WHY WE NEED ART NOW MORE THAN EVER — ESSAY BY MAY RELM

As a global pandemic slouches to our doorsteps, one can’t help but wonder if there is still hope over the horizon. Amid all the empty streets and troubling news, many of us spend our days in isolation by reflecting, bonding with our families, and reverting back to comforting leisure pursuits. With society on standstill, the thing that most people are holding onto to keep themselves together is music, litteratur, films, and art. While this definitely helps pass the time, we should take care not to think of it simply as a distraction. 

Far from being a mere distraction, consuming art allows us to respond, directly or indirectly, to our present conditions. Without art, we could self-implode or feel disoriented, unable to make sense of the outside world. These extraordinary times require us to think beyond entertaining ourselves. Through supporting other people’s visions and creations, we also begin to grasp the truth beyond mere information, mere existence.

In times of crisis, art reflects our hopes and frustrations. Through transforming, say, a piece of rock turned into a sculpture or a set of sounds into music, artists draw on their skills, experiences, and sentiments to materialize a part of themselves, creating something that embodies their current state of mind—often personal enough to relate universally—or preserving a non-subjective sensation into a meaningful work of art, essentially becoming one with their environment. Artists often involve the moment to moment question of being in the world, in all its constant change and wonder. In this introspective or impersonal process, the final product is generally not the most important aspect. It is the privilege of creation, and our humble abiding, that matters most. Once we get through this crisis, the artworks we acquire will bear these important insights. 

 By reading books, listening to music, indulging in art, we enrich our souls as we stimulate our minds. During times when utmost vigilance is an obligation, art keeps us aware and capable of responding with critical thought and empathy for others. Even a painting or song that seems to provide a momentary respite or escape are still fundamentally connected to our sentiments. Thus, in its own way, consuming art is a way to respond to a crisis— we not only support our artists and vivify their creative production, we also, in the process, help ourselves heal.

 Such is the importance of the magic that art conjures in these times: it reminds us that for us to truly progress, we should never forget to hold on to our humanity. We will emerge from this difficulty with renewed motivation to not only help and support each other but to help the world itself to heal. This is why along with resources, medical support, and words of encouragement, we need art now more than ever. It is the only thing that keeps us from falling into mere survival – it is a lifeline to a world worth living for.

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via May Relm, Berlin — www.mayrelm.com