Accidentally Touching the Heart of the Drawer, Painter, Installation Maker, (etc.).
All artists do not make work from the same place. This does not mean that a particular form is privileged. But it does lead to a particular aesthetic. Work made from chaos and work made from the still and silent can produce two opposing forms.
Beyond the “place” from which the artist works is the depth of the place. That depth ultimately determines the quality of the work. Yes, let’s talk about quality, the quality of form and content. When philosopher Joseph Campbell says “a fortunate rhythm is struck”, as he describes aesthetic arrest, that is the moment the work has depth. The art object or experience stands the test of time.
Very few works strike that fortunate rhythm and much is produced. Most of it is entertaining – does it have depth? Will it stand the test of time? Not likely. There is work that is entertaining and then there is work that is enriching. There are many who make work dedicated to things aside from the work itself. Ultimately, the work has its own life. If it is not cared for – that will be evident in the energy that comes from it. You can feel it. This is a primary reason for editing, working more slowly, or not producing as if one is a machine. Great care is necessary.
Larry Poons’ now famous observation that making art work and paying the rent with it does not mean the work is any good, it just means you paid the rent – this is a viewpoint to live by.
The place I am pointing to, here, needs to be accessed – the place is a gulf, a twirl, a zone, a tempest.
One has to find it first. Some think they have reached it. Thinking about it, keeps it separate from the body – it remains external, what I am referring to is internal. For example – individuals who say that at particular moments they have “questioned their faith” …. they don’t have faith… how can you question something that is part of you? Questioning it implies it is separate, not part of you, you don’t question your hand?
This is the gulf to which I refer. To identify it is to negate it. It is or it is not. You are it or you are not. You are making art or you are not. You are one with the place or you are not. Those who have truly arrived do not even know they are there.
Most artists dance around the gulf and their work betrays that. The work ends in a miserable self obsessed failure.
As a maker, dedicating yourself to that gulf, twirl, vortex – that place – that is the real medium. The gulf is the medium. It must be embodied deeply. Is there a sense of the phenomenal world here? Yes. Super natural? Perhaps.
If the maker is not one with their creative process the work fails. We see this often – if we do not see it as makers – we are lying to ourselves and others. There is work that entertains the viewer and there is work that enriches the vision of the viewer.
We are surrounded by an increasingly worthless pile of sculpture, painting, video, installation, etc. It is the difference between an education based in primary experience and pretending to make things that look like art for an uneducated populace.