Last week, our research group went to see this art exhibition on meaning in a global perspective and discussing it afterwards with my colleague Renske we figured: artists can bring these complex topics into such better language than we academics do. Why is that? Perhaps, because the artist does not claim statements about truth, but dares to ask questions instead of looking for answers? And by departing from the human experience and staying close to it, truth is created in the eye of the beholder? Besides, using images other than verbal language, I guess artists have much more communication channels than academics do. I am not sure, but anyway, art helps us think more clearly sometimes and sometimes it makes us more confused.
While the Western artists seemed to start their search for meaning from self-research, asking the question “Who am I?” numerous times, artists from other parts of the world seemed to be telling a more political story of protest and definitions of community. But of course these are just my ideas on the art pieces, telling my own “truths”. One of my favorites was a naked, fragile body, crawled into a pillow that evoked the most emotions to me. It was called “The pillow” by Berlinde de Bruyckere. Looking also somewhat frightening, because you could not see a face and the skin is almost too thin to be human. These kind of images of human life we do not see often in our society. Bodies are mostly perfect and carefully prepared to look as unnatural as possible. Even if we did not see the whole body, such as no head or face, the image did not seem an objectification of human life, something that we often see in advertisement for instance, but it captured human frailty and emotion in an honest way to me. The exhibition is definitely worthy to visit if you happen to be in the Netherlands!