As the teams edit and wrap up their films, I am feeling into the world’s energy as of late.
I’ve been seeing a quote circulate throughout my socials the past two weeks or so. In almost every fellow creator’s IG story, Facebook post, or twitter, this quote inevitably appears:
“[a]s you binge watch your thirteenth entire series or read a book or sleep to music, remember. Remember that in the darkest days when everything stopped, you turned to artists.”
I feel like I’d seen this or something similar to it before, perhaps in the earlier days of the pandemic, and it’s resurfacing once again. I see the relevance; it never really goes away. While the pandemic may be something that many of us are accustomed to in some form or another already, we are still not out of the bad dark. The pandemic continues to reveal how deep in it we truly are. Colonialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, transphobia, and war continues to black-hole its targets, suck in everything within reach that provides hope, joy, and a few moments to breathe. We are struggling everyday to find reasons and/or space to feel the good things. When all of that is at your doorstep, in your house, and in your head, it can feel like a superhuman feat to be able to make anything positive transpire during the daily.
And so that quote rings loud right now. Especially as we witness another unnecessary and violent conflict take place before our eyes. Watch as the Euro-western world once again reveals that it will scream for justice for white lives but side with the state and silence while Afghanistan and Palestine bleed. Black lives are once again pushed to the side. Those whose ancestors suffered directly at the hands of the Indigenous annihilation project known as Manifest Destiny are feeling the familiarity run up their spine. People of the Ukraine are walking, running, crawling unfathomable lengths to find some semblance of safety. Stillness. Breath. Many of us are trying to keep up with how many infographics, factoids, articles, and thought pieces we can read and post without overloading our friends, families, and also ourselves. We wake up every morning mostly submerged and fight throughout the day to keep our heads somewhat near the surface.
Then we remember art. We remember that when we need to take a break, release, breathe, process, or make art of our own, there is someone who made something just for those moments. A piece of work exists in this world that, for some reason, helps you get by. I mentioned the bad dark earlier. While I believe there is bad dark, I also believe in the good, generative dark.
This comes from a Māori belief in Te Pō, which colonizers tried characterizing as evil and bad, when it is actually the place where life happens. The place we come from and the place we return to. Te Pō is where creation comes from. While the bad dark of colonization, violence, and war exists, the generative good dark exists alongside it. Despite it. This is where artists - just like our young wāhine filmmakers - reside. This is where the gears turn, move, and never stop going. This is where life continues to recreate itself, re-imagine itself, re-flourish itself. This is what we step into when we decide to fall away from the world for a while. This is the place we enter when we want to do something more but need the time to think through it. This is the place we go to when we are afraid, happy, sad, ecstatic, depressed, and motivated. This is the place that holds us through it all. Art and artists do that. No matter what is happening, they are always there doing that.