Blog readers will have to forgive you. Its kind of downtime in academia (the quiet before the October storm) and also in the post-August/pre-Frieze art world. If you had some money you would definitely go to Venice for the first time in your life right now, but only a trip to ‘Little Venice’ and a stroll along Regents Canal looks likely. If you do that trip you promise to Blog the results.
Little Venice, London
But in a way it is against your principles to say some of the above. You never wanted to write a Blog that was a series of ‘Reviews’ or some gossipy chat about the so-called ‘art world,’ Some seem to refuse to see your Blog however as any more than that, and so you are regularly asked to use the Blog to publicise a current show etc.
NO! NO! NO! You have to stay in touch with your core principles and motives, avoiding ‘mission creep.’ Among those principles and motives is the idea that there are art worlds-within art worlds, and that, in fact, every artist necessarily makes their own art world simply by seeing the world and responding to it in a particular, idiosyncratic way.
Another principle that you hold dear is that art doesn’t necessarily reside within objects in galleries but is an experience, an event, a way of perceiving that can be encountered any place and any time. Therefore, in a way, for the artist, there is no ‘downtime’, or, we might say, art IS downtime, a special time outside of normal, functional, utilitarian time.
This also means that art is not about ‘ambition’ for you, or at least not the obvious kind of ambition which seems to afflict so many artists and which many assume to be a necessary part of an artist’s identity and career. NO! art is not an achievement of that kind. Such self-consciousness is bad consciousness, leading to or creating bad art and bad artists.
As you have written and published elsewhere (e.g. your article ‘On Making’ for Art Monthly published a couple of years ago) art is not even necessarily something we ‘make’ but may rather be something for which we prepare, cultivating the grounds of possibility within which it might arise, preparing to catch or receive it whenever it deigns to visit us. Make a life and ‘career’ according to THAT principle and your life and career will be rich, varied and more truly ‘ambitious’, in that you will really be living and nurturing a world of your own – and you can’t be more ambitious than THAT!
The media is currently dominated by the so-called ‘refugee/migrant crisis’, which increasingly seems, to more and more of the populace, to be a failure of capitalism, democracy and humanity; the appalling outcome of narrow-mindedness, fear, racism, xenophobia, greed, selfishness and lack of basic compassion.
For years now we have been hearing about migrants escaping war and poverty only to drown miserably, pathetically, unnecessarily in their thousands and thousands, or to die in the backs of trucks trying to reach the cornucopia of the so-called ‘first world’ (where they might just be lucky enough to work for an abusive gang master, or struggle to survive on a zero-hours contract doing the most menial of jobs.)
But all this has somehow remained a more or less distant image among our daily deluge of competing images, until this week the collective consciousness has decided that the image is after all urgent reality (how many images does it take to make a reality?) Only now, politicians – those with the power invested in them to represent our morality and to spend our taxes – seem to see that there is something in this for their careers and so look as if they are about to roll their sleeves up, put their heads together and try to do something about it, before our entire way of life begins to crumble, undermined by shame. Nevertheless, it seems a safe bet that they are already way (about 4 years ) too late, and that whatever they do next will be in vain and could even make things worse for all (though, they surely hope, better for them and their party at least.)
Three in Me ©2014 Jane Boyer
Dye sublimation print
It wouldn’t be true to say you have see no art this week, tonight/last night (N.B. you have insomnia and are writing in the small hours) you did see a show. It was by a friend and colleague with whom you once worked, a couple of years ago. The artist is Jane Boyer and she is making an intense, committed, protracted and original scrutinisation of subjectivity, identity and self-hood via a series of solo and group exhibitions. Boyer’s new show, ‘A project space called ‘I’, is part of her PhD on the same themes and thus part of a personally organised programme designed to be resolved over several years – an interesting means of shaping a 21st century practice. She describes it as: “an exhibition of the artist curating herself – in more than one meaning of the act.” The exhibition is held at Rebecca Fairman’s ‘ARTHOUSE1’, a well-situated, crisp new white space carved out of a Georgian family home near Bermondsey Street. But you don’t want to say any more about the show here as you were unable to concentrate closely enough on the contents while chatting, drinking and relaxing, so it would do the art and the artist a disservice even to briefly describe the contents. Nevertheless, you have at least brought it to the attention of your Blog readers.
After a couple of glasses of wine you and your partner cycled home in the dark. It’s a sure sign that winter is returning when you ensure you take your cycle lights out with you and ride dark city streets, ever in fear of frightening and polluting motorised vehicles, so often driven by egos more intent on speed and posturing in their shiny four-wheeled commodity than on responsible care and humanity. As you cycle and your lights blink away you look regularly over your shoulder to ensure your partner is safe and you see the surface of the road and pavement flashing along in your lights.
Every moment of life can be poetic or art. It’s just that most of the time we are distracted from this fact, allowing ourselves to think that our existence has some more profane purpose. We spend too much of our time in anger, envy, resentment, greed and the wrong kinds of ambition. But all human beings nevertheless have the redemptive ability to do a double-take on life, enjoying a kind of satori in which we appreciate, if only for a moment, the rich value of existence and experience in and of and for itself.
If so -and whenever we do so – we are momentarily able to counter the crass, insidious and self-destructive human capacity for greed, selfishness, fear and hatred that so many politicians currently seem to so easily channel and exacerbate. Compassion is surely the antidote and something we should consciously practice actively deploying. Compassion is what we should demand of ourselves and of our society, not just at times of so-called ‘crisis’ but as a fundamental and integral, central and highly visible value that we collectively uphold and pursue.
But the night has surely now become entangled with your wayward thoughts; creeping-in and filling the space where sleep should really lie.