Last night, I read an article in 1 Granary. Well, it wasn't actually an article, it was the team letter. I hadn't even made it to the first article before my mind was whizzing about with ideas of rebellion and revolution.
I flipped open the third issue of 1 Granary, and a full page image with the words "The world is flat again" slapped me in the face (metaphorically speaking of course). Before even reading the accompanying text, I got thinking. The discovery of the world's spherical existence - we could go into another debate as to whether this was actually a discovery or not - is absolutely fundamental to scientific progress and special understanding. It's crucial to our existence. So why is an art magazine telling me that the world is flat again? It most certainly doesn't have to do with the Earth's being rolled out by means of a gargantuan, heavenly rolling pin. No, we all would have felt that. The reason isn't quite so literal, and I suppose it's presence in 1 Granary allows for and encourages multiple interpretations. But among all interpretations, I think we can conclude that this metaphor applies to the modern world of art and all creative industries as they exist today.
So far it all sounds very round-a-bout and abstract, enough to make my own head spin as I reread my words. So what's going on? I don't know the whole story, but after analyzing the team letter, I'll tell you what I think.
In the context of contemporary societies and economies, there is an enormous need for invention, innovation, and creativity to create a world that’s more sustainable and successful, and just more. We can do better; we can do more. The creatives that are being sent out into society have so much to give to make their industry a more fruitful existence, but the industries will not or cannot figure out how to capitalize on all of this potential. As a result, we are squandering our own imagination, preventing our own progress. As 1 Granary says,
“there are 8,000 womenswear design students alone who graduate in the UK every year”.
Of course, it is impossible for them all to start their own labels or receive quality positions at existing fashion houses, so where do they go? They go to entry-level positions that they are overqualified for, in a role that will never use them to their full advantage. What a waste.
Of the recent graduates that are in non-graduate roles:
“It may be the relentless working hours without any pay…being deprived of their creativity as their employers produce more collections each year, transforming the design industry into an assembly line”.
Although the fashion industry is perhaps known to be the most toxic example among the artistic industries, the plague of belittling new creativity is by no means confined therein.
Within any industry requiring creative process, the strong get stronger while the weak… the weak either remain weak, or join into the lowest ranks of the competitor’s conglomerate hierarchy. As 1 Granary articulates so cleanly, “Why is there so much pressure to stay in that established system and say nothing?” Likely, it seems a safer option to enter into a bottom-barrel position at an industry-leading corporation than to venture out on one’s own. But does nobody see that, while cowering in the reliability of an institution, we’re squashing our own entrepreneurial capabilities? Is that really what we want? If so, then ask yourself what will be left in the way of progress without the desire to create. Indeed, you could say the world is flat again, for without creativity, there is no progress. And without progress, we are one of two things: stagnant or in regression.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. It’s just a matter of creating discussion and articulating the importance of all artistic endeavors to the institutions that dictate our funding and priorities.
I could ramble on for hours about this. I should stop now before you fall asleep. I think it’s such a provocative topic and I would love to know how you feel about the state of the arts in your society. The UK might be very different from America, and Australia, and Italy, and so on.
Is the world going flat again?
1 GRANARY is a UK publication put together by the students of Central Saint Martins at the University of the Arts London. Quotations in this article were taken from Issue 3, which is available online here.