The day will come when we will stop brushing up against walls. Instead, we will be brushing up against bodies. And we will be aroused by the danger of proximity.
However, while we wait for that moment to arrive, what is the imaginative work we have to do to ensure that life returns to normal and art returns to its rightful place?
How do we honour the primordial act of gathering and experiencing the pulse of life together?
And why be so set on gathering at all?
For now, we are sailing through thick fog, accepting the unknown as something we now have to deal with. We both abhor a vacuum and fear the void, giving us a feeling of prostration and motivation as we are astounded by a new wave of creative technologies, the technologies of today and tomorrow. Facebook Live from your bathroom, everything uploaded in grainy 1980s quality video, mini house concerts with so-so results. Of course, any way of getting around the lockdown is to be welcomed. But how will we celebrate the return of live performance, filled with stage fright and apprehension, with nowhere else to be but the here and now?
Back in the day we sang Video killed the radio star. Today, aren’t we now in the process of submitting to the dominant discourse encouraging us to take our work digital? It seems like we’ve already started to belt out Digital killed the theatre star in unison… Don’t forget that MuchMusic no longer exists. And the stars from that era are shooting stars and falling stars. So yes, I admit it, I’m just nostalgic for the time when you could feel your neighbour tremble with emotion beside you in their seat, when you could see the sweat gushing forth, the tears running down, the spit shooting out of the faces of the performers under the floodlights, as of a police raid.
While we wait for that to become a possibility again, why not disappear for a while, efface ourselves, vanish, cultivate a sense of mystery and kindle desire, because when we come back, we will have to come as prophets.
We will have to be prophets
We’re all agreed, we will have to rise from the ashes. Find new avenues of enchantment. That being said, hadn’t we already lost a small portion of our innocence, our power, our relevance? Pressurized by the productivist logic of the system. This forced stoppage brings our contradictions to light. From now on, we will have to be prophets in our own land. Have something to say that can be understood over here. Take ownership of the territory. And present works which formerly only found resonance over there.
We will have to be prodigal
We’re all agreed, we will have to beat a retreat. It was nice when we could just sit around and shoot the breeze. Do the Montréal-Paris round-trip five, six times a year. But now, prodigal children who have squandered everything, we have to come home, humbled beyond belief. And try to minimize our environmental footprint by acting in a coordinated, well-meaning, and intelligent manner. At a certain point, artists and the culture industry submitted to the logic of accounting and bent the knee before that monster, profitability. So please, tell me that the days of showing how great we are with Excel spreadsheets are over.
We will have to be prodigies
Prodigies in the old sense of the world, as miraculous phenomena. We are all agreed, we will have to find something to say which takes us out from under the lense of confinement. We will need energy, fits of madness, fluids. We will need to get our hands dirty, splashes of blood, sex, and light. We will need silence, time, and we will have to raise some dust. We will have to extricate ourselves from our couches, where we now lie, fossilized, and convince each other once again of the importance of the essential service we render to society when our bodies shake, when words jet forth.
We see it. We know it. Art is the only medicine that will never be out of stock.
All we have to do right now is see to its administration (both literal and figurative).
10 May 2020