“Much before Science extended our vision onto the material world, it’s been the Arts that helped man reach out beyond the mundane and the ordinary. The mission of the artist has always been to delve into the immaterial ineffable mysteries and bring back tangible forms that could stretch people’s vision beyond its default limited mode.” Ferdinando Buscema
After a recent four-day festival adventure the question about what exactly is ‘reality’ has sat pertinently in my mind. The strange transition from a forest world of music, of play and body decoration, of creation and of soulful journeying seemed to contrast ever more starkly than usual with a return to a windowless desk, under florescent lights filling out schedules of marks and correcting seemingly trivial punctuation points on student essays.
I found myself thinking about the role such festivals play in hacking our ordinary reality and stretching perspective beyond its default setting.
More than the time away in nature, the costumes, the music, the lights and the general spectacular, I feel it is to do with the space created where artists and audience blend together more seamlessly, meshing lines and boundaries of performer and performance.
The Arts have been an integral part of human culture and society for as long as culture has existed. Long used in ritual, prayer and celebration they’ve historically been ways to connect, reach collective ecstasy, show feelings that language alone cannot convey and celebrate or commiserate milestones of human life.
In modern times, the Arts, including the Performing Arts, have become something more detached, performed on stage, while a separate and all too often passive audience watches and claps good naturedly following completion of each segment.
Certainly this is not always the case but for a sizeable portion of mainstream society, it rings true.
It is said, “Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible.”
If the purpose of art is to make visible the mysterious and unknowable aspects of experience, to awaken our collective imagination and to hack reality tunnels in order to perceive something greater and more comprehensive, whatever that may be, should the audience not be experiencing the art as artists themselves for this to occur?
I would argue yes.
On this, festivals play a role that revitalises such a fluid and essential relationship between artist and audience.
A relationship where the audience becomes a part of the performance, whose own creative expression adds to and builds on that being provided by the ‘artists’.
The result is that the line between audience and artist becomes sufficiently blurred and the dance floor is as much a theatrical platform as the stage itself.
I believe we are all artists, or at the very least can live an artistic life.
Living artistically is approaching life as if it were a canvas; with deliberate action, attention to detail and being open to wonder, playfulness and the potential form beyond what appears most obvious or salient.
It is not allowing our minds to become formulaic and routine or being only passive spectators to the expression of life by others supposed to be more graced with artistic talent.
Establishing the ecstatic connection between artist and audience unveils the true value of the Arts.In doing so we can be awoken to another realm of experience, can engage more wholly with the mystery that art is attempting to bring to life.
Seeing hundreds of regular people experiencing art as artists is what makes festivals like Earth Frequency memorable, mind-blowing experiences.
They make me realise that ‘reality’ is whatever makes you feel alive and therefore the world of festivals and forests is my reality. It’s city life that is far from normal.