Monday, April 17, 2006

The Art Institute of Chicago: The Concerned Photographer

The Art Institute of Chicago: The Concerned Photographer

It was forecast as a rainy day in Chicago. So I decided to spend the day in The Art Institute of Chicago. The first thing that I saw there was The Concerned Photographer. The first quote that hits the visitor is

"The concerned photographer finds much in the present unacceptable which he tries to alter. Our goal is simply to let the world also know why it is unacceptable." --Cornell Capa (b. 1918), photographer

I have no real desire to be a photojournalist, but the work of concerned photographers have always affected me. Sebastio Salgado is one of my heroes. Sometimes the images of all the bad things happening in the world can really be depressing. I guess that this is a perennial problem. Some people try to do the right thing and other people mess it up. I guess that we can't point fingers or anything. Our very lifestyle of consumerism is contributing to the overall running down of the whole planet. The difference in lifestyle between the poor and the rich is just too hard to describe. Those of you who saw the Earth from Above exhibition will know what I am talking about.

As I left the photographic rooms of the Art Institute, something started to develop in my mind. I saw native American Indian art, European art, American art past and modern and architectural displays from the great Chicago architects. What I found is that all these great pieces of art were made by concerned artists. Artists have always been making work to some ideal. Art has until recently been related to religion, a search for a higher calling. And in this modern world, it is not that we have stopped lacking ideals, it is because Science has become a new type of religion. Although technology is inadequate to replace religion because areligious and amoral, it still embodies ideals of efficiency and the idea of a human pinnacle.

We are in a confused era that is full of potential. With modern technology, we are at a point in time when I think the world does have the power to make a difference. However, the old sources of guidance like religion and family institutes are losing the attention of the man on the street. The modern economy in the industrialized world is based on consumerism and inflation. This system can only work if people buy more and more goods and more of the earth resources are used.

I guess that we are so caught up in this world of easy and the fast buck, that we choose to ignore the consequences of the less fortunate and the weather changes that also visit upon the rich.

I really don't know how it will be done, but the world needs new ideals with new vision. It needs a vision that can rise above religious and political bickering. People need to re asses their impact on the rest of the world. Someone left the world to us for a short period of time. What will we leave for future generations?

And I will hear some people going its so hard to live, how to think of other things? It is so hard to live, that is why we cannot not think about other things.


melissa said...

It is great to read your musings on Chicago! Have you visited the meditaion room at the AIC. It is a great place to go after the photo rooms and digest the work.
ps thanks for the shout out!

Royston said...

Hi Heng,

This blog is an encouragement to all who're struggling to follow the passion of their life.