HEADLINES

Art belongs to whom?

By Junelie Anthony Velonta | Buta’ng Amang

Vol. XCI No. 17

Feb. 21, 2020


In this modern world, where both knowledge and culture are free to circulate the globe—circumventing barriers both physical and constructed—the word “art” is engraved into many things. While there is no governing body that judges what is art or not, many would agree that many things are labeled art haphazardly, following sensational trends and short-lived, consumerist fads. If that continues, then the art of this generation would be defined for its sensationalism—lacking substance and direction. To combat that, the artists must therefore be made aware of what art really is, and where the ownership of art lies.

Insight into the human condition. That is how Lourd de Veyra defined art in his “Art-Art ka Diyan” video for TEDxDiliman. But who is this Lourd de Veyra? Is he a national authority on the arts? One way to answer both questions is to provide a familiar image that most Filipinos could identify. He is none other than the face of Mang Juan. Yes, the “chicharon” packaged in green plastic kind of Mang Juan.

Why then would a funny-man, TV host, and junk food model be so bold as to provide a definition of art? That is because anyone could make art. Everyone is capable of art. Therein lies the first layer of ownership of art: art belongs to the individual making it. By being insight, art reflects the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of the individual. If this individual chooses to make art, then the art provides insight into his/her/their self, birthing another pathway for expression. 

Returning briefly on the topic of Lourd de Veyra, despite his more mundane occupation, he could indeed be considered an authority on the literary arts. After all, has won three Palanca awards—reserved only for those that bring Filipino literature forward throughout generations. Even after this, he continues to write both to entertain and educate the common Filipino, serving the people. With that, the second layer of ownership of art is revealed: art belongs to the community that inspired it. 

Whether art is made to serve the people, or to portray them, it cannot be denied that a fraction of the ownership of an art form goes to the people. As much as the individual contributes to the community, the community also shapes the individual with the same degree. Following that thought, the insight that art provides into the individual human could provide a slight glimpse into the state of the community. After all, the phrase “insight into the human condition” entails two meanings: the condition of the individual, and the condition of the group of individuals—both being human.

So, to the artist, when making art, all of those must be considered. Art is as much an insight into the self as it is an insight to the environment that that “self” exists in. 

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