Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No one's taking showers anymore

I've been in a bit of a 90s funk lately, listening to some of the songs that were important to me when I was a teenager: OK Computer, The Lonesome Crowded West. I rediscovered my CD of The Moon & Antarctica, put it on my computer, and I've been listening to it on repeat for the last day or so. I've never really been one to have a favorite song or favorite band, but I think if I did, Modest Mouse would be my favorite.

I've been on a quest to express myself through art. Well, not to express myself so much as to express the sensation of pain. To make people understand, to revive the memories we all have and bury of physical agony. I don't think this sort of art would be terribly popular, but I want to know if it can be done. It's been tried before, of course. The two artists that immediately come to mind are Rodin and Kahlo, but even the explicit physical pain portrayed by those two don't make you hurt if you don't have the memory of pain readily available. Art like this connects on an emotional level, not a physical level. I don't know if it's even possible for art to make you hurt like I think it ought to; maybe this is impossible. Well, impossible without performance art with audience participation, anyway.

I used to write poetry, some of which was pretty decent. These days, though, my skill with language is so poor it disgusts me. Sometimes I can manage a well structured paragraph, but the spark of beauty I used to see in what I wrote eludes me. Now, I only convey information. I've tried off and on to pick up writing again, but have had no luck, so part of my Grand Plan for Happiness involves learning other kinds of art. I'm currently taking a pottery class at the local community college. It's pretty low key, basic stuff, and I'm not very good at it. My unfamiliarity with the medium plus the pain in my hands and arms from handling the clay conspire to make me too clumsy. When I started the class I thought that something I make with my hands ought to express pain the most clearly, but I don't think pottery is going to work out.

Music is out- I tried for years to be good at it and I'm just not. Photography is interesting but frankly most of the things I take pictures of are either beautiful or interesting intellectually; pain is not a purely visual thing, being a collection of invisible nerve impulses, and barring taking a camera into an emergency surgery theater, I don't think photography is the right medium to capture it. Drawing and painting are less literally visual, and although I've never shown any talent for either I'm curious about taking some sort of class. The only place that offers drawing classes, though, (that I know of) is the community college, and the classes there are on a semester system so nothing starts up again until at least the summer.

In the meantime I have some books on basic drawing out from the library, and I'm listening to Modest Mouse for inspiration.


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Elizabeth McClung said...

Have you looked at Max Ernst early black and white works, they don't seem readily available I also have some things that could really elicit pain as art if that is what you want- I suggest you look for a book called Finders Keepers about collections and art, there is two particular types of art that will take you to levels of physical pain, if that is what you want.

Are you thinking of Rodin's sculptures of the hands, as those were quite evocative. If you want I can make up a list of artists that might be of interest. I to wanted to take up painting but missed the deadline due to hospitalization and something else (battery of tests). Have you seen the 365 self portraits that rachel creative is doing with her camera?

I am trying, in my round about and mildly pathetic way to be encouraging but I think if you keep working the problem the solution will arrive, or rather, if you keep working maybe a solution will have arrived before you recognize it as such. There was also the man who took pictures of people staring at him (I think he was a double amputee). I believe in you, you will find it!

Tayi said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I will see if I can find Finders Keepers and/or stuff by Max Ernst, thanks for the suggestions. :)