What’s special for me about working in this space in this residency? What’s to stop me clearing out my usual studio space of all old stuff, and committing to a month of new exploration there instead?
Leaving aside the obvious absurdity of any attempt to empty my own studio, there are very real psychological and spatial challenges in moving in to a “white cube space” for a limited time. The tabula rasa feeling of that first morning was uncomfortable but ultimately an important and necessary driver in getting on with making, not thinking. Thinking and reflecting is my default mode. It’s where I go when work gets tough, to avoid confronting “failure” on an hourly basis. Failure is a glorious and productive force in artistic practice, but working to cheerfully embrace it in a new exposed environment takes some doing.
It’s taken till now to be okay with failing (interspersed by chinks of light, thankfully) in this vast white room.
The anxiety, the early discomfort, was only dealt with by not running away. For the first time in six months, I was committed to being in situ at work before 9am and not leaving until 5.30pm. Office hours. No exceptions. The usual distractions from full time studio attendance with no show deadlines in sight (vet visits, household deliveries, meter readings, dental appointments, chauffeuring family to/from the station, shopping, cooking, cleaning, tidying, blah blah bla) all fall away.
It is transformative to work office hours in a studio without a show deadline.
I’m there because I want to be there, but when I don’t, when I’ve reached impasse/block/pause, I turn and walk to another workstation, another new set of possibilities. Because there are no limits, no deadlines, nothing has to be resolved, I’m liberated to try anything, start anything, explore any path. With the space to do it.
Viewing large pieces from a distance is a joy. Spreading out a huge dust sheet to leave a mass of tangled wire out without fear of tripping over it is a delight.
I couldn’t possibly be doing what I’m doing right now in the way I’m doing it right now in my usual space. And that’s not even touching on the important conceptual concerns and practice insights I’m getting.
So much possibility.