I was recently asked by an artist friend if I had a manifesto.
Of course I do!
I love a good manifesto, and although my own may be modest , it is a great way of clarifying my intentions. It is also a work in progress, one I have been playfully adding to, editing and revisiting over the years.
Here it is thus far:
The Manifesto of Willful Irrelevance
How to Avoid Fame,Renown and Laurels
(please remember that this is farcical)
First off, avoid at all cost, the following Transgressions:
Color out of the tube.
Words , Lettering and Stenciling ( outside of graphic arts).
Abstraction for abstractions sake- or if you really haven’t any ideas.
Color fields ( unless your heart is truly in it.)
Abstract Expressionist derivatives- the macho bastards are dead.
Pattern for patterns sake- unless designing textiles.
Ravens, Crows, Blackbirds ( sadly Portlandia and popular culture has destroyed birds for now).
Low brow references if you aren’t low brow.
Collage- unless you are Max Ernst.
Spray paint .
Piles of laundry,trash, hair, condoms( used or otherwise), sex toys or other such unpleasantness… It’s been done and it is still mind numbing .
Sound …just sound.
Light …just light.
Desecrating books instead of actually reading them.
Murals with a “message”. That’s frequently ineffective propaganda with a high level of self satisfaction but very little actual change. Enter public service instead.
Photo realistic images of dull-as-dirt subjects. Technically stunning but the camera has been invented.
Collaboration. Too many cooks…
Being raised Catholic I suppose I am more inclined to restrictions than opportunities. That said, the following Affirmations:
Gild every lily.
Gleefully abhor negative space.
There is more to life than conventional perspective .
Space and Light are open for interpretation.
More is indeed not only more,but frequently more interesting ; Less is often a respectable veneer for a lack.
Smash false idols whenever possible ; create more fabulous ones.
Create one’s own Myths; reclaim and reinterpret the Old.
Be valiant, trite as that sounds.
Be as purple in your prose as you desire.
Embrace the complex and the ambiguous.
Queer it up whenever possible.
Trust yourself, avoid comparisons and ignore the chatter.
Avoid worldliness and its inherent distraction.
All that matters is an authentic voice. In the end : Make your own shit.
I have been gathering internally an abiding sense of feeling disconnected from the culture at large and attempting how best to address that loss and discontent. My “manifesto” is a stab at defining that sense of isolation somewhat.
Increasingly I feel out of step with the times I live in . There is the righteous rage of identity politics (and of the Right) which frequently leaves me feeling isolated instead of included . I find the unsettling stridency throughout social discourse but especially within the arts.
There is also this seemingly willful ugly aesthetic prevalent in contemporary art, culture and design. I can no longer tolerate the NYT Style section. It is as if by employing jarring discordant colors, transgressive images and random incomprehensible elements that the impotent outrage of a society will be somehow relieved.
LA seems to be birthplace of this jarring aesthetic, or at least a splendid incubator. The nihilism is understandable, relatable even, but at times the cynicism is withering. Again, I have no answer.
Upon declaring myself a studio artist, I joined a local arts organization. Optimistic and eager for community I jumped in fully committed. And it has provided community, in abundance; I have so many truly wonderful friends because of my membership . But it has also provided more than a little angst. Having received the umpteenth rejection for solo/group shows has become both routine and debilitating . Although instructed to not take rejection personally , it is nonetheless degrading. Having never received an acceptance from this group, I’m beginning to believe this organization is just not that into me. If we were dating, I would have dumped him.
So that is what I plan to do.
Like Anthony of the Desert I’m retreating into solitude. For at least the next year I plan to focus upon work , submitting work infrequently and selectively ,attending openings for pleasure not obligation. My priority being self care, personal development and the work; work that may very well be out of step, fuddy-duddy , even irrelevant, but my own.
That and entering analysis (Jungian).
This year end realization has brought me tremendous relief. I may have less of a physical and social media presence, but I will be very present nonetheless.
I’m working now focusing on a series of figures, eccentric beings, perhaps even monstrous. The following NYT article concerning Frankenstein’s unfortunate creation gave me much to think about. How monsters, demons, the undesired repel society at large yet endear themselves to the outcast-the queer ones especially.
So I’ve gathered my thoughts, my materials, prepared my elements and now I am ready to stitch together my ever expanding monstrous universe.
With that, have a very happy Halloween!