The personal is political. Yes but is it art? I believe that an artists role is communication. That communication must be real and from the core self. work that may be personal will resonate with others, will become universal. The act of creating artwork and getting it out there transforms it from being a personal thing to a universal statement. Is an artist their work, or are they themselves and everything they do art? Are we the interface between our inner lives and the outer world, somehow attempting to capture something of the time and place that is relevant, stimulating or engaging for others? Or is it just completely self indulgent to believe so?
Dichotomies at every turn, there are layers of thought processes that completely block creativity, layers that need stripping away to allow the artwork to come out uninhibited. Over the years my different hats, politics, community, me, faith, art are starting to sit more comfortably with each other. But there are still internal battles. How to express oneself without ego? How do I know that whatever nonsense that pops into my head is worth anything to anyone? It is a leap of faith, a challenging one. The urge to create is deep and undeniable, it is who I am and must out, but it requires a self confidence that flies in the face of societies demand that we suppress our true selves. We live in a society that encourages a selfish dog eat dog ‘striving’ fight for riches, yet in contradiction we are taught to accept our lot, head down, not make waves, not speak out, just knuckle down and know our place, as workers, as women, as parents, as children. We are supposed to accept the roles given to us by a cruel economic system. Traditionally the reward for this was in the afterlife, but with the diminishing of state organised religion, where is our reward? Why should we put up with relentless banality, meaningless lives, hard graft and poverty? So we can know that we did our best for our families and look forward to a holiday when we get our pension? As all these things are stripped away from more and more people, why should we be quiet and obedient? Why shouldn’t we be ourselves and live life on our own terms? Life and time is too precious to do otherwise. Sadly deviating from any social conformity and staying in line will provoke personal attacks. Obedience is the path of least resistance.
I wrote recently about my frustrations at not being able to speak out. This year in particular I have felt particularly silenced by my roles of responsibility, by other people directly and indirectly, and also to preserve the dignity of myself and others. Ironically I haven’t so far published what I wrote, silenced about being silenced. How do I reconcile standing up, taking a stand for truth, openness, freedom to express, to be ourselves, and importantly to create in any way when I feel so gagged personally? Yet I do also wish to transcend ego. In the short term this struggle has suppressed and blocked my creative process, no doubt in the long term this battle will have taught important lessons. I want to start writing more, but without the personal ownership of any words or art, it becomes mere lists of facts, words or marks on a page. I am not so arrogant to dress up my ideas as truths, they are only observations from my perspective in any moment of time, so I can only work from a personal context. Is an artist everything they do? Is my homemade bread or a conversation I have as important as a poem I write? It is an act of faith. Faith needs to be strong, especially when expressing the personal will provoke personal attack.
There are different ways to see everything that happens in life. Even the act of being insulted or silenced, could of course be seen as a positive lesson. Once anger, hatred and defensive mechanisms are dismantled, then the learning, soul searching and personal growth can take place. So really I am learning to be grateful for having been gagged a lot this year. Hopefully when that damn breaks, when the fear of ego subsides, when a truce is called between the personal and the universal, when the attachment to defence mechanisms is dropped, when I can trust that it is not selfish to create, hopefully a load of relevant art will come bursting out in 2013.