Wholeness and brokenness seems to be a theme running through this latest batch of work. I have only seen it now, yet it also seems to obvious and also such a vast nebulous topic that one could almost say any image is about wholeness and brokenness. In general our lives speak to this immense topic.
Listening to Marie von Franz on dream interpretation, she says that at the core of Jung’s psychological approach is individuation, finding out what our uniqueness is about and giving it expression. Everything in the universe is individuated, no two trees are alike, no two leaves are alike, no two stones are alike, no two bees are alike. Discovering our uniqueness involves a dialogue with the soul which goes beyond the rational. Dreams are messages from the soul, the deeper part of ourselves. At this deeper level there is uniqueness yet also wholeness and connectedness (the collective unconscious).
I have to admit, my creativity is spiritual. There I have said the unmentionable, the very thing one should not talk about in the art world – spirituality. It’s as if spirituality becomes trite in the art world. I do agree that there can be an aspect of trite spiritual art, that is all about rainbows, haloes and dragons. I would say that kind of work is more craft than art.
This is my second attempt at being an artist. My first attempt at being an artist involved attending art school at a university after leaving high school. I graduated with a fine art degree and an advanced diploma in art which took five years of study and practice. Afterwards, I went travelling, landed up and Berlin not long after the wall came down and that became the place where I pulled my formal art education apart. It took the same amount of time dismantling as i had spent studying, five years. After those five years, I no longer wanted to be an artist.
I re-incarnated myself as a self taught documentary filmmaker. I was so happy to answer “filmmaker”, when people asked me what do you do? I could see the awe in their eyes. People would reveal to me that being a filmmaker was always something they had secretly wanted to do. We all love movies and going to the cinema and sometimes fantasise about the movies we would make if we could. Previously when I answered “artist” to the “what do you do?” question, I heard the sigh and pity in peoples’ voices. The legend of the poor, starving, mad artist is ubiquitous.
Now I am back in the art game. And what a game it is. I thought I knew some of the rules after I left art school, but at that time I didn’t know what I wanted to express. My life experience was rather minimal and middle class protected. Re-entering the art world has not been easy, just to understate the difficulties. Fresh out of art school, the doors of the art world seem to gape open to a privileged, young graduate of a prestigious school. Re-entering, the doors appeared firmly shut. After a 20 year break, you are forgotten. Now you no longer have the right credentials, no recent exhibition history, no accolades to recommend or judge you by. The harder you try knocking on the locked doors, the more you are seen as unworthy of any attention. This is the strange, defeating, circular logic of the art world I have encountered.
The interesting part of returning to personal art, is that I am realising how much of a documentarist I actually am in my creativity. Each night I document some creature, plant, fruit, vegetable, stone, egg, anything I have come across or been given that is of interest to me. The process of photographing is a deeply meditative for me. At night I enter into a parallel world, where the realities of the day are forgotten, and the expanse of deep, nocturnal blackness opens up. I enter into stillness and time becomes elastic. An hour can seem like a night, five hours like a few minutes. I don’t even realise I am in the void. There is no subject, there is no object, there is no form, there is no not form. Just the click of the camera aperture on long shutter brings me back.
I have vast archives of photographs, just my insect images number over 6 000. I can only do around 30 photographs on a good night. So that amounts to 200 nights of photographing insects alone. I have over 7 000 images of flowers and plants and so it goes on…
Presently I am in the stage of collaging together the individual images from my documentary archives. This becomes a really creative process for me. This is the time when I wonder and ponder and question myself. What are you doing? What are you trying to express? Photographing is a intensely creative act for me because of the chance provoking method I use to light up my subjects. But there is a certainty in that there is an actual subject/object in front of me. Collaging enters into the abstract, the scene needs to be created and everything is open to change.
Back to the theme of wholeness and brokenness. I am finding the visual language to express the mystical experiences in my life. You know you have had a true mystical experience when you are no longer afraid of death. You intimately know in your bones that death is but a transition. Having experienced the Eleusinian Mysteries in ancient Greek times, it was said that one too lost the fear of death. But you were put to death if you revealed the mysteries, a strange self defeating deterrent…
Words are not my friends yet. I feel pinned down by them, like an insect in an entomologist’s collection. Images are open ended, they have multiple, layered meanings. Words can play multiple tunes but only in a wordsmith’s workshop. I am persisting with this blog because I am determined to be on a more friendly basis with words. I feel my soul is calling for me to use this medium and that I should make myself a little more comfortable and adept in this linguistic medium. So do forgive me dear guinea pig reader. The good part is that everyone is blogging and revealing all sorts of things about themselves and their lives, so I don’t feel so all alone.
And this is what emerged today with the theme of wholeness and brokenness…