Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Doubt in contemporary art

It is not the first time this happens. The doubts are serious. They do not concern the reception, but the creation of art. There comes a time when the sacrifice the creation requires is such that the work itself seems ridiculous. Why the suffering? For the final satisfaction? At this particular time it seems more like the satisfaction will barely be relief. The disappearance of a burden.
Burden art. (Chris Burden. What a strange name to have for someone who shoots himself for art. For someone who locks himself in a locker for many days, for art.)
Per aspera ad astra: through suffering to the stars. This is the price you rarely hear about, or at least rarely acknowledge. At a certain point there is really hardly any pleasure left of this pleasurable ride called art, and in this case, once again, it seems the crucial point. The point where things are decided. And, of course, if you hear about the artist again, it is probably because he survived, he made it through. At what cost, though? What are we left with?
Maybe being an artist is surviving and still remembering the freshness of the draft. And then, still having the strength, and guts, to share it.

1 comment:

Ryan Mays said...

burdening oneself for a good cause, so to speak, for the benefit of its overcoming or just surviving, as you noted. you come across this at times in philosohpy (heidegger, wittgenstein, kierkegaard, socrates for example) and i've always been interested in the analoguous case in art. to be short, what i find most interesting here is that the overcoming, or just surviving, is not marked by a celebration as if one has just finished a marathon, but with a groan as if a weight has been lifted off of ones' back. so, one doesn't take the medal earned from the marathon and display it proudly, rather one is relieved by merely getting over the struggle. i wonder then what the status of the resulting work of art is--ought it be put in a gallery? shared, as one shares ones struggles? or, should it be left behind, shed alone like dead skin in a more organic art-as-(my own)life kind of way? your last line reminds of wittgenstein's remark, "Genius is talent exercised with courage" (Culture and Value, 38). it's not enough, perhaps, to just shed your skin if you want to be great. one has to recognize the value in its relation to greater humanity, to the art community, as if genius can only be such if, as you say, one has the guts--but not just the guts to continually un-burden and re-burden oneself, but to share it too. this would hold true of a 'genius', but i'm not sure that it would extend to all artists--are artists in virtue of being such, required to share the result of their struggle?


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