Sunday, November 18, 2007

what makes an urgent artist?

In talking with Theo last week about art (specifically my dances, his music, and the TV show Lost) we came to the conclusion that, while we surround ourselves with artists here at Sarah Lawrence and in the greater world as a whole, a huge difference exists between those who live by their art, and those who engage in art-making for the sake of making art. We were talking about art with urgency - both in its subject matter and in its process - and getting frustrated and excited.

So what is "urgent art"? Isn't all art urgent, in some way? At a basic level it has to be, or it doesn't get made. Someone has the urge to make, they make, art is made - that process contains at least origins of urgency. But there's so much bad art out there. Lazy art. Uninventive same art.

In talking with Theo, Alanna, Cavin, others, i am always struck by how our art is compulsory. We do it because we have to or we'll explode. We create to save ourselves and save ourselves by working our shit out via our medium. There's something about this process that, for me gives something to the final product that sets it apart from other work. And while i'm not a huge Kerouac fan, i think he's close here:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”

Art can't be normal.
That's a lie. It can be; i just don't want any of it any more.
Call me an art snob, call me a postmodern intellectual, but more and more it's how i feel.
I'm feeling militant, so forgive this mini-festo:

Art is a call to arms.
Art is redefinition.
Art is process.
Art is a howl.
Art is beautiful, ugly, unsettling, evocative, but not no NEVER not just okay.
Art can be beautiful if the beauty will slap you around, and ugly if it will help you sleep at night.
Art is personal.
Art is urgent.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Felt like reading your older stuff as well while I was at it. To me "art" or dance, is a communication of everything dance related I have experienced and learned about dance to date, combined with my current understanding of the dance community and their preferences. It is that understanding combined with the medium (space and dancers) I have to work with as well as my idea of an audience. In this way, dance is a mating of the past and the present. I do not feel the power to create knowledge for myself. :)
Point is, that to me, one can only hope for something appreciated as profound. Originality is out of the question as we are just relaying our understanding of the past and present. Ripping every one we know off along the way. Even our guesses at the future are based on our understanding of the progression of the past. Newness is inevitable though, as each of our understandings is different. Each of our pasts are different.
I think this is as much true for the grad students you admire as it is for the seniors who frustrate and bore you.
To sum it up, I find the idea you have of lazy dance making to not only be elitist, but only a way of you justifying your likes and dislikes, as it has no grounds in any sort of reality.