“In art, the seeing or hearing that is dispersed and mixed in ordinary perceptions is concentrated until the peculiar office of the special medium operates with full energy, free from distraction.” – John Dewey
One of the things that we discussed in my recent interview on the Unusual Buddha podcast was that I rarely know what a piece means or what it is about when I’m in the process of making it. For me, the process of writing and making art is just that, a process; a process of observant listening. And even then there is mystery and ambiguity about precisely who or what I am listening to.
Perhaps, I’m listening for something within myself, hoping to tap into some cavernous reservoir of language and meaning that I have yet to discover otherwise. Perhaps, I’m trying to give voice to the collection of unconscious thoughts and feelings that have never quite seen the dawn of my waking mind. Perhaps, I’m listening to the piece, itself.
Perhaps, in the moments of making I am mothering a child struggling to convey what it wants to be. I must listen with patience and tender compassion, knowing that it is in my care, but it is not mine to keep. It is it’s destiny to leave, and it is my task to prepare it for the world.
Or, perhaps, I’m the child and I am being parented by the piece. Perhaps, it is fostering the darkened interstices of my desirous fulfilment, and I must listen attentively to it’s instruction and guidance. This scenario feels right to me. So often my words have been aching to exit and yet, time and again, they have allusively evaded my grasp. It has been the work that has continued to guide me to my words. I have been in search of myself, in search of who I am, and who I still would like to be. Each work has taught me to see myself more clearly and has moved me incrementally closer to the me it believes I can become. I am in it’s care only for a time, before we must depart, and it is it’s mission to make me ready.
Whatever the case may be, the mystery always remains unresolved, and so there must always be trust.