Bringing it With You

In Essays, The Daily Drool on March 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm

It really is amazing to me, the power of transformation that can occur when attending a play, or a movie, a dance… any form of art really.  It’s amazing because you are bearing witness to the same event as all those in the audience with you, yet eveyrone’s take on it will be different – even if only slightly- because so much of experiencing art depends on what you brought into the art with you.

For instance, the movie UP IN THE AIR…  A lot of people have been enjoying the movie, and it’s won its fair share of statues along the awards path too, but I walked out of the theater completely captured by the film, and I knew it was because my life at present seems so very “Up in the air.”  This film spoke to me, moved me, and I felt like I totally “Got” it – in a way that I was hyper aware of… I even thought to myself “Wow, I don’t know if I would have liked this a year ago, it’s kind of a major bummer.”  But coming into the theater with myself and my own current bag of issues?  I thought it was brilliant.

And isn’t art always like that?

You walk in, and depending on your mood or present state of being, you pull different things from the experience than all the other bag-carriers around you.

Yesterday my dear friend Doc and I went to see this crazy Charles Mee play, BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA.  Now, if you know a little more about the artist Bob Rauschenberg, and then you know a little more about the playwright Charles Mee, this pastiche of image and action might have meant… something… more.  To you.  Than it did to me.

I spent the majority of the time I was watching it thinking about my own work.

But, for that reason, I consider the play experience a success.  The imagery and oddness of the text of this play reminded me to break outside the boxed-in thinking that sometimes happens when I’m immersed in a particular work.  I came up with about four different veins of inspiration from those two hours, and that’s pretty exciting.  So my experience of this piece was one of inspiration, whereas some other people in the audience felt moved to cheer, and others still felt like they should get their money back.

This is what I love about art.  And there was a particularly nice riff in the aforementioned play about exactly this…

You know, that’s how it is to deal with art
because art is made in the freedom of the imagination
with no rules
it’s the only human activity like that
where it can do no one any harm
so it is possible to be completely free
and see what it may be that people think and feel
when they are completely free
in a way, what it is to be human when a human being is free
and so art lets us practice freedom
and helps us know what it is to be free
and so what it is to be human.

I think this speaks to the essence of this post – if Art is freedom, then we are all free to take from it what we see- individually.  Sometimes we want to take it all, and sometimes we don’t want anything to do with it.  But the point is, we’re bringing ourselves into the mix, this salient being… we’re donating it to the experiment, shaking it up and down with an eagerness to see what happens.  We can never view art, or the world for that matter, completely free of our own selves, and so we are inherently a part of things

Or, as Charles Mee would say-

But, still, it often seems to me almost miraculous
how we can put things here in the museum
and ordinary folks
my mom and dad and my own neighbors
and I myself
will come to see things
sometimes things that I myself find completely incomprehensible
and really offensive
people will come to our museum
and think: oh, that’s interesting
or, oh, that’s stupid
but they don’t really hold it against the show
they just move on and look at something else and think
oh that’s cool.
And I wonder:
how do we get away with that?
And I think well, we are a free people
that’s why
and we understand that
in a way maybe other people in the world don’t
we like an adventure
often we might think
well, that’s a piece of junk
but that’s how this fellow sees the world
and there’s a certain pleasure in seeing things from his point of view
we are a patient people
no matter what you hear people say
and a tolerant people
and a fearless, open people
that’s how it is for us

  1. Hahaha. This post is wonderful. So very true. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that play, or at least parts of it. The one thing I know about it is that it had an effect….of some kind. 🙂

  2. I really liked that part about art and freedom. That’s the way I feel about it.

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