This statement let me think about the artists’ work. It was supposed to be fun on social media so I think it’s better to write something not so much fun here.
First I have to say this “try to…” is very mid-class-centered hypnosis. A lot of people don’t need to “try” this, they indeed don’t need art during Covid-19 outbreak. Some people are busy looking for recipes to save food and feed their families; some people are calculating how to survive with minus income; some people are stuck in a city where they can’t find a job, some of them even sold their mobile phones for buying one meal per day. For them, to survive already consumed most of their energy, even they have the time and money, they may still prefer something easy, light and funny, which has way too little content to be considered as art.
What could that be called? Entertainment I guess. Actually, even a lot of people who are now working from home also need simply entertainment more than art (I’m so surprised that someone would suppose everyone are just being bored at home). As you can see, even the one who wrote the statement has included porn in this group. Of course, you could make porn art, but what the statement here expressed, apparently is not a new possibility for porn, but degrading art to the same as entertainment.
Should art be entertaining? It could be, but it’s not the reason that artists exist. Among the comments of the post, there was one questioning, if we only enjoy the art before 1988, are the current artists “useless”? It reminded me of the situation in my conservatory in Shanghai and a general mindset of Chinese people in my parents’ generation. They’re always very realistic and materialistic, they always ask, what’s the “use” of doing something? My department in my conservatory is famous for its graduates‘ carrier, it means how many graduates have a job directly after they finished their studies, and how much they earn. We care a lot about, how much my song can be sold? If I work for film production, how much is it for one second of my music? And if I can’t let my music sold well, what can I do as my second, third and fourth job? With this mindset, a lot of students have chosen to give up music even before their graduation. Ironically, it was part of the reason why the graduates’ carrier was the best in the conservatory: simply because some of the graduates stopped doing music.
If art can’t be sold the same as entertainment, it shouldn’t be valued for its other “functions” as well. In another word, art is not practical, and to some extend, useless.
But does it mean artists are useless? We express the feeling and thoughts an individual could have, we reflect the past and we record the time. If it’s not enough, we appeal to people what should be changed. And most of us are or used to be the living examples of a vulnerable majority, but we are trying hard to save our energy from surviving to send a message to the world.
We shouldn’t stop working because some people think we are useless. Our work is exactly for changing the world gradually, and at some point, more people will be able to have a safe place to live, adequate food, fair work condition, medicine, old care, and education to enjoy the artworks we create. Don’t expect the influence will effect soon, think of the artists before 1988, they may not know, it turned out that they were not useless.
Moreover, there is an important fact that a lot of people don’t go to art event only for the art but for meeting people. And these people may not enjoy art themselves alone at home as well. Will you be too upset to keep doing art for that?