Our modern world is broken. We live in a society where our desires for mass-consumption are continuously satisfied while we are alienated from our selves and those around us. We do not make conscious choices to be who we are, and in so doing we construct a narrative in which we are incidental. We tell our story but we are not central to it. In some primitive sense, we all recognise this alienation, and our own mortality, and hence exist in a perpetual state of anguish or pain. This feeling is the motivation for Art. We seek a presentation of the world free from anguish in Art that will relieve our suffering. Some Art, such as Munch’s ‘The Scream’ recognises that anguish; most Art is Romantic in merely positing happy outcomes where our suffering is relieved.
True Art is a becoming of the artist. It identifies those factors that determine one’s being-in-the-world and transmutes them into a Becoming in the work of Art. We can call this ‘The Becoming of Art’. It takes those factors of our life and formulates them into a theme that we repeat and enact throughout the work of Art, with variations upon that theme. The content of this Art then is a Becoming: it contains the seeds of our existence and presents them as realised in their maturity. We can call this ‘The Art of Becoming’.
Combining both of these realisations we have what is referred to as a contragram: the assertion of our initial phrase as the subject is controverted in the predicate. Hence, if we ask ‘What is the Becoming of Art?’ we can reply: ‘The Becoming of Art is The Art of Becoming’. Further, like a conceptual palindrome, it can be read in reverse. So if we ask ‘What is the Art of Becoming?’ we can reply: ‘The Art of Becoming is the Becoming of Art’. The same point can be made with reference to freedom. Brian Birchall wrote: “So long as we remain stuck in the modality of reference or relating to, we can neither understand nor experience the freedom of becoming or the becoming of freedom.” The ‘freedom of becoming’ – of shaping the story of our lives into a coherent narrative where we make free choices about who we become – is itself the ‘becoming of freedom’ – the realisation and revelation of our becoming in the work of Art which is the meaning of the freedom in our lives.