ART AGAINST VIOLENCE
This is an article “Art Against Violence” by Marc Primo Warren
Throughout history, art has played an important role in ending acts of violence in various social aspects. Earlier this year, a number of Turkish women took to social media platform Twitter to mock how the social positioning of Turkish women remains inferior today, pointing out how dangerous gender discrimination can truly be. However, prior to the birth of Twitter, or any other social media platform, female Turkish artists such as Nil Yalter, Füsun Onur, and Nur Koçak have already conveyed similar messages through art of which the whole world has taken notice since as early as the ‘60s.
Artists who take art as a voice of reason to address issues of violence know that the medium should reflect civilization, beauty, and goodwill. Popular works of art mostly emit soothing and calming feelings rather than instigate more violence. This stands despite how regimes have destroyed art that doesn’t go along with their principles and reflect the perspective of the greater many.
Art as a substitute for violence
To use art as a way to promote peace means knowing that it can also be used to substitute violence. Indeed, many masterpieces have sparked or interpreted historical revolutions in the past, including Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People in 1830 which celebrated the storming of the Bastille by revolutionaries in protest of the French monarchy, or Emanuel Leutze’s Crossing the Delaware in 1851 which chronicled George Washington’s conquering of the Hessians in 1776.
The way art gives meaning to chaos reveals the evils of war and violence even in ancient societies. Artists like Spanish Francisco Goya, and Italians Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Paolo Uccello utilized art as a means of conveying realities without words.
However, these artworks have been created with the notion that the road to peace sometimes has to go through the thoroughfares of war, and without any shortcuts. In the end, they serve as remembrances of experience—how people sought peace and fought for it with their lives and more importantly, how generations can avoid the same in the future.
Art as a healing medium
Today, art has been able to mitigate the cause and effects of war and violence as evidenced by history itself. The proof that art contributes to healing is further strengthened in a 2010 study by Heather Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel which found that four aspects of art may serve as therapy for an individual’s overall health and wellbeing namely: music engagement, visual arts, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing.
The power of art to influence an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can also drive them to seek for peace amid any type of struggle. This makes art a benevolent factor in how societies are educated to behave and is taken as guidelines to how we must all aspire for beauty rather than chaos. Aside from healing, it also brings us control, optimism, and education regardless if we are the audience or the artist.
Create and educate
Going back to the recent events in Turkey this year, public outrage arose after the death of 27-year old Pınar Gültekinwho at the hands of an ex-boyfriend. Aside from triggering feminist movements in the country to post black and white selfies on social media and rally in protest of femicide and the lack of laws to protect the women of Turkey, local artist Neriman Polat cried to contemporary artists to convey the important messages of human rights for Turkish women through their works. According to the artist, it is a way to ‘commemorate the lives of murdered women who were victims of femicide and resist injustice’.
Artists like Polat truly believe that art is essential in thwarting malevolent acts and realizing peace by calling out the maladies of today’s society. And as how the past has educated us, it is an avenue for creating and learning about what issues are relevant in our generation and how we should act as a society to effect more positive changes.