A BLOG BY

ADHY NUGROHO

Should Art Disturb The Comfortable?

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“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable ” 


A sentence on a picture that I found in my Pinterest Interset Feed. A sentence that gives me a path to a question “Should it?”

In studying art, we don’t see the art just from its artwork. Not just the artwork. There are something outside the body of the artwork including the process before the artwork and after the artwork is done. The artist thinks about what will he do. Just like a novel, besides the intrinsic components there are extrinsic; such as what is happened in the artist’s environment, the background of the artist, and also the feeling of the artist.

The artist makes work from things he already has, either by sense or intuition. He thinks about how the artwork will be done. From its dimension, composition, and the other technical things. In addition, maybe the artist is going to think about it while he is "holding a brush".

Process before the artwork is not just a technical things, but also the reasons and the design of what may happen after the artwork is done.

Then, there will be a process after the artwork is done. The effect. The reaction of audiences or something. It’s going to be “Wow.. Amazing” or “Hmm.. Dangerous”. Wiji Thukul by his poems could “disturb” the government at that time. Now, he is gone, disappear. A film work about Betrayal of Indonesian Communist Party which was shown annually by the new order government could give a “brainwashing” to a lot of Indonesian people, planted in their mind across generation in case of giving perspective about Communism in Indonesia.

Either the reaction is successful like what the artist wished before or badly failed is depend on the process before designing the artwork. Perhaps the design put the artwork to the wrong audiences.

A thousand tagging of anarchy sign doesn’t mean a thing if it done without reasons, plan, and maybe solution from the artist. It just going to give an anger to shop owner because his rolling door was just vandalized by someone.

The meaning of that sentence, in my opinion, is not just artist disturb someone personally, someone with no sins who doesn’t know anything. Art for disturbing the comfortable, for me, it’s more suitable to the comfort of being improper and art may break it.

For example, a nation with people who comfort to be apathetic facing the reality that something wrong happens in their nation and something is threatening their future then art comes and disturbs them, make them realize to give a little bit of their attention for the nation. Or a “rat” that puts his comfort on the people’s misery could be disturbed or threatened by an artwork.

The process of doing artwork become important. Perhaps the artist had died before his artwork could give an impact just because of a worse strategy.

So, should it? It is depend on the artist, I guess 😝
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