Role of Artists in the Age of Disinformation

My identity as an artist relies on my ability to create new images or compose iterations from existing ones. I wonder if making images or art objects may have any sort of impact on disinformation or communicating information for that matter. In many cases, important works of art may not necessarily provide information due to the fact that artworks may have different meanings depending on the times, circumstances, audience, and motivation of the artist. At best, relevant works of art created by our artists can prompt the viewer to reexamine his view of the world and support his current position that view. When a person is in a constant state of questioning his or her present realities then he or she may be less susceptible to disinformation and therefore go down a path of perpetual learning and seeking of knowledge.

The question of what role I may play in the age of disinformation is difficult to answer. Painters and those who work within the confines of the studio create a visual language that may not always be translated into words. There are also various theories on reading visual art besides iconography. Visual artists speak through lines, shapes, tones, colors, textures, and many other elements combined together in an endless occupation of creating. Once in a while, there will be artists who become so fluent with the visual language that they can truly express a thought, emotion, or feelings to the viewer through their art. In some rare cases, a particular work of art can have such an impact that allows a viewer to be drawn toward a cause, a movement, or a revolution.

But these cases do not always manifest themselves when we needed them the most. In the age of disinformation when concerted efforts of obscuring the truth become global and delivered at a speed previously unknown in a pre-internet world, our current artists are called upon to confront new situations and create meaningful work as a result of these collisions. Meaningful work does not always have to be confined to tradition or to conventional methods. Contemporary art practiced today put emphasis on concepts beyond technique or material. An artist has now in his arsenal a variety of tools and new media at his disposal. If a painting may fail in its objective of uncovering the truth, maybe moving images or photography can. If a sculpture may be unsuccessful in its mission to deliver information, maybe interactive installations and performances can. The possibilities are endless.

While examining the lateral ways artists can contribute to a rapidly changing environment where truth is frowned upon and disinformation is sometimes celebrated, I also think of other ways outside of the environment that I am used to. While creating work in traditional institutions like the studio, ateliers, galleries, and museums is needed to arrive at mastery, artists may also look beyond these to discover new methods and techniques in a way that also considers their identity and concept.

These communities that I speak of are the communities outside of the art world. They could be the Indigenous People’s communities, where in the previous months, many local artists worked to create dialogues and conversations, publications and visualizations that led to the creation of comics on local epics and mythology. They could be the People Deprived of Liberty community whose works are currently exhibited at the Hulot Gallery of the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art which is a result of a collaboration between artists and female prisoners. They could be the vendors at the Iloilo Supermarket, where as a student, I have worked together with my adviser and classmates to create a never before seen exhibition and performance art. When we work with these communities, we as artists are automatically led to the forefront of directly connecting with people who may not always find the opportunities to see our work in the galleries or museums. Our connections are no longer hindered by the walls that divide us. By doing work beyond our traditional grounds, we as artists are generating new connections to which our ideas, concepts, and thoughts can find their way. As a result, we are not just creators of images and art objects but also become connectors and mediators.

This is a transcript of a talk given by the contributor during “Hambalanay” on June 4, 2022, at Mamusa Art Gallery.

Featured photo was taken by Rheane Senangote.

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