Freedom (not a post about politics)
5am, tea-water boiling, cats up. I am on sesshin time.
As the water boils, I think about our need to make decisions about how we will live our lives. Some people never do make those decisions. Others are deliberate. My guess is that many – most- are not deliberate. They move through life – no particular plan – seeing what will happen.
That is not freedom. That is prison.
Being deliberate should not be confused with having control. There is no control.
The pull of life – life force – has control. Having control and making decisions should not be confused. What Agnes Martin referred to as “being on the beam with life”, has nothing to do with making decisions. Interestingly enough it has nothing to do with ideas. It has only to do with trajectory. Recognizing trajectory is beyond thinking. That freedom, of “being on the beam with life”, is found in discipline. Freedom is found in discipline.
Being in time and space (freedom) needs to be examined and experienced personally. It is not something that can be accepted by its words.
Ultimately, time and space, are the only necessity for an artist to make their best work. This freedom can take different forms. Hans Haacke chose to teach because he did not want to have to compromise his content, knowing that what he had to say was not necessarily what an art market would want. He understood the act of making art.
Others choose emphatically not to teach. They work the least amount of hours at a productive yet simple “job”, making enough income to cover a “meager” existence so they are free to be in the studio, do necessary writing, be in residence, create for exhibitions, etc.
For me, teaching informs my thinking about my studio work. I was raised in an environment of intensely committed art educators (and all had active studio practices). Teaching art is a civic action that fosters an arena in which to examine the world. I choose to teach at a community college as opposed to a university. That route has been more difficult in the reality of being an adjunct professor. I do not have to go into much detail about the tenuous economic role of this field as it is well known. Suffice it to say, with the amount of work that goes into preparing for a course I make about $5.00 an hour. This is an economic reality.
I would not approach my teaching any other way – to do that would be to join the shit show of art educators who are not invested in this practice and are doing it, instead, to “make a living”. They have long since closed the books, their studio doors and their aesthetic perceptions. They are irrelevant as educators and worse, irrelevant to their students.
The “price” of freedom I have chosen is minute compared to the truth of the time I have to make, research, and look at work. The amount of energy that comes as a result is unceasing, paramount and necessary. To be bound by 8-9 hours a day of doing something other than being in the studio is an energy suck – it depletes ones ability to produce thoughtful work.
What are the sacrifices? There are no sacrifices if the choices are deliberate.
And finally, the nagging concept of the market.
My earlier comment about examining and experiencing is the only way to understand the difference between the art world and the art market. Individuals that make work to sell are not part of the art world; they are only part of the art market. Both world and market exist – but the art market is not necessary for the artist, it is a byproduct. Space and time are necessary for the artist.
Money is necessary for the support of the artist – it is not necessary for the actual making of the work. It is crucial to understand this difference. It is the difference between truthful work and living a lie.