What are you trying to communicate?

The question – scarecrow for all the art students – or for those at least who manage to have some self-reflection on what they are doing…Because it’s not that easy question at all…Obviously you can always say something…people say “something” being inquired on things which tend to be beyond of all words… But there’s hardly any point in it…

Each time I see my tutors I know I will be interrogated about the meanings I want to convey… But- just look around – don’t we live in a world that has a great potential of not making any sense at all? You get up in the morning, having a chance you listen to the BBC World and what you get is that Dozens where killed in Pakistan Blasts and that Weather for London is: Sunday -Max 10C, Min -5C, and that J. Howard won the Australian election, and Man Utd slump to defeat at Bolton – does it make any sense apart from that news-y, journalists’ sense of supplying that “here & now” mess?

You don’t have time to digest what you’ve just heard, you run to fulfill your social duties, in your head may sound dozens killed…London – 10C Max…Man Utd….Australian Election…And in a case you forgot – you are being bombarded by hundreds of images, often contradictory – you see a false smile on a billboard, you see the face of a driver next to you, you see the registration plates, you see buildings – familiar environment, you see Tokyo, Warsaw and the Orion constellation if you want (these via the Internet), then you may see Vikings, Ancient Romans and New York 3034 (these via cinema/movies)… So there you are thinking about meaning of the contemporary reality you may want to convey to other people…

But you can say – it’s fine, I’ve got used to it. Obviously, we all did – aren’t we – to put it poetically (but without any sentiment – no, no and no) – children of our times? Didn’t we train our senses to select only this info/meaning/sense which has a concrete use for us (contemporary cognitive psychology has lots to say about it)? But it doesn’t necessary help to answer the question. Since all genuine, non – escapist art is supposed to make comments and generate metaphors on what’s the contemporary essence, and it’s expected to this with an insight and ingenuity – the modern art is nothing but mess and it has to be accepted as such without puristic, conservative nonsense that there are mediums (read: oils/canvas), theories, approaches and “names” more “legitimate” than others.

And looking at art as a sort of a language (hence you get the terminology – communication, message, meaning) is – for me – just another simplification kept for the sake of explainers … Cannot art be an experience beyond words, or be functioning in a pre-verbal, sub-conscious state? Cannot art be simply a silence, and I mean silence – mystical void which doesn’t attempt to mean something… ?

You may say – post-modernistic garbage – no rules need to be applied, all is relevant and continuously changing… But that’s what has been shaping our world for some time now…Those who choose not to bother produce pretty images of plums resting on a cloth, or a favourite cat catching a butterfly…Would you like all art to be like this?

On the other hand there’s another acceptable point of view – since an artist is a human being he/she may choose a deeply personal path and in a consequence will try to communicate the humanity, himself/herself exclusively, deliberately ignoring all more generalised statements on the world around… But since he/she is a modern artist there will always dilemma born purely from functioning within “here & now”. Just listen to this voice: (…)what does modern art as such mean to you?
What modern art means is that you have to keep finding new ways to express yourself, to express the problems, that there are no settled ways, no fixed approach. This is a painful situation, and modern art is about this painful situation of having no absolutely definite way of expressing yourself. This is why modern art will continue, because this condition remains; it is the modern human condition. (…) [Modern art] is about the hurt of not being able to express yourself properly, to express your intimate relations, your unconscious, to trust the world enough to express yourself directly in it. It is about trying to be sane in this situation, of being tentatively and temporarily sane by expressing yourself. (…) It is about the difficulty of being a self because one is neglected. Everywhere in the modern world there is neglect, the need to be recognized, which is not satisfied. Art is a way of recognizing oneself, which is why it will always be modern. (Louise Bourgeois, quoted via New – Art site, thanks vvoi for your intelligence)

Summing it all up – I’m still in a deep confusion when considering seriously what I would like to communicate…And it’s originated from my respect towards art (not “my” art but art per se), I prefer to appear as not – having – a – clue than to “dress” my confusion in self – assuring, empty words…


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

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