I am enjoying this book. O'Donnell's writing style is easy for me to relate to as he rants a bit at times, wanders a bit at others. No doubt, I do too, sometimes. SO without further ado: I will do the same here:
I would like to talk about page: 39. O'Donnell says, "In all artistic practice-even that of civic engagement-a by-product is social capital-fame. At bottom, the desire for fame is the desire to be loved unconditionally by a lot of people, most of whom you don't know. It's the desire to be able to be yourself wherever you are and have that expression respected and supported. Fame offers a bit of that. It's social capital-the ability to tap the resources of a wider community simply because you are known. And as such, fame shouldn't be underestimated as a potentially progressive social force and political tool." (O'Donell, p. 39). Yes, true, I agree with O'Donnell. But this doesn't even begin to describe the various dilemmas and contradictions I am facing as an artist trying to exhibit the "Democracy Wall" and the ideas behind it in Brooklyn at two locations this month. (www.brooklynutopias.com)
As this art work does, truly represent a community that includes myself, it is difficult to decide how to format and present this art work in "art" and "formal exhibition" terms. As the story of the wall is a long one, where, as an artist, do I begin to tell the story and how? Visually? Aurally? Kinesthetically? Is my art work more "art" or more "documentary"? Has my recent small bit of "fame" altered my perception of this work and what it means to me as an artist personally? Who is my primary audience: the people in my neighborhood or the people beyond, or the art world?
I am encountering question after question as I put this work together for public viewing, and I realize that even though I am a perfectionist in my solo art and poetry practices, perfectionism as a stance does not suit at all my current process of getting this work together and ready. The process most suitable involves flexibity and getting feedback from multiple sources. But this is confusing at times because an an artist I must make firm and final decisions too. "Trust the process", I hear myself repeating to myself.
This leads me to the next question which is the "why"? Why should I show this work in public? To engage the public artistically or to teach them to be activists too? Or, both? So many questions. To be an artist means to encounter so many questions and so much self-doubt that must work itself through and out of me in order for me to find a resolution.
The fame thing is a problem in this type of work, in a sense. I can sense the political and social utility of what I am trying to do: I can 'smell it'. But it the word "responsibilty" comes to mind, as does the fear of making a "mistake". If it is "just art" it does not carry this weight in my mind, but if is "more", then.............? But I am trying daily to solve the various problems of exhibiting the work, and the important ideas behind the work, and this is how my process goes.
What I am doing to relax and keep my immune system up? Yes, acupuncture, which naturally gets me back to O'Donnel. I am really enjoying his exploration of acupuncture and how it relates to my practice. I want to say that I am attending, weekly, what I call the "group prick", meaning more affordable acupuncture in a room with others! I also say the "group prick" because as I try to heal, so do they, and our "group" energy affects us all.
It's an interesting thing to lie there and try and concnetrate on my own problems: (my asthma/allergies) while someone else is clearling have breathing trouble right next to me. Clearly being "ill" is a universal experience as is "healing". when I am in there the ideas come to me eventually for my art. Chi flowing more freely indeed enhances one's creativity and ultimately one's social, political, and artistic utility. I could go on and on here, but time to get back to my questions and solving them.....triada