Berlin isn’t too bad location wise when it comes to the art scene, but in November it is cold outside. And, it is outside with other people, need of communication and all. So, I occupy my parents’ kitchen for an ‘art residency’ in reply to Banksy’s New York stay. I promise not to turn any urinals into art, but that’s about all I promise. Well, and I try not to get caught.
Day 1: They arrived.
Day 2: Thorsday
Day 3: How it was possible to forget about a Nazi loot for years.
(Hint: with our history we of course all stack priceless stolen masterpieces in our pantries, so it is easy to forget about the one or the other Nazi loot.)
Day 4: November 9
Sometimes I think we build so many memorials to make up for the fact that we do as humans do and forget. When remembering becomes a ritual however, it is useless. I don’t say so just let’s forget. I say the lessons are important enough to guide our lives.
Day 5: Berlin – We wrap things.
Day 6: Smarty Pants
Don’t you even start to think I can’t see all those question marks in your minds. ‘What is she doing now?’ Well, let’s call ‘Banksy for the Wimp’ the unloved bastard of my insecurities and frustrations.
Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly, we are more prone to criticize in an area we lack security ourselves. As I am a rag rug of insecurities – partly because of my little flirt with Asperger, partly because I simply think too much, and partly just because – I have a plethora of areas to choose from. Yet, the one thing I define myself about is my art and its impact. And I compare. And I judge (No, we shouldn’t judge, but I am no angel and I do.) And there was something about Banksy that made me want to hit a wall with my head. Repeatedly.
Before I say another word: I don’t know him as a person. He might be the sweetest guy all around. This is not in any way a criticism of him as a human being. And as I point out later our understanding of art is probably closer than it appears from a look at what we do and especially, how we do it. So, no personal offense meant.
That said, art is a cultural tool like bow and arrow, writing, pizza or music. They change because our culture changes or to express it differently, each tool develops with the cultural constrains it has to fit.
Take the example of music: As the standards for performance, the methods of transmission and distribution and the methods of consumption changed, so did what we are offered and play. The internet enhanced this process. Musicians have access to a never known range of influences to draw from and can publish their creations on thousands of different platforms without having to go through labels etc. It’s a market of niches without a real center. Everything goes somewhere (This implies already a problem: without direction no development as development always suggests one knows where one means to go in an abstract way at least…).
But technology is not the only aspect of our culture that shapes our tools. We live in a culture of personality which pursues what Susan Cain calls an extrovert ideal. The beginnings can be traced back to Max Stirner who developed a philosophy of a consequent individuality. He said that the ego is always there in everything and nothing should be more important to a person than him/herself. It is a philosophy of pure egoism, which took without being widely known by name roots in a newly anonymous and highly competitive society (end of the 19th/ beginning of the 20th century, around the time when psychology became the new science too, what is no coincident). It let to the belief that extroversion is a way to outshine the crowd. As Susan Cain points out in Quiet today we don’t just believe that extroversion makes us more successful, we even think that it makes us a better person.
Duchamp named Max Stirner’s philosophy as one of the columns of his ideas; the other being Poincare’s work. Duchamp again was one of the main influencers of modern art and his readymade Fountain (an urinal signed with the pseudonym R.Mutt) was in 2004 selected as the most influential art work of the 20th century by 500 renowned artists and historians. He concluded that it is the artist’s choice to call something art and that the exhibition or presentation is a creative act itself. As with extroversion this idea took a life of its own. What was meant to distinguish retinal art from conceptual art led to the belief in show and image cultivation over everything.
That’s what makes me look weary at this Banksy phenomenon. Yes, you can say it is because I am not a show master and never will be one. To put it into a nutshell, I lack any and every self-marketing ability. It makes me question whether I will ever be a ‘real’ artist in today’s world and not just the skilled talent, who never made it. It fuels my insecurities especially after finishing such a big project like Aurora C40 with what I believe to be great art in it and important ideas, but again no big bang and sparklers show factor.
But then, what about the tool’s influence on culture? Can a change in the tool have an impact on culture or will it always be only a reflection thereof?
Do you remember that what might feel like hours ago with all my babbling I said that Banksy’s and my understanding of art might not be very different? Drumroll as this is the point where I make an argument for this theory. Beyond the self-expression we both have a message or messages we want to bring to the people and not wait until the people come to a gallery or museum. We mean to pick people up where they are, from their daily grind, confront them with bigger ideas, involve them, make them think, maybe even feel good for a second and smile. He hits the street. I send my shoes out on the street and use pop culture references to start from a common ground with those, who usually not look at art. We believe that the tool we wield can influence our culture and help change things, maybe even this pesky belief that loud is always better.
So, maybe ‘Banksy for the Wimp’ is also a silent, tongue-in-my-cheek genuflexion in front of another as crazy as they come smarty pants.
Day 7: Murder, she wrote. A short story.
Day 8: Strawberry Fields
Day 9: When you look too much, you might see too much.
Day 10: Permission Slip
Day 11: Presenting Dean Lopata in Movember, a tale of epic dimension&meaning
Day 12: Dinner with stars
Day 13: Out of the Box
Day 14: Connection? Lost.
Day 15: Permission Slip 2
Day 16: Reminiscing the good old days
Day 17: Follow the White Rabbit. I said Follow!
Day 18: Permission Slip 3
Day 19: Candy Crush
Day 20: Big Bang – a Theory
Day 21: [Shakespeare quote I couldn’t find (probably because self-help wasn’t a book genre of it’s own yet)]
Day 22: Permission Slip 4
Day 23: [Shakespeare quote I did find]
Day 24: Family Reunion
Day 25: Permission Slip 5
Day 26: Sky Line
Day 27: Nightseajourney
Day 28: Permission Slip 6
Day 29: Farewell, sweet dream.
Day 30: Identity Crisis – I’m a tree.
Day 31: Escapism
Day 32: Light at the end of the tunnel (might be a train though)
Day 33: Vincent was here.
Day 34: Klee
Day 35: Permission Slip 7
Day 36: It’s a date.
Day 37: The Worship of the Golden Bully
Day 38: Selfie
Day 39: Permission Slip 8
Day 40: Yoga Class
Day 41: The only minimum wage dishwasher happy to work for scraps.
Day 42: Rudolph, in a land of no fog
I keep returning to the subject of bullying and with good reason. Many seem not to understand what impact their words and deeds can have on the people around them or even far away from them in corporal life. While being different does not automatically mean being better, it is most definitely not a synonym for being worse. ‘Get over it.’ ‘Deal with it.’ – it shouldn’t be said to the people on the receiving end. And ‘it is their loss’ isn’t a soothing truth. I have something against bullies and them being the one having the fun. It’s called art.