The first step is always the hardest when making something. I’m not sure I’ve ever made something so it could remake me as Elaine Scarry suggests, not in any conscious way anyway. In any case, I’ve spent my time today in trains and on cafes (I wrote this the wrong way round but on reflection, quite like it) trying to trick my brain into unlocking its creative juices – with mixed results. I’ve been jotting down various streams of consciousness and decided to dedicate this first day to writing.
I’ve often found reflecting on my work and talking about it helps shape my own understanding of where I was mentally when making it, so in some way, I can relate to Scarry.
After working on a text-based project late last year and after looking at your work Peter, I wanted to work with text, something that I’ve wanted to incorporate into my work more and more. With that in mind, I started the day by thinking about Scarry’s quote and theme ‘dissent’. I started writing from the word dissent and then took key words from each writing exercise to start the next. Eventually this brought me to the topic of – voice and language in a body of text.
So I find myself at this point, thinking about when dissent is present in a text and what a performance gives a piece of text. It’s funny that you’re looking at contemporary politicians, as it is something that came up during my writing (in the context of performance and delivery of a text).
This is the most exciting yet daunting point in the creative process and I can relate to your struggle – the struggle to understand, the struggle to create and the struggle to make. I think my biggest struggle will be evolving any writing into something other than a piece of text, which is where I seem to be heading.
*I did take some pictures to go with this post but the scribbles in my notebook seem as un-photogenic as their writer.
Here we are at the start of Block_1. James and I have never met. We are presented with this quotation from Elaine Scarry to give us something to build from. Where this process will lead us and what might develop is all uncharted territory - like the virgin sand on an uninhabited shore.
Why do we make things? Is it so that they in turn remake us? For me, it doesn't feel that way. Making things doesn't feel like a form of 'recreation'. It is more like struggle, or an affliction. It is testing and teasing an idea into some form of expression of a thing that might bear some resemblance to what I hoped it could be.
I'm working this week on a woodblock print which will be presented as part of Reading's Holocaust Memorial Day event. I am therefore on a tight deadline to finish cutting and printing it. I will speak at the event and try to avoid explaining the work too literally. The work will use the language of populist xenophobia from contemporary tabloids and politicians and contrast it with the idea of common humanity...in a woodcut.
Making it is about pressure and struggle - struggling with the materials, struggling with the idea, trying to bring them together and knowing that it will fail on many levels. It has to fail because of the enormity of the subject and my inadequacy to comprehend it. I will still make the thing as testament to my inability.
What are you 'making' at the moment James?