Answers to Last Month´s Quiz Questions
I know I mentioned other agendas for this post in my last long post, but first I’ll answer the questions that I posed at the beginning of last month:
Is coloring in a coloring book art? No. It might have felt more like art if I hadn’t had to share the coloring book with a 3 year old, but coloring in it felt not at all like making art. In the past my habit of coloring while keeping friends who were watching major sporting events on television company has felt slightly more like performance art, but this time it was just boring and annoying.
Is making/mailing a valentine art? Possibly. On Facebook, I offered to send out some poems left over from a work-related project as Valentines to the first 10 takers. These went out in elegant red envelopes with flourishy gold writing and personal notes to 10 “friends” and/or their beloveds. Many of these were received as art, and making them felt a bit like making art. But I realize, only because I was making/giving gifts. Sensation-wise, gift-giving (and sometimes even gift-wrapping) overlaps for me with art making. I knew this was the case theoretically because I’ve read The Gift by Lewis Hyde, but keeping closer track of this process has made me feel this more clearly. Art-making and gifting are related experiences for me on a sensual level.
Is judging a baked macaroni and cheese contest art? Unknown. This was a proposed collaboration that didn’t happen.
Is getting my hair braided art? Unknown. This was a proposed collaboration that hasn’t happened so far.
Is riding a bus and talking to strangers art? Unknown. This didn’t happen due to weather.
Is cultivating a dish of bacteria art? Not for me. At least not this time. Maybe for someone else it is. Maybe it depends on the bacteria and/or where it’s cultivated. Cultivating my dish of bacteria (obtained at workshop run by an artist and bacteriologist collaborating with one another…) did not feel like making art to me. Except for while I was photographing it when it looked very pretty.
Is documenting someone else’s art art? Unknown. This didn’t happen due to weather.
Is making a children’s book with a friend art? Unknown. This was a proposed collaboration that hasn’t happened so far.
What about making a catalog? Unknown. TBD.
What about reading a list of numbers that someone else wrote down? No. I was one of the many readers of One Million Years at the On Kawara retrospective at the Guggenheim in February. I really, really thought that being on stage in the center of the lobby at the Guggenheim wearing a suit and reading numbers into a microphone that was beaming my voice through the whole museum and outside to passersby was going to feel like making performance art, but it felt surprisingly unlike making art. It felt absolutely mundane. I spent all of my effort while there trying to infuse emotion into the numbers as I read them, but they were as dry to read aloud as to look at on the page. I had expected to feel closer to On Kawara—to feel a bit like I was inside of his work, but I felt no closer than I typically feel to any writer whose text I am reading. Maybe less close actually as most writers have a slightly more engaging writing style. Still, though it did not feel like art making, it felt like something of some significance. I’m just not sure yet what.
What about writing a proposal for an art project? I cannot tell a lie. This feels like art. Not every second of it, but the research, the brainstorming, the digital or hand sketching, and the writing processes where I feel my way from the seed of an idea to a more solidly shaped idea feels decidedly like making art. It feels like one half of the coin of art making for me—shaping an idea on paper—and then then the second part is shaping the idea in reality. The only part that doesn’t feel like making art is when I have to choose imagery of previous works and conform them to various specs…. Despite this feeling like art to me, I’m not going to refrain from doing it. Previous RFAOHers have assembled project proposals/grant applications while in the residency, so I think the activity itself is acceptable. I’m just being honest about how it feels. (The next step will be to be even more honest about how it feels—I’ll add this to my running list of practices to observe even more closely throughout my residency.)
What about shoveling snow? Yep. Shoveling snow feels like art-making! This one was a surprise for me. I don’t know if all snow-shoveling would feel like art, but the scale and scope of shoveling that I did this February had a lot of similarities to endurance-based performance projects that I’ve done in the past. There was also something about the engagement (and distortion) of the senses involved in shoveling heavy white stuff within a backdrop of heavy white stuff for hours that felt like an art practice. And then finally, I have to admit that I very sarcastically billed my snow shoveling on social media as performance art and the response was so realistic that I felt as if I had actually done a performance even though no one actually attended it in real life. It was an interesting experience that I will need to reflect on more deeply. Especially in contrast with how much my highly witnessed reading at the Guggenheim did not feel like art-making.
What about serving people ramen? I haven’t done this yet, but really hope to do it before the residency is up. I can barely wait to find out if it’s art or not!
I’ll save my discussion of my discussions with other artists for another post as this one is quite long enough already, but will just make note here that they (and this residency) are beginning to turn towards a much larger set of existential questions about what I am doing with my whole life’s time, and not just my art-making time. Would also like to think about art-mentorship in my next post if I don’t run out of space again. Meanwhile, here are the quiz questions for March:
Is corresponding with another artist by mail art?
Is writing in my RFAOH blog art?
Is writing in my “art ideas” book and/or talking to people about ideas that I have for art projects art?
Is the way that I use social media art?