At the moment I’m in a sort of transitional phase. Last week I deinstalled my work up at COMA Alternative Space, and at the same time I’m fumbling about the process of forming a new body of work. For my own practice, there’s quite a bit of thought that precedes the action. This got me to thinking about my motivations for making work. By setting aside the meaning that can be pulled from (or infused in) a work of art—and the process of art making itself—one can then examine the reasons for creating new work.Green Smoke, 2008
The following ideas riff on Christopher Reed’s forthcoming coming book on homosexuality and art. Not to be overly dyadic, but there seems to be two models for the “art drive.” One can be seen in an overly romantic version of the artist, gifted with creativity, driven by their inspiration, with some kind of innate artistic temperament. On the flip side is the cynical model of the artist, using the art world subculture as a place to create meaning, notoriety, money, or some combination of the three. Like the admen on Madison Avenue, the artist triggers thought, feeling, and/or action by careful manipulation of their available tools.Gold Smoke, 2008
I’m not trying to make the case for or against one or the other, or avoid the reality that most artists are motivated by a varying combination of the two. I only wish to frame the debate between the “essentialist” and the “social construction” models.Lavender Smoke, 2008
The debate I’ve outlined in the preceding paragraphs could be picked up, carried over, and dropped on top of the arguments made about homosexuality and fit quite well. For some folk, an orientation is not a choice, but something one is born with. Others are more comfortable making homosexual into an adjective that precedes the word lifestyle. It is not coincidental that both the avant-garde and gay communities are seen by some to provide safe havens for deviants.Red Smoke, 2008
My own views on the essentialist/social construction models, and what this means for my art practice is fodder for future posts.