Why create? Why art? What is the artist really trying to accomplish, what is the essential task?
To begin, there’s something about sharing an experience; a kind of desire to feel understood.
We’re a little less alone, as people, when connected by the shared, collective experience art provides.
It’s a special language that can speak to our unconscious fears, hopes, and dreams in a very unique way. They can shift our perception. Help us remember and recognize who we are, exposing facets both noble and ugly.
So perhaps the essential task is transference. Transference of emotion, transference of idea. The artist has a feeling, an emotion, a memory that fills them up with such fervor that they need to share it. They pour that into their work, hopefully filling their art to the brim with the same charge that overtook them.
Once created, the artists’ job is complete. There is nothing more they can say or do. The work is out of their hands. Those who receive it now have the task of completing the transference. And if the artist did their job right, if the work is honest and true and of sound mind and heart, then the most beautiful, most divine moment soon follows.
The audience begins to feel. Those same emotions originally born in the artists’ mind are now being felt in those taking it in. It fills them up. Art, in this manner, can simply be seen as a conduit for a profound form of communication. And it becomes a collective recording of not only who we are, but more importantly, why we are.
There’s a beautiful moment in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” where dancer Vicky Page and ballet impresario, Boris Lermontov, first meet. After exchanging basic pleasantries he pointedly asks her, “Why do you want to dance?”
She takes a second before responding, “Why do you want to live?”
Lermontov struggles to respond, “Well, I don’t know exactly why, but… I must.”
“That’s my answer too.”
And so we keep dancing. We keep creating. Art endures. Because we understand just how powerful this transference we assist in is.