I am re-visiting this topic, I think it’s an important consideration into the art practice:
Today let’s talk about a subject that is seldom mentioned in art.. That is (as the title of this post suggests) vulnerability. The type of state that occurs without the baggage of psychological misconduct and the venerable reputation of weakness, but as the conduit of compelling visual art.
I believe slowing yourself to the point of, whether emotional or physical, vulnerability (by letting go of control) might be your greatest ally in making great art. Take for example the colossal work of the hyper realist sculpture Ron Mueck or the distressing uncomfortable works of Robert Gober or the master manipulator of emotions that is Bill Viola video work.
What these works have in common is a tapped resource of visual and or implied human emotion. Not to mention the emotional coercion that occurs while viewing these master-pieces of art as intended by the artists. This coercion occurs by exploiting our better nature when we blindly accept to go along the artificially constructed emotional ride.
On the making of art being vulnerable is synonymous to being open
On the making of art being vulnerable is synonymous to being open, open to the truth, open to possibilities… Open to being in a vulnerable state actually requires courage, and while that might sound like an oxymoron is its true. Additionally there is a certain amount of freedom that comes with it, because you are in fact letting go of the grip of control, you are free to expose the hidden and express with depth.
Conversely there are times that one can go too far in this process, creating painfully awkward pieces that are in fact so exposing to the point of extreme intimacy that can provide with a mere glance a piercingly uncomfortable stomach pain (you know what I’m talking about, that feeling at the pit of your stomach when you’ve seen too much! .
It is as if we may have gotten a glimpse of the very core of the subject/object’s humanity; a bit too close for comfort and a little to far from our human safety net that is intellectual rationalization. The very guard that provides us long lists of excellent reasons to be overzealous and cautious. Providing us distance and a well -hermetically sealed- dose of unemotional detachment and antiseptically clean thoughts of art theory – and.. breathe in.
Now, I can hear some of you (all the way here!) letting me know how your intention is to produce art that is uncomfortable so as to make your audience confront their own mortality, humanity, etc. In fact, contemporary art has if not but embraced the idea that art IS meant to create such feelings and has a great deal of examples in this tradition as well as flock of practitioners who do express this train of thought with great finness. In fact, for a great deal of people contemporary art is meant to do just that, put the viewer in a confrontational space, push them to their comfort limit, so they can be intellectually freed from their own expectations and assumptions.
-Agreed, you are the exception to the aforementioned observation so just simply ignore my too-far/balancing point and continue on.-
For the rest of us searching to create meaningful and thoughtful art that is not necessarily upfront in confrontation, but tries to deal with the more subtle and formal issues in art; it is balance!- therein lies the solution to this vulnerability issue. To achieve enough of it for effect but retain shall I say, dignity (smile) is a challenge I propose today.