March 17, 2009
So again after a show closing I feel not that I “accomplished something” but that I failed again. But I’m more interested in exploring why I feel like this than in just complaining (like usual).
I think a number of factors are at work. Factor one is the factor I’ll call Untold Possibility, or UP. With UP, promises are made, encouragement is given, and artists are teased with the idea of art exhibitions as a teleological process. This show will lead to that; X or Y will result from this show; this present show will produce more opportunities for you in the future. The problem with UP is that although it seems like an inevitable part of artworld back-patting, all those promises and possibilities disappear faster than the liquor at the opening reception. I think the hardest work of maintaining yourself as an artist is to be able to deal warmly with people while knowing that you can’t trust them at all.
(UP is also one of the reasons I want to curate shows: to give artists a letdown-free experience.)
Factor two is what I’ll call Pragmatics. The show never looks, on the wall, the way it does in your head. The gallery lacks lighting, or you lack money for a certain preferred framing technique, or the room is too small or too big. Or something. I think this is more of an issue for early-career artists than Art Stars with clout but I’m not in a position to say. What’s interesting as a side note here is that the most positive artshow experience I ever had was at Art Chicago, at which all of the organizational/installation and other details were taken care of by other people, no promises were made, and all I had to do was show up and talk intelligibly. Therefore my expectations were greatly exceeded, so: no letdown.
Factor Three is the And Now What factor. Many people who don’t know me very well have advised me to “chill out” and “take a break” from artwork and the artworld for a while, but instead I’m just left with a lot of broken promises, bad advice, and the question: what do I do now? Supposedly what with the work I’ve done I should have built some kind of momentum that I should captialize on, but: no dice.
Of course all this has to be taken with a giant grain of salt, that salt consisting of my own unrealistic expectations and workaholic perfectionism, but I think these factors are at work with other artists I’ve talked to who feel something of a letdown after any show. They’re probably not reassessing their medication profiles like I am (and researching the role of noreprinephrine in autism) but the theory still holds water, I think. Thoughts?