By Laura Dzelzyte - esthete
The question was asked by Ben Davis on ArtInfo after the conference of “Seven on Seven”, which looks to combine art and technologies. The proposition is clear – technology dehumanises us. As highlighted by Nicholas Carr in his book “The Shallows,” constant exposure to smartphones and computers is rewiring the brain in such a way as to destroy our ability for deep thinking and perhaps feeling. Can art make us more human again?
Compassion and Humanism was the theme that I carried with me during the whole weekend.
I visited exhibition of the Crisis Commission, at Somerset House, which aims to tackle homelessness through art.
The truth of the matter is that the art works were rather representational of the artist – assort of insurance that cash at the auction will be raised at Christie’s on 3 May.
Tracey Emin was very generous by donating “Deep Blue III” and “Deep Blue IV”, a fast hand – blue guache on paper images of a naked woman reclining - rather attractive characteristic pieces of Emin’s work as well as her neon Trust Myself and Trust Me. These were noted by some arts critics as highlights of the exhibition.
But I rather preferred Nathan Coley’s Burn the Village, Feel the Warmth, 2012. A light box sign which oozes darkness was one of my favourite. Burn the Village, Feel the Warmth could have easily been a phrase said by one of Dostoyevsky’s characters. It is full of darkness and bitterness of an abandoned and confused person, although it comes from an old African proverb that goes: ‘If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth’. It invoked the question whether exposing the resentment and disappointment of a homeless and unloved, make us feel for the cause?
Can we be threatened into humanism through art?
Nika Neelova’s sculpture, which features series of decontextualised cast doors (some shattered) suspended in an eclectic fashion, uses the sense of emptiness and melancholy rather than fear to discuss homelessness. Instead of signalling hope, home and entrance to the future, black doors hang lonely in the air without frames and explicitly lead to nowhere - a very vocal expression of broken promises. Neelova‘s installation, to my mind, was the true highlight, containing the nucleus of the Crisis exhibition theme, much more than some of the other attention grabbing works that felt typical representations of some of the celebrity artists rather than immediately relevant to the cause of homelessness.
There was an open book by the exit door to leave the bids for the art. Bids were in the range of few hundred British pounds. Rather disappointing, I thought. Let’s hope “the bling“ of Christie’s will attract money to address homelessness – the issue, that many say, is too often swept under the carpet.