Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Waiting for the Russian Cargo Train I", 2010

I woke up early from a dream that seemed incredibly sad to me. I recall chasing a Shaolin monk somewhere in a rocky area, he kept disappearing behind the rocks. I wanted his attention and wisdom. It was such a telling dream about the frustrations I feel in regards to trying to promote my art. My art should have a life of its own, like it used to. It should speak to people because it has something that people want. Yet this set up isn't working any more. Not only do I have to work on staying motivated in the face of so much indifference, I also have to justify my practice and try and get my art noticed by people who matter. I'm sure it's something that appears perfectly normal to a lot of people. But deep inside my spiritual self is rebelling against something that seems to push me into a very egocentric mode. In other words, I find it very hard to retain an empowered and confident state of mind without slipping into ways of enhancing the ego. I see it as the the conflict between being driven and being ambitious.
A Shaolin monk - read this excellent article on practicing Shaolin qigong
I have slept an enormous lot since Christmas, first in response to extreme exhaustion and then in response to the surgery under general anaesthetics that left me in pretty deep recovery mode. I still had to take my medication at night but in the mornings I just slept and slept and had such a hard time getting up as my body felt incredibly heavy. One could really call it hibernation! And don't even get me started on how I am trying to pursue my exercise, as the lack of it really gives me pain and depresses the body. But now I'm woken up... the difficulties to sleep have kicked in and it's hardly surprising that my body had enough of all that rest and is now preparing for action. But this is where the trouble begin, because I have to re-motivate myself, find that strength of mind and focus that allows me to pursue my calling. Before Christmas it was high tide, now is low tide. It too will pass... but the trick is not to let it take over but allow for subconscious processing (see my blog post on this).

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Waiting for the Russian Cargo Train II", 2010

I admit that I got very discouraged yesterday for a variety of reasons. Martin is writing grant applications, and among other important concerns he's trying to emphasise a desire to get away from the glitzy world of digital art and only use it as a tool for making "proper" artwork in traditional media (mostly tempera and coloured pencils at this point in time). I saw some beautiful art online - Wangechi Mutu I already talked about. On Glossom I found a couple of collections with tantalizing images, Liz Huston and Audrey Smith. If you click on the names you will see the collections, hover over the parts and that way you'll see the whole images. I'm not sure whether the latter is altogether digitally produced, she says it's mixed media but really photomontages. The point is, these are rather simple yet strong compositions with vivid colours. That's what people will vote for if you ask them... they are very easy to like and the symbolism may be part of it but in a way that doesn't necessarily demand anything from the viewer. Again I'm thinking that it's a bit like what I was doing in the 1990s, only on paper - in my case my messages were definitely very strong but people didn't feel obliged to understand them literally. But now - not only are we are flooded with images, but we also don't have the attention span to spend on a single piece on the internet. It's in the nature of the media and I see it as a threat to real, physical art. I can only hope that people increasingly start wanting something that is less like fast food, as a call from the their souls and because glamorous art leaves you rather empty. Ok. well it's not entirely true because when I look around in my studio there are images on my walls that are present for aesthetic reasons more than anything else. It's my taste in colours and compositions. But I guess one thing does stand out and it's "history" and "life". These images convey something along these lines that stimulate me. And of course, if I had money I'd purchase real art that pleased my sense of the aesthetics. 

The point is however, that I feel I can't compete with all these people who are so talented with the digital media, or who are just damn good at creating intricate and amazing mixed media work. I don't want to make my condition into an excuse... yet the truth is that I have a lot of trouble making things by hand. Because it requires such physical and mental efforts I also get more attached to the pieces, yet there is always a sense of dissatisfaction because I feel I'm not able to push myself to the limits. By that I mean, that I know I could probably do even better if I had the stamina to work even harder. 

I know artists often feel their work isn't good enough. And to be honest, it's not that often that I am impressed by other people's work. Many people find a formula that sells, and stick with it - I'm afraid I can't really respect people who don't continue to evolve. Or their standards are too low for my liking. So my challenge is to try and continue to evolve, push myself to experiment a bit more, yet stick to my calling regarding the message I want to get across. Will anyone care? Will I ever be able to create a body of work that will really attract people to come and say "wow" but also contemplate the subject matter? Will they see something truly valuable in the real thing out there in real life that they aren't able to pick up on the internet? Right now I just don't know.

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Train Arriving", 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment