Here I am in the midst of a performance reverie. Peaches was at this show in Berlin, she said I was intense. Intense is exactly what I want to be – along with everything else.
Here is something I’ve been thinking about:
Art happens in the space in between the viewer and the piece. The listener hears the space between the notes. The reader lives between the words. There is an undefinable, intangible, amazingly profound thing that happens. And we cannot see it, hear, touch it, taste it, or smell it. It happens beyond the senses, or maybe between them.
We work so hard to create these amazing works of art, symphonies and cathedrals and giant paintings, great novels, we work our whole lives to express something, to create something, that can only happen in the space in between. The artwork is not the art. Art is the incredibly personal relationship that cannot be expressed or defined.
We have art teachers, art critics, art industries. We can say a painting, a song, a book is technically good or bad; we can have subjective opinions, we can say, “Awesome!” or “Suck!” ; we can point at the thing and say yes, or no, but we cannot ever point at the art. Because art is the gap.
So why? Why bother? Why work so hard, use so many words, so much paint, learn how to play barre chords, when it isn’t the art that is the art?
Because what we make provides a structure, and structure defines space, and in the space the art happens. In a properly defined space, art can be perceived, however ephemerally, however fleeting, or intangible, or rarely. We build a a beautiful thing and the art comes to it.
We try to capture art, but it cannot be captured. If the thing that lives in the gap is not allowed to move freely it will wither and die very quickly. You see it all the time, an artist has some form of success, and repeats this over and over again, thinking to capture the inexplicable thing that happened the first time, only to find that the repetition has driven the art out of the thing completely.
This isn’t to say that repetition is always bad. Sometimes it is repetition that leads to the most amazing of artistic experiences. Repetition can be a form of discipline which can lead to a magnificent structure. What is bad is the stagnation and denial of movement. Trying to stay still in the moment that is already gone.
The experience of art, music, literature, is so fulfilling that we don’t want to be without it ever. Moments of pure feeling, that don’t necessarily have an emotion attached but can be any and all at once. It is a feeling of true understanding and belonging. What you understand or belong to cannot be explained. Open your mouth to say why and what you think/feel/know and the art, the gap, the bright, living thing in between everything, slips away.
And then we are empty. And we try to fill the space with something that resembles the thing that once filled that space. We try our own repetition. Like addicts we will do anything to fill the hole that art left.
But just as art is the gap, art is also the void. I am learning to live with the emptiness, not to give in to it, not to submit to a depression or a fear. And when I can be empty, without trying to stuff myself full of anything and everything, that is when my best work begins.
More photos from the Berlin show. (Photos by Jim Batt.)
And by the way, Peaches is intense.