Art is in the eye of the beholder. True. No one can define what is and what is not art either as it is a very subjective and emotive thing.
To me, art must serve a purpose. And it must raise more questions than provide answers. It is this particular faculty that elevates a society; when even just one person within it starts questioning accepted norms as a result of witnessing, interacting or engaging with art.
Will society change because of this occurrence? Maybe. The butterfly effect might take years to accumulate the momentum necessary to effect change, but those little reverberations are needed to start the process. Those frequencies are amplified by art. Mature art. One that compels its observers to ask the difficult questions.
That was not the case with the latest exhibition at the Art Centre by the National Museum.
Nashaz – an Arabic word signifying the lack of harmony between sounds – is an exhibition by a group of Bahraini creatives who produced “art installations reflecting dissonance in societies through social norms and attitudes often overseen in daily lives” but falls short of its title and objectives, simply because all the exhibits are predictable, lack depth and sophistication and are glaringly obvious. None of the art displayed prompts a question in a viewer’s mind, and most certainly don’t provide any answers either.
I left acutely aware of the immaturity of the experience, and honestly wishing them well in their future.
The artists participating in this display shouldn’t feel dismayed though, and they most certainly celebrate this failure. Taking this as constructive criticism, they might well evolve into more sophisticated artists at some point in the future whose art can actually serve a purpose other than just filling space.