Staying Alive: The Necessity of Art (Part III)


Art is often viewed in commercial societies (those engaged in gathering, hoarding and consuming resources) such as ours as superfluous, an indulgence of the affluent, a whim of the bored. This I strongly disavow. Art is more for the poor masses, we mere proletariat, than for any wealthy individual—a collector, say. We are the products of millennia of seeing and creating. In our hands imitation is a form of life. We long to leave our marks on the planet, even as we see only the tiniest remnants and fragments of former civilizations and our own productivity over-saturates the Internet with more than we can manage, blinding us to ourselves.


The Seer

We have become anonymous in our own quest for immortality if only because we are now one of billions where once there were few in number to be counted. Still, art drives us. We bathe ourselves in whatever beauty we can find, curating our lives from the replication of someone else’s vision, conveniently mounting it all on the walls of our gallery homes. And still, art is a friend, reminding us of the past.

From her special place, the red eyes of Hundertwasser’s “Blind Venus Inside Babel” look at me whenever I work. I wonder what the artist meant by those eyes and her flowing skirts full of worlds, peopled with spirits and planets so vast that the ruffles of it extend beyond the edge of the canvas. It’s as if she is the mother of the world and the brightest light originates in her navel, above which the Black Woman, confident of her place in the universe, looks out across the expanse of our world, forever. The red orbs of her eyes, mirrors to the sanguine nature of man, empty and invite, over and over. Around her neck hangs a crest, an ornament, which given the history intimated in her skirt, is unnecessary, and yet, she is regal in her simplicity, swaying on the page to the music of time, oblivious to her immortality. She is here to stay, this Black Woman, watching over me.

Hundertwasser’s 1975 “Blind Venus Inside Babel”

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