In a piece entitled "The Solace of Art," published in the March issue of Frieze, coeditor of the magazine Jennifer Higgie laud's art ability to impart wisdom and comfort in times of strife and cruelty—times like our own:
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a sense of misery at the news of the past few months. The extraordinary levels of cruelty, horror and devastation from around the globe seem unparalleled: from the beheading of aid workers to the imprisonment, flogging and murder of journalists and human-rights activists; from the mass kidnap, rape and murder of girls and women who simply want an education, to the slaughter of cartoonists in an editorial meeting. At times, I despair of our planet and, in darker moments, it’s a struggle to understand what the role of art might be in the face of such barbarism. It’s easy to think that art should be more useful, that it should somehow matter more. However, looking back on our troubled past is one way of making sense of our troubled present, and history is a great supporter of the idea that art is never more necessary than in times of extreme brutality. Totalitarianism, fascism and fundamentalism may differ but, ultimately, they share a common aim: to negate complexity, individuality and diversity in order to create a single, violent ideology that is intent on destroying anyone or anything which might oppose its monolithic logic.
Art, by contrast, invites multiple possible readings; at its best, it embraces contradiction, dissent, ambiguity and idiosyncrasy. It could be said that all art – all non-propagandist art – is a form of resistance to the idea that the shape, the meaning, the myriad ways of living in and moving through the world should – or even could – ever be one thing. The greatest paintings, performances, sculptures, installations and films refuse to represent anyone as a type: this is, perhaps, art’s finest attribute.
Higgie cites Susan Sontag's staging of Waiting for Gadot in war-torn Sarajevo in 1993 as one example of art that entered the fray and sought to resist ignorance and violence. What are some other examples?
Above image: Sontag in Sarajevo