I suspect, but have no evidence to back it up, that this might be a gender thing. Or maybe men just do it and don’t discuss it so openly?
I’ve been having a conversation with a couple of people on and off, separately, for a while now about my new-found ambition. I’m not used to it. And until now, I never even had a work ethic. I’m 55 for goodness sake!
The task that has prompted this train of thought is my occasional habit of CV weeding.
About ten years ago, If I so much as showed someone a picture of my work on my phone in a pub, I called it a pop-up exhibition and put it on my CV, just so there was something on it, just so it looked like I was actually a real artist, doing something that counted as something.
As I went on, and collected slightly more professional looking things, the pub-type gigs got dropped (as much as anything, out of fear if someone actually checked, they weren’t that real!) So that was an easy “weed”. As I have collected events that are more widely recognised, it has become more difficult, a moral dilemma occurs. There are some things on my CV that, at the time of doing them, I thought were brilliant – they were – but now, they don’t really say anything about me, or my work, or where I want to be, or how I want to be seen. An artist CV isn’t like a clerical worker CV, or the sort of CV that requires an unbroken employment history.
I have likened this to the wardrobe sort-out. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, is the wrong colour, doesn’t suit you… even if it was expensive when you bought it, and went with those proper girl-shoes you bought for a special occasion. I’m grateful that I went to the special occasion, I have fond memories, but I’m not going to go to another.
My moral dilemma is this: people that I know and love are involved in the things that I am weeding out. I have to decide if this is misplaced loyalty… I still love these people, but my professional path I think, should be elsewhere now. I have never had a professional path up until very recently, so I don’t really know how to cope with this. I don’t want to piss people off that I am grateful to, and I don’t want them to feel I am belittling their work in any way, because that isn’t what it is about… but it REALLY looks like that… doesn’t it?
Ambition then: To be ambitious, you have to sell yourself, present yourself as the person you want to become… almost inhabit it beforehand in order for it to become true. Fake it to make it? Possibly, which is another dilemma, I have always felt I am an honest person in the way I present myself. This becomes, then, about self-belief. If I don’t believe that I can get somewhere, then the presentation is false. I hate that. I’m not blowing a trumpet that doesn’t exist. I’m even starting to think that writing this blog post might be a way of justifying my deplorable actions… I expect someone will tell me. They usually do.
I have a bunch of really close art-friends who are honest and open and we talk about each other’s work in an open and honest way. I know when I’m not doing a proper job, because, in case I hadn’t noticed, they tell me. Or at least steer the conversation in a way that I notice all by myself! Hahaha!
They tell me that it is OK to be ambitious. But other than the CV weeding, and the mad scramble to apply for things I will probably not get/win/participate in, I don’t know where the “somewhere” is that I want to get to.
When I took a leap of faith and threw myself back at my fine art practice about ten years ago, I had a list of things I wanted to achieve. At the time I thought them ridiculous, funny, mythical and totally unachievable. Unbelievably, I have done them all, and more. What I could do with now is a new list. This new list at the moment is cloudy and unformed, and I could probably do with some help forming the list, let alone actually achieving it!
I also feel that by saying all this, and publishing the list, that I’m really sticking my head above the parapet…
The new list involves:
*wider recognition for the work… across a range of platforms…
*a decent solo gallery exhibition, that gets a good review that people see…
*being able to earn a living…
*a sort of breaking-out… I don’t know what from, or to…
*a really big project that means something to other people, not just me, that might leave some sort of trace… fuck me… a legacy even!
*a bloody studio!
I have no idea how to get any of this. It all still looks ridiculous, funny, mythical and totally unachievable…The first list was easier… or maybe that’s hindsight talking?