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Apr 21, 2023Liked by Joumana Medlej

Wow, just wow! I am simply in awe of your work and Hope to be able to contribute to your crowd fund for the book. I really enjoy watching the videos of you working but do worry that you remember to breathe. Good Luck

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That's very kind of you! But yes, with so few hours in the day, who has time to breathe 😆

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"I feel nowadays creatives are gaslit and forcefully reeducated by an “art world” that can’t handle creativity unless it’s been standardised for the sake of monetisation." You're speaking my language!

It's only recently that I abandoned all my plans for gatekeepers wholesale: us literati have a harder time letting go of the traditional system that once enabled so many great things. (Though visual artists are dependent on academy training, I hear, or they will be "naive:" at least in the Western tradition) And when I get around to finishing my first play, I still don't know what I'll do since I can't even get the local theater troupe in my hometown to perform it unless an agent shoves it under their nose. But my approach (and my upcoming self-publication press will represent this ethos) is to embrace the Wilderness wholesale, as a pioneer would in the actual wilderness. The divisions are so clear-cut that be it traditional non-Western arts, forgotten and/or ignored Western arts or new trends outside the mainstream, it's the only way forward.

But by that I don't, of course, mean creative anarchy in the art itself. The institution likes that kind of thing because that way, it can form jargon opinions about red squares and then make fun of anybody who questions it because "you're just not as sophisticated as we are." It's part of how they control the arts. But the Wilderness metaphor still applies. You'll find all kinds of animals in the jungle but those animals themselves are fully formed, complete as they are. A tiger is a tiger, not a deconstructed tigerism.

I just came back from a book-shopping expedition and - suffice to say - spent a pretty penny. When it comes to my creativity, I'll do what it takes to keep it afloat. Without betraying my faith or my loved ones, of course. As big of a fan as I am of modernism, I think they were mistaken to ignore the creative inspiration to be found in those sources. Even after Huysmans and many others proved otherwise with faith, while Bohumil Hrabal would later prove otherwise with marriage. I read as much as I can from all around the world: my book load recently included, among other gems, an anthology of tales about Nasruddin the trickster, an anthology of Kazakh poetry and a long out-of-print collection of Filipino epic poems. Unfortunately, some jackass bought a book on Aboriginal myths in Australia first before I could buy it. Next time, though! :-)

I actually have a question for you (if you're at that stage yet): how have your experiences been with crowdfunding so far? I've never tried it.

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"The institution likes that kind of thing because that way, it can form jargon opinions about red squares and then make fun of anybody who questions it because "you're just not as sophisticated as we are." It's part of how they control the arts." – this is spot on! And I love you mention the Wilderness because I've used the same terms myself: there is wild art, raw and unpredictable, and there is the tame art the commercial art world favours because it can be packaged more easily.

I've crowdfunded several projects and it may just become the main route for me. It's a lot of work, there are a lot of logistics to consider and prepare for before launching a campaign, and of course one needs to make the campaign itself attractive and interesting while it lasts, within one's capabilities. But it works, and is a good gauge of whether there's an audience out there.

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Though it's also my heritage, I find the naive art of the Croatian Hlebine school endearing for that reason. (Ivan Generalic, Josip Generalic, Ivan Vecenaj, Mijo Kovacic, etc.) It is art of the Wilderness. Henri Rousseau, the archetypal naive painter, is great for that reason too, though Paris is a different jungle from the Croatian countryside. He faced a lot of flack in his lifetime for "not being a proper artist," as I'm sure you know.

Good to know. I can imagine art books require crowdfunding, since they have high production costs. My approach has been to start small. We'll see how it goes. Thankfully my production costs aren't too high, so if I did need to crowdfund I wouldn't need to do it for much.

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There are artists who are successful -- in terms of gallery sales -- whose uniformity in what they exhibit leaves me wondering if that truly is all they ever do.

I find myself painting in wide loops, moving through favourite subjects and mediums to come back to each, sometimes at a similar point and sometimes at a different level or angle.

Good luck with your crowdfunder!

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I have the same reaction to those – are they really spending decades painting the same thing over and over?

Thank you!

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Exactly!! Thank you -- and Joumana! -- for breaking the silence. I don't think the Muses hang around for or breathe life into anything factory-like. Years ago, i read somewhere that up until the 1950s-60s, it was the Art World. Then it quietly morphed into the Art Market, but now it is fully, and proudly self-titled, the Art Industry.

Fine, we can't take the word Art back, and many viewers don't even know what the word means or implies. So continuing to speak truth, and maybe we can also land on a different word we feel encompasses the reality of our experience serving something larger and obviously (to us) real. (There's a brand new NewYorker essay about how Industry also co-opted the word, Creative)(didn't read it, but don't need to.)

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This is a fascinating and horrifying insight! But it makes complete sense as capitalism has completely devoured the art world. I'm completely with you when you mention "serving something larger and obviously real", and by continuing to do so we preserve this space for others to find... It's important to speak up. I have encountered young creators who were overwhelmed after attending a talk of mine because up to that point the art industry was all they knew, and though it went against all their natural inclinations, they didn't know it was possible to work differently. Just listening to one artist whose path resonated with them totally changed their world, simply by showing them they don't have to comply with the industry. I don't know right now what other word we can use, but I'm content with sticking to the experience for the time being, because as long as it's not named it can't be coopted...

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I wonder, is creativity uniquely human? I see a lot of creativity in the way many birds create their nests. Bowerbirds use mind-blowingly beautiful choices in color and geometry when building their nests in order to attract a mate. It's a symmetry and design aesthetic that is not unlike something I see in your work and process. I do however agree that creativity is at the core of what makes human life distinct, for good and ill. I love seeing the ways you honor that force. It's an inspiration.

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Apr 23, 2023·edited Apr 23, 2023Author

I agree with you, and my dig was really directed at AI rather than the living world, which could be argued is inherently creative. There's a subtle line where the creative act becomes conscious rather than simply intuitive, and then a whole other dimension opens up, but even that doesn't neatly divide humans from animals—children create intuitively, and I came across a fascinating anecdote of crows weaving grass through pop tabs to bring as gifts to a human who fed them. And that blows my mind.

Thank you for the kind words!

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Apr 23, 2023Liked by Joumana Medlej

My dear Jumana, I always appreciate your work and ideas. Having been for a long time in the "world of art" I can confirm all of what you are talking about. I love and applaud your definition of creativity in the place of "art" a term which is connected to a lot of worms of the western world. We can speak for hours may be for days or months on this subject, but I am optimist, I think your generation and younger generation will se it of a new sight or rebuild it from the beginning. I am happy and greatfull to read you and share with you.🧡🙏🏼

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Dear Irini, it's very interesting and validating to hear this from someone who has so much inside experience. Though at the same time it's sad to have the confirmation! I do believe this art industry will eventually collapse and then art can be reborn...

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Apr 26, 2023Liked by Joumana Medlej

This work is beautiful and I can't wait to see more.

Lately I am doing at least as much teaching as I am art making. I believe the knowledge of working with natural art materials belongs to all of us, like herbalism or midwifery. When I am back in the studio making art I also have that collective feeling, like I am talking with my good friends of the plant and mineral world. It is hard to imagine exhibiting work without involving materials too. All of this seems quite contrary to the current norms of the art world. So for the moment the art is piling up in my flat file. Maybe in the coming year after some current long projects wrap up I will have the energy to start submitting them to shows. So grateful you are persevering despite the unclear path! I so value your work and how generously you share your thoughts and process.

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Thanks for sharing! I feel the same, one is never alone working this way because we are part of the seasonal, natural process, constantly connected to the living world through its presence in our studio. It may not get us into shows but it's a full life in itself!

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