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On artists

More often than not, artists do not see themselves as the authors of their work, but rather as mediums. This means that something deeper is at work – in effect that what artists do, to a large extent, consists of a process of finding out what they are supposed to do. This has less to do with their ordinary everyday selves and more with their role as artists, particularly with the mode of knowledge that art is – or should be.

Once the process of creation of an artwork is finished, the artist more or less decouples from it and it takes on a life of its own, of varying intensity and duration. That life must come from the attention of others. What, then, attracts attention, what keeps the artwork alive? I’d say that it is the meaning that the artist has managed to mediate and manifest through her imagination. And when other people apprehend the meaning, a meaning by means of the artwork, they do so through their imagination.

So, what artists do is that they intuit meanings, which they literally apprehend through their trained imagination, meanings which others do not see as readily but may be able to recognise, once the artist’s work is done.

In other words, artists create new imaginative and potentially very real possibilities in the world. Hence the value of their particular mode of knowledge. Hence also their ‘presponsibility’, the ability to discriminate in realms of experience that don’t quite exist, yet. This is another way of saying that real artists literally tap into the enigmatic foundations of human cultures.

If this is so, the potential power of artists can be quite substantial, especially if it isn’t confined within the esoteric meanderings of the art world as such. It has nothing to do with politics in the ordinary sense, but goes much deeper and therefore opens up the possibility of a quite wide range of possible collaborations, collaborations in which special abilities of artists really can come into their own. It opens up the possibility for artists to resume a central position in the making of our worlds.

Per Johansson
BA, History of Science and Ideas; PhD, Human Ecology

Page Manager: Carina Krantz|Last update: 5/22/2017
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