Proof-reading the entries for the Supermarket Art Fair catalogue is a good reminder of the range of activities that artists undertake – it is far too easy for me to become fastened in my own routines and habits. Reading an article about how an artist worked with her siblings to establish two dynamic and radical contemporary art venues in Syria which since the ‘unrest’ have become domestic residences/refuges for her and her colleagues families is somewhat of a wake-up call. Both the passion to actively engage with forming a new art-scene and the practical solution to surviving subsequent national turmoil are inspirational.
So the question is “what is stopping me?” stopping me from doing everything that I can to realise my dreams. The question is particularly pertinent right now, not just because it is the beginning of a new year, but also because after two years studying Swedish I now have to get on with building a life that felt rather ‘on-hold’. In a recent feature about a designer’s home was a photograph of a sentence written across a wood-burning stove, it reads: the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Again, there is something about the relation between ambition and pragmatism, and it is perhaps this that seems to be hooking me in.
I am in an amazing position right now; I have very few responsibilities, just about enough security to maintain the studio, I am at a prestige school, and I am relatively naïve about the scene here so can ask questions that Swedes would not. Perhaps the question is not about what might be stopping me, but rather what do I want to do – really want to do!
We have one final assignment for the Making Matters course – to write and present a draft research proposal. After a year of wrestling with the concept of artistic research I feel ready for it and am looking forward to working the assignment. My intention to see if I can produce something which successfully combines my artistic dreams with the pragmatism of institutional frameworks. If I pull it off then there is no reason why it could not be the basis of real project*.
It is hard for me to say what I want, not because I do not know what it is, but because I am scared that by daring to utter it it will become vulnerable. Somehow keeping it locked away inside me can become a way to keep it safe. The inherent foolishness of this is clear to me – I cannot expect anyone to know what I want, and therefore to help me achieve it, without me sharing that information with them. If I want to have shows I need to let people who can make this happen know that I am interested. Working with the exhibition space at the studio it has been interesting to read the letters we receive from artists hoping for an exhibition. The easiest ones to respond to are of course those that describe both the artwork(s) and the intended exhibition clearly and succinctly.
Every year I think that this will be the year when I learn how to get an exhibition, learn how to speak with galleries, learn how to make successful applications. As the Supermarket fair approaches it is a good time to remember that there is no “best” way to do things as subtle/random/personal as this, for me thing is just to do it! Wake up, turn up, and say hello!
Please get in touch if you will be visiting the fair (14-16 February, Stockholm) it would be great to meet you, and I can pass on some tips for surviving a weekend in what can seem an expensive city! I highly recommend Supermarket for anyone engaged in artist-led initiatives, it is a great networking opportunity, not everywhere is as economically stricken as the UK and well-conceived collaborative projects can really benefit all partners.
*And here I do mean ‘project’, not a single artwork or a series but a piece of sustained work with its own processes and outcomes.