OK, so what do you do once you have graduated from a university? You would think that having completed 3 to 4 years of studying at a tertiary institution, and suitably armed with a degree (in my case a honours level degree), you would head out into society and land that career you have always dreamed about. Not if it is an art degree! Unfortunately the reality of the world we live in is that art-focused jobs (and I am not referring to designing, advertising/signage or décor) are very hard to come by. This is especially true here in Africa (3rd world) and therefore South Africa. Art is in general considered a frivolous waste of time and certainly not worth paying for or funding. If you are fortunate you can try and make it as a full-time artist creating and selling your work but it is my experience that those artists who are able to do this generally have partners (husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, mom and dad) who help support them, or they have to sell out and create things that are fairly “safe”. By “safe” I mean it will have a colour scheme that matches most décor-tastes, so that it matches the carpet/couches/curtains. It will not make any sort of real statement or ask any real questions of the viewer. It will blend. But the bills have to be paid; somehow, that is the reality of life. So they do what they have to.
Above: Proof of Life (2013)
I am not one of those artists I have mentioned above, supported or other (unfortunate or not, time will tell). So, postgrad, I still have to work my 12 hour shifts, 60 hours plus a week, in a factory to… that’s right, pay the bills. I am fortunate in that I do get to lecture art part-time at my alma mater, and although juggling that and my work commitments is extremely demanding, I absolutely love it. This is the other thing postgrad artists do to pay the bills; they turn to teaching. In addition to my lecturing, I also attempt to exhibit as much as possible to keep myself focused; conceptualizing and creating art. I believe that exhibiting is a very important way of establishing yourself as an artist. An artist’s worth should certainly, in part, be judged by his/her exhibitions and should appear on his/her cv. Exhibiting tells people that you take yourself seriously as an artist and so should they. And that is another thing, another bill that has to be paid; exhibiting is expensive. Work has to be made, gallery owners have to be paid.
The other thing that postgrads do is continue studying. For some it is an addiction, and I think perhaps I am one of those people. There really is not a time I can think of that I have not been studying, and I am not talking about being a student of life, we are all those, willingly or not. I am talking about studying in some sort of formal learning institution; school, the military, sport institute, dojo, tech, university, you name it, I have done it. So it is no surprise that I am continuing with my studies; my Masters: after that my Doctorate, and so on and so on. I honestly really enjoy it, despite the stress and cost and lack of social life. There is just something about learning new skills, discovering new facts, acquiring new knowledge and testing and pushing one’s self.
Above: Proof of Life (2013)
Why do I bring this up? Well, I submitted my first draft of my formal Masters proposal this week, this after 6 months of researching, compiling, analyzing and composing: 35 pages of my opinions; educated, researched opinions on a subject. The really awesome thing though is that after I complete my thesis I get to put together an exhibition of work informed by my research.
This is my abstract which provides an idea of my research focus:
Confronting the Anima: Locating White masculinities Within Post-colonial, Post-apartheid South Africa.
White masculinities, as a case study, reflect the tremendous changes that South African society has undergone in the past 21 years as well as how much it still needs to change. I intend to research the role of the South African artist as indicator and locator of these masculinities within this transforming society. My research will be practise based, in other words, it will be an investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. This will, however, necessitate a complete contextualisation of the creative work via intense and sound research. My outcomes will therefore be both theoretical as well as creative, the significance and context of which will be described in words, referencing the practical. The methodology utilized will be autoethnography, a study of my own masculinity; this in order to extrapolate a possible future for white masculinities in South Africa.
Anima; animus; autoethnography; extrapolate; equation; factor; femininity; gender; hegemony; masculinity; mythopoetic; patriarchy; whiteness.
So all that basically means is that I intend to study myself and my art as representative of my specific masculinity. You may think that narcissistic but it is in fact, extremely daunting and just plain freaking scary, and certainly does not scream, “oh, look how wonderful I am”! This is because any really character forming incident in our lives has generally been unpleasant, humiliating, humbling etc. etc.Imagine having to present all that has formed you, warts and all, not only in writing but also images in a gallery: Fear Factor on steroids, I kid you not! Well that will be my project for at least the next 2 years. I will keep you updated.
OK, now on to something completely different: swany’s list of awesomeness!
This movie makes my awesomeness list! It is an indie movie so you probably have never heard of it but watch it! It has some really amazing dialogue in it, for example:
Jenny: [seeing Caroline in the restroom] Ugh, slut.
Caroline: What’d you call me?
Jenny: I think I just called you a slut, slut.
Jenny: Because everyone knows you’ve banged, like, forty different guys since you came here.
Caroline: Really? Forty? Okay, let’s just say I have banged forty guys. What’s the problem? You’re just jealous ’cause you’ve been, uh… brainwashed by puritanical assholes who believe sex is a sin. Then again, your, uh, little… gerbil-sized brain has been reprogrammed by the media to believe sex is the be-all, end-all. So now you’re stuck, right? ‘Cause on one hand, you love to fuck, but afterwards you feel overwhelmed by guilt and you’re not sure why. Maybe it’s because sex is neither as good or as evil as you’ve built it up to be.
Jenny: [hurt pause] Shut up, slut!
Caroline: Jenny…! Seriously. Listen to me. The highlight of your entire life… is gonna be your yearbook photo. You are already nostalgic for shit that has not even happened yet, ’cause you have so precious little to look forward to. You’re gonna spend the first half of your life planning your wedding, you’re gonna spend the second half regretting it. And if I were you—and thank God I’m not ’cause you have terrible hair—I would stop and I would reconsider your whole value system, because everything you know… is wrong.
I suppose the best way to describe it is to say that it is about lot of damaged people doing what it takes to keep going every day. Kind of like real life, I guess. There is a lot of dark humour, a serial killer, an illicit, inappropriate affair, a number love triangles and as I said some really awesome dialogue. Something different than the normal formulaic, by the numbers, Hollywood movie. Watch it!