Just as revolution is the spark it takes to launch an evolution, evolution is inevitably what leads to revolution. It is impossible to have one without the other. Human evolution often (if not always) takes a revolution, whether it be of the self or the collective, to take flight. At the same time, as evolution is experienced – again, by the self or the collective – the evolved are roused toward revolution by way of enlightenment and progress.
“Evolution and Revolution closely resemble one another, and yet they are constantly used in their social and political sense as though their meaning were absolutely antagonistic… is it possible that a transformation can take place in ideas without bringing about some abrupt displacements in the equilibrium of life? Must not revolution necessarily follow evolution, as action follows the desire to act?”
Elisée Reclus, Evolution and Revolution, 1891
Merriam-Webster defines evolution as “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state; a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political and economic advance,” while revolution is defined as “a sudden, radical, or complete change; a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change of paradigm.”
With the exception of the “sudden” vs the “process,” one could surmise that revolution and evolution not only guide one another, they are two sides of the same coin. Both involve development and progression in a forward, or “better,” direction (in the case of revolution, this is true at least in the eyes of those who champion it).
While individuals as much as societies are led to revolution often by negative or upsetting circumstances, it is just as possible to be motivated by something as wonderful as illumination or the desire to avoid stagnation. And the evolution that follows is vital to the continuation of worthwhile existence.
As artists, we are not only in constant pursuit of personal evolution, we tend also to be, whether intentionally or not, at the forefront of revolution simply by existing in the eyes and ears of the public. The things we sing, paint, write and share with the world influence others into thought and, effectively, into action.
For Art Con R/EVOLUTION, the artists’ objective is simply this: to ruminate on the notion of Revolution >> Evolution (and vice versa). How have they seen the two play out in their own lives… in the lives of those they love (or don’t)… in the world they live in… or the world they hope for? And from there, we hope they are inspired to create.
“The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible.” Toni Cade Bambara
Written by: Martha Elaine Belden