Art, the case for imagination.

Age of innocence/Sky is dirty, self-portrait using tripod and timer, 2001

To imagine, how do we do it and what happens in visual deserts we inhabit to imagination? It is a buzzword, imagine with lots of positive vibes and commercial potential, holding massive value and the word imagine is used to engage to think for yourself in worst cases when there is visually nothing much of interest, which word imagination itself is a blank to be filled or something full to be found. Artworks that are said to be about nothing, of nothingness, we look at them and are told to imagine or is it such an emotional event to gaze art that rationally thinking is misguided? Do we need instructions on how to see art, what to think? Sometimes we need to be told something is art, curiously. Everybody does it their own way, some are not bothered with such nonsense as conceptual art. What do we imagine if the thing is nothing and its catch is the emptiness, whiteness, the place where it is at and the conceptual nature of the work wouldn’t possibly work anywhere else than within the art world frame and how it is managed in the commercially set frame? What do we imagine inside the white cube, in the city centre built of glass and chrome, slick, visit-and-go environment where we come by things that are called art and are placed art-like? How do we use our imagination today and what does it mean when we are in context of contemporary art ‘to be inspired’ or instructed to use our imagination? Is the art world using its imagination and all the possibilities art can offer fully, because I’m not so sure: too many people are scared of the new, stepping over boundaries, rules and the social media mobs. Especially today it is getting strange what gets accepted and is offence the thing to avoid at any cost? Winnings and earnings lost mean losing one’s job.

What if imagination stops working and mind is just blank in that particular moment? People have various degrees of capabilities what comes to imagination which is in test daily and why should conceptual art make anyone imagine anything? Does advertising, entertainment and built environment do the imagining for us and we have become lazy to imagine for ourselves? Is our environment and art today so ripped of from details that it is hollow and empty and it relies on us to create the content ourselves, the meaning and what should we do about this choreographed world with geometrical shapes that echo style and trends? It is all to make one think, everything is to make one think but it is also to make everything easier. The frame where we move is the structure given and is like a guide or a map to an idea of what to think and how to move. We pay attention to the price of art and houses, that draws the headlines, not what there is to imagine. I try to think the words imagine and imagination in today’s world. We are constantly inspired or entertained and content or nothing of the sort. Anxious and tense is what we are. Enjoyment is the aim, one can have an attempt at thinking, why are we doing what we do, are we made just to think or just to feel powerless and poor? What am I in comparison to this conceptual art? What is this rectangle shape to me, something to stand in?

Imagining is a difficult thing in many ways. It needs practice, but we do it all the time in terms of visualisation and thinking of what everything is and means adding contents in our minds to the seen to comprehend and continue the thought. To measure it what is seen and experienced, imagined or fed, just to describe what one imagines waking up in the morning or walking by an artwork, results are maybe expected, all the same everyday? What do we notice in the end or pay attention to? Try to describe in some way your thoughts on paper and in a way that it is understandable to others as well or maybe it is interesting that art is not immediately easily comprehensible which frustrates many, not adding explanations may do it, probably will. That is great practice and using of one’s brain with hand and a pen or whatever, which conceptual art attempts to do, activate our intellect, see connections if there are any. We do live in the middle of concepts, defining anything is equally as hard as trying to draw anything. Always some detail is left out, forgotten and added, tried again and so on. Try defining an art piece or describing it or a house or the situation the world is in right now. It was a mess 2001.

How leftist are those in the academia or in the arts?

My question rises from the strange continuous experience of hearing there are leftist professors who practice leftist ideology in universities and leftist theories are taught more than the conservative ones and that leftist politics is in use in universities. My experience does not back this claim: when system favours conservative mannerisms and silence, I am too radical and annoying, leftism is a lovely flower to look at, if you know what I mean. Marx obviously being one of the most interesting theorists there is what comes to labour rights, so it is only just and right that his theories are known to avoid situation which is present today, where him and his thinking is painted completely malaise, destructive, false and inaccurate. Propaganda is hurtful, disinformation, not trying to understand how better the living and working conditions of the working class. It is more than understandable to learn to know how theory has affected our culture and thinking especially through economics, which is fascinating. How the division is made between the two, left and right, often seems to happen by what and whom is assumed is leftist and heard to be leftist or thinks is leftist. What comes to being conservative, do your clothes tell as it is often times assumed by clothing to which camp you belong?

Art is thought to be occupied by leftists and feminists who look forward, are experimental, openminded and are open to ideas and new people, which strikes me as I should be popular in such an environment. I argue and question too much to be likeable and that is something to me which is characteristic to being politically and intellectually aware and functioning. Such questioning types are met with anger and critique is rendered as annoying complaining. To not question the education system in use, methods, theories etc. is not leftist, it is accepting the current situation of higher education, protecting careers and positions, which to me seemed to be more important than the quality of education provided. It is difficult to be the person who doesn’t go with the flow and like everything, put one’s own financial interests first as is common in the arts and think of people: what a good contact or whom to avoid. All these accusations of leftism ring odd as there is a true and wide gap there between the working class and the middle class and as all know it is still today not that common for someone from working  class to enter university or the arts. My family still has hard time accepting my profession which to them is not a profession: how do you make money, your art is not art etc. There is a huge difference between the working class people and people from the middle class and for people not to think it is odd is odd and someone with working class background such as me, I am odd everywhere, because what is art and there are lot of people who have never met an artist and don’t even want to. This goes on and on. What has middle class contributed to leftism other than theory? Sympathy for the cleaning ladies and welders? That’s funny.

When I go to the environment where I as an artist am supposed to work at, it is not news I do not feel comfortable, welcomed, fit in etc. It is a strange situation and place, which conflict has led me do art that critiques the places of art, education of art, profession of the artist and I write about the paradoxes and clear flaws, intellectual and structural, there are in this field. Situation is stagnant and people like to follow the good old routes to success. Kissing ass? All the beautiful talks and looking like leftists, I am sure you are a very likeable person and will get lots of opportunities…why the working class people avoid and have disinterest towards contemporary art and distrust towards people with higher education? How many working class people do you know Mrs./Mister leftist professor and what are your leftist thoughts on how higher education could be valuable in other ways than just landing a high paying job? What I have witnessed is a mutual contempt and ignorance. For example telling what kind of professions I have done for a living, it is as if I had fell from outer space, poor you, or why don’t you apply for grants. Grants being, taught in university, the number one source of income for an artist, which also sounds very middle class. Are you sure it is good for the art and where does the money come from, who supports the arts the most? How to monetise art has not been ever an issue at any art school only in passing, maybe that is the leftist angle. It is a difficult thing to do, monetise one’s art, when most of the energy goes to realising newly invented ideas that hang in the air and mean nothing to anybody and to me they mean everything. How to monetise something that is your all? It takes character.