Wednesday, May 18

No one answers the questions of cultural life. Nakstad? Gold wave? Anyone?

  • Sturla Berg-Johansen

    Actor and comedian

The poem “The Artist” is taken from the collection “The Secret Summer” which was published in 1951. Here André Bjerke is depicted in his own home in 1964.

We feel that the authorities do not care.

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

Does art benefit? Can it promote the life of the nation in any way?

When André Bjerke wrote the poem “The Artist” more than 70 years ago, he could not possibly know how burningly relevant it would be in the future.

Or could he? Has it really always been that way? That art is treated stepmotherly?

Are politicians so cynical that they take advantage of the fact that art will never die?

It neither can nor will – because the urge to create something is so deeply rooted in man in general and the artist in particular. There will forever be art, in all kinds of forms.

Radbrekker artist stand

Does art benefit? spør André Bjerke.

Can it promote the life of the nation in any way?

And then he continues:

This is how an adult voice, a baritone of nutritional sweat, responds:

Whether art is useful?

And right here you can easily replace the adult voice from the business world with any voice from one of today’s ministers. Yes, yesterday’s too, for that matter:

Whether art is useful?

Ask me, who thinks of the broad industry,

then the answer must be a resounding no.

How socially do you benefit from painting, sculpture and singing?

Is not art frankly another word for idleness?

What does an artist do? Yes, he gives

A so-called “form” for clay patches,

Notes sounds on paper

And paints things that no one grasps;

He juggles, dances, walks around

and do – yes, in short: nothing!

This is how André Bjerke continues to almost break the ranks of the artists on behalf of all those who think that art is not useful. That it has no value.

And that is exactly it the many of us in cultural life feel right now. That the authorities do not care. Art and culture are not important enough.

Actress and comedian Sturla Berg-Johansen.

«Congenitally lazy»

When Anette Trettebergstuen (Labor Party) stated that it would be better her as Minister of Culture, she then thought that it would be better for cultural life, or she thought that it would be better her as Minister of Culture – for her?

And Bjerke continues:

Can this “art” in any way

give our agriculture better conditions,

get our merchant fleet rebuilt

and used our waterfall power?

To set such wheels in motion,

that is – it is doing things.

An artist is innately lazy,

a kind of refined lasaron

which makes it a profession

to circumvent the Unemployment Act.

Bjerke excels with the word, just the way we are used to reading him. The poem is long, and I can not include everything here, but the essence of the thoughts we get. The thoughts that so unmistakably seep out of the offices of the ministers and the health authorities.

They are no longer to be mistaken. No one answers the cultural life’s questions about the numbers they refer to, when they choose to keep the cultural life out of the rest of society. Why do they not answer? Nakstad? Gold wave? Anyone?

Deep insight

Now it is tempting to list the value of cultural life financially. How many tickets are sold in a year. How much food and drink is sold, and all the different industries involved every time there is a music festival, a show, literary collections or theater performances.

When a chamber orchestra arranges a concert or a puppet show, it creates something for the very youngest children. (Despite this, the corona infection shines with its absence in terms of cultural events.)

The is it is tempting to list the economic value of cultural life, but it is like any other industry: it flows in money and jobs and employer contributions and insurance. It generates billions of dollars every single year.

Still, what is far more interesting is the value of art and culture for the individual, be it on, behind or in front of the “stage”.

And no one says it better than Bjerke.

Apart from writing brilliantly, André Bjerke also has deep insight, and his poem ends as follows:

Alas, harsh is the judgment, strict is the tone,

but let’s answer this man:

Try to imagine – if you can –

what the consequence was if the nation

was happily rid of his artist status.

More useful than all the sensible “benefits” of death

is the form that feels, is the image you see, is the tone that listens.

To a greater extent than sensible people have any idea

the artists are the necessary sensory organs of the people.

It is all that is fruitful unrest, a feather in our heart,

an operation that will create a greater of what is smaller.

The sculpture that forces the form of informal mass,

is active in the child playing with sand in a box.

Take the artist’s gaze from a child, take the joy of form from it,

and behold, it will tread on its bucket and will throw its shovel.

And behold, it will forget its lust and perish in the shadow,

and bridges and cities and ships it will never build!

Expel the artist: you will thus expel all play

and if you lose the ability to play, then you lose your life.

More useful than all the sensible “benefits” of death

is the form that feels, is the poem that sees, is the tone that listens.

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