Just got out of an artist talk where I got to be the artist and talk.
Big beautiful new auditorium room, about 20 people. It's the day before spring break in nothern Wyoming. All considering, the attention span was pretty decent. I saw some students taking notes, which flattered me tremendously.
I actually wanted to talk about attention- and the magic number of 15- 15 seconds to look at a piece of artwork, and our attention to only 15% of our closet - and I've given it up all for the 108. A bigger number, with less stuff attached to it. That would be my strategy.
Twenty minutes of talking about myself, being honest, no um's. I showed a lot of the work that I care about- these pieces that exist digitally, printed on demand, like a millenial gallery should. Truth is- not many of them have, though I've run two editions up to three, and now- no more. No mas printing for those.
I was asked about those editions. Do I make them? Are they printed?
I was asked about materiality. When do these come to life?
Shit. Suddenly, I realized on that stage that the functionality of art's proof to itself is in its materiality- it's ability to be held. It's thing-ness. I came up with an answer that was half truth and half promotion. The reality of experiential art making is being nimble and fluid with materiality. The cost of making art is high, and there's no guarantee on the other side that it is going to be received, sold, or just stockpiled in a storage unit. That is clearly no place for a piece of your soul. Not. At. All.
My works have been happy in their un-thinged state. They are able to commune with each other in the digital world and able to be visited often by outsiders. There's a communality with others also un-thinged. At least that's what they've told me.
I forgot about materiality about three years ago when I decided it was an absolute waste of an artist's time to create physical work with no where to put it or for no one to actively enjoy it- storing the energy away, like a dead stock inventory waiting for a buyer or consumer later in life.** In this way, I keep my things- or my potential things- in the ether.
Many of these works are records of practice, of light shining past an interior space in a moment. They are captures. Just like we capture media... all. the. time. now. media in squares and resizeable formats. So somewhere between the digital ether and the spiritual one, I am sitting in lotus. But someone just tapped my shoulder and asked me to explain myself. And also like we capture thoughts. And also like we capture the cumulative nature of our own practices. Our prayers, our potentials, our practice.
This conflict/musing/concern is a new space as I look towards the particulars of my yogic practices. I've been very up in the ether, especially since these projects- the projections began. I started to lose space altogether, and chose ephemeral for ephemeral- a more tidy and fair assumption given the work and my life over these last few years. So, wow. What an experience. Formlessness explored. Purusha noted. Fully.
And on another side of the form / formlessness notion, it is realized that there's a mortality in materiality. And that can be incredibly beautiful. We know this in our bodies, and we know this otherwise. All that said, just like us, occasionally, one gets sucked from the spirit world through to the physical world. And then here we are. Thrust into mortal life. Not the worst life- shoot, it's real good here- but perhaps not the original intention of the work... or is it?
I drove a long way back to the place where I was staying (bypassed it in fact), and realized a longing. All week, I had been looking at an artwork at Jentel in the kitchen- a long wild mud cloth, likely a holy one - for sure a holy one - for sure genealogical importance - from whom gifted or from whom it was taken and placed to be in this place (another story). Yes, it was the materiality. The hands in the work that had me sprung.
I missed the stitch. The labor has a grounding. An apana. I had it all figured out, but now longed for a moment to make a stitch. Would I resist it? That thing- that longing and aversion... after all this work?
I drove straight out to Clearmont, where there is an old tall building that houses a very curious fabric and thread store. I thought, if there is a little something, I will procure it and bring it back to the studio. It was closed and perhaps had shifted into a weaving studio and long-arm quilting service. I took it as a sign. I came back and drew patterns on old paper instead.
Is there a way I can release the materials, more - or might it be wise to return to them? I am curious. It's almost as if I made a commitment to the formless (purusha), and now am realizing it will take both sides- the dance between the two, to create new work. And in the meantime, I will, for now stitch my sweater back and mend it. I'll just start there.
First draft written while listening to the "spirit form" by Tommy Guerrero. (Of course she is.)
*Cue cheeky copywriting- to expire in about six months, permanently and graciously.
** like the last of my design inventory, in my shed, with no place to go- creating. It's also about, in full transparency, that no one might want to procure the works, and also that I don't want to be responsible for more "things" entering the atmosphere- we have enough, and we are so busy cleaning it up now. I remember Rachel Whiteread's work in excessive plaster or Mathew Barney's rooms full of petroleum jelly. Like... so much stuff, and why? I know... pales in comparison to industrial waste, but the artist who takes on the responsibility of no materiality, or selective materiality- could that be a good thing? I don't want to take away from anyone's thingy-ness fun- I enjoy it too, sometimes, but I'm more overwhelmed by thing-ness than non-thingness. I can enjoy an idea for a LONG TIME. For example, this post.
***I hate saying things are expensive, but I could EASILY spend $1500 on printing work that does not actually have a place to go, on the hopes that it will sell somewhere- if it does - and then, if so, I'll likely make just over cost, which means that I will have labored for an object for free, and given it away for a tip. Which is why I don't create things and keep them formless- so I don't have to actually feel that feeling that you are offering out free labor for art- and this is a big thing in the art making world. That not getting paid thing. So- I hold myself in that space. Of formlessness.
Note to self and secondary prompt:: What is the act of showing the whole outside of the ether when you bring it into materiality. To be able to see in front, in back, and all around of it. It just shouldn't be against a wall.