"WHAT IS ART?" - some R2001 members' answers - January 2004


Dear friends
Why do we have to rethink constantly the role of the arts in society? I suppose scientists do not need to justify their field as we need, may be because it is widely recognised as useful. However I think it is very good this exercise of reframing our conscienciousness.
Birgitta, she is really a very good artist,  she sacrifies everything for art; she lives dangerously; she writes from her inner world, even if she hasnīt academic titles ( neither Mark Twain or Gauguin) she is able to depict an unique representation of the world and to express feelings and emotions that could not be expressed outside the arts, she is the arts. And we can see and feel her representation of the world, society and humanity and be transported outside our small experiences of life, so that's it:  the arts are a way to experience diversity of visions, to learn more about realities and virtualities, to reflect about our interpretation of the world through other visions, in short to enrichise ourselves.
Sharif says: art is the spontaneous expression of wisdom and foolishness working
in concert...
I am not sure about the spontaneous , but I agree with the relationship wisdom- foolishness, because arts are about taking risks and reflection, about breaking boundaries, and jumping limits of accepted knowledge and re-invente new concepts, about vision, about past and future. We need a certain courage and foolishness to do that; but we also need the wisedom of the 'sages' to represent it in words, images or sounds.
I had raised this question so many times in my life; because like others I think I do not have the correct answers, and like others I doubt, very often:  it it worthy? Is it good? Why I am doing this; for whom? What's the purpose? Who will ever care about my ideas, about the stories I tell? But, because I doubt I can find reasons and purposes. Well sometimes it is good to have positive feedback from the audience, I think it would be extremely difficult to survive without the public, even if it is restricted to a very small 'court'.
In western arts, specially after the twenty century some artists survived without public ( in their life time), think about Cezanne for example. But in other cultures art and artists are much more lucky, because art is valued as religion , as avatars, as power or whatever, in those societies I think it is much easier to be an artist, because they don't need to justify themselves and they don't need to have a good network of galleries, museums or critics.
In what concerns my experience, I don't care about networks and social recognition, I just do what I need to do, because I was born like this, to express myself visually and with the need to tell stories. Do you believe in destiny? If I had the choice may be I would chose to be more rationale. But I didn't.
So, what's art? Art is just another way of living, is the way we have to understand the world, the others and ourselves, to express our past and present experiences, to prophetise our futures.

Art is the ability to construct the nature of our societies.  Today, in
the process of forcing art as one a specialized category, the
nature of art is being understood as simple images to be discussed. 
Although art is being acknowledged and treated like a confection of
the society, it  has the ability to collect self-subjectivities

(not a totalism like a government).

 Art is still existing on the other side, as the only methodology to
halt the disempowerment of self-subjectivity in the human mind.

Homogenization is proceeding due to the increment of entropy.  Art
holds the key of the life-and-death door to self-subjectivity.  It is
one of art to break away from significances and
patterns people accept readily. For this reason, art can only be
supported within itself.  Further more, this function of art empowers
our self-subjectivity into greater depth.

There are two poles of art. Multiplication is the standard for one-
keep attempting to seek  for luxury.  The standard for the other pole,
is elimination, attempting to cut the unnecessarily. 
Swinging in between the two poles, artworks create a wind to blow off
the increment of entropy and inventing new possibilities.  Art is free
of jumping over the totalism which is the aspiration for equalization. 
is the attempt for the renovation of human life, for the coexistence of
totalism and self-subjectivity.

Coexistence with self-subjectivity in a society, the shift to a new
paradigm, will happen when all creations are set free into the
aesthetics of a tidal current.

Toko Ueoka

Birgitta Jonsdottir

I am Art

<?fontfamily><?param Times>I have always found it impossible to draw a line between my work and me. Everything I do is a part of who I am. In order to develop my creations I have to constantly evolve. I have to be able to be like a chameleon, to absorb all that
is around me and reflect it within. After that I can be like a projector of what I have experienced internally as the
conscience of the external experience and thus I have taken down a border. I have become a little closer to you and to me.

I see the external world as a direct reflection of my inner world. I see my little world that I move and breath within
reflected in the entire world.

Everything that happens in the world outside me is moving within me and I am moving with everything that is
happening within the world.

I often wonder why I do what I do. Why do I take the leap of faith over and over no matter if I know that sometimes
I will not fly but fall all the way to the bottomless bottom?
If I would never had taken the leap of faith into the unknown would I be who I am? I have paid dearly for depth, for
being able to show compassion and understand that my value as a person is on an equal basis as the starving child in Africa or the starved little rich kid on Capitol Hill.

The greatest chance we take as artists is not a new color or a new shocking shape but the chance of change within.
The greatest chance we can take as artists is to take down our internal borders and to realize that fame or fortunes have nothing to do with our personal value. Our personal value comes from internal emotions that are selfless, transparent experience that enriches not only ourselves but the things we create. The greatest art is not art itself but how we inspire others.

It is easy to play with the human emotion, we have all the formulas to sensationalize and manipulate their feelings.
But does it inspire them to go out and do something like take the leap of faith and follow their vision and dreams.

Perhaps one of the greatest abilities of the human is the fact we dream and we follow our dreams. We have visions
and we follow them. Sometimes we lack the understanding of why we want to follow those dreams and visions and
get stuck within a principle.

I could perhaps have this dream of getting the Nobel Prize. But something within actually knows that it wouldn't
mean anything really. Not if my work wouldn't have the ability to reach out to people and inspire them to throw away
their inhabitation's and just do it. And I could never get the Nobel Prize because my art is not for a chosen few that
have taken a university degree in understanding art and symbolism. My writing is not for scholars and critics. All I
do is for everyone, especially those that don't think they care for art and culture. I don't make what I make for me but
for you and me.

By making something that someone will eventually experience I will become part of that person and that person will
become a part of me.
That is my reward for taking the leap
for being me
by all possible means.

I have been doing a lot of thinking in the last few weeks
my life has turned around again full circle
all of a sudden everything that was is no more
and I have to start at a new beginning
I am broke, I took the leap of faith all the way to the
other end of the world
I am forced to go back to my little island of extremes
and I had sold everything I owned and the money
has blown into the wind and vanished.
But the price of experience can never be set
So I am taking another leap of faith
In the process I have changed again
and I need to eat my hat more then twice
but that is ok
We as humans are entitled to fall
So we may rise again
and again

Someone once said that one Birgitta year is like seven years for others
and it is intense but I feel blessed as well
I feel blessed to have acquired so much experience
so many failures and so many tragedies
not that I want any more
but if there are more
I see myself as clay
and it will mold me again into something new
and thus I will have more to give
because I have been so many things

So it is that life is beautiful
and always exactly as beautiful as we make it to be
We don't need more things
We need to give more
because that is the only thing that really fills that empty feeling inside
So if you ever feel miserable
go and help someone that is more miserable
If you ever feel hungry
go feed someone that is starving

And all this can of course be taken metaphorically into an artistic context


We will probably keep doing foolish things.  But perhaps that's what
many people are longing for.

Acting by the self-subjectivity means to go beyond the frameworks.  I
think we can say that a function of "go beyond the framework" is
included by a priori in art.  In other words, "capture the moment when
art becomes non-art".

I renewed my own home page lately.
It is called artNOMOAD
http://art-nomad.net (in Japanese only)

I believe that artists are like NOMAD of the world culture.

There is no question that "artworks" are the basis of arts.
But I think there is a choice that I face.
To keep the attitude towards the academic side of art, do I stay with
the world of artworks?
Do I try to go beyond the artworks to go into the new paradigm?

I think I want to go beyond.
So I decided to call myself an "art activist" instead of an "artist"

Seiji Ueoka

Bernard Keller


For me art is very individual. Therefore many artists have many answers,

everyone from his view, his experiences or influence. My aspect is just as individually very philosophical:


Painting means to me: meditation, inspiration and imagination.


Three philosophical aspects thereby play a central role:




LIGHT - in the fullness of all terrestrial colours shows all the possibilities of expressing human moods and spiritual

presentiments of light or darkness. In the silence of observation the internal light is also kindled, with all its refractions.

Thus the illumination of the spirit arises by intuitive observation (Mandalas, beings of light or visions of the world...). Or we

experience the illumination of the heart through growing love.


LOVE - is the engine for hope and the belief in what we see as correct, necessary, beautiful or intended by God. Only in the

love for our task, whether painting, or our job, or our love for someone, can light triumph over darkness in us.


LIFE - consists of light and darkness. In our artistic expression, in our choice of colourful contrasts and forms, as well as in the

moments in life which are full of light we are constantly having to decide whether light triumphs in us or darkness. Here we are

dependent on light and love:

ONLY BY THE LIGHT (in our hearts) can we realize, how life is and how it should become.

ONLY THROUGH LOVE can the illumination of the spirit take place; it helps us as a signpost on our path in life, to make

meaningful decisions and to be at peace.