So the first semester of my honours year of art studies is almost done. I only have an art practices proposal to hand in, my Spanish exam to complete and it is done, and then onto second semester where the workload increases three-fold! Last week we had our lecturers down in Durban for five days of intense workshopping and critical assessments of our practical work. Do you now those dreams we all have of finding ourselves inexplicably naked in front of a huge audience or arriving late for an exam or an important appointment? Imagine that but one hundred times worse and for real!
Normally I have such a clear, focused, passionate and strong view of my work and am able to talk and talk about it with animated conviction. But man, come to the end of that week, drained and weary from trying to balance my job’s requirements and demands plus what my studies require, and trying to make as many lectures as I can, and I am a babbling, incoherent, unfocused, punch-drunk idiot. Standing in front of my work, faced by my peers and lecturers I wring my hands behind my back like they were dishrags and my face twists and twitches like I’m having a stroke. When asked a question or to explain something my mouth flops open like a fish out of water, a big “O” with nothing coming out, not even a gasp. There are very few things that will make you feel as exposed and vulnerable as this does. And as they criticise, dissect and dismiss your work you can almost feel yourself shrinking and fading into nothing. You are left, for a moment, numb and shellshocked but you know that the pain is coming. It’s like when you fall and graze the skin off your knees: for an instant there is a numbness as you watch the blood pearl up and out of the bone-white patches of ruined flesh, and you kind of wonder why it’s not hurting more. But then like a wave swelling and swelling it does, first the sting and then growing exponentially until your entire body literally screams!
I passed which is good, but not well which is bad. It is ultimately frustrating when the amount of time and effort expended does not result in an equal reward. What is even more frustrating for me, I find, is when I cannot clearly convey my vision. It quite literally kills me, the large, emotional chunks of me that I have exposed in my work bleed. This year my journey of research and conceptualization began with me looking at the grief I have gone through last year and its stages, five in all: shock, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I experimented with colours to represent these stages, and monochromatic drawings to depict myself within these selected colours. However, my questioning and self-examination led me to, what I think is the normal, instinctive reaction to finding ourselves in these situations, to the unfairness of it all. We wail and rail at God, our creator, fate, the Universe, whomever or whatever we believe in. Sometimes we feel like we have done something wrong and that is why this has happened, that we are being punished. So I looked at absolution and the Roman Catholic application of the confessional. I had thought to present myself confessing to the viewer in my exhibition piece, who would have then either offered absolution or condemnation, but that was shot down in the examination crit on Friday, so I begin again, this entire process I have spent four months working through. God help me!
I spent the weekend cursing and moping, but mostly just resting and sleeping, recharging my batteries! Now I need to refocus and start conceptualising again, imagining, creating! That moment of self-doubt and feeling of hopelessness has passed. I have accepted the criticism and.. nay, as I was told by another to, I have embraced the struggle to CREATE, and the glorious birthing-pains of ART. Once more I have launched myself out into the great unknown and set out on that adventure where a million possibilities await me. If there is one thing I do love about my life it is that, despite being such a focused, goal-orientated person, I have no idea where I will be in a month’s time or what I will be doing. I follow the path of an ARTIST and what a freaking adventure it is!
(images of my proposal presentation)