Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Art for the gods

For thousands of years, the arts into force in so-called primitive societies were not in fact created with an aesthetic intent and given a purely aesthetic "disinterested" and free, but with an essentially ritual purpose of consumption. In these cultures, what is intended with the style can’t be separated from, magic, sexual and religious organization of the clan. Inserted in collective systems that give them meaning, aesthetic forms of phenomena are not separate and autonomous functioning: the social and religious structure that everywhere dictates the agenda of artistic forms. Are societies in which the aesthetic conventions, social and religious organization are structurally related and undifferentiated. By translating the organization of the cosmos, to illustrate the myths expressing the tribe, clan, sex, pacing the important moments of social life, the masks, the headdresses, the paintings of the face and body, the sculptures, the dances have first a function and a ritual and religious value.

Because art has no separate existence, informs the whole of life: pray, work, exchange, fight, all these activities involve aesthetic dimensions that are anything but trivial or peripheral, since they are necessary to the success of various social and individual operations. The birth, death, rites of passage, hunting, marriage, war give way, everywhere, a artialization work done by dances, chants, fetishes, props, ritual narratives strictly differentiated according to age and sex. Artialization in ways that are not intended to be admired for their beauty, but to give practical powers: cure diseases, to oppose the negative spirits, make it rain, make alliances with the dead. Many of these ritual objects are not manufactured to be preserved: throw us off, destroyed after use and then repainted before each ceremony. Nothing of professional distinguished artists, nothing of works of art, "disinterested" or even often terms like "art", "aesthetic", "beauty". And yet, as Mauss stressed "the importance of the aesthetic phenomenon in all societies that preceded us is considerable."

Similar control over the entire collective aesthetic forms certainly not excluded, in either circumstance, some freedom of establishment or individual expressiveness. But are limited and specific phenomena, as well as aesthetic practices, these societies, are basically required by their cultural and social functions and are accompanied by extremely strict rules. Everywhere, the arts are implemented in compliance with draconian rules and fidelity to tradition. They don’t intent to innovate and invent new codes, but obey the canons received from ancestors or gods. It is a ritual artialization, traditional, religious, which marked the longest period in the history of the styles: a pre-reflective artialization without essentially artistic values, no specific and autonomous aesthetic intent system.

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