Art, Anarchy, and Animism


Column - Culture
Art, Anarchy, and Animism
About the three A's

Art, anarchy, animism. Before us now, three important vocabularies, starting with the letter A, have emerged, intertwined and burning with each other like flames.


Toshiaki Ishikura
Toshiaki Ishikura / Anthropologist born in Tokyo in 1974. Associate professor at Akita University of Art Arts & Roots. After conducting fieldwork in Sikkim, the Darjeeling Hills, the Kathmandu Valley, and Tohoku Japan, he continues his artistic research on comparative theology and images of non-human species in the Pacific Rim region.

Art: A Global Gift Exchange

The first concept, art, has gone beyond the dimension of creating and appreciating aesthetic works originating in Europe, and has been reevaluated as a universal activity of creating and sharing images inherited from the origin of mankind. In fact, it has become an integral part of the spiritual life of people all over the world.
Art is by no means a phenomenon peculiar to modern times, nor is it a global symbolic currency that was born in the history of Europe and spread around the world (in that sense, we are thoroughly decolonizing art. need to be grounded).
It is the magma wriggling at the bottom of the sea area of ​​symbolic capital called the "art world," and it is the activity of images and energy itself that burrows into the background of perception like the ocean floor or the underground plate, vibrating the industrialized world. . We use various media to engage in the multi-layered activity of art, and enjoy it while trembling with each other.
Art is, so to speak, a game of life gifted by the preceding generation of the dead, and is nothing less than a global-scale gift-exchange activity involving all humans and non-humans.

Anarchy: Pluralistic Regionalism

The second concept is called anarchy. Anarchy does not mean disorder or peace-destroying violence against the state. Paul Valéry rightly argues that "Anarchy is the attitude of each individual to refuse to obey the dictates of the unverifiable" (Pure and Applied Anarchy Principles).
A political position that embraces anarchy is called anarchism, but it is of a different nature and subsistence condition, skeptical of all political pressures that are a priori established public and that oppress and quarantine individuals. It means an attitude of mutual aid in which people can coexist without abandoning their own heterogeneity. That spirit has formed the basis of attitudes in every 20th-century cultural movement, from Dadaism to punk, but in the 21st century it is a confluence of social movements seeking to transcend nationalism. As a result, it is developing as a pluralistic regionalism that tries to overcome social and natural risks while dynamically flowing.
It is a movement that liberates the concept of liberty, not to protect it under the auspices of a cause or dogma, but to an undefined realm unowned by nothing.

Animism: the idea of ​​reviving life

The third concept we call animism. Animism is nothing less than the attitude of respecting, defending, exchanging and nurturing the souls of ourselves and of all others.
Animism is the idea of ​​intellect and life in constant flux, constantly running between organisms. Traditional animism has been thought of as a kind of perverted obsession with the idea that things in the world come to life. However, recent anthropology tells us the exact opposite.
For example, according to Tim Ingold, animism is not the idea that there is life in things, but the idea that things are in life (What is anthropology?). It is not a refracted fantasy that finds life in lifeless things, but a thought that makes life the background of all things, and is also connected to thorough practice that transcends even the difference between organic and non-organic matter. Animism goes beyond the differences between individual things and indiscriminately connects all things while premised on those differences.
Animism is an ethical attitude that tries to reposition all things within the open system of life, instead of depicting life phenomena in a background overflowing with things.

Anthropology as the Fourth A

Art, anarchy, animism. These three are now closely intertwined as inseparable concepts, transforming the seemingly gray industrialized realism. It is the fourth A, anthropology, that divides this new trinity and creates a useful rift.
Anthropology confronts arrogant political rulers with the "inconvenient truth" that the world is not man's possession. As the great 20th century anthropologist Levi-Strauss once wrote, the world began and will end without humans. But the world itself is a dimension with no beginning and no end.
To understand this world that has no beginning, no end, no end, no pollution, we need to remarry art and politics. Art, anarchy, and animism, which have been erroneously treated separately so far, may actually be three different forms of the same movement.
Anthropology has pursued these three principles from the very beginning, and to this day has failed to speak of their commonalities. We must go back to these three or four A's.

Published: almanacs Vol.03 (2023SS)



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