Day 239: Creative Prison or Creative Expansion?

I saw this article showing a photographer's photos of 'life behind bars' from the 1980s.

Doing time, 80s style: Stunning photos of life behind bars when Reagan was president

It's so strange to me how we'll see these photographs of various problems in our world, from crime, to war, to poverty, to guns, homelessness, depicted and glorified as 'art', with the emphasis being placed more on the 'beauty' and 'style' and 'artistic composition' of the photos rather than the fact that what we're looking at is part of everyone's reality, part of this world, and how -- it is a problem that requires a solution. 

For instance here are some of the captions from the photos of these prisoners taken from the article:

"Striking effect: Even though the surroundings are bleak, the prints are bursting with vibrant colors, like this inmate's bright-red jacket and the yellow Playboy bunny on his T-shirt

Candid portraits: Milanowski said he shot the convicted men and guards the same way he depicted people in a holiday parade or a party 

Artistic goal: Milanowski said the aim of his project was to show prisons in a way devoid of the usual cliches of jailhouse photography

Feedback: Milanowski said many of the inmates liked the way he portrayed them - and some even wanted to become pen pals with him

All the images have a bright and eye-catching quality to them - even those showing drab prison facilities" 

When I read the words here, I can clearly see where the value is being placed: on the pictures themselves -- not on the reality that the picture is composed of. I mean, the existence of prisons and prisoners in this world indicates that we do not currently have a reality of freedom, of love, of support, of understanding, of oneness, of harmony, of trust, of peace - and that we have not yet learned to co-exist with each other. And yet in looking at the words connected to the pictures -- the message is that of complete acceptance of the manifestation of prisons and prisoners, to the point where it sounds no different from someone talking about pictures of flowers in the garden or fruit in a basket.
So, can this really be called self expression? Can this really be called creativity? Or is this just mental masturbation -- glorifying style to the point where it is more important than life?

Are things like crime, prisons, poverty, war, violence, destruction, just subject material here for us to use for our entertainment? Is looking at pictures really more important to us than finding solutions for these problems? Art makes a statement of who we are. The words we speak and the actions we take day in and day out make a statement of who we are and what we accept and allow.
Currently, most art in the world merely makes the statement that 'I am a limited participant in reality, only able to manipulate pictures and present them to make money and be popular and win awards'.
Is that the definition of creativity we are willing to accept?

As an artist myself, I've found I am able to expand my creativity beyond a limited construct of merely being entertained by pictures, to actually using art as a medium to convey and show a message of what is here as this reality, and within that to ask questions and explore solutions -- I can place something in this world that is actually of value to life -- I can actually give myself a greater purpose. We require some Self Honesty in looking at how we're Responding to what we see in this world, because those of us with money, with comfortable lives, with free time, with access to resources, those of us with a voice, and the means to place our expression in the world for many to see and hear and experience --- we have a Responsibility within our Ability to Respond to the reality we are seeing. Are we going to respond by Accepting what we see as just scenery, just pictures here for our entertainment? Or are we going to Respond by standing up and communicating, sharing, expressing that we must have a world without harm, a world that does not for instance include conditions of poverty and deprivation that causes crime, but rather a world with laws that protect and support a good life for everyone?

Each of us is capable of such expansion and creativity. It comes down to what we're willing to accept and allow to exist in this world, and where we place value -- in our current self definitions? Or in Life?


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