-- Andrei Tarkovsky
“Art is not merely self-expression, but in its purest form is a selfless act of communion.
Tarkovsky believed that self-expression is meaningless unless it meets with a response in the other. Rather than merely hearing one’s own echo, the artist seeks to create, in Tarkovsky’s words, “a spiritual bond with others.” True artistic communication is neither didactic nor a soliloquy, but occurs when we bring our longings, fears, and questions into dialogue with the other. The artist must not only exhibit his strengths but expose his weaknesses, for only humility can shatter the walls that separate the artist from the patron. In Tarkovsky’s opinion, it is a sacrifice on the part of the artist to bring his doubts, bewilderment, and half-formed beliefs into the presence of another, knowing he may be misinterpreted and misunderstood. The greatest artists, however, have always been willing to take that chance.
In Tarkovsky’s words, “The artist is always a servant, and is perpetually trying to pay for the gift that has been given to him as if by miracle. Modern man, however, does not want to make any sacrifice, even though true affirmation of self can only be expressed in sacrifice.” The sacrifice to which Tarkovsky refers includes vulnerability and even humiliation before his audience. But it is more than that. In his thinking, the artist points to unseen realities, to larger questions of purpose and meaning. In doing so, she reminds us that, although the universe is astonishing in its richness, beauty, and complexity, we are but a vapor that lasts a short while.
“The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example,” Tarkovsky explains. “The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.” Any artist or prophet who is willing to devote his life to the illumination of this great and simple truth-“You are going to die, so what manner of person ought you to be?”-will necessarily suffer persecution, and therein lies the sacrifice.
Tarkovsky’s is not a popular message. But any artist or prophet who be-lieves in the core of his being that Something exists beyond the reach of his five senses can afford to do no less. He has not been given an option.”