Six long weeks have passed since the silent crit. I have the notes on my desktop somewhere; my main recollection was that the beer or prospect of beer took all the focus away from anything meaningful. Perhaps the flaw is that I don’t really understand what PEEP! is or should be, or that I cannot find a way to communicate what it is or could be to people.
It should be a culture within the greater culture, like a wart. A parasite that needs the host to exist but has its own characteristics. A sub culture then, a one man movement. A bowel movement, of a fairly light and spattered kind. A morning after the night before evacuation.
I think the longing to be off this course, away from the screen and the guff that goes with being a student at Camberwell, is pulling at me more strongly than any desire I had to be an MA. I thought I was being practical; I will do the work anyway, may as well get some kind of recognition for it. A bit of paper to file away. And in the early stages of the course I was excited about the international angle of it, the promise of new learning and vigorous debate. I could sense a whole body of work ahead of me that I was eager to make. Some of that has happened but the main story of the last eighteen months is one of coping with the disappointment whilst letting my art life carry on regardless of Camberwell.
I can tick all the boxes. I love my studio, I really appreciate being part of a very mixed group and the opportunities that have happened, would only have happened because of my involvement with Westgate. I get up and want to be there. And I go there. A few weeks back I spent the best part of three days drawing letters of the alphabet with ink and nib pen. Over and over until I was happy with each character I needed. That is not me. I cut and paste, I scavenge, pilfer, adapt. I can draw but who gives a fuck? Few people. Ok, no one. Not even me most of the time.
I am part of a gallery project, and I have my own gallery project and I am hoping to expand that. So, box ticked. The gallery box, an important box. Every two months we open the studio up to the public and I make work for those nights, a chance to do something. I take it, that chance.
I haven’t started on the new paintings yet for the ‘solo’ show in November. I haven’t fiddled with the PEEP! website yet to make something of it. We haven’t done a new issue of MTS for a few months. I have stopped looking for other gallery submission opportunities for MTS as we have enough on with the space in Halifax. A couple of shows are marked in though, so it ticks along nicely and that box can be ticked. MTS is not dead.
And the beer. The first batch was all right. A little too young really when it went out and the labels could have been a lot better. And my ‘marketing’ of the product and the concept could have been sharper, I suppose. If I were someone else, you’d have heard of my beer. It would have been in supplements, on art websites; talked about. I admit it, I am very low key. I am not mercenary enough or pushy about self promotion. I made the beer because I wanted to. I was once the kind of person who would sweat and bust a gut to push the marketing side, agonise over press releases and all the crap that goes with promotion. All that nonsense just doesn’t interest me anymore. It never really did but I thought it was something you had to do, that it was what ‘made’ you as an artist. Shit ideas, good PR. I now go for shit on all fronts and I’m happier for it.
On the subject of excrement, as this blog often seems to be, I did apply to the Saatchi search-for-an-art-star TV talent contest. As MTS not me, solo. There is no ironic posturing here. We won’t be selected; we won’t even come within spitting distance. I am sure there are at least ten thousand hopefuls all wanting a shot. If we were offered the chance, it would be great! Fuck it, a free studio in London for a few months and an experience you can’t pay for, except with your dignity perhaps but what does that matter? Everything is about learning and developing.
Aside from the small PEEP! gallery, the rest of the project is in a state of limbo. I don’t know what to do with the submissions. I am not an art agent. The publication has stalled because I don’t know what it is I want it to be. Not a miscellany of work by other people, not really. Who needs another zine like that? I can’t make it into a ‘proper’ book as I don’t have the money. I could try to chase the elusive pot of arts council money but if I did, and I don’t think I like the idea of suckling that particular teat, I would prefer to apply for the bigger PEEP! gallery project.
All this leads to indecision about the final show.
The other issue I am trying to resolve, which I can’t before July, is the purpose of doing any of this. No, the focus of it all. The purpose…silly; fun and why not, better than working for a living. The focus of it is the issue. And if I get that right, then the method of delivery will fall into place. The context is the unsustainable culture/society we have created. The whole of it, beyond this temporary financial crisis or concern for the melting ice cap, I am addressing the bigger, biggest picture. We are pretty much fucked as a species if we don’t make some serious adjustments. Even with serious and far reaching adjustments, we are going to suffer a great deal, there will be death and misery on an unprecedented scale, and it is coming. Not a Biblical end of days, fire and..hang on, there will be a lot of destruction. Not a God thing then but an inevitable consequence of the progression of the human race for the last, um, four thousand years. Like washing machines and other ‘white goods’ that come with a one year warranty; we, as a species, have inbuilt obsolescence. Our manufacturers guarantee is due to expire.
The question is how to prepare for it, what steps we can take to manage the chaos and possibly prevent as much mass death; what we have to do during the transition period from now to post-now, in whatever form that will be. I think we have reached or gone beyond ‘peak comfort’. It is, despite the ‘advances’ that will appear in the near future (mere cosmetic tinkering and more wealth accumulation for the minority at the expense of the majority) and the promise of ‘change’ and the coming together of nations in crisis after crisis, a downhill ride from here on in. These are, if you measure it in material ways, the best of times. Enjoy your trainers.