This week is a bit different: habemus induction for the PGRs, which is good. I will be able to meet with fellow researchers, see the facilities we have been allocated and plan / check what I need for the conference on FRI 7th (another post will prob follow). This also means that I will not be able to participate in the Coëxistents module which is also run by my supervisor. Still, I have done the readings for this week and I have some thoughts...
First of all: the bell hooks' chapter was a pain to read and I could not finish it. Here, I have to admit, I am wearing my psychoanalytical hat on and I have to state that I cannot read / buy into / agree with anyone who spends half of their writing time criticising others. The take was very political, critical, and painful and it displayed hurt and anger masked by militantism but there were no propositions, no forward-thinking. Just blaming, attacking, criticising, moaning, and the likes. I do understand where the author came from, and I do accept that the situation has been and still is hard for black artists. But, as much as I will never vote for any politician who criticises his or her opponents but offers nothing in return, I do not want to read anything that comes from the perspective of a hurt child who wants things done right here and right now and just how they want it. This is Transactional Analysis 1-0-1, the Triangle of Drama and pure Eric Berne. This is someone who criticises the "conservative white artists and critics who control the cultural production" bla bla bla and then states how their work does not receive the attention from this same conservative white mainstream... and there my mind switches off. I have been taught that if you don't like something, you create your own; if you don't agree, you make up your own group; you do not waste time criticising, attacking, or dismantling others' opinions and ideas but you focus your attention and energy solely in creating something new, beautiful, and yours. So, it's a no for me. And to be honest, I am interested in other areas of research and not in gender / race / feminism which seem to flood art critique. Imagine if you were interested in the above gender / race / feminism and all you got were writings about hydroponic cultivation, miniature submarines and introspective religious studies [or purpose, love, and family]. This is how I feel when I open any magazine or journal about art.
Instead, I found particularly interesting the chapter by K Coessens on Why Art Matters. This piece made me question my own role among artists and among researchers; if the two can go together, or if one side is more preponderant in me. Can creativity - which is free, felt and instinctive - work hand-in-hand with rigorous scientific research? I can only answer for myself, now, and I admit I have always been a closeted researcher, with my sweet face buried in books, happy to read encyclopedias and now I find a sense of deep happiness and grounding in this world of openly researching. This, in the end, is my world. I think also that there has been a sense of validation by finishing the BA and by writing my dissertation and the kind of work I did for that piece: there has been a sense of acceptance of my own thought processing and an acknowledgement of my own qualities and skills. In this way, I feel that this kind of awe and wonder, akin to children's innocence that I feel in my own exploration, is the place I want to be. Because it is magical. I also come from a culture that applauds professionalism and the idea of being labelled "researcher" pacifies my being Italian. As much as it would be being described as a "sculptor", "painter" or "photographer". But definitely not as an "artist".
If you remember from my previous post about my team of collaborators when I wrote about
"stealing the blue coat from Dr Daniel Pierce, the shirts of Sherlock Holmes as worn by Jonny L. Miller, the travelling of Dr Robert Langdon, the hat of Dr Tobias Merriweather Curtis, and the elation experienced by Dr Henry Walton Jones, Jr.; not to mention the leather bag used by Prof. Jasper Tempest!"...
... what drives me in my research? Why these figures and what do they have in common? Is my research an investigation of my own practice? Is it about materials, forms, composition, and colour? Is it a desire for clarity? A need to understand the work and the working? My processes, context, or relations?
Or is the research itself a form of compulsion, a drive, the need to know, to establish a sense of order, to codify and delineate my own very personal place in this world and in this timeframe within eternity?
She also questions the human condition while creating art, this need we have to create while in the world there is so much creativity and beauty that never needed any input from human beings. We do have an inner capacity to make, create, think, devise, plan, and change. I will leave you then with this thought: if Creativity is a characteristic of God [in whatever shape or form you want to depict Him/Her] what if we create because we, too, are Gods?
ps: more on the induction and my very first supervision meeting later this week
onwards and upwards,
hooks, bell (1995) Introduction: art matters. In: Art on my mind: visual politics. New York, N.Y., New, pp. xi–xvi.
Coessens, Kathleen (n.d.) Why art matters? In: The artistic turn: a manifesto.
Anna Arabindan-Kesson (2021) Circuits of Cotton. In: Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World. Duke University Press.