Dear Alex, Have you ‘found your practice’? What factors make this problematic? Are they external or internal? What is a ‘true practice’ any way..? Sarah Rowles from Q-Art London, a new forum for open discussion, is going to be the Choice blogs guest editor for August. In her selection copy she talks about, “…insecurity and the lack of time to 'find oneself' as an artist because of the constant pressure to define ones practice in order to gain grants, exhibitions, funding...”. This is a central issue for artists working today and in anticipation of Sarah’s choice hitting the homepage I am inviting you to contribute to this discussion by adding a specific post on your blog, which I can then link to from the homepage. Any contributions to this will be gratefully received. Please let me know by email when you have made your post. With kind regards, Andrew
Like my imaginary Vampire cowboy (previous post) I often feel slightly uncomfortable when defining my practice. Explaining what I do doesn't come easily to me and I don't like the words that we are asked to use. 'Practice' seems poncey, 'work' a bit desperate. If pushed, like many artists I do like to hide in the third person and try to come up with a Blairian soundbite, something vaguely descriptive but which doesn't commit me to too much. Some years ago now I produced the tag-line "Alex Pearl makes things and then films them before they fall apart", (not exactly catchy I know) I had to leave it behind when I started to do more things and some of them didn't fall apart. Then I went with something along the lines of "his work deals with chance and the things he doesn't do very well" I like not doing things very well, it seems to be the artist's prerogative and has allowed me to paint, dance, make sculpture, films, even write. I see that a bastardization of these phrases still head my writer description for this blog, though I have changed to a suggestion that things are beyond my control. Lack of control has become central to my practice (feel the quality of that phrase). Like an extremely unsexy Vicomte de Valmont I constantly excuse my actions by my inability or unwillingness to govern them. When I received Andrew's email asking me (and I assume many others) to respond to the questions: "Have you ‘found your practice’? What factors make this problematic? Are they external or internal? What is a ‘true practice’ any way..?" I began to think that my avoidance tactics were somehow born of the constant demands on artists to provide reasons for what they do.
Recent entertainments have included visit to the Electric Palace cinema, Southwold. One size below bijoux and full of a far better class of people than I am used to, it was nevertheless a fascinating evening although I felt unable to sing along to "The Sound of Music" or dress up as a Nazi. The Barker, before telling a few warm up jokes, asked if anyone was Jewish. In deference to my ancestors I put my hand up but it didn't stop him. During the intermission an organist rose from the floor and I noticed that behind us was an interesting selection of printed playbills. I was drawn to one unusually titled film "The Man Who Loved Redheads" which hinted at the protagonist's obvious lunacy. I pointed this out to my companion who had returned from the bar where the Barker had been repeatedly winking at her. The evening ended with the congregation standing to the national anthem.