March 2015 – Triumph, Conflict, Suffering, Silence…New Hope

by Geoff Hall on March 31, 2015

Easter 2015.

Mentoring for word, image and performance art.

Mentoring for word, image and performance art.

The Easter Festival follows a great plot line and we as artists understand the ebb and flow of it, ever so well.

 

Our gifts are meant for the public sphere and when we see people’s recognition of who we are and what we’re doing, there is a sense of arrival. We are in the right place. People actually know you are here! They’ve marvelled at your work, heard of our creative miracles and they want to see it, hear it for themselves.

The adulation lasts but for a while, maybe, and then someone, somewhere takes offence at what we’re doing. It’s new; it doesn’t follow the tried and tested methods, nor does it use the right language, say the right things, and use the prescribed formula. It evades their ‘authority’, their control. They are offended. They plot.

We then find ourselves as a champion of the people, but in conflict with the religious and political institutions. They want to control us and what we’re doing. We resist.

Then we suffer. Critics rail at us during our very public execution. Institutions have a way of resisting change; of stacking the odds against us, of bullying us into submission. We are humiliated.

 

Man of Sorrows

Georges Rouault “Ecce Dolor” (Man of Sorrows)

Then comes the silence. Silence for an artist is very difficult to cope with. It locks us away in the deepest, darkest places. We question our identity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s incarceration led him to such a place and to write:

 Who am I?

Am I really all that which other men tell of?

Or am I only what I know of myself,

restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,

struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat…

 

If we end with the silence, we despair, depression takes hold, foreboding drives us on into nothingness. We disappear. It’s the nihilistic spirit of our time, evident in so much art today.

But… that’s because we didn’t press on. We’d lost faith in a new kind of hope, a new life. If our lives, our careers end on Saturday, we don’t see those things arriving, on Sunday; taking us by surprise, invading the space we’d locked ourselves away in, for fear of the Religious and Political authorities; our institutional persecutors.

As always, we have a choice. It may not look like it, but we do.

Martin Laird wrote this about the illusion that we are somehow separated from God.

 “Because God is the ground of our being, the relationship between creature and Creator is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible. God does not know how to be absent. The fact that most of us experience throughout most of our lives a sense of absence or distance from God is the great illusion that we are caught up in; it is the human condition.” [Into the Silent Land, p15.]

 

It is our work as artists to break that illusion. In our lives and in our work.

 

Be well,

Geoffx

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