I am in New York, the big bloody apple. The party in Bushwick swings and flips and sways. Groups of men and women, early twenties to early forties, are engaged in drinks and conversations.
“So, what do you do?” I hear the question over and over again. I say I am a bookkeeper in a small office supplies company. “Nice,” nods a man. His face looks as if he opened a beautifully wrapped Christmas present and discovered it was a luffa.
“But are you in a band or something?” My interrogator persists, digging deeper. Here at the party everyone is some kind of artist. Even the apartment owner’s dog is.
Isn’t everyone working on their ‘projects’ these days? There are no more readers, listeners, viewers…I myself write about my photographer friends, who take pictures of my musician friends, who give gigs, which we, the friends, attend. We are one big circle of ‘artists’ supporting fellow artists. But I say down with artists!
These are the days of infinite possibilities and they have opened art to everyone. Spending tedious hours, learning to play a musical instrument – it’s no longer needed – everything is available at the push of a button, a whole orchestra.
The constant snap snap snapping away the clutter of images. Who travels without a camera these days? “What? You went to Switzerland and didn’t take a single picture?” It sure is strange, isn’t it?
Such immediacy has incredible seduction. After all, an artist is a supreme being and who doesn’t want to be one? Even snails dream of becoming butterflies.
Accessibility made art mainstream. Art became integrated in day to day life, the same as the most basic existential things, and that everyday-ness has worn it out. Social networks – funnels for creativity – have killed intimacy and perverted the idea of confession in art.
No, certainly not every artist has suddenly stopped caring about things. It’s just that connecting with the audience through the artwork and/or performance was replaced by permitting vast numbers of random people have too much. The distance has been shortened, perhaps, a bit too literally. But every phenomenon repeated over 50 times becomes “the truth”, and referring to everything as ‘art’ and everyone, respectively, as “an artist” validated those as such.
Sales, advertising, insurance agents, web designers, personal assistants, marketing specialists – ‘normies’ during the week, artists on the weekend. ‘Talent’ died with the invention of talent shows. And now it’s art’s turn. I am not even sure what the term means anymore…But we live in a free country, and if art is a form of creation, where thinking can be as free as possible, who is to deny that freedom? Indeed, why not paint? Make music? Write poetry? Or take pictures? The volume of all that art unnerves me like the fathomlessness of cosmos. I feel lost. Vertigo.
The non-stop production of art is fostered by its everyday consumption, and results in everyday waste. Such is the cycle. Art is no longer something to remember. Art is something to forget, to flip through, to browse, to vacate the space, to let go. We are impatient and the span to keep our attention is the click of a mouse. Continual renewal of artwork and constant change for the yet more artwork dilutes its intensity and causes anxiety.
Art makes me tired. Art gives me headache. Art depletes me. Art demands that continual accessibility to my imagination, the permission to stir my thoughts, approaches, feelings, that I only allow for the chosen ones. I am losing the sense of what constitutes art, since the notion becomes very obscure. Sometimes I ask myself if there’s more nobility in sweeping the streets? Or collecting honey? Producing something – something tangible, something of indisputable value. In such fast-paced creation cycle there is simply no time for an artist to mature, to grow – this isn’t a Creativity crisis, it’s a Personality crisis. Authenticity crisis.
I, by no means, am saying that nothing worthy comes out in this day and age. I have come across some rare examples of something raw and real. I’ve met people with power and profundity to their work. Most of them were ‘closet artists’, who had dying websites or none at all, and who didn’t refer to themselves as ‘artists’ . ‘What is art?’ is nowadays an open question. On the other hand, the power of personality has a clearer definition. Personality is something almost palpable in our elusive, covert world. Personality is art, the life of a unique individual is art. And the proof of the pudding – the value of artistic produce – is in the very aggregation of minuscular components of their beings.