality around us, it also opens up multiple interpretations. This can be an interesting thing because it allows us to consider or reject different points of view. It sharpens our focus and strengthens our ground. However multiple interpretations can also opens the art to misinterpretation and this sometimes becomes a matter of life and death and if at all an artist is allowed in such circumstances to give a defense then by all means let her question that society that misinterprets her art and let her ask from where and how their universe is opening up if at all it is.