“What do you mean Bill?”
“Well in the the middle ages art was made so people could understand the word of God, without having to read. But that wasn’t the only reason why those tableaus were so successful in getting the message across. You see, art has this thick symbolic structure where everything depicted suddenly has this grand meaning. Then nobody would have dared to just paint any old flower around the Virgin Mary — it had to be a special one, like a mystical rose or violet, depicting her modesty and so on. Every object on the tableau was judged and so had to be placed just right.”
“So? What are you getting at here Bill?”
“Well after religion, art was used as propaganda; Stalin used it, Hitler used it and Mao Zedong used it, sometimes even the same art piece. You know how manny ideologies the Ode to Joy served before it became part of the current one in Europe? But the tune stayed the same. And now, why is that? It’s not because Beethoven’s 9th is fascist or because he was a ‘Commy’. No Charles. It’s because art is a vessel, an empty shell into which you can pour any ideology, even contradicting ones, and enforce them so they can slip into the masses. It worked for christianity and it worked for Nazi Germany. And now, in the 21st century, where God has been dead even longer than the Third Reich, what is hiding in our art now? Sure, it’s capitalism; your wish to screw your neighbour and all the other vices we now actively celebrate. But why do we celebrate them Charles? As you said, your Porsche is a temple to the fear of death, and so is your Breitling, and every single painting and sculpture in your art collection and by God every word I have put down on paper. But you see, we have no God to save us — we killed him. And what all of us artists are doing now is trying to make idols of our profanities, unable to grasp that our society as we know has made its beliefs unprofaniable as a prerequisite for it not to break apart.
So you see The Last Art Show isn’t about God. It’s about the lack of one. The consuming fear of our own mortality, that only truly became visible by man’s genocide of deities. It is about the last living man, void of all illusions of his immortality, incapable of functioning in the real world, who finds solace in art. Not because it is a force stronger than nature, but because it is the only medium strong enough to shield the new atheist man from his own condition and from oblivion.
We all know immortality is impossible, even if we don’t acknowledge it as such. And to overcome this fear one would have to become immortal himself. But no religion can help you there, you would have to become a god yourself. And that’s not going to happen to either of us, or to the Buddhist monks in Tibet, or Yogis in India, and it’s quite obvious why; you cant overcome something that defined you in the first place. Without an ego, we would all go mad in infancy. So when does art stop if not by man becoming a Superman? In the moment where there are no more men, no more women, and no more children.
And what happens to art then? Does it still represent salvation? No Charles. It is, like all that is created from an ego, bound to its creator. When he perishes, so does the essence of all his children, leaving behind a heap of empty material shells. But the bird you were talking about, does his song also perish? Even if there is no man to hear it and enjoy its complex melody, the song still serves an immediate function. Until there is a female Nightingale around, the song is heard. When it’s gone, so is the song. And you know why? Because even if today the thought of a non-sociocentric universe is impossible for most, some things in the world actually weren’t made by us. Neither to amuse or to teach. And because of that, they can last quite a bit longer than our concept of art ever will.”