Tuesday, August 23, 2011


FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2011

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Bad Communication", abstract digital photo 2010
In this post, I will talk about the doubts I am having regarding the importance of art for a humanity that on the whole is not interested in the deeper layers of life, and how I think that amateurs should be gentile enough make room for those with something to say. 

It is now fashionable to be an artist, and whether one is a professional artist or someone who is not able to go past the level of amateur ship, everyone is fighting for the same position in society. In general, we all crave recognition. We all want to communicate and tell about ourselves. It is an age of individualism - in fact, we may already have reached the peak. The problem is that everyone has something to say but are so busy and often self-preoccupied that they do not have time to listen to others. I think people are becoming more and more overwhelmed by the never-ending flow of information,  it becomes harder and harder even for normal healthy people to filter the information and to make decisions about what is worth to giving attention to. There is a lot of negative stress.

To counteract this, I don't think there is any other solution than to take time to think and consider one's priorities. Firstly, it may be worthwhile asking oneself whether one wants to be self-centered and selfish or compassionate and generous. How should one proceed? You have to decide how you want to express who you are. As for artistic expression, it may be that you need to be really honest about yourself and see if  it might better to keep creative pursuits as a hobby and not enter an already overcrowded market. It is generous to provide space for those who really have something to say and who have the required talent. I know it seems like an impossible task to even decide who is truly a good artist, but see it as a thought experiment. If you do not want to be totally self-absorbed, you must also be able to receive from others; this is an important part of the soul's development. On top of this, you need to be able to support and encourage those who have something important to give. 
"Bla bla bla ... I need a rest," handmade collage 2008
Especially here in the UK, I feel that  one is not being taken seriously if one mingles with amateur artists and exhibits in spaces that you get for free. On the contrary, you have to present a list of all the commercial galleries you have exhibited in, and on top of this you should ideally have a social message and be prepared to work with socially-oriented projects in schools and nursing homes. It's demanding a lot of an artist and if you do not meet all of these external criteria you may receive no grant money, either. To top it all, you need time and effort to market yourself (in practice there are many who elbow their way and it is the extroverts who are getting anywhere), and you will easily be seen as arrogant if you are not very communicative with everyone you come in contact with.

If you use the Internet, generally speaking you get attention only if you give it to others (and in practice it usually means giving energy to groups of mutual admiration or offering bland comments about pictures that are more than mediocre - this type of exchange is often quite useless). It is not always the will that is the problem,  the problem is to be physically able to be deeply creative while managing all these threads. We need help, not demands!

No matter how talented you are, it is not enough if you do not have a lot of money to spend on exhibitions at prominent galleries and energy and interest to engage the body in social projects. I have neither the money nor sufficient health and strength for all this. My husband also feel that there is no place for him because he "just" wants to paint pictures. Yet we have much to say. It's as though we are standing and crying out while nobody hears us. I do not mean that everyone needs to like what we do, but we are serious and tech savvy enough to be able to express what we have on our hearts. I think there should automatically be room for us. Though there is of course the possibility that it is only we who think that our message is of importance. If so, then we might as well just stop trying to reach out and be content to keep creative expression as a hobby.

It's no use trying to communicate with the outside world if nobody wants to listen. I wonder who really is sufficiently coherent, centered and interested to have the receptive faculty for deep and meaningful communication? Who are able to be thoroughly present for this to be possible, and not divided and distracted by the fatal combination of "stress and entertainment"?  Who even has curiosity that goes beyond the old and ingrained thinking? Currently, I am quite disillusioned. However, I invite others for discussion if there is anyone out there who wants to chat about art and the meaning of life.

"Hallååå ..?" copyright 1998

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