We are disgusted by the tragic and appalling events in Charlottesville, Virginia and by the obscene support of Donald Trump for white supremacists, racists, and Nazis.
The world can be a hostile place, particularly when those in power make it more so. Their toxicity can be countered in many ways, none of which is silence. People can protest, demand change, debate the issue, compel the rest of those in government to take a stand (we are still waiting).
The brave people who stood up to the Nazi thugs in Charlottesville are heroes. Those who are mortifying themselves in silence, appeasing, justifying or finding false moral equivalences are almost as repulsive as the supremacist marchers.
It is vital to speak out against the forces of violence and darkness. It bears repeating that racism and antisemitism are never ever going to be on the good side of human nature.
But there is another way in which bigotry and fascism can be fought, and this is by supporting education, science and the arts.
As we never tire of repeating, art is civilization. Unless it is used for propaganda (it’s been known to happen), art reminds us of the creative drive for good in the human race. Art elevates us. Enjoying it brings us wonder, delight and solace; it fosters empathy. Making art makes us better human beings, whether we are gifted artists or not. Art is a human impulse. It should be as normal an activity as breathing.
Give a toddler a box of crayons and a piece of paper, and she will draw. No one has to teach us to do this. It’s natural. In fact, art was our first language; before we could express ourselves with words, we were painting animals in caves. Sadly, as we grow, we learn that expressing ourselves through art is superfluous, and a waste of time. Somehow, we get into our heads that since we can’t draw like Michelangelo, we can’t draw at all. We stop expressing ourselves through art. This is a terrible loss.
Recently, we were at the subway station near the Museum of Modern Art, which is decorated with art posters from the museum. As we went down the escalator behind a family of tourists, a little girl asked her mom what those posters were. The mother responded: “It’s nothing. That stuff is not for us”. I’m still shocked and saddened (and angered) by her response. And I feel sorry for that poor little girl and her sisters, who, if they can keep their curiosity intact, may seek out better answers. I wanted to say “art is wonderful stuff and it is for everyone”. But I did not, and I regret it.
Ignorance breeds fear and rejection. Art brings us closer together. Choose art.
Cover visual conversation by Beatriz Helena Ramos and Boris Toledo Doorm at dada.nyc.