Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Time to make some good work

For an assessment of my research up until this moment, please see the blog entitled Time and Resolution: Experiments in High Definition Image Making, which outlines my work and current findings.

So a young artist, Eugene, wins ‘School for Saatchi’ - well, someone has to win - but truth to be told, Eugene’s piece was by far the best work - if you judge the idea of art within contemporary ideas of art: that it is impactful, easy to read, understandable, interpretable and also at the same time, enigmatic. The enigmatic element is what keeps the art market going. If it were not enigmatic then it would be hard to make a commodity of the work - which doesn’t fit in with the decadent end-of-civilisation stance that those who broker the value of art within the contemporary zeitgeist require. (For those unfamiliar with this TV programme, 6 artists make work week by week then get eliminated until 1 wins an exhibition with Saatchi in Moscow).

Saatchi is an ad man - he shapes art in his own image, his own understanding. In McLuhan’s world in which he grew up, things need to be impactful to get through in the global village, they have to be fairly direct to be able to sell the moment where everything is clamoring for your attention. No blame - it’s just the way he is and because he had money he could shape the work of artists by functioning as the demand element of the supply and demand equation. Artists cannot be blamed either. They had to eat. Some of them engorged, but some of them are trying to make amends (if they truly understood their acts in the past) and Hirsts paintings for instance are creating opprobrium amongst the critics and curators because they of course, are behind the wave.

It’s a problem we all have to deal with - the intervention of the artist, the relationship to an audience of a work; the relationship of ideas to objects.

As an artist I’m of course interested in all of that and it is disconcerting to be ‘unrecognised’ and probably were the contemporary curator to consign me to oblivion as an artist then it would be affecting of my confidence - however, all of that must not matter in pursuit of what art might actually be in relationship to the Mammalian/Homo Sapien project - which of course may or may not be existent - but I like to think that it does: that we are an improving species and that ‘art’ is in fact a galvanizing and improving force in relation to the goals of the project - that the artist is in cahoots with the project to make work which reveals something about the truths of life for those that are busy living it.

I’m pretty sure that when I exhibit, I exhibit in some kind of vacuum. The vacuum is my own set of beliefs - see above - and that though I understand about the space in which a young artist is dealing in, the assets and the real estate and the property bonds, the stocks and shares of art, the determining concepts as raised by Duchamp, outlined by Magritte and articulated by Warhol - then utilised by Koons and Hirst - etcetera - I have a responsibility to do more - and I also have to accept my own pre-disposition to the cultural and historical continuum in which I have been placed - but, within that understanding I use my chosen form, video - electronic cinematography - which has a relationship to single image, single frame photography, to photochemical forms... I still have to take the space as did Eugene with impactful work, but then create work which has deeper meanings and resonances for the public, deeper than the flimsy, frothy expressions of concepts (as being as weighty as materials) and going beyond those concerns reveals the deeper empathy of people made sentient within a human frame.

I’ve played with ways of getting at that state and sometimes made work that resonates with that inner tension found in a ll sentient, conscious beings. Now, however, I have to challenge myself to be bold enough, creative enough, brave enough to go beyond my own form and thoughts, transcend my own condition to reveal work which itself reveals everything said above and more.

That’s my manifesto - I have intimations of things that I have to do. I have first to make ‘The Way North’ which I’m part way through making, then I have to make The Crucifixion and use the symbolism in that mithraic and christian idea (and Babylonian and Egyptian come to that) to demonstrate where we stand in history - which as usual, is crucified on our own lack of ability to see beyond our own state - the cross is usually the cross of matter - but we now have to face the fact that the cross is made of everything that constitutes our own blind spot.

‘The Way North’ or as it’s subtitled ‘Until I’m Gone’, is about my own passing on the basis that we really should get used to the idea of death, that just as we were born so shall we die. The Crucifixion is the crucifixion of an ape - because that’s what we are in terms of genus - seen as Dali saw the son of man, from above. At the apes feet there will be the carcass of a cow in a vegetable plot, because it’s time to stop eating living sentient beings, turn the planet over to the production of vegetables, limit the amount of people on the planet and find pleasure in doing real things and stop consuming experience (and things) - because it’s now time. We don’t need ‘The Age of Stupid’ to know what we have to do. True there are a lot of men attached to the idea that they need to eat meat to be a man and carry along their womenfolk in that belief, much as grandmothers commit the actual act of circumcising the young women for the culture - those who should least be involved - but it’s time to stop or terminate the planet (as we now know it to be).

Not that there isn’t a zillion earth-like planets out there and we should also get over our own ‘specialness’ - but our own particular backyard needs tending simply because some of us do not want to be wanton, some of us always wanted to care for the environment, some of us knew from the very beginning that animals should be spared - not just because they too feel as we feel (in every respect), but how could we look ourselves in the mirror if we committed an act of cannibalism ? It’s just time to change, that’s all - and art has to reflect that decision to mean anything to anyone in a world that just might seem to be dying.