Art & Sustainability

Art & Sustainability

The dancing couple and woman playing guitar

When thinking about sustainability, we often consider subject such as waste, energy, technology, economy, ecology and other factors outside ourselves. Yet, I believe our culture is the primary thing that needs to be changed in order to create a sustainable future, as our external world is a reflection of our internal world; our values, goals, and habits. I argued earlier that such culture is one that is based on community. In this post, I would like to explore the role that art and artists can play in such transition to a Community Culture.

Art can profoundly affect us and plays many functions in our lives. Some of these functions are rooted in our basic human needs and do not change with time. Expression of imagination and harmony, creating rituals, healing, and entertainment are some of the timeless functions of art. Yet, at different times in our social evolution, we have distinguished needs that can be addressed by art. For example, art used to play a key role in raising awareness about social and political issues. However, the advancement of communication technologies has made information readily available, and therefore has reduced the significant role that art used to play in raising awareness. On the other hand, as we set our sight on transitioning to a community-based culture, art can play a central role in such cultural evolution…

One of the primary requirements for creating a community culture is a means by which we can gather and connect, whereas art can play a key role in this regards. More specifically, collaborative creation and expression or art is a powerful tool for constructing communities. In this context, artists make it possible for the community to weave in their expression into the collective. For example, a drum circle is a form of art that can connect people on an emotional level. The drummer that holds the base rhythm is the one that enables different expressions and melodies to weave in and become part of the fabric of the co-creation. This is contrary to the industrialized music, which is a consumer product that is primarily designed to generate capital. Such music has distinct production, distribution, and consumption stages, and contrary to co-creative music, has limited functionality in terms of facilitating connection between people and creating communities.

The art of healing and personal growth is also essential for creating a community-based culture. We all carry a baggage and have stored emotional pain in our subconscious. In our individualistic consumer culture, our conversation and interactions are primarily focused on the outside world, and hardly address our emotions and state of being. We zone out on external stimulus such as various kinds of media, and have hard time feeling ourselves, owning our emotions, working through them, and holding space for each other to do the same. As we transition to a community-based culture, the higher levels of interaction and openness that we experience triggers the traumas and brings up the stored emotional pain to the surface, which creates an opportunity to address these issues. Yet, we need to equip ourselves and our communities with personal growth tools for processing our emotions. These I consider a form of art, as they deal with our emotions for the most part. In this context, artists are those who master such tools and create spaces, processes, and rituals to bring them to the community. To give an example, our sexual desire is one that sits at the core of our being and drives many of our activities, yet, there is much stigma and trauma around it and we do not have the tools to discuss and process it properly. Instead, in our consumer culture, we use loaded sexual desire as a tool for grabbing attention and conditioning. As we move to a community culture, it becomes essential to deal with our sexuality in a more open and empowered manner such as men/women circles, tantric teachings, non-violent communication, and so on…

On a more general note, artistic expressions and emotional development would take a central role in a community culture (with science and logic playing more of a supportive role to satisfy our needs). In this capacity, the artful space becomes one that we live in, rather than one that we visit. Every breath is felt fully and every moment is lived deeply. We all find the artist in ourselves, co-creating with our community and facilitating one or another kind of journey. As such culture is much more empowering and joyful than a consumer culture, it provides an opportunity to create more sustainable future.

Art and emotional growth is the way of our new world…

This article has 1 comment

  1. Yes! Art is healing, it can transmute pain and hold a space for it :)

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