Are you mental? Can you talk about it freely? Mental illness in art is a curious case. Something to be afraid of and keep your distance?
Question is whose business it is to know? Who needs to know other than gossip hungry public who can feed their fantasies and biases? Do we need to know what kinds of personal issues any artist has had to understand the art? Do these personal issues have an effect on art? What happens to the artist in the process? To make a judgment that art is personal no matter what, it is what one makes with one’s personality, and it is clear what goes on on the inside is what has an effect to the work, any work. Throughout history women who have pursued artist life have been often seen crazy and unbalanced, bad apples. Well, in some cases women artists still are seen through that stereotype and expectation, having chosen such risky field. All this sums up the whole we see and what we are not shown, what we are not allowed to see and talk about, not to speak of what we can be and do.
It has been strange to witness how prejudiced fine art is, not the audience so. Audience is protected from seeing hurtful and ‘damaging’ art. Audience is different from the crowd who does not interest itself in art. It is the same as when sex in art causes a scandal. Sex does not cause scandals in movies or on tv but fine art is a haven of conservative minds, although it is sexist as hell. Sexist as hell and it does not cause a scandal. Very telling of a world where surface is what matters and issues are dealt with on surface level. Digging deeper would change things dramatically. Harasses, bullies and sexists are protected when they have a position where they are almost untouchable.
Mix of personal and political is an expectation but can these issues within truly be faced, sexism, hypocrisy, stagnant scene which evolves slowly? I seriously doubt it. A surface which can be looked at, judged, yes, solving anything, no, progressive, my ass. Knowing and talking of the problems of artists has created a gap, knowing or expecting that such problems exist or stereotypical artists exist. Problems more than average? I don’t think so, as far as I know. Art is just as prejudiced and ill as people are on average. Is there a contradiction? Something to be appalled by? Audience is interested and expecting issues such as mental illness and drama, maybe. How close can they get? A constant surprise, conservatism, even mental illness is and has been discussed within art for ages, for there are many artists who have suffered mental disorders, severe or less. It is something which puts people on alert, talking and scared. Suicide and depression among poets is a romantic image of a suffering artist. Artists to suffer is also such an image which comes across frequently. 19th and 20th century romantic ideal and image lives on even though our understanding has widened. To make art that handles human torment, difficulties, social issues or any difficult issue make it so that the artist has issues in her personal life too. To understand art via the people who make art is of course logical but has consequences.
Mental illness is something to hide and be ashamed of, even though it is not up to you whether you get sick or not.
“Today’s NBA is filled with players who come from less-than-stable circumstances. Their very presence in the league — even if they’re nothing more than a towel-waver— is a testament to their fortitude and ability to better themselves.” https://medium.com/the-cauldron/what-crazy-looks-like-mental-illness-in-the-nba-4b7459a52bd7
Topic I know all too well. Crazy is a word often used of artists, people who walk different paths than most, who choose to live in a way that is out of mainstream. It is strange how little things may seem crazy and scary to people who seek comfortable and familiar, want to live in security following rules and guides how to live a life and do not want to know, learn, be close to nor get to know the unknown, try themselves or the environment because they are scared. To chose safe is the craziest thing, to choose so that you won’t challenge yourself is also stupid.