Nayana AB

What does our art say about our generation?

Nina Simone said that, “it’s an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live”. During her time, Nina Simone, the infamous multidisciplinary musician, was one of the mouthpieces of the civil rights movement and composed music that empowered black people. But nowadays, it seems everything is a lot more multidimensional compared to Miss Simone's time. She articulated the personal struggles of African American people by speaking on her own experiences as well as the things she had witnessed. Unfortunately, when looking at both periods, the only noticeable difference is that the themes of injustice are rapidly broadcasted and communicated across the globe.We can find out everything going on in the world instantly whether we like it or not all at the tips of our fingers. We are forcibly exposed to the harsh realities of the world we live in; from the genocides happening in both Congo and Palestine. Whilst simultaneously being bombarded with the constant updates on the Kardashians, or the tea on your favoured celebrities. We can thank TikTok, Instagram, or X (formally known as Twitter) for this, and as a result, the voices of today are inspired by the varied perspectives of one’s reality which is clearly reflected in their art. 

But, what does our art say about our generation? This is a question I find myself pondering on when taking a step back to look at the product of my own creativity. There is so much beauty and power in being creative, even in its definition: “ to bring (something) into existence.” With the ability to both move and stop people all around the world, we are allowed to immortalise the experiences of our time. It's clear that our generation is seeing through the change that so many of the practitioners who went before us cried out for.  You can see this in the political tone creative visionaries are taking in their work. We won’t be caught in the traps set for those who went before us. We practise liberation and explore the different possibilities within that, for through our art, we are loud with our expression and demand to be heard. Channelling individual style, we infuse bold elements of our ancestry with the flair of modern society. In employing new levels of consciousness to the storylines in TV & film, we highlight the stories of the misunderstood and underrepresented whilst eloquently opening up dialogue that people used to run from. We cannot forget the mind bending execution of cross-genre artists challenging the societal boundaries set in place by the traditional performance practices associated with each genre. For example, the Brixton Chamber Orchestra playing alongside rappers like Dwills and Sai-ing or the Ezra Collective selling out the Royal Albert Hall. Paving for the sweetest musical blends and also opening up the ability for cross genres collaborations, who could have imagined Ed Sheeran singing on an afrobeats song with Fireboy DML? Finally, we are able to connect globally with ease via the channels of our art, in the hopes of invoking the change we want to see. 

Whether it is a piece of music that has you singing your heart out because the lyrics magically encapsulate a recent heart break, or a painting that somehow manages to personify your frustrations with the mess our government continues to make; for so long the narratives of people have been held captive and it feels like we’re in the position to broadcast our truths to the world in mediums both already imagined - and those yet to be. As creators, we have the ability to carve out the blueprints for what we want our society to look like; it can already be seen in the people's/our generation's willingness to speak up and challenge everything we were once taught. Creative work is the catalyst for change and our generation's art reflects our eagerness for unity and the need to see the change we have been demanding. 


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