I love moments of exhilaration. At how fast the driver goes around the bend… at the crazy swerving… at the fact that I’m in the front seat and I don’t actually have a seatbelt on and nobody is going to give a damn about it. Realising, coming close to a brush with death, that I could die but I was alive… made me laugh. I’m often… entirely way too serious.
I chose to be here… experiencing all the messiness of life. To love the forces of nature… beauty in all its forms… beauty for the sake of beauty, beauty in the uncommon… in the passage of time… in the taboo, in patience and persistence… in simplicity and in complexity… in Pachamama’s fierce creations… and in her fragile ones, in the unfurling of the larger picture… in the themes of our lives… and in the minutia of my day… I’ve learned, this is where life mostly is. And still, how I feel about something, now and today… can change over the course of a lifetime. That something I believed and expressed a few years ago… may no longer stand today. That how you show up every day is how you live your life. When you need to change it up, shake things out, let the old things die, trust that rebirth is always on the other side.
Maybe, when we engage with art (loosely defined as any creative practice but I will lean on the traditional definition here) we do so because it offers us mediums that take us to the heart of the matter. And it will be subjective. Everyone’s experience of life and each other… is subjective. So when we say… art offers us a glimmer, a reflection of life… are we really just asking… what’s here? Perhaps sometimes we are also asking… where am I going… what will I discover? Or perhaps these are simply variations of… what’s here.
Maybe I’m simply thinking that I love it when art shows me or invites me to experience something new or raw… not necessarily original… but a perspective and a feeling that opens my eyes and my mind… a perspective that causes me to see the beauty of the ordinary, mundane world, yet thereafter has completely altered my everyday experience in some way that I will be able find beauty in this world by choosing to see it… or a perspective that causes me to recoil in disgust… is that good art? Yes. Even if I have subjectively made an opinion of the art… based on my reaction… the artist has fulfilled the purpose of their work.
To wonder at the beauty of someone’s mind… to see beauty through their eyes, without the need to alter my life in any way… is art I want to see. To question what I take for granted and my paradigms… however uncomfortable I feel… is still art I want to see. To be able to shift my experience of seeing the ordinary… is art I want to see.
In that sense… what alters me… may not alter you. What is great for me… may not seem great to you. What was great to me at 20, may not seem great to me at 30, vice versa and so on. I deeply appreciate this truth about art. It’s shamelessly subjective and it knows. We know. Every time we experience art we don’t know what our reaction or our response will be. We don’t know the answer… and there is no right answer. I only know what I want to experience… yet really I cannot say, at all, what that will look like. Given that I cannot know if I will want to experience the same things in decade… art has no anchoring in the objective for me. What is popular/acceptable is this: enough people in agreement… on the work itself and on the parameters that judge the work. Popularity has immense commercial usefulness but it does not automatically give the subject of popular agreement, a correlational identity with truth. What matters… can take a while to find… discover or realise. (Aside: In a culture that idolises youth, if we were to question the values that created the commercial industry of that culture to begin with, what would we discover?)
What was mundane and ordinary… can become extraordinary given the passage of time and the thresholds we cross in life. Truth can still be relative. I’m certain… not because the art or the scene has changed… but because we’ve bloomed with understanding. Because life inevitably expands our perspective.
Whether art is subversive, reactionary, off the wall or in service to commerce or a purpose like advertising, it remains, a reflection of the artist’s relationship with their world, what they see and what percolates within them. Art is the medium that reveals life through a multitude of lenses and life is reflected in the meaning we make out of it.