Something has been nudging me to write a blog – a small incessant voice refusing to be silenced. During the past week I’ve enjoyed three concerts, an exhibition opening, a good daily read and an opera – surely the perfect moment to begin. Obviously the focus will be on the arts, visual art in particular, though not exclusively so. As to my title – On The loose – well there are any number of ways to explain it. Right now I’m coming to the end of a prolonged period of hard work, I’m beginning to anticipate let up, idleness, wanderlust, the glorious condition of having time for everything. This will be short lived of course, but for now I can look about me, dawdle, take note, do nothing, or maybe begin a blog. Material will be drawn from things I’ve seen and enjoyed, or maybe not enjoyed, but I hope I can offer a probing individual mix to resonate with some curious others out there.
One of the functions that contemporary art can perform very well is to comment on political, social and environmental situations. I’m thinking here of visual art in particular. Some people will ask if art should fulfill this function at all, they’ll defend its need to remain autonomous, arguing that it should be a unique indefinable something apart. Art burdened by the need to be ‘useful’ might risk losing what is most essential to it. But with the very planet now under threat contemporary art finds itself at an impasse; ‘art for art’s sake’ is becoming an unaffordable luxury. Many of the works produced today are research generated, art practitioners are spending serious time probing other disciplines, and in some cases, pursuing lengthy academic study in related fields. Contemporary artworks can sometimes be indistinguishable from social and scientific enquiry. Does this matter? Well, yes! I believe it does – art can contribute to the current conversation without surrendering its own unique status, it must not be subsumed into other disciplines. Art employs an endless variety of means to communicate – it’s unexpected constructions can catch us off guard, its scale can overwhelm or delight, its strange imaginings can sometimes throw us into perplexed confusion, art requires time, it demands a particular kind of engagement, it must be fully experienced, considered, sensed, decoded. Art is oblique, its imagery reverberates and endures, its commentary is wholly different from that of mainstream media where sameness and repetition too easily generate fatigue. At its best art offers a unique and intriguing way of seeing the world.