Written words

Disorderly art practice, delinquency, space, society, control, graffiti, outside in, inside out, public space, private space, graffiti in the gallery, Perform delinquency. Jaqueline, Jason——Dan , Sharon—–Ted Knight—-William—-Tom

There was always a feeling of being oblique, what was his problem anyway? He pondered this but couldn’t put a finger on it. He seemed to want to be something else, to exist outside of normal parameters. He always fell out of a milieu, like in the movies he watched as a child. The criminal who wanted to get out, the accused who wanted to lose the responsibility and shake his possible destiny. It seems he didn’t want what he could see or what he thought he saw. Another drink in the pub would lead to a barren future or so he thought, like all the rest, like them. The clogged arteries, operations, tumors, diabetes, each cigarette lead away from this anxiety, a paranoia. He thought he knew life, its traps but what he saw was not a waste but some of those paths that exist, he had no path but to avoid what he saw what he had seen. The abuser was hiding around every corner, the addict. Holding a bottle of coca cola in bed was his idea of suicide, a slow gnawing death at the hands of our own stupidity our own inadequacy our own addictions. Who could say no to the corporate hand that crept in and promised us happiness, the smiling face, the real man, the constant reminder of what could be. He thought of what could be, the movie that became his life but lacked the immediate sense, there seemed to be no happiness but just places where you could hide. Hide behind art, hide behind books, hide behind pretense. What was art anyway but entertainment, an intellectual privilege or sensual moment to escape. Some would say that art is what is real, it reflects the true drive of humans to make sense or none sense of the world they encounter, to clarify the experience of existence of sense. Catharsis would purify and acknowledge the pain and joy we feel. For him though it fed his image, his fame grew, the boundaries blurred between art and life, this is what made him. His own self was only a vessel with which to direct to this place where the others were not, he was tired of them he needed distance a kind of peace. It was going to be a great night, Jason was heading to the show too. Jacqueline was preparing a joint, you never knew when it would come in handy, she flicked quickly through her papers and found her marked essay, a fucking credit she thought and flicked it back down. She wasn’t going to let it get her down, her essay on Rembrandt was a bore for her but a worthy passage and anything over a pass was good enough, “Jason..you ready?”. She got right into her theory on Tracy Emmin but the reality was she was a better artist than writer. Jacqueline was studying teaching at the art school and really that was her focus so many hoops to jump through the writing was intense. She still got to practice her art though, mainly a quixotic style of painting that seemed to describe holes, holes in this holes in that, they were good mind you, painstaking detail. One painting took close to a month, it was mainly the preparation, the sanding, the finish was the most important factor and it took time, meditated time. Jason eventually surfaced from the bathroom, his hair looked awful and she messed it up, he pretended to be annoyed but really he loved the attention “you got the keys?” fuck what a question she thought she always had the keys, they swung by the bottle shop and grabbed a couple of long necks as usual Jason rifled around for some coins in his jeans. They paid and got talking and drinking, they were a fun couple, they laughed a lot and took the complete piss out of each other most of the time but occasionally they would argue and the police would be called. You can only imagine, it was really her who was the crazed one in a domestic, she smashed things. Lucky most of their furniture was found on the street, no fancy leather couches here just a preloved 70s couch with a big hole in its side. The gallery was packed, it was the local really, Sharon was there almost staggering drunk and Dan was holding her up while trying to look for a chair, the only chair available was actually part of an installation, he sat her on it anyway apologizing though the artist seemed to like this involvement with his work and took a few photos. People mingled and moved methodically around the work while refilling there glasses, soon the alcohol ran out and just before the crowds could disperse one of the post grad performance works were introduced. This work literally scared the shit out of everyone, a guy known around campus as Ted Knight started swearing and smashing bottles against a specially built wall, the work was hypnotic and violent. He would throw a bottle at the wall with wild force and scream abuse at the crowd. What was the point of this Jason thought, a once over of his thesis on art imitating life would probably clear this up or would it? The amount of paper work Ted had to do to get spaces to agree to his performances and installations was complex. He had to at times get DA approval from the local council, he even had public liability in case someone got hurt by a flying shard of glass. It looked like Jacqueline was over it, a bit shaken really from the realism of it. “let’s get out of here J” . As they walked out they could hear Sharon vomiting in the toilets, “thats just bullshit, Ted is crazy” Jason snorted as they paced through the autumn chill. “Well yeah, but at least he can express himself without hurting…hello” Jacqueline sung as she was distracted by a cat under a car. “come here puss, who’s a beautiful little feline?. They both loved animals and the cat butted its head on Jason’s ankle and danced about between them enjoying a scratch under its chin. The cat followed them down the lane before crouching and springing onto a fence and disappearing. Darlinghurst looked like a ghost town and then out of nowhere traffic heaped up and disappeared again. The lanes were always quiet, a possible real life Ted Knight performance was always only a few lanes away from a pub. The local junky hang out was astir with a thin emaciated man abusing his younger girlfriend, “oh, shit, its Ted” Jacqueline laughed at Jason’s remark. They walked by quickly trying to avoid eye contact and not laugh. “uuuckin bittch” was the last they heard and a few cars created a din. You had to laugh to stay sane, most of the locals were junkies living in bachelor apartments, as they were students they were never that far away from this. Ted Knight also lived nearby and he was inspired by the locals and their use of language, he had grown up in the country and moved to the city to study and live. The noise was entertaining, there was always something going on. You had to be careful and at least be out walking with someone or avoid the lanes if alone. It was just so random what you would come across. Luckily most of the junkies were not desperate and shooting galleries were in the locality so they could get needles or methadone or something and do their business in a supervised setting. Most of the junkies were harmless and rarely bothered anyone but occasionally someone would hit ice and go mental. Ted had grown up in a violent household, he didn’t have any residual issues from it even though he performed it. For him the performance was an educational moment for the audience, a cathartic necessity to pull through to experience pain and come out the other side purified. The fact that his audience felt uncomfortable was a plus, they needed to know, they had to know. Experience was a great educator and Ted had the coolest temperament, he was always good to deal with and was the complete opposite of what most of the younger crowd thought though in his own year he had a strong following. Not to say all of the other years felt the same but there seemed to be a consensus from the new under-graduates that this guy was mad. Luckily it doesn’t always matter what the majority think in most cases, if it did then we would all be in trouble which is why politics can be such a problem at times. In art there are things that defy understanding that reach into a person and ask questions about what we think. What we think we know is suddenly out the window and something immense steps in, and this makes us wonder. That is something Jason failed to understand, that he was supposed to make people wonder, his art was about what is in front of us but with an aesthetic thrown in, this was supposed to engage people and it rarely did. When he did do something good he was great but most of his work was mediocre because it failed to raise people into a sense of wonder or terror. Ted though couldn’t be neatly categorised though he was, the specimen of the PHD scene. Jason only in his second year was struggling but only because of his lack of daring, he was plodding through and wasn’t really acedemic if you consider that he was only twenty and came through due to a strong HSC performance. It doesn’t always go down well when your understanding of art is limited by your ability to pronounce names though he was learning albeit slowly. There was a privelidge though to uni life and it made him feel he was making the right decision to be there. Tonight though unnerved him and really he admired Ted for his tenacity but hid this behind contempt and humour. Though he wasn’t spiteful under all his humour was a lot of doubt. Jason never had an authority figure or a father figure or so he thought but for a short time he did and this what he panged for. It created the difference he could discern and taste the bitterness as opposed to caring authority though it is not always ideal. His first memories were of fear and terror maybe this is what drove his mediocre art, an ideal escape though people wanted entertainment and drama, by any means Jason had had his fair share of drama and wished it on no one. The violent bursts from his father gave way to fear so deep he felt himself leave his body for a moment hovering over the scene from a vantage point as a small child. The first memory a memory of terror and so the remark on Ted Knight all those years later, the utter unease of violence that had propelled him away. Driven by the fear for so much of his life could he ever accept it? He had to be what he was, he had been thrown by the force of psychosis into creating odd things which he mistook for art and really his teachers mistook it too. It wasn’t art but a way to focus, it wasn’t his psychosis but his fathers that created so many objects and ornaments while in high school. If anything Jason was the odd one out, rather disinterested and this made him seem ridiculous almost frivolous, Frivolity had been given the boot by art especially the connoisseur he was seen by his peers as a wanker and really he probably was. But it didn’t stop him from making bad art and trying to explore the trajectory he was on. The best part of his work was his humour it was a saving grace in an otherwise oblique strange obsession with nothing in particular. If he didn’t have such a patchy education he could probably have pulled the art thing off. The truth was he had no idea how to even write an essay and you can only bluff for so long. It wasn’t that it was that hard but he got through high school just and he had some stories to tell. Ted not surprisingly had a lot in common with Jason though they didn’t know each other but Ted had a violent upbringing due to his fathers alcoholism but he seemed to turn this into a positive drive though his negative performances which momentarily relived a sense of violence and were more an echo, an orchestrated violence that was supported by an education and paper work. Ted had a knack for performance and he could have acted but felt a desire to perform in an art context. He didn’t do so well in art in high school because he was beyond the syllabus. He chose to concentrate on english and science not really seeing art as a choice at all. Acting would have been good and he performed in a few school plays. He was openly gay and out going and was educated in a Catholic boys school in Dubbo though not many people knew he was gay as he wasn’t easily discernable in attitude He was more of a man’s man and when he lived in Darlinghurst visited all the gay bars though he found the campness a bit much. He did have a boyfriend in his year a petit effeminate type but they weren’t all over each other they had a good relationship probably a tad intellectual less physical. They liked each other though love was out of the question probably thought they were too smart for it but they were companions none the less. ‘We haven’t seen much of you lately’ said William his eyes darted across the room out of habit, ‘I saw your paintings at the gallery’ they both sat down at the cafe table and ordered. ‘I was holed up for a few weeks’ it was no secret to either of them that an opening at least the lead up to one would mean a marathon effort to the fine details finished for works, everything had to be packed and sent too. William and Tom rarely met up anyway they were both too busy being in the postgrad year and actually having galleries to please. It was probably twice a year they had to show most other artists studying were still doing group shows whereas they had been in the gallery system for over five years. They were not really super friendly with each other mostly they found each other boring. Things weren’t going too well for William, his last two shows were heavily criticised even though he made enough sales to keep things afloat. He wanted to go overseas and escape but really he had a living. The criticism was mainly levelled from the main paper, he knew he was lucky to get so much attention magazine reviews from hipster magazines were more congenial and he had a following from young wealthy trendsetters but he had always wanted to be taken seriously as an artist not as some hipster sensation. How he got into such a strange situation was mostly by chance. He had been a graffiti artist and then moved into street art doing posters making a name for himself but also was a good artist and had a healthy standard of work in painting and sculpture. He was trapped in the hipster glare and if truth be told his work had suffered because he couldn’t ignore his real fans and the Sydney papers who had covered his last two shows found his displaced work worthy of a flogging. He wasn’t a main feature but as he became more collectable the reviews were bound to happen. In a home makers magazine a blithe and semi trendy one he was given the honour of being highly collectable. Tom found William a bore mainly because he was academic and totally intrigued by the written word. Then he would sometimes start a conversation drawn from what he was reading than what was actually happening at the time, William couldn’t stand Tom’s total ineptitude and ignorance but they still talked and would acknowledge one another as they were both were fairly successful and both studying. Why they both bothered studying was beyond comprehension but it did give them access to established artists who were teaching and if things dried up they could fall back on something such as a teaching job neither were reckless and they planned ahead. Already William could see some inroads to better galleries and was working the system to his advantage by producing a new body of work that seemed to release him from the drudgery of his gallery work. He painted organic letter forms that were like illuminations though a bit trendier, a bit more like graffiti and street art but not as commercial. Still quite illustrative but impressive and they had a market but in the course he worked on sculptural forms that were painted they were bound to never sell as he had tried too arty too experimental and rather strange for the gallery he was in but another more high up gallery was eyeing him off so he had potential to fill. It was at a cost, the hipsters didn’t get it though they rarely got much and maybe he could risk it and be taken seriously but it was a risk nonetheless. He felt the barb from critics that had made him painfully aware of his current compromised practice but it was nice to make a living too. Luckily he wasn’t totally in the spotlight as he was an emerging artist with a practice that made a wage, this made him happy and quite confident for future prospects. Jason was walking down the street, he had a joint at Dan’s only an hour before and he started feeling a bit creepy, his back felt arched even though it wasn’t, his brain was no longer functioning properly and rather than enjoying it he felt an ice cold chill go up his neck but he could only feel it in a dull way it wasn’t crisp but dull, he saw water spilling into a drain, a drain, a drain he thought and then it came to him. It was clear as a bell but at the same time kind of dull, what was it? Was it anything? He quickly tried to pull himself together, it is just a drain, but it was a revelation, the drains lead everywhere they were in control they were the underworld the part of life people didn’t think about, yet here he was thinking about it or at least becoming swallowed in thoughts, dull edgeless thoughts, the drains were like an unconscious mind beckoning him forward, ‘come to us’ they whispered, ‘come here we are waiting’. Jason started walking trying to feel better trying to get comfortable but he felt damp, he felt wet, it was probably sweat, it was probably the drains, the drains had become a fixture and he couldn’t shift his mind away he started to feel nauseous. When he arrived home he felt somewhat better as though the walk had helped him get beyond these paranoid thoughts. The dope really got to him he figured he probably had been having too much he had decided to put a stop to it, by the morning he had forgotten the whole episode.

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