I was at work and an artist came in talking about their last show and they were saying that they felt their art was unusual, I replied that a lot of artists feel their own work is unusual, I have had the same feeling myself at times. I can remember talking to one artist who was an illustrator and we were talking about his work and he said that it wasn’t as hard as building a submarine and I felt that this struck me, in that artists can feel inadequate or unusual or any number of things. The fact that we are doing some kind of expressive or unusual activity that isn’t as important as building submarines or designing something with utility is the core of what makes some art get as complicated as building a submarine. Take some of Frank Stella’s printing and sculptural work or Chuck Close and his complex processes to make his work. We just see an object at the end but when you see what went into making that object then you realise that some art is very complex. Maybe not as complex as building a submarine but there are artists who work in electronics and jewellery who use a lot of complex skills.
The illustrator sadly had some health issues and chose to take his own life and we had made vague plans to meet up and have a coffee before all this happened, I don’t know much about his personal issues and we would talk online and we did meet up a few years ago for a coffee. I suppose I get excited when I meet artists and in a way that is a bit delusional because nothing is really dictated by our own excitement or my excitement at seeing and learning what people are up to. I just get really inspired by the fact someone is creative and wants to explore that however, they see fit but at the same time artists have to live with the burden of not being in the real world. They are imagining a world that is fictitious but could point to some kind of meaning what that may be. I remember meeting another artist at the same cafe and he was trying to get me into some kind of pyramid scheme and I was disappointed but polite. I was disappointed that maybe getting married which he had recently been was the core reason for his sudden thirst for money.
Everything in Sydney smacks of desperation because the cost of living has been out of control for decades and getting worse year in year out. It was sad that the things we love, in his case playing music, weren’t bringing anything in and now he was married he had to prove that he wasn’t just another deadbeat artist living on dreams. I have another artist friend who complains about women driving Range Rovers and how he feels that men are simply enslaved to make money and a decent nest for the opposite sex, I will then think of the glass ceiling, my ex-partner’s constant anxieties and of course my own. We will put great thought into our recycling regimen all the while thinking about our next trip halfway across the globe burning enough jet fuel to probably make sea levels rise ten times over. There is no sense in it all of these inadequacies and strange rituals we enact yet we can’t really think of every little act and thought that pops into our head, especially the thoughts we are constantly told to think.
The feel-good ads about ethical investment, not going into energy-consuming investment options all the while we plug into the internet not seeing the data centres across the globe. All of this is just as meaningless as the nuclear submarine in the depths and those moments over coffee as we try to work out why we feel inadequate, I suppose it comes down to how we can’t really control all of the minutiae and calamities that befall us. Maybe art then can help us forget the tools of geopolitical control or more likely highlight it, there is some joy in living in our imagination although our bodies can build any number of tools to create or destroy and we can only hope that they give us some control over our destinies, whether it is submarines or a urinal that is deemed art.