A quick and fun way to meet the 15 artists chosen from around Australia for the SITUATE ART in festivals program hosted by the Salamanca Arts Centre.
Meet the directors from the seven festivals around Australia and South Africa, working in partnership with the SITUATE ART in festivals program, hosted by Salamanca Arts Centre.
When Should I Get Started, and Why Should I Bother Anyway?
Well, no time like the present! it may be bleeding obvious, but really, there is no time like the present. You can stare at that blank canvas, look at that box of pencils, buy the materials, set up your studio space, and sit and wait for inspiration, all your life if you want, but you are only really going to become an artist when you start making art. if it is conceptual art, performance art, rubbish art, you still have to do it, no one else is going to do it for you. And this is where we come full circle, back to the beginning…
So many people reckon art today is something anybody could do. Ahh, yes, that may well be true, but YOU didn’t! And I did, and on so many levels that is what will make you an artist. Believe it or not, most people will respect you for it in the end. Some will even be jealous! But only you can bring it about, only you can decide, yes, I’m going to give this art business a go. And a business it is! You can start out slowly, but you can’t really dabble, you really have to give it a proper go.
You may come across people that dabble in this and that, and that’s fine, but ask the when they last exhibited, and you may well get a blank response! Its not about judging, its about seeing yourself as a valuable part of society, and that your art needs to be seen, engaged with, appreciated, even ridiculed. As Francis Bacon famously said, He didn’t care what the response of the viewer was, good or bad, so long as their was a response. You need to make art because the people around you need you to make your art.
Art is an act of intervention. To intervene is to ‘come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events’. That is, when you make your art and take it out into the world where it belongs, you will change the people who engage with it. This where the permanence of your work is not relevant, because it is the Art Effect that you want to create, not an Artefact.
See you out there!
Why Is Documentation Important?
You could say that an artist is only as successful as their last catalogue! As discussed earlier, there is certainly no need to document everything, and there are times when you intentionally don’t want to, in order to create something really special, that can only be experienced first hand. However, documentation allows your work to live on in other forms, in a catalogue, a magazine review or on a website or blog. With the advent of digital technology, its really never been easier, but their are certainly some guidelines worth considering.
Who are you documenting for? If it is simply for you own personal use, to reflect upon, to store ideas, and to assess your own progress and development, then its probably not that crucial what equipment you use or how great your skill in suing it is. A smart phone would suffice. They are relatively affordable, very handy, and actually take pretty good images and video. Blogs are also affordable and relatively easy to set up and operate, and can serve as a visual diary for your own use. You don’t even have to publish them at all.
If however, you are working on a significant project, carrying out an important commission, or embarking on your life’s work, then it may well be worth investing more in your equipment, doing some courses to improve your skills, or better still, employ the services of a professional photographer or film maker. A well executed photograph, a well put together catalogue or a beautiful film, could pay you back many times over in the long run. So don’t skimp when its worth it.
Also be prepared. You will save a lot of time, energy and stress if you do a few things beforehand. Check your equipment of course, batteries, lenses, memory cards and the like. But most importantly sit down and work out exactly what you want or need. A simple tip, is to write ten ‘shot’ that you need. What processes need to be captured? Do you need sponsors or VIPs photographed? Does it need to be a daytime or nighttime image? Probably the most overlooked subject is YOU! And if you want great images of yourself, in process, working in community, setting up an exhibition, then you will need some help; professional or otherwise, depending again on your needs.
What is the Value of Art That Can’t Be Collected?
You may be surprised that museums may only collect as artwork if it is deemed that it will last 500 years in reasonable condition before any significant restoration needs to be done. Obviously museums play a particular and important role in preserving artefacts of human exixstance. Nonetheless, many significant events and milestones have taken place in human history that we now have no remnants or relics. Although their are cave paintings depicting the use of fire, and mosaics of carts and chariots with wheels, we do not have a comprehensive and complete set of human achievenmtns. We’re still looking for the ‘missing link’!
Although we now have all manner of ways of recording events and preserving materials, even within a hundred years there will already be gaps in our collections of life in the early 21st-century. We do things everyday that we don’t make a record of, and art is really no different in the wide range of human existence. In fact humans have carried out ceremonies and rituals of religious or social significance in secret for millennia, and in the age of secularism art and artists can take on this role.
For example, many of the performances and conceptual art of feminism in the 1960s-70s were never recorded or documented, yet to the people involved at the time it was life changing. Women were living for the moment, seeking change, and pushing the boundaries of newly found freedoms. The idea of continuing the patriarchal lineage of institutional art history was indeed anathema to feminist thinking, and many of the interventions were highly critical of the artworld status quo.
The idea of art being ephemeral,, momentary, transient, has many advantages, especially in drawing attention to the transitory nature of our own existance. The ubiquitous bronze statue adorning our public parks is testament to our human desire to be remembered and to remain immortal, but the fact is, none of us will, and in millennia to come all will be forgotten. A work such as Azevedo’s above, speaks volume to this notion.
So it is good to remember that being an artist and creating art is not necessarily about making long lasting artworks, worthy of museological collection, and that it can encompass a broad range of ideas and outcomes, as far and wide as human existence itself; and so art should be. The world would be a poorer place if art was only made for the wealthy. There is something really special about art that reaches only a few, and leaves no trace behind, yet for those it touches, brings new insights into themselves and the world around them.
Why is Writing So Important in Contemporary Art?
Artist often make the point that they need to know how to write, but authors don’t need to know how to paint! Well that may well be true, but that still won’t change the fact that you will have to write about your work if you want to maintain some form of contemporary arts practice. We live in an information driven world, and people want to know all about you!
Although there are notable exceptions, for the most there is an expectation that art will be explained in some way. People want to know what its all about. Without going into art history to deeply, it is important to recognise that what may now be considered a ‘straight forward’ realistic portrait or landscape, may well be full of meanings that are no longer recognised. They may well have been ideas and beliefs that were part of an oral tradition that has long since disappeared.
But we live in the information age where writing is still dominant, so write we do. This may well be changing, and the advent of cheap and easy video making may well be the future. So time to change skill sets once again!
Bob and Roberta Smith
Off Voice Fly Tip 2009
Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery
Photo: Tate Photography
“The main function of the instruments of communication of capitalism is to repeat a message, which is: we live in a finite, immovable and definitive political framework, only the decor must change at high speed. Art questions this message, and reverses it. It is an idea that was actually the core of Relational Aesthetics already, the Marxist idea that there is no stable “essence” of humankind, which is nothing but the transitory result of what human beings do at a certain moment of history. I think this might be the cornerstone of all my writings, in a way.”