It´s Finally Hitting Home
As of just this week—today in fact—it’s really starting to sink in, what I’ve committed myself to here.
I have to confess something: even though I started this commitment on February 1st, and I have not intentionally set out to make any art, and in fact have sometimes gone out of my way to avoid making art, I’ve still been engaged in a few practices related to my art making practices. For example, I’m in the midst right now of trying to sort out the timing of a deinstall for a show that closed last week. (Technically it was not in violation of the RFAOH contract for me to be in this show because it opened in January, and the gallery had no official opening hours after the opening because of extreme weather. And it got zero press coverage even though it was actually a really good show—one of the best handful of gallery shows in Boston that I’ve seen this year so far. And not because my work was in it. My work was not that strong.) Anyway, even though deinstalling/planning deinstalling is not by any stretch of the imagination an art-making practice, if I’m honest with myself, it’s an art-charged experience. As long as I’m planning to deinstall or actually deinstalling a show, I’m still in a cycle of art making. If I’m deinstalling, it means I’m thinking about whether I’ll be able to find another place for an artwork, or whether I might recycle its components and how. It’s more than that. It’s like the way that striking a set is no less a part of show business than throwing one up or performing or auditioning. The ritual and the continuous reinforcement of the ritual is tied into all of the other rituals and their reinforcement, which together make up the practice of show business—or art making.
But let me continue confessing. In addition to planning to deinstall a show, and therefore still having the drug of maintaining an art practice coursing through my veins, I’ve also been in negotiation with curators around two potential future projects that I had proposed a while back via open calls for work. I had made it through to the second round of review for both, and was interviewing for one and discussing details for the other with each curator respectively through today. So again, though not actively making art, thinking about making art, planning to make art—doing what I always do when one project has ended and another one hasn’t begun yet: laying groundwork for the next thing. And in my heart of hearts, though this process does not quite exactly feel like art making per se, it comes very, very close to the edge. Like one pica away. If I’m discussing my ideas and refining them with a curator, that is about as close to the art making process as gathering supplies is. It’s made me feel a little guilty that I’m being deceptive within the context of RFAOH. That’s part of how I know it’s so close to the line. But that all came crashing to a standstill today. I was narrowed down to among the final 3 candidates for a prestigious local commission, but in the end it was determined that my proposed work would be too ephemeral for the setting. And in the other case, a potential appearance at a performance festival was nipped in the bud for essentially legal reasons—a permitting process was deemed too labor and cost intensive to pursue.
So now I really truly have nothing on the horizon. I feel like I’m standing in a desert, with wind and sand blowing around me and everything looks exactly, endlessly the same—flat and mid-toned—in every direction. It’s a terrifying feeling.
I keep feeling a pull towards my studio, and this ongoing filler project that I have been working on very slowly for years. Just a little habit I’ve made to fill up the moments when I’m between projects—I trace things—particular things, and so far the tracings just pile up. It’s a soothing, non-linguistic way of keeping my art juices flowing when no concrete idea is ready to be worked on, but I can’t go to it now because even though it never really quite feels like making art when I’m doing it, I do hope to assemble all of the pieces into something and present the sum total as art someday. So during RFAOH, it’s off limits.
And next week I was planning to go and pull some pages with some images on them out of some books that are being discarded, but I’m not sure I should even do that—my intention is to eventually use the images for art making, so the process of determining which ones to keep and which ones to let go of is essentially part of the art making process. As is the care that will be involved in removing the pages so that they can be used. It won’t look like art making, but I’ll know. On the other hand, the books will be gone in a week or so, so if I don’t do it now, I’ll lose the art material I want permanently.
There are other questions like these. Can I sand the paint of off something that I want to eventually repaint for an art project? Can I hawk the residue from a previous project at a fundraiser? I’m looking at things as both simple actions that can be separated from their meanings and via the lens of intention.
Which reminds me that I should talk in here about conversations I’ve been having with other artists about actions, meanings and intentions as art mediums. About experiences as art mediums. Not just about the content of the conversations, but about whether having them constitutes some kind of art activity as well.
But I’ll save that for another entry. To ring in March, I’ll try to talk about these conversations a little bit as well as answer some of the questions I posed at the beginning of February.
Meanwhile, here’s an image from one of the projects that isn’t going to happen.