I showed Elizabeth what I’ve been working on lately, beginning with the Vampyr text and moving on to Accretions and some of the notes I’ve written to go with them. I also showed her these photos of things I’ve made over the past year, and we talked mainly about the relationship between the objects, the notes and the accretions.

cup-handle-holder-1cut-up-book-1ocagraphcup-handle-holder-2marked-up-book-1

I told her I don’t like making the objects because it feels fraudulent. I told her the clay one was worst of all because at least the other ones are made from real things, that real people can really use too. Even glue is suspect, I said, because it’s hidden, and so I prefer to use string. These measures make me feel less guilty to make things, and less like it’s all a con. (I’ve often thought about this, and I still haven’t worked out quite what kind of conning might be going on – and among whom or what – when I make these things. Last year I made bunches of wool and clipped them onto the ends of the blinds in the kitchen to stop them hitting against the window frames noisily in the breeze, and I didn’t feel guilty about that.)

She said the objects look very familiar, and that they fall into a history of preferring assembled artworks to fabricated ones because the visibility of assembly makes it seem more democratic than the invisible production concealed in something like a Jeff Koons. But making this kind of distinction is pointless in the end, she said, because the art object is not democratic. It is set apart from the stuff of the world with a special power – of being framed, of being separate, of having an aura, of selling for lots of money.

I wonder about this problem of art objects being special, which is always such a problem for the things I make. It feels odd to want to sell or buy them, it feels odd to treat them carefully or to look after them once they’re finished. Once they’re finished is when they need to start being used, or broken up again. Naming them is difficult: they usually end up with names that functionally or physically describe them in a kind of dead-pan way.

It looks like I’m making that classic mistake of trying to produce artwork I’ve seen before, I said, and deciding they must be ok if they look like artwork. How boring this would be. This is not something I would do with my writing. The purpose of my writing is to make new things. There’s no point writing something if it’s already possible to write it.

I think the direction I’m moving in is to make things if I want to make them, for myself, but not show them to anyone as art. Not show them at all, unless someone comes over and asks what I’m up to. Because as I wrote this morning, the objects are useful workings-out for my writing and thinking, but the point of them is somewhere else. The artworks are very quiet on their own: they are arrows that point at possible scenarios, but without either going there themselves nor really encouraging anyone else to bother going there either. The writing, on the other hand, seems not to point but to go. It isn’t inhibited like my objects.

It’s important that I don’t abandon these poor objects altogether. I did make them, and at times I’ve thought each one worth pursuing and keeping. It’s also important that I don’t abandon the practice of making them because evidently it’s an important part of the process of my work as a whole.

But I have to think ALL THE TIME about this approaching academic assessment, which is causing me to try to tie up the past year’s work into some kind of a concluding statement. Throwing all the stuff into a cardboard box and handing that in along with my commentary would be quite appropriate: a nod, albeit stylized, in the direction of the objects not being special at all, and being in process, a bit disguarded, just rough versions of the stuff of my writing. If they all get jumbled up inside the box, with strings going everywhere, is that a bit like a dispositif of thoughts I’m trying to set out in my commentary..? That’s probably going a bit far. But I’ll have a go at this box plan.

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