Monday, November 21, 2011


Tracey Emin: "I Do Not Expect", 2002 (patchwork)

It's clear that some artists are at the forefront regarding new and exciting ideas and other people feel inspired. It's however quite difficult to avoid becoming a copy cat if you admire someone's ideas a lot. Some time ago Martin and I went to the MOMA tabernacle gallery in Machyntlleth and had a look at what was on show. They were quilts and or patchwork, done with rich and colours and patterns. Some of them had text. One looked a lot like a Tracey Emin blanket but without the spontaneity, witty and whimsical effect. The text was written like a text in a book, explainig why the artist wanted to create and express herself. To me, it was quite impersonal and matter of fact, and left me cold. 

I think we both felt that the quilts were aesthetically pleasing, but was it art? To me there were two problems; one that it was more craft than art, and the other that the idea of applying text to the quilt was derivative. If you do take up someone else's idea, you have to be bloody good in order to distort it so that it comes across as original.  When people who were more crafty than arty started to stamp words onto their collages, I gave up the idea of using text in any extensive way in mine. Whatever text I have used has not been done as little phrases about the nice things in life. If you use text, please use something that has depth and meaning, as this will come across as your individual choice rather than acting as a parrot.

In one of my collages the lines of text are like snippets out of my diary, and in another, it's actually the phrases from the Desiderata, and I am mocking it in my picture (I apologize to any fans of the Desiderata). To me the Desiderata is the prototype of moral concepts without any individuality about them - it's someone's rather stereotype sermon to those who cannot think for themselves. Anyway, the point is not to remove text from your art, because it's a part of modern art, but to think deeply about what you mean to say or express indirectly by using it.

Not everyone can be a creative genius. But if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, you have to be aware of the dangers of becoming yet another follower of a fad. I agree that it's not always easy, and I certainly have my share of work that I almost rather throw in the fire. Oh shit, Tracey Emin did that too, didn't she... :-0

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