A great discussion between fellow artists was recently brought to my attention, in which the question was raised of the relevance of what we do (post-avant-garde Western Art Music, or whatever you prefer to call it), in view of more pressing political issues in today’s societies. I am convinced that it is perhaps the most important question that we, as artists, can address. I wasn’t there to participate in that discussion (I listened a recording), but thought of writing my personal response in the form of a little manifesto.
So, why do I spend time and efforts making this music, in a world that doesn’t seem to need it?
The short answer is:
For my brain not to rot.
The long answer is:
In a system that ‘feeds’ us ‘content’ for us to ‘consume’ every day, exercising our intelligence in a meaningful, creative way is an act of liberation; a way of rejecting the figure of the ‘customer’ to which neoliberal ideology reduces individuals.
Thinking ‘societies’ as something you’re participant of is a subtle way of resisting its being replaced with the concept of mere ‘economies’. Likewise, thinking art as an intellectually and spiritually meaningful human practice is a way of rejecting its being subsumed into the idea of a mere ‘sector’ of said economies. Furthermore, identifying as a professional artist is a way of rejecting the all-encompassing noun ‘creative’ with which neoliberal ideology absorbs our efforts in its spiderweb of ‘transferrable skills’, ‘innovative entrepreneurship’, and ‘content creation’. This is not at all about semantics, but about fighting for a Weltanschauung.
Neoliberal capitalism is quickly creating a very dark state of things worldwide, with irreversible consequences. Art-making will not stop that process, but I’m convinced that it is a significant way of self-asserting our status as human beings, which is a good start when the system would happily strip us from that humanity. In a world that tends to reduce us to mere consumers/producers within an economic game that knows no ethical boundaries, we need to fight for the right to remain sensitive, intelligent humans, if we have any hope to change anything. This is not at all about heroic narratives, but simple survival.
© Pedro Alvarez, 2018