I just attended an art/word experiment called Duality. Pair up 25 artists with the anonymous words of 25 writers and watch the creative process take hold. Absolutely loved it. I was particularly struck by one piece,
I held the lieDan Kelly
Dan Kelly wrote these words and Paul White gave us a haunting and insightful pencil on paper depiction of them. As beautiful as this was, what affected me more was the artist’s narrative on the artistic process:
There are two lies we all embrace in order to survive current conditions; that our actions have limited reactions; we can only bear the burden of so much destruction, and that we can live forever; facing your own death each day will kill you.Paul White
I stood there, absorbing these words. 30 seconds went by, then 2 minutes, eventually 5 minutes. I moved on, admired the other artworks, but had to come back to I held the lie. I reread the narrative. Is it true? Do we all embrace those two lies? One more lap of the exhibition and once again, the words beckoned. I had to answer that question; rather, I had to convince myself that the answer I had come up with, was wrong.
Unfortunately, my answer is not wrong. We do embrace these two lies.
We have become passengers in lives that have become so desensitised to everything that is going wrong with our world. It’s not that we are bad people, it is just that we hide in the numbers. “What could I possibly do? I am but one of many and my actions will make little, if any, difference.” And when I see someone doing the right thing, yes, I am quick to admire, yet also quick to judge the futility of their efforts.
Why? What has made me think this way? Am I really that powerless? Or is it something completely different? Do I just choose to live a shallow existence, one exclusively focused on “me”? “Because if I look after myself, if I follow my dreams, if I do what I want, if I am happy, I will be fine; I could live forever this way. And I ask, what is wrong with that?”
Lies! Our actions do not have limited reactions. How we treat others matters. How we behave towards everyone and everything matters. How much we care matters. How much we do to show this care, matters. Our actions have unlimited reactions. And when we realise this, we regain our humanity and along with it, our mortality – a recognition that we are for a short period of time and that time is precious.
How liberating! Let this be a celebration of removing these lies from how we think and recognising that we have more power, impact and humanity that we ever thought. We live short and if we do this, we will make it count for all! Let’s go!
- Duality is exhibiting at KSR Art Bar, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia from 31st of August to 8th September 2019.