Platform III: ‘Thrownness’ (‘Geworfenheit’)
What are at stake for humans in their own being-in-the-world? We get carried away and ‘thrown into the midst of life to an environment that we can’t control’ (Bolt, 2011: 20), the skin colour that we never thought we’d start with, a country that we did not choose, and by this time we are involuntarily thrown up towards our own future. These situations were termed by a German philosopher, Heidegger as ‘thrownness’ (‘Geworfenheit’), where each individual is faced with different life circumstances and how we have to react within it in our own peculiar ways. He asserts that the existential feature of a being (Dasein) is its temporality. Therefore, Dasein is interpreted in terms of the three temporal dimensions of past, present and future. The aspects of thrownness or disposedness are important in determining Dasein’s being. As how was stated by Emmanual Levinas,
‘Dasein (being) is always already thrown into the midst of its possibilities and not positioned before them’ (Levinas, 1996: 24)
We can’t really control this ‘facticity’. But while our circumstances are ungovernable, it is not impossible to sort of determine our course. For instance, in order to gain self-sustenance, one should work. Fundamentally to secure his or her life, to progress and perhaps to invigorate one’s state of well-being. Or it could be in a relationship, where in order to react of a situation of getting dumped, one will be seeking another person to love and be loved or choose to end up being alone whilst eating lots of chocolates. And so on and so forth.
To imply the gist and making sense of my scribbles up here, we should eventually look at the context of all these 31 artists. They too have their own circumstances and managed to seize possibilities within it. Ranging from a very personal to a very broad issue; self-centered, family, identity, reality, human behaviour, global issues just to name a few, this exhibition is somewhat a platform for them to unveil their reactions towards their own circumstances of being human in these days and era, exclusively for the audience. Being an individual of today’s context is the key that should be the engine of every artists here. But indeed artists are different from others because they decide to become art driven by their occurrences. This raises the questions of the purpose of them doing what they do. Undoubtedly, the main reasons why many are sceptical on becoming an artist; they may have to go through difficulties in life, may not be financially secured, or to some it maybe like losing an understanding from the public on their creations, perhaps they don’t apprehend a different kind of determination that artists have; where artists acknowledges and react in circumstances on an alternate path; which is making art. This is because making art are one of the many ways to reflect their thoughts as a compensation rather than being a medium in solving problems.
But this does not mean making art is inconsequential. It is true that most of the time artists seem to be very personal and perhaps narcissistic (the positive one) about their creation but this is mainly just the case. The very core of it is to unconceal the ‘truth’ as coined by Heidegger, of any possibilities that a being could show. We usually understand truth as the correctness of an idea. Something is true because it correctly represents or corresponds with a fact and accord with its subject matter. But the truth that Heidegger is trying to argue here is different. Heidegger explains that while truth happens in the work of art, this does not mean that something is precisely displayed. Therefore it is not to be equated with correctness but rather the truth happens when something is brought forth out of itself. The unveiling of something. This is what he called the ‘unconcealment’. From ‘no-thing’ to something. It is the bringing forth that accounts as the truth to him as he stated;
‘’Bringing-forth’ brings hither out of concealment forth into unconcealment. Bringing-forth comes to pass only insofar as something concealed comes into unconcealment. This coming rests and moves freely within what we call revealing (das Entbergen). The Greeks have the word aletheia for revealing.’ (QCT: 11-12)
Since truth is unconcealment, the meanings are required for Dasein in understanding things hence it involves interpretation. This interpretation is the one that differentiates every human being as they understand things and react distinctively.
Bolt (2011) gives an analogy of unconcealment by explaining that the earth is full of possibilities or potential. We dig the soil, enrich it with compost and mulch, water it and plant seeds or seedlings. Whatever type of plants are planted, it will grow. Be it a fruit tree or any tree, it will bear pears or apples or mangoes etc (Bolt, 2011, pg. 49). While earth is self-secluding and stands still as the background or ground, it allows many possibilities in emerging and thus creating a world. It is the earth’s potential and possibilities that enables different worlds to emerge. This plausibility that is shown by the earth is how an ‘unconcealment’ is portrayed. Heidegger asserts that this is a very different way of thinking about truth and also about the essence of art. Referencing this to a work of art, while the page or canvas may appear empty, in truth fact, it is not. It is full of potential or infinite possibilities. Rather than being already full of preconceived ideas or sentiments that are left to be marked by the artist according to their own thrownness and circumstances. Heidegger also exemplifies Van Gogh’s painting of the peasant’s shoe where the painting did not reveal the truth because of the good mimetic likeness of a pair of shoes, but because they provided a revelation about the Being of the peasant’s shoe. Apart from the varieties of medium and style that we could see in this exhibition, all artists react in very distinctive ways, not just because of its likeness mimesis, aesthetics or approach but also the content revealed behind their work that makes themselves different and unique in their very own way.
As an artist, I too also know how important it is for one to be capable of expressing their thoughts on a canvas, be it about their self-centered issues or a more general one. Artists can do whatever they want as art can be anything today, but not everything. People ended up working and striving in this ‘strange’ world of contemporary art resulting from a desire to create things and express oneself. But once you’re here, what are you going to make? Questioning ‘What is art?’ is to risk ignorance and even antipathy from the intellectually invested sections of the art world. But looking at a different point here (note to self too), it is not wrong to say that the younger generation artists should have a revolutionary mind in thinking about art in itself. And to start questioning the definition despite just doing what they know and being in their comfort zone. Personally speaking, the very essence of an artist is that they are eager enough to seek new discoveries.
In conclusion, could Platform III nurture these emerging and young guns from not just frantically creating but also contemplating what they are creating? Or maybe start registering the fundamental question about their own ‘thrownness’ and circumstances which then will lead them to the path of ‘unconcealment’? Despite this exhibition being a platform for the artists to further their career, I hope that it will be also be a stepping stone for them and (if not in total) could somewhat adequately spark their thoughts on their role as an artist; and that is making art.
Nazrul Hamzah Md Azman