Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Artists can be prophets

[28 September 2009 - Lincoln Star Journal - Nebraska] For two decades, Enrique Martinez Celaya has been thinking and writing about his life and work as an artist, examining his practice through philosophy, literature and science. What he has discovered is a provocative, sure-to-be-controversial view that stands in opposition to the way artists have been seen in the world since the dawn of modernism more than 100 years ago. Put simply, Martinez Celaya proposes that artists can function as prophets. "The Prophet" is the title of the lecture Martinez Celaya, the University of Nebraska Visiting Presidential Professor, will deliver at Omaha's Joslyn Art Museum on Friday. "To be a prophet an artist doesn't need God but clarity of purpose, character and attention," Martinez Celaya writes in the lecture. Later, he states, "Joseph Beuys, Herman Melville, Marcel Broodthaers, Ayn Rand and Albert Pinkham Ryder were prophets not because they sat around theorizing but because they showed us something of the future and of ourselves."... "Is this too much to expect from artists?" he asks in the lecture. "Probably. It is likely we will all break our backs trying to be artists-prophets, but this is a better fate than letting our backs calcify from lack of action or hunch over in shame. Artists are not needed for anything else. Most artists will not be great prophets, but even very minor ones will make a difference. Maybe a difference in the art world, but certainly, and more importantly, in themselves and in the world." More

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