So I’ve started writing again because I started feeling trapped in my head. Trapped in the sense that I’d be thinking about something and would quickly spiral to the basest, logical conclusion I was capable of, which was usually that we’re all just fucked so either we have an armed revolution where we kill all those with power or we don’t, and given we’re more likely not to have a revolution cos frankly who has the time and anyway the lizards would just get back in power again, why am I bothering to do this again? Actually, what was I thinking about? Because my short-term memory is not what it was these days.
So yeah, writing stuff down for a speculative audience of not-me feels like it might be a useful thing to do again.
You might have noticed I’m no longer a Birmingham Open Media Fellow, which feels a bit odd since I’ve been involved there since before it opened and BOM has been integral to how I’ve changed and developed over the last couple of years. But BOM has also changed and developed and is now embarking on a programme of “measurable social impact” lead by a Fellowship of practitioners whose work intrinsically does that. While I enjoy that kind of work and was looking forward to being part of that programme, it wouldn’t involve what we’d call my artistic practice. That sort of thing comes under Photo School really, particularly the bits where I use cameras to develop a sense of place. Last year’s Trailblazers project was a good example of something which had social impact and which I was an artistic practitioner, but my work on that didn’t push my artistic practice forward as much as… actually, I’m not sure what it developed, and maybe that’s the nub here.
The stuff I do that ostensibly comes under Photo School is about me using my skills to assist others in achieving something new. Some of these skills come from my art, obviously, but that’s just a part of it. Most of it comes from my ability to teach, or communicate ideas. And while my art does benefit from this, it’s only in the sense that my art benefits from any concentrated task I do.
In hindsight, over the last year BOM and I have been struggling to fit my art into their agenda, because it should fit, right? Except it doesn’t really, and it’s not fair on either to keep trying. It’s better if I just get on a make art, and maybe that art will set an agenda.
Meanwhile I’m keeping my keys to BOM and will continue to be part of the family. Karen will continue to be my mentor and I will have a solo exhibition there at the end of the year. (Assuming I get my proposal in and it’s not shite.) But I won’t be part of the core team anymore, and while that feels weird given all I’ve done there, it’s also feels rather freeing.
(Sometimes it feels freeing like being thrown off a cliff to fly on your own is freeing, but freedom is supposed to be painful, right? Otherwise why would we have fascism?)
It occurs to me now that this also explains another conundrum I’d been having, namely the distinction between my political interests and my artistic practice, and how I felt the two shouldn’t be so different. Making art that meant something but which wasn’t activism (because that’s something else) felt like something I should be doing, but I’ve struggled to figure out how to within my practice.
Maybe my art isn’t supposed to work like that. The pieces I’m most pleased with tended to be accidents, in the sense that they were premeditated. I put a bunch of things / actions / ideas together and they emerged. This sort of serendipitous methodology (to coin a horrible phrase) doesn’t lend itself well to the howling fury I want to express about the state of the world, so maybe it shouldn’t try.
Which means I may need a different outlet for the howling fury. Maybe I should form a band.