by Serrano Sianturi
Things change as we live our days; many (or perhaps most) even believe that change is the only constant in our lives. Change itself is actually a scary thing to most people because it may bring consequences that we often do not favor and anticipate well enough. Many times, we also lack the capability to manage the consequences. So to change is never an easy thing.
Since the beginning, humans have experienced both the pain and glory of changes. While the glories mostly came in a much later time, many of the pains and sacrifices were often quite humiliating and even bloody. Socrates, Jesus Christ, Galilee Galileo, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Stephen Biko, Nelson Mandela are among those who truly understands what sacrifice is all about.
Change, development and money
Over many decades we have heard the term development almost everyday. Development itself is actually all about change, and since the beginning its breath has been economic. As time goes by, the meaning and scope of economic development has been narrowed down to money as we have seen it. Myriad of sayings like money is not everything, it’s the only thing; show me the money; money comes in second, but nothing comes in first have pointed to such direction. Do we really want money to be the determinant factor in measuring human development? If we do, then why most of us frequently complain that money talks too much nowadays?
Money has been the center stage of our lives because we put it there. The world “made a consensus” in which money is to be the pegging instrument in valuing the things we create and/or produce, and therefore money becomes the primary instrument in exchange. Everything else in our lives like success, poverty, happiness, social status is also measured by how much money that one has. Our survival then has gradually become a dependent of money. Most of us perhaps are unaware that we have imprisoned ourselves by the instrument that we created.
The ever growing use of cellular phone since its commercial launch somewhat represents how something we create takes control of our lives. Over twenty years ago, our life was just fine without the mobile phone. Today, many quite panic when they forget or lose their mobile phones as if it were a matter of life and death. So who knows, maybe in ten years time a person is considered less fortunate (just like our brothers and sisters around the world who have no money) simply because he/she does not own a cell phone.
It seems that we have forgotten that money, mobile phone or any other things we consider having great importance in our life are just instruments…tools. So it is entirely up to us when ,where and how to use it. They are simply the means for reaching our objectives. Wasn’t that the purpose of having these tools in the first place? So why do we keep cursing at the condition, and yet still letting them rule our lives?
Change, money and artists
In today’s world of arts, things have become a little complicated due to this money issue. More and more artists are pretty much concerned on how to make a living out of what they create; making a living in this case means making money. For hundreds or even thousands of years the spirit behind art creations had been not-for-profit. Of course, many of art forms have been valued and bought at thousands or millions of dollars, but that is merely the consequence of producing quality works; the motivation of making it actually remains not-for-profit. Most of the well-admired and well-valued arts have proven that this is the case.
Today, to create any art work means to make money (to make a living). Consequently, many, if not most, works of art are now “tailored” to meet the trend or to follow whatever is already in demand. Everyone has to make a living, there is no doubt about it. The question is not on the rights and need to make a living, but on whether these works can still be considered as the works of art or not if the motivation behind it is all about making money. Artist is and should be a role, not just a profession that is merely to make a living.
As I mentioned on my previous article – Music and the ever changing world – artists, aware or not, hold the role as messenger of values, mirror that reflects the society, creative force and in many ways symbol of courage. These are the roles that make them exist and recognized, and eventually make up the economic value of their creations. Giants in arts from Bach, Leonardo Da Vinci, Gaudi, Picasso, and John Coltrane to even Beatles have proven this condition. None of them set out to make money or to be famous; in fact, they all faced great risk of being disliked when they started. Their creations were all about context, creativity and courage. So does it really make sense if an artist only think of money, disregard context and his/her role, and yet expect their creations to be highly recognized and valued? Furthermore, how should we evaluate the aesthetics if the creation is actually all about money?
Even in the corporate world, making money is based on the values they create, not the other way around. Leading corporations are mostly pioneers in their field meaning that they take their risk when they started. So if artists wouldn’t dare to take the risk, what would that make them?
Artists as the minority
Doing what we love has never been easy, but this is the very foundation of being an artist. Sticking to what you like and believe, regardless of what the condition is, would make you a minority. True artists (like philosophers, scientists, innovators, etc) are minority because they do just exactly that. Mentioned earlier in the beginning were the names of individuals who changed the world for a greater good. If we review our history, this kind of people is the minority who bears the cost to benefit the others while the majority bears the cost to benefit only themselves. So, most of changes that we have gone through were actually triggered by the minority. The majority seems to wait for the “right” momentum, joins at later time, and take part in claiming the glory. So if you are an artist and feeling that you belong to this type of minority, then be proud, because you will change the world and yet keep us all human. The majority hardly changes the world.
Author: Serrano Sianturi
(1960-2019) One of the Founders and former chairman of Sacred Bridge Foundation.