by Herschel Mackelina
If you want to get technical you can call it the creative and imaginative reflective theories for understanding and valuing human activity. But, quite simply put - to me Art & Culture is a way of life. It is the moment. It has been, is and always will be. It’s prevalent in society around us. Subliminally influencing our attitudes towards topics dominating our everyday lives. It’s in art, fashion, pop culture, movies, music... the list goes on.
As humans we don’t just exist isolated; we’re in a melting pot of sorts. Confronted by different people, cultures, values and beliefs. It is for this reason, especially in a country as diverse as South Africa that the section Art & Culture carries significant meaning. Culture binds us in a collective and shared view of the world. The artistry and imagery within music and film speak not only to visual senses such as seeing or hearing but to our very soul.
One of the definitive moments within my life that you could say awakened my cultural “third eye” happened as a child when I watched what would soon become one of my favourite movies of all time, Spirited Away.
A visually stunning film directed by one of the greatest anime artists, Hayao Miyazaki, that tells the compelling tale of a young girl who gets whisked away to the land of the spirits and must journey on a quest to set herself and her parents free, or risk being trapped in the spirit world forever.
After having watched the movie numerous times since, I think I can finally say that the reason why this film means a great deal to me is because of how relatable the story is, despite its supernatural and mystical elements. Chihiro, the main character, is no magical character expected to vanquish evil and save the day. She’s a normal girl dealing with normal ten-year-old problems, who unwittingly gets thrown into a situation. But, instead of becoming victim to her circumstances, rises up and adapts to her environment. I guess this holds true to all of us no matter where we are in life’s journey, or even how old we are.
So, too, does art and culture around us act as an agent of adapting to the world and navigating it. There are great meanings and symbolism vested in culture, which helps us to make sense of our experiences and remind us that we’re all not so different than what we’ve been made to believe.
Culture is vital in representing and immortalizing feelings, as well as attitudes.
Various cultures all around the world interpret the world in their own unique way, all of them equally important. This leaves us as the observer with a duty to exercise our own discretion in studying, criticizing and appreciating the conceptual ideas put forth by others.
It can evoke emotions, stir up memories and make you feel something or change your view of the world or a certain idea.
Regardless, there was thought put into art. Whatever form it takes, or how obscure it may seem, it stems from the realm of artistic expression and how we experience or make sense of it matters just as much.