Yuri Vinogradov
Outsider-art as the art of the future
Manifesto-reflection on outsider art
In one of his works, the musicologist, composer and philosopher Theodor Adorno critically notes that there are artists who create as if humanism and a just world have already been realized. Isolated and separated in their own art utopia, they believe that an activity dictated by freedom, not coercion, is possible, an activity the value of which lies in itself. Such activity does not need the sanction of professional institutions and the support of the market — it arises from personal need and is a gesture of pure inspiration, it carries in its freedom the attitude to a person as a being who is not dominated by the dictates of circumstances and social coercion. The results of such an artist's work, as it seems, do not alienate him, do not become a commodity and an instrument of social coercion. Adorno himself believes that this kind of creativity — creativity in self-isolation from the oppressive market and other systems of exploitation-bears the stamp at best of extreme naivety, and even self-deception, insincerity. For this philosopher, human brotherhood and a noble, just, careful attitude to every human personality and its needs are impossible in some private, isolated shelters-either every activity of each person becomes creativity, that is, the fruit of freedom and joy, or no one is engaged in free creativity in the full sense of this concept.

Adorno is certainly pessimistic. Society is a very complex organism, in which different epochs coexist simultaneously; the ancient attitude to violence and power as a sign of strength and moral dignity can coexist with a humanistic attitude to man and the recognition of the value of horizontal, non-power relations.
Some people seem to anticipate the social realities of the future by their activities — they live as if the ideals are not only the dreams that inspire and guide our conscious activity and duty. Outsider artists, mostly self-taught, excluded from the professional community, often engage in creativity out of a certain obsession, mania; creativity is their inner necessity, for which they have no other motives than desire and inspiration. The engrossment of writing, its urgent necessity, leads to the fact that their works of art often have characteristic features: the lack of integrity, a project that would unite all the disparate elements into a monolithic unity, the stability and repeatability of symbols, the apparent lack of development of technology, patchiness. However, these traits, which in themselves have a certain appeal, as they reveal a unique experience, are not characteristic of all "naive artists", self-taught artists or outsider artists. The commonplace is that their work is not widely recognized. They do not earn symbolic things — recognition, respect, power — and financial capital. At best, such artists are known, because the fruits of their consciousness are presented as a kind of scandalous and spicy exotic, something alien and out of the normal order, which, of course, obscures and distorts the essence of their art.
Adolf Wölfli, Outsider Art Museum, Saint Adolf bitten in the leg by snake,1921
The essence of their creativity is that it is free and presupposes an attitude to human labor as a natural expression of human creative forces, as a need. This attitude has been spoken of and is still being spoken of by many humanists who speak with deep sympathy about the situation of a person oppressed by inequality and power relations in the social cosmos. Of course, this is the deep essence of any creativity, but it is usually hidden, whereas in the works of outsiders, free from the shackles of the profession and at the same time from the benefits that it provides, it is clearly manifested.
Paradoxically, this freedom is an expression of a deeper inner necessity and urgent need. For example, Elizaveta Khudyakova, an artist and a participant of the Outsiderville project, dedicated to the work of outsider artists with mental health issues, writes:
"Drawing is the only way for me to get really positive emotions, to express the whole palette of feelings that are being experienced, which are now overflowing, then smeared, and then violently gushing with frenzied streams, and finally somehow distract from my illness."

For many free artists who are not associated with institutions, galleries, schools, creativity is the only window into a harmonious and pure world of colors, shapes, sounds, in which they are not constrained by the difficult circumstances of need, illness, in which they can speak loudly and sincerely, find accurate and vivid expression for their feelings. The art of outsiders is often not distilled l'art pour l'art, art for art's sake, shamefacedly concealing the pleasure of an art piece and the material conditions of its origin, but l'art du bonheur et de la liberté, art of happiness and freedom, which is often possible only with the help of a huge effort of all the creative abilities of the human mind.

It is said that we have some talent only because of the recognition of others. Creativity, like thinking, usually requires social sanction and approval; a person allegedly cannot 'really' engage in creative activity until authorities and organizations have recognized his rights. How can you be a philosopher if you haven't read all of Plato, Husserl, Heidegger? You don't have any right to think and speak. How can you be an artist if you didn't copy Velasquez, Brueghel, Monet, Picasso? How dare you draw and share your art? This kind of recognition, the right to work, is acquired in a basic form through professional socialization — through training in art schools, then through participation in exhibitions, doing payed commissions, and so on. In all this process, a person is considered as a function — if they are able to perform this role well enough and in accordance with conventions and conditionality, they get the right to be respected and their daily bread. But some outsider artists rebel against this model, they don't wait for permission, approval and praise to start painting, only their deep creative will is the impulse and core reason for their work. Usually living in difficult conditions, deprived of the opportunity to speak about their experience in order to meet acceptance, recognition, respect and understanding, they rebel against this silence with the help of art that becomes their ringing voice. Driven by courage, they create the impression as if tomorrow had already come and a person was no longer bounded by need and evaluation, and any personal experience was allowed and deserved respectful and particular attention, even if it couldn't be exemplary.

For such artists, art is a way of being, it is as natural as breathing. Another participant of the Outsiderville project, Elina Doll, writes:

«Art for me is one of the most important things in life, it's like talking or breathing, like being. I work constantly, often even if I am physically unwell... I try to find my place in reality, in society, at least some common interests with others, but so far it is not very successful, I still remain an unwanted freak... It is very painful and insulting, because for me it is alive, it is me».
Like birds sing and flutter in the sky, outsider artists draw, create music, write poetry, turn their own lives into a canvas. The boundaries between creativity and work are blurred, and I see in this not a desire for self-deception and complacency in the face of a cruel and unfair world, but stoutness and an act to follow. The art of outsiders, self-taught people, and amateurs is valuable because it frees human activity for spontaneity, for freedom, for the joy of work. Through the poetry of sounds, colors, words, outsider artists realize the very human nature, which is the transformation of material nature. The alien, indifferent, inert nature of things and phenomena is fertilized by images and meanings, not for the sake of survival and ideological support of power institutions, but from the natural movement of the soul. This is the psychotherapeutic potential of free, non-professional art and the secret of the art therapy — with their help, a person learns to be careful, wise, and kind to himself and, consequently, to everyone else. The work of outsider artists, their art utopia, is thus not escapism, flight from reality, or insincerity, but a brave attempt to root those values of acceptance and kindness at present day that can flourish to the full in future, if this lesson of direct speech, which does not require sanctions and approval, is heard. We, therefore, should not try to make outsider artists 'real artists', 'professionals', we should not look for excuses for the way they create, but, on the contrary, we should take their art as a beautiful example of the way to live and express personal sense of life. A model that, perhaps, will open the way for everyone to accept themselves and release their creative forces.

We, therefore, should not try to make outsider artists 'real artists', 'professionals', we should not look for excuses for the way they create, but, on the contrary, we should take their art as a beautiful example of the way to live and express personal sense of life. A model that, perhaps, will open the way for everyone to accept themselves and release their creative forces.