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The imprisonment of the soul

July 26, 2015

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Being an artist has brought a stark reality to my life, stark because through life events and the decisions I’ve made, I’ve found a reality in which there is nowhere to hide. The pursuit of artistic and creative truth has for me demonstrated that the values we are expected to conform to don’t necessarily correlate to the values of intuitive human endeavour. And it is really the generality of the convenient systems of control which lack the capacity to accept alternative strategies or philosophical approaches to living. Having explored my creativity in-depth I feel my own truth of life can’t be masked or disguised and I’ve found that my only satisfaction comes from a deeper immersion into my search for something substantial and meaningful. It’s hard to articulate but I don’t feel I want my life to be defined through the markers of society and so it is incumbent upon myself to find a meaning that will satisfy my soul and allow me the dignity of a meaningful existence.

Through the constant analysis that art requires and the objective questioning, I’ve found myself in a position where my perceptions have altered so much that I can no longer blindly follow what is assumed to be the “common sense” understanding of societal life and that my position within society as an artist is an irrelevance. And because art has no rules or boundaries by definition it really can’t fit within the tight parameters of any system or institution. Something which I always felt but had to live a lifetime in order to understand it and find a way of dealing with it.

In one way it’s simple, I refuse to accept hierarchy and competition and I don’t accept the institutional dogma just because it’s there, which means that I can’t operate and play the game that society seems to require of us. Because of this I walk a different path and yet I must survive within a framework that I fundamentally disagree with, a framework which relies on an unquestioning adoption of assumptions and protocols. God knows I’ve tried but I simply can’t reconcile creative freedom with an unquestioning compliance to the prevailing trends.

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Specifically with the art world, I struggle with the notion of success and how we are taught and expected to view art and the values we place upon it. Here the elite hierarchical dogma of western civilisation always raises its ugly head as the system seeks to own all before it and put it in the right place. On a personal level I want to feel free and so that I can express myself with truth, freedom and sincerity, but I can’t because poverty is my companion and I must comply to survive. In one sense this reality makes a mockery of the system and pollutes human expression into a wealth generating exercise that is in fact a bastardisation of creativity, a fact that is disguised by the beguiling apparatus in place which maintains the philosophical overview of the status quo, under which we all operate.

Art in my opinion should not be about ownership, status, bragging rights or the messenger of any dogmatic and oppressive views, neither should it be about fiscal value or be judged by the precedent of the “masterpiece” because all these contribute to a distraction from what is an expression of human creativity. Convenient methods for categorising and ultimately dictating the direction of western art through the mechanism of  institution, so what we see as a chronology of events in the art world, particularly over the past hundred years, could in fact be the result of a blind conspiracy between artists and institutions at the mercy of the elite moneyed overlords.

I’m afraid I’ve always viewed the evolving trends within the art world in a most cynical way, because I simply don’t believe its a natural human impulse to steer creativity into the narrow bands of the ever-changing “ism’s”. I simply see it as a convenient societal imposition on the freedoms of creativity, feeding into the hierarchy and financed by the controlling interests. The problem is that these views are so engrained into the consciousness of the world that they dictate our direction regardless of the credibility of opposing opinion. I mean why would I have to call myself a contemporary artist and fit within the conceptualist criteria to be considered worthy and relevant within the art world.

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It is most curious being an artist, because you take a conscious decision to be one and you must then face the consequences, I know many other people who were good artists but were unable to take the hit of poverty and struggle, because that is the truth of an artist’s life. I for my sins live a life which is almost unbearable at times, I face real poverty and a massive resistance from the established institutions of art. My potential as a sculptor has been ignored and rejected in my own country because of the reasons I write about here and there is nothing I can do, essentially I’m powerless and I know that no matter how interesting or good my sculpture is that nothing will come of it. I believe this is because I’m an individual and I’m not a part of any group thing and my work is original, the truth being that nobody knows if my work is good or bad and to back me would be a gamble. However there comes a time when it is too late, when the struggle has been too much that you lose faith in the system, the point where I am in fact  now, which is why I just freely make do and say what I like.

You see the problem with an imposed system on the arts is that everyone can follow guidelines and protocol, but when people break the mould they have to be authorised by the recognition of those higher up in the hierarchy. Once the nod is given then everyone falls into line as with the emperors new clothes and people no longer feel the risk of exposing themselves. I mean it all fits in with the psychology of group dynamics, but these are salutary lessons for the artists who believe in the sanctity of individual human expression.

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So the art world is a shoddy place for the individual artist, there is no meritocracy and many artists must live out their lives suffering because of the systems in place. There may be no practical solution for people like me but it would be a crime to live in silence which is why I believe it’s so important for artists to share their experiences and so in time the collective opinions may lead to change for future generations.

At the grand age of fifty-two I’m tired in many ways, I don’t sleep much and I feel an intensity and determination to be a worthy artist but the truth is that I work in hopelessly compromised conditions and I struggle to maintain my idealism and hope. However I refuse to be defeated by the system and I will not allow the conditions to erode my joy and hope as I celebrate the gift of life through my work. In some ways I will never know about the merits of my work beyond my own perception which doesn’t really matter and as I often write it’s all relative to, what is after all the distortions of subjectivity.

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This world is a crazy place 🙂

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❤ ❤ ❤

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