These two art guys I know. One is an artist and the other is a critic. I know them both personally and like them quite a bit. They were talking about how there are no real performance artists anymore. On twitter. Ones working with words. With logic, or something. They named a few, I hadn't heard of them, and said where are the ones working with logic. I'm frustrated, because I feel like I know tons of performance artists working today and working with logic, and that I would be one, right? Like, I'm an artist. But I'm not among the ones that spring to mind because me and my friends perform in bars, in theaters, in clubs. Even in galleries, even in art world circles, but still there's something different. Something that distinguishes it as not real art. I feel like Lynda Barry. So I was walking through Chelsea last night, going to the CdG sale, but I didn't buy anything because I'm super broke and I want to wait until the Christmas stuff comes out. I passed by this gallery and one of the artists these two guys were talking about had a storefront exhibition or durational performance. I didn't go in. I wondered: ok what do they do for a living? Do they live off of performance fees? Do museums pay their rent? Do their parents pay their rent? It's frustrating. There's this invisible thing. Like, I'm not a real artist. The Art World people don't care and wouldn't care and it seems sort of natural. But I see other things that seem to take off. I'm tired of going to art shows for 25 year old photographers who do a lot of drugs. It's not that that's not cool and it's not that I'm bitter, but it's just that why does everything have to be so cool. This cult of youth, I get it. It's not that I resent it because I'm aging. Intrepid readers of the blog will know that I've always been pretty skeptical of it. It's that in the olden days we'd sacrifice virgins to the gods, right? That's one way of worshiping it. I wonder if it's me, personally. What am I doing, how am I not positioning myself better to be part of the thing I want to be part of.
Like this person I know who turned into a performance critic last year. They refuse to come to my shows or look at my work-- I want them to write about my work. They write about other work that's similar to mine. Knowing them I know that they'd get something out of what I'm trying to say. But they refuse to see me as a peer, an equal, a person or something. Maybe it's paranoid but I can't help thinking this is a result of my personality. I must really turn people off? It has to be my fault, right? It couldn't be that someone else is just checked out, doesn't care, wrapped up in their own thing. It's so annoying when someone won't take you seriously, once they realize you won't sleep with them. Maybe that's the kind of thing that turns people off, right? That flippancy? There's a subset of people who aren't turned off by that, who can handle that. Who can have a conversation which doesn't constantly and reflexively reaffirm them. Some people live in this place with me-- outer space. The vacuum. It's cold and it's dark and there's no air out here. And there's no sound. And we out here, you know? Some of us get it. I hate drawing lines in the sand. I resent feeling like it's my fault, innately, that I can't get my shit together and be who I want to be. I resent the idea that it matters, being real or not. Maybe I sort of just resent the entire conversation of looking for artists. No one's doing it these days, right? What a shame. The presumption of not looking. Because to look means to have to defend the rubric, I guess.
And then again, it's also this skepticism I have of taking yourself seriously. It's so weird-- I feel like this is the big thing, the big failure on my part, the thing about me, personally, specifically (just to make it about me for a second) that turns people off is the idea that I take myself too seriously. I guess I do bust mostly as a joke; mostly just to be nice to other people and not have to accuse other people of stuff. The idea that you could know you're a serious artist. Referring to your own work. That thing of knowing that what you say matters. That you deserve to be treated with respect, that you deserve to be happy. I don't know if that's really true, for me. Again, I'll leave other people out of it. The grass is so much greener, but I don't think I could in all honesty think to myself "I am a real serious artist". Maybe that's my problem, a kind of pessimism. But no, I mean-- I don't deserve to be happy. If I really deserved to be happy then I'd be happy, right? It's so silly. I see the logical fallacy here but I can't like... get through it. My whole thing is if you think you have your shit all the way together then you're wrong. Don't get too comfortable. I've been, I think, throwing myself into discomfort. Trying to really let the chaos inside reverberate out. Hoping to reach, as we all must, the logical conclusion of the feeling. Hoping to let the chaos and the uncertainty be a point of departure; this is something we surely must all feel, right? This uncertainty? Right? Like, we all don't know, deep down, what's going to happen and who we are. Right? If we didn't have our art careers or our identities, who would we be, right? It's scary. I sometimes feel like I'm the only one admitting it, and it's like upsetting to other people. Or like I'm being overly fatalistic because of some weird "death drive" (I heard that expression at my open studios) I have. I sometimes think it's only a matter of time before I'm diagnosed with some chronic or terminal illness. Or it's only a matter of time before I have some horrible injury. Some new disfigurement. Like, then, finally, my circumstances will justify my pessimism. That thing of precluding disappointment by refusing to get your hopes up. Is that why I can't be a real artist. Why people can't take me seriously? Because it seems like I'm taking myself too seriously? Because I'm trying to turn invisible? Is it gross? Does it freak people out? I feel like it would be so much less freaky in a gallery context, though. Is the thing. I think it makes more sense for me to get to perform in the white box.
They say you can't time travel but I know they're wrong. I know how to time travel. It's not as much fun as it sounds. You can't go back, or to the future. But you can stay still. It's tremendously painful and I would not recommend it. But, again, I'm unreliable. It's the kind of thing no one should take my word for. You'd have to try it yourself but I'm telling you; it's awful.