For years, Western civilization was unwilling to assign an intrinsic price or a goal to artwork –as it continues to grip artwork in high regard. Although we no longer look comfortable saying it, our reverence for artwork has to be based on a classic assumption: that art is great for all of us. If we do not think this, then our dedication in cash, time, and also research –makes very little sense. Just how could art be great for all of us? The solution, I think, is that artwork is a therapeutic tool: its value is based on its capability to exhort, console, and also direct us toward greater versions of ourselves and also to help us live longer profitable lives, separately and together.
Resistance to such an idea is understandable now since “treatment” is now linked to questionable, or unavailing, ways of enhancing emotional wellness. Of course, that art is curative isn’t to imply that it shares treatment’s methods but instead its inherent ambition: to assist us to deal with presence. While many overriding methods for considering art seem to dismiss or reject this aim, their final claim is curative also.
Art’s capability to shock stays for a powerful supply of its modern appeal. We’re aware that, independently and together, we might grow; artwork could be valuable as it disturbs or astonishes us. We’re especially at risk of denying that the artificiality of particular norms. It was formerly taken for granted, for example, that girls shouldn’t be permitted to vote and the study of early Greek ought to control the curricula of almost all English schools. It is easy now to find that those structures were inevitable: they had been available to change and advancement.
After Sebastian Errazuriz generated dollar signs from normal road markers in Manhattan, his thought was to shock passersby to a radical reconsideration of the function of money in everyday life to shake us from our unthinking dedication to trade and also to inspire, possibly, a more equitable notion of wealth production and supply. (One could totally misunderstand the job if it had been shot as an encouragement to work harder and become loaded). Nevertheless, the shock-value strategy is dependent on a curative premise. Shock may be valuable since it can prompt a nicer state of mind– even alert to sophistication and nuance as well as open to uncertainty. The overarching goal is really a mental improvement.
Shock may do little for us, even however, once we find other alterations to our feelings or moods. We might be paralyzed with anxiety and uncertainty and want sensible reassurance; we might be missing in the labyrinth of sophistication and want simplification; we might be overly pessimistic and need support. Shock is gratifying for its adherents in its own premise that our principal issue is complacency. Finally, however, it’s a limited reaction to impoverished believing, shy or ungenerous responses, or even meanness of soul.