Inundated on a daily basis with the political maelstrom that has swept the country, we even in the journalistic community are finding it difficult to keep pace. Generally this is done by relying on information coming from a variety of trusted sources to keep us abreast with what is going on but I believe it is important to take a step back and turn to other lenses from which to view the world.
I am referring to the arts, in specific, the visual arts. By approaching the same issues from a different angle we can possibly gain a deeper and clearer perspective as to what is taking shape in the world around us.
This is personified in the work of the French street artist JR, who in 2007 took on a project that is all too relevant for today’s divisive climate. It sought to give voice to those involved over the divided communities of the Israeli and Palestinian populations in the Middle East. Each community was given an opportunity to take a photo of its individual citizens to tell their personal stories and paste it on the barrier wall that divides them. The project was aptly named ‘Inside Out: Time Is Now: Yalla!’ Yalla is a shared Arabic word of both communities meaning “let’s go!”
The visual arts can give us a context or framework from which to work from. It places the already known facts and information about a given topic and places it in-situ, right in the middle of the fray. The topics become real, concrete and tangible. It is no longer just an issue that happened somewhere out in the world but places the viewer in direct relation with the work and forces them to consider it a human event, one in which they themselves could be effected in a very real way.