[Art .] Art and ethics.



The theme “Art and Ethics” was the subject of a webinar organized by in order to put in relation two concepts, to question the links, the meaning that could emerge from them. If Art could be an expression of the imagination and creativity emanating from the person, with the aim of being appreciated, ethics is discussed from the angle of its contribution to what art raises us. One of the speakers, Dr. Manoj Kurian from Malaysia, developed that the relationship between ethics and art makes sense. He will rely on 3 elements that would justify the linking of these two concepts.

The first element is that Art and Ethics allow to orient and give a direction. We find these concepts in all the great civilizations, from Greece to India, where they are associated with the terms Truth, Divine and Beauty.

The second element: Art and Ethics give meaning. Dr. Kurian refers to a number of authors and makes the following quote: “Life is short but Art endures”. Meaning is illustrated through what we think, value, create and share; Art and Ethics define who we are and what we leave behind after our life here. According to him, a question arises: does Art allow us to fulfill ourselves in life, to be useful to others and to be happy?

The third element: is Art able to raise Ethics? What if beauty could save the world? These are questions that need to be explored further, even if these subjects were dealt with at the beginning of the last century by different authors.

In his presentation, Dr. Kurian will relate these three elements and explain the link that may exist, but also other aspects equally important.
The first point concerns the valuation of Art and the capacity to appreciate it which is given to all, which must be considered in a particular context. It draws attention to the issues that can be encountered. The example of a painting which can be culturally invaluable but commercially worthless if it is a stolen art object. Therefore, the valuation of an art object should not be done from a commercial point of view but more according to the level of contentment that it arouses and to the well being to which this art contributes.

The second point is the exploitation of the artists operated by intermediaries, which is not a new phenomenon but goes back to the mists of time. The artist was already valued and recognized in the Bible, just like the different artistic professions, mentioned in the construction of a tabernacle by the nomadic people of Israel when they left Egypt for the promised land. Often artists were not valued by the Pharaohs of the time, nor recognized. He advocates that one should question the provenance of an art object before purchasing it, if the purchase benefits the artist but also the community.

The last point is the message itself. What message is the art object supposed to contain? Does the message distort the truth and promote a form of misinformation, or worse, does it stir up hatred, anger or feelings of conflict…is it more subtle to the point of destroying cultures and identities, manipulating sales, etc.? Finally, can it be used for manipulation and propaganda purposes?

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