How To Explain It To My Parents

How To Explain It To My Parents, a fantastic documentary series released last summer by artists/directors Lernert & Sander, features just that: a handful of abstract artists explaining their work to their parents. In this episode, Dutch artist Martin C. de Waal, who in using plastic surgery as the basis of his artistic exploration is the most extreme of the bunch, sits down with his parents to discuss his art and their perceptions of his work. Not surprisingly, mom and pop de Waal, though they are super supportive, have a difficult time understanding why their son nips and tucks his face under the guise of art. “We’ve always enjoyed following your work, but we often had no idea what it was about,” says his mother. The series is fascinating and endearing and uncomfortable all at once. And it kind of makes me want to pick up the phone and explain to my parents why I don’t have, or want, a “real job.” TC mark


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  • Josef Horáček

    An interesting project. In this particular episode, the artist seems to anticipate attacks and misunderstanding that never materializes. He's ready to be outraged and defensive but doesn't really get the opportunity. It's peculiar how many artists cling to the Romantic idea of an outcast despite evidence to the contrary.

    • Tim

      It is possible that his parents are less sympathetic when they aren't on camera.

    • uhnonnymus

      Yeah, it's totally peculiar how people who were bullied a good portion of their lives for being “weird” have that mentality.

  • Donovan X. Ramsey

    I think it's terribly interesting. For a creative, the problem of how to explain your work to your parents is probably hardest because it invokes the epic struggle between the individual and society, given that parents are the ones that socialize you. To show them your work is to say, this is who I am. That's probably why the artists was so defensive. And of course, his parents being so overwhelmingly supportive of something they didn't understand was sweet.

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