Fine Arts and Civilization (Precongress of Inter-Union Artists’ Committee, December 2005)

Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece
Mihalis Papadakis, president                                             PRECONGRESS 12-13/12/2005
In general today there exists the belief (and unfortunately a powerful group of artists takes part in this) that Art coincides with the production of goods that should satisfy the subjective taste, both at the level of consumption, as well as at the level of creation. Or that it records the facts of individual or social memory either as nostalgia or in order to criticize them. Another opinion that also exists today is that Art is about the management of our free time, the break from work and the right to dream... Or that, in any case, it is a product for consumption that fills individual time as an “escape” from the problems of every day life...our social life! 
On this misrepresentation is where the imposition of massive taste (fashion) arises, which in its turn becomes the source of wealth for those that manage it and the “tool” that alienates the masses from the criteria for the reception of Art creations.
What is carefully hidden, though, is that Art consists of a deterministically determined (forcible) moment for knowledge in the process of man’s understanding of his world, so that he can change it. That in fact through Art man comes in sensatory contact with the general/substantial truths, which are not directly visible, but constitute the essence of his world. 
Art alone cannot change the world. But it creates the perceptive background, on which only the knowledge, the means and the act of changing the world can develop. .
Painting and Sculpturing appear 40.000 years ago as an activity of homo sapiens (from whom we directly descend). At that time, homo sapiens, having just migrated from more temperate climates, coexists with the man of Neanderthal for about 4.000 years, before the latter disappears forever.
At a period during which half Europe is covered with glaciers, it is normal that the competition of the two groups becomes greater from time to time. Despite this fact, tools and products tradeoffs are proven by the findings. They have the same level of knowledge on tools. It is also proven that homo sapiens develops Painting (rock-painting) during this period, and micro-sculpture as well, which he exchanges only in the communities of his group.  The man of Neanderthal, as findings prove, remained indifferent to these new products…
The thought of scientists today is directed towards the theory that this difference (in the findings until today neither another difference nor another cause have been found) gave the lead to homo sapiens to become the “winner”.  
The appearance of Painting and Sculpturing (at least 1 million years after the use of fire and the tool) signals the conscious transition of thought to the area of abstracting and symbols. With Art, thought exploits the material provided by experiential creation and by the use of the tool, which for a very long time was the first subjective form of abstraction. On the basis of this abstraction that the tool represented, thought, with the help of Art, creates its own abstractions as “tools” of its own development. This way Art becomes the fundamental element in the development of knowledge until today, and like this of civilization until our days.
In the mental images, than Man socially creates with Art and Sciences for things, he detects/thinks the possibilities that serve his needs. His tools (and the tools of his thought) widen his possibilities to satisfy these needs and to create new ones.  
Fine Arts play an energetic role on this procedure, and not only this. They play a leading role, if you wish, and there is proof for this.  
Fine Arts, as a social function historically, do not represent the past, nor the facts and feelings of our relation to them, nor do they get involved with supposed personal visions of an individual sensitivity. Much more they do not try to satisfy the taste neither of the collective nor of the individual consumer, as fashion wants them to.
Fine Arts work very hard to reorganize the perceptive image of Man. They constantly embody the new facts that Sciences and social act create in social relations, and detect the still invisible truths producing a new image, that imprints them. This way they inspire Sciences and social act towards the future. This is their creative contribution in the contemporary history of homo sapiens as well. The element that gives him the lead. This “lead”, that in contemporary history he has to re-acquire against himself!!
This power of Art in the development of our society is what in a competitive society, in the battle for dominance, needs to be manipulated.  
The act of manipulating Science and its products seems self-explanatory to us, as well as the manipulation of the production forces in our societies. You don’t need a lot of hard work to prove this. They are directly related to the power of dominance.  
Is it equally easy, though, to prove that manipulation of Art gives the “lead” for dominance?  
Art alone is a request for freedom of the creative thought, and at the same time a request for the free organization of the means with which society creates its future collectively, without being subjected to profits or interests, that historically not only do not express it, but they destroy it.  
It is not accidental that the Greek Constitution (article 16) refers to Art together with Science and Education as the social functions that should have the government’s protection, so that their advancement and quality substance is secured. It would be difficult not to recognize that. Also, it is not accidental that this general frame is constantly questioned and alloyed by laws and handlings of the governments until now.
The present government identifies the freedom of Art (of Science and Higher Education) with the so-called freedom of the market. Of the market of the fashion of the consumption product.  
Here it should be noted that the culture as a worldwide financial investing field is second in place after armaments. Consequently, it is self-explanatory that the few monopolies that dominate in the world market play a dominant role in this field as well. Franchise after the Second World War has become the suffocative regime in the museums of modern and contemporary Art, as well as in the other cultural fields.  
The questions to be answered by the contemporary political leadership are:
1) Is it possible to name “cultural policy” this policy that suppresses artistic activity, the historically determined, to financial interests that convert creation to production of consumption products, that is to say commercialize Art?
2) How is the historical right of society to use its creative forces freely in order to create its future combined/identified with the financial competition of the private interests of a small social group?
3) What is your policy for the establishment and safeguarding of the institutions of freedom of artistic creation, so that it can relate to its nature and stop the present “unnatural” situation of the dominance of the market that extinguishes creativity?
4) How is it possible that a national cultural policy acclaims the market as a judge of artists/creators?
5) Can there exist a national cultural policy that does not protect socially the creators, so that they are capable to serve free of financial or political dependencies their responsibility towards society?
The demands of ΕΕΤΕ in order to ensure the employment of Fine Artists in Education, public art works, decoration of public buildings and to ensure their medical security and retirement and, finally, the correct function of institutions, are demands for the freedom of artistic creation and the role that it should play for the evolution of our society.

Mihalis Papadakis














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