15 September 2013

“You are not a string. You are a qanun.” "انت مش وتر. انت قانون."

There comes a time in an artist’s life when she is faced with an ethical dilemma.

When creating a work of art that deals with the deepest and most intense emotions, and in order to reflect those emotions in their complete authenticity, the artist must herself know these emotions in all their depths and complexities.

The ethical dilemma arises when the artwork deals with an issue defined by society as taboo, and when, in order for the artist to feel these emotions herself, another person is involved who awakens these emotions in her.

It is not a secret that an artist breathes her artwork from her own experiences. She fuses reality with fiction until they blend and until a point is reached where she herself can no longer distinguish one from the other. It’s a magical game, most often harmless.

She is able to write about taboo issues without fear of being exposed. When asked, she always replies: “it’s all about art. It’s fiction. It’s a painting. It’s a poem. It’ a sculpture. It’s imagination in its most creative, intense mode.”

But, ultimately, as she is at the threshold to cross the boundary, when she is with that other person and an art piece begins making its way into her mind and body, she must ask herself some questions.

What is it she is after? If she wishes to reflect in her artwork the most raw, untainted form of the genuine authenticity of the emotions, then those emotions must be genuine to begin with. And if they are to be genuine, then she must abandon the idea of the artwork and immerse herself in the experience fully and wholly. Otherwise, she will fail – though only partly.

What is the ethical dilemma here? That although she did not initially intend to create an artwork from her experience, it is leading in that direction. And the moment she wishes to utilize that experience towards her creation, then she is faced with the most difficult dilemma. Does she share it with the person who awakens those emotions in her? Ethically, she must. In specific instances, it would be unethical not to. So where’s the dilemma? The moment she does, the whole process of the creation of the artwork becomes tainted and loses elements of its spontaneity and its natural beauty. Because the moment the other person becomes aware that s/he as well as her/his behavior, words, movements, are being closely watched and imprinted on the artist’s mind in all its smallest details, s/he begins to rationalize, think, and analyze his/her every movement and word. And thus the whole experience becomes tainted and distorted by this awareness.

What is the dilemma? After all, artists draw their artwork from reality, from their very own experiences and interactions with others. However, in very specific instances, when the issue they deal with entails taboo (only as defined by society, and not any immoral or unethical conduct in itself) and the whole art creation is broadly based on the process of a relationship with another person, that is when the dilemma arises.

I cannot provide an answer or a solution to this dilemma. It is a dilemma each artist must face on her own. And when she stands on the threshold, and before crossing it, she must ask herself the following questions: “Am I true to my values? Am I true to my art? Am I honest with with the other person? Am I honest with myself?” If the answer to all these questions is yes, then she knows her decision is ethical and moral.

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