With the disgusting results of the past election, the early change to winter, and the ongoing possibility that my health could go south at any time, I often wonder what the point of doing art is. Never in my life have I been the type who was particularly enraptured with life; it’s always been mainly something to be borne with as much equanimity as it’s possible to muster. So there’s that. At the same time, though, thinking about and doing art (and music, too, for many years) is what engages me and keeps me going. A couple of weeks ago, I took some time to go though my archives and it was fascinating to me how some of my art from 30-plus years ago prefigures ideas that I’m exploring now; especially the photography that I did in the mid-70s. It’s uncanny, in a way. Is it really the case that our mind and imagination are that consistent? That whether you try or not, what you create is that deeply an expression of who you are?
So, if being an artist is really that much a part of who I am, it’s unlikely that I could, or would, stop doing it. The fact remains, though, that it’s a struggle. Everyone who works with art knows that, it’s not new learning. Living it is the issue; getting the gumption up to make some photos or sit down at the computer and do some processing, especially after a day at work where you sit at a computer, as well.
I’ve written about his some before, but increasingly during the past year I’ve been making composites, multi-layer images. It’s not an easy process. Sometimes you pick images that work together almost immediately. Other times, you just slap a couple together to see if anything sticks. In the past month, or so, though, I’ve been having some slightly greater success. Most of them include random nudes combined with some sort of natural setting. In this case, it’s a dark hole in a cave. Also, many are quite dark in mood, which reflects the ongoing situation of my mind. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s curious to observe what comes out after working for a while.
On slightly other fronts, I think I’ve made enough progress in my thinking that I’ve been considering doing artsy portraits; not just head shots and happy group photos, but something a bit more engaged and inward looking. Not only could it bring in a little income, but I could gain experience working with people, directing. At the portfolio review I did a month or so ago, one of the comments were that I should begin to think of what I do in almost cinematic terms and as a director. The suggestions they gave were Wong Kar-wai and Peter Greenaway, but since then, I also discovered Sally Potter. All of these directors are engaged with things that emerge in my work: rich color, layering, the body. So it seems that if I can gain some experience and comfort working with people in the somewhat more straightforward process of portraiture, it could help in my artistic work, as well.
And then … these more positive thoughts are undermined by my increasingly substantiated observation of the seeming race between the wingnuts and climate change to bring civilization tumbling down, sooner, rather than later. And I’m left wondering … why, and for what?