Page 27 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 27

Our strange societal views
The social consciousness of rock music is not always terribly surprising, even when it is trying to be socially conscious. I think that is also the case with visual art. Rock’s societal impact is not necessarily the strongest when it tries hard to “deal with” a spe- cific grievance. It may, however, be a strong tool when it reminds us of its own deepest essence: this here is something else, and it is more touching and more appealing – more beautiful – than any of these wrongs crushing our everyday lives. We can try to live this way at least for a moment. It reminds us that we do not need to settle for a bad society, and while believing in it, at least some of us may begin to strive to do the right thing also in a societal sense. Social consciousness in visual art could work in a similar way – not by “dealing with”, “highlighting” or “showing” a grievance, but by reminding us that we also have that other side in us, another kind of thought.
As Kalkamo’s works in their directness almost get in one’s face – with that skeletal figure, those tragic–looking people or those gangs of animals – they hit that very vein where we still might have some of that lifeblood that pulls us elsewhere. They hit that image from our youth that might be already a bit faded and numb that life has a large, impressive but simultaneously so very tragic living core. We are in a situation where even in a miserable world, we get momentary relief from being able to at least imagine being something other than this mainstream flowing towards oblivion. Therein lies social consciousness, in that meaning that guides an individual that can sometimes even make people act in their lives to advance goals they consider to be good.
The world with its distances between people, the closing up, the hate, the struggles for power, the injustices, the repression, the abuse of others, the pretence, the indifference, the mental laziness, the opportunism, the ignorant destruction of nature and heartlessness is such a difficult and lowly place that in order to survive it, one has to look to something better, more beautiful, more comforting.
That is why it is good that art is impressive and appealing – as impressive and appealing as good pop.
Rock and visual art must therefore be tempting, and temptation comes from being part of something public and shared that is stronger than everyday life and the ramblings we share in it. We take that which is most beautiful and impressive, for human life is so short that there is no reason to settle for less. And I suppose in Kalkamo’s works, the shortness of life so often appears in the form of religious themes and motifs. After all, religion is the best known system for attempting to overcome the distressful awareness of the inevitability of death.
Perhaps something like this that is difficult for man to process also appears in Kalkamo’s works as the presence of natural elements, plants and animals. A tree, a branch and treelike growth are used as structures in many works. Through plants and animals, the endless cycle of life becomes more discernible for us who are supposedly “long-lived”.
In the works, animals may even become executors of the part of man. The ravens are waiting (The Flock of Mourning) and the dogs are waiting (Balkan Pinata) for a final breakdown. Then it will be their turn.

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