You are all probably familiar with the security signs that read ‘Assembly Point’ marking an area for assembly in the event of an emergency in a nearby building - a location designated as the place for a group to meet or for people to gather in an emergency.
I do not know why but those safety signs always attract my attention. Maybe its because I’ve often heard people claiming that art saved their lives – that art can save lives.
For me art is an escape from danger. Somehow, for me, it's like an emergency exit from what’s pressurizing us from outside. Art can function like an Assembly Point, offering us the chance to gather in a safe space, out of danger.
I see my installation, Aga Szot Art Studio, as an Assembly Point, for myself and for others.
The motivation to create this installation came from some fundamental ideas I share with many artists and cultural commentators on the function and role of art for us humans. It also came from some specific ideas I had about the particular location in which it is set, that is Temple Bar, here in Dublin.
Firstly I share the view with many others that art is vital for the soul. In creating or sharing an experience of art we learn a lot about our selves and our world. Through art we connect with our inner selves and with each other. We form cultural bonds across a common human community dissolving inner and outer boundaries, boundaries of self and other, of race, place and time.
Also, I firmly believe that we need art in public spaces, - not just finished art, but venues that de-mystify the art process, that offer non-artists the chance to share in that process. Many pop-up projects have existed in the city offering a brief chance for pedestrians to encounter artists at work. This installation, I feel, extends the opportunity for people to pause and interact with the creation of art – to reflect on this process and to experience what I’ve outlined as the benefits of encounters with art, that expansion of the self and soul, that breaking of boundaries, that chance to connect with things beyond ourselves.
Aga Szot Art Studio is an idea to create an art installation, which is at the same time an art studio where I can work on a regular basis and allow people to watch me painting, a place where people can see an artist's work environment, where they can see a work developing and coming into being in front of them. It is a special experience, watching artists at work, witnessing the process of creation. Just as with a traffic accident, people are drawn by curiosity to slow down, to watch, to somehow feel part of the process. People stop and stay and become part of what is going on together with the artist at work.
“I hear you say ‘Why?’ Always ‘Why?’ You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?” George Bernard Shaw
In relation to the aesthetic experience, Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” What he means here is that in such moments the questioning mind ceases, the rational process is suspended and there is only experience - an insightful and expansive experience.
Watching an artist at work can, for both artist and audience can fixate us in ‘the amber of the moment’ and can offer a unique encounter, much more than a mere visual sight - an insightful experience.
Art is part of our humanity, something which adds to us as humans.
The purpose of art is to make us experience something: a feeling, an insight, a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves–that mystery that we are.
This is why we need art and why the world would be impoverished without art and artists of all kinds. My installation will be an Assembly Point for many of the hundreds of residents and visitors that pass through Dublin every day, offering them a place to gather in safety, to escape the threat of the materially rich but spiritually poor lives that our conemporary world offers to too many.