How many times can you see the same picture without getting bored? But what if the picture in question captures a glimpse of our stumbling world, a moment of someone else’s suffering? We may as well say that boredom is an inescapable fact, a condition that goes beyond all troubled stories and images as we enter an irreversible mode of complacency in a world gone bad.
How many of these images do you consume on a daily basis, while ordering your fair-trade latte, or while waiting on the platform for the next train to arrive? Yes, of course, we live in a hyper-mediated and technologically saturated world, which produces tons of images, videos and data that swiftly circulate via the internet, creating just another type of apathy – or just a minuscule, self-contained lament about the current situation. It’s okay, swipe your screen and move on to the next chapter; after all, our culture is primarily a consumerist culture.
Though irony has always been part of an ethical understanding of our world (Greeks used it in ancient theatre plays and Socrates used it to reveal the ignorance of his co-speakers), in our mediatised, private-screen world, irony tends to suggest that we appropriate too easily and trivialise too often issues which demand a long-term and more dedicated understanding.
This shift is also palpable within the arts world. How else would you explain the abundance of critical concerns now offered in performances, combined with the total absence of political action? When was the last time a performance you saw sparked a great political debate and made people around you look for a solution? All these rhetorical questions are not about moralising our reaction towards the arts, but more about re-evaluating our benefit of doubt, our blind trust that art could also be about world justice and political awareness.