241 Things

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

The art student at the School of Visual Arts in New York baked tens of thousands of cupcakes for a colourful installation in her home state of Dallas,

http://www.pilotafrica.com

The art student at the School of Visual Arts in New York baked tens of thousands of cupcakes for a colourful installation in her home state of Dallas,

http://www.pilotafrica.com

Tip 1
In Stil de tijd (in English: Stand Still Time,) Joke Harmsen writes of how withdrawing yourself from normal every day life can buy you time. This personal or inner time is not to be expressed in units of minutes or hours, but is simply experienced. She’s an advocate for more inner time. Because it’s only when you become aware of the importance of time that you’re capable of reflection and creativity.

Do you think people would be more creative if they have more time?
I think so, because rest, relaxation, and doing nothing are prerequisites to finding a window into that other time. You’ll notice this when you break free from ‘clock time’ and go on a walk, listen to music, or meditate. You’ll find yourself entering another sort of time that seems more connected to the ‘deeper self,’ as philosopher Henri Bergson named it. And inner time is likewise the source of creativity and authenticity.

Do you have any concrete suggestion?

Yes. Keep one afternoon a week free, and don’t be afraid to do nothing.

(Excerpt from interview with Katja de Bruin. To read more see Stil de tijd, Joke Hermsen, de Arbeiderspers

Tip 2
Drawing leads me to a point of total relaxation; you could almost call it an addiction. To work, I need to disable the rational: this is the process. Often, when I begin a work, I try to completely delve into the character that I’m about to make—to write down his or her thoughts and contemplations, but also how that person sees me; and allow the character to speak. There is an enormous freedom in writing, in placing yourself in another’s perspective. A work block is a personal barrier, and means that there’s something you have to admit to. I’ve developed my own ways, my own rituals, to enter that trance of making. Sometimes it might take me a whole day in the studio to enter this trance. I do other things, carry out practical matters, to try and speed up the process. Rituals, daily habits that get the process going.

Tip by Femmy Otten
Taken from the book by Rainer Maria Rilke, Brief aan jonge kunstenaar mandatory literature for the art student

Tip 3
A tip for drawers and painters: buy a cheap sketchbook, a Bic pen, a pencil, whatever you prefer. Fill the sketchbook in one go, don’t stop until it’s completely full, work through the night, drink a bottle of wine and don’t go cutting corners, don’t tear out any ‘failed’ drawings, and don’t judge.

Tip by Erik Mattijssen

Tip 4
Nowadays it seems as though everything has to come from the mind, while it’s movement that gets your body going and brings you closer to your feeling or your intuition. If you can’t get to work, go for a walk, a jog, tai chi, dancing, anything that makes you sweat and move. This will help you on your way. If you’re breaking your head over your work: movement will clear you head and provide room for new thoughts and solutions.

Tip by Wendela van der Hoeven.

Tip 5
My advice to get over a work block is to join in as many projects as you can, even if they feel far removed from your normal area of expertise: participate in performance workshops, work for others, go to Studium Generale all week until you’ve been completely oversaturated with theory and make a drawing every night of how you felt about these things, or what you thought about them. You could also write everyone in your class a letter, organize a miniature exhibition of your work in the store window of an eyeglasses or wool shop, organize a fancy dress party and create a special setting for it, pretend be commissioned to make a fresco for an important chapel, etcetera. You could do these things with others, maybe even some outside of the art world, or you could ask your fellow art students to join.

Tip by Marian Theunissen

Robert Klatser, circa1967

Robert Klatser, circa 1967

Robert Klatser, circa1963

Robert Klatser, circa 1963

Robert Klatser, circa1967

Robert Klatser, circa 1967

“That which is creative, creates itself” – John Keats

Nothing remains unsaid at schools; everything is up for discussion. The child’s right to cherish his secrets is denied him. There doesn’t seem to be a place for daydreams, fantasies, or repression. Every minute of a child’s life must be meaningful. But children want to play and experiment without pretension. They should be allowed to form images and thoughts that manifest themselves within the hidden corners of the mind, far away and out of sight from others.

I live by the grace of the countless images that impose themselves upon me every three hundredth millisecond. The distance between the conscious and the unconscious seems minimal. Useless thoughts dominate my brain and link together to create a chain of countless, fleeting thoughts. Every action and all behaviour are preceded by fictional plans and fantastic imaginations.

My ability to make exceptional drawings was recognized early at kindergarten. Were parents and teachers competent to recognize ability? On the grounds of what criteria were my drawings assessed? When I analyse them, I notice realism, detail, and intensity. The sense of imagination is not strikingly idiosyncratic or expressive. The use of colours seems realistic. The images were related to trips and outings I’d made, as well as creatures like garden gnomes and fantastical animals. Goblins. The challenge was to portray these imaginary images as perfectly as possible. Kids don’t strive for expressionism. Only adults appreciate the visible struggle of creation or the painter’s movements coagulated in paint upon the canvas.

My talent had little to do with the characteristics that would be important for a future artistic practice.

At primary school I endlessly drew mice with human features, top secret flying, driving, and diving survival cars; and even historical events made their appearance, like the beheading of van Oldebarneveld. Many artists say that they’ve felt like an outsider and an observer since childhood, and to have a greater sensitivity to their surroundings.

Teachers interpreted the bloody drawings as expressions of mental illness or family issues. By doing so, they made an implicit connection between artistic quality and mental abnormality. I had an undeniable urge to shock. Bloody, scary scenes lent themselves well for this. It isn’t only admiration that stimulates the need to create, a negative response likewise stimulates this need; I’ll show them! The feeling of being an outcast energised me.

When I was twelve, I had a teacher sporting a bow tie who presented himself as an artist. He created an inspiring environment by being a role model, observer, dreamer and rebel. The point of departure is what formed the student’s ideas, while constantly referring to art and artistry. He had faith in the idea of the student. It was this attitude that also drew students to him who had little to no interest in art. He was very conscientious, delayed his judgement and was constantly alert. The students believed in his honesty. Without being aware of it, he was a forerunner in what now would be called authentic teaching.

Still, I was seen as a talented student. That implies a promise that had simply to be fulfilled. At this point, heading to the academy seemed self-evident.

The promise remains. But the longer it stands, the less likely it is that it will be realized. As time goes by, personal identity becomes entwined with the identity of the artist. This makes quitting impossible. With Bourdieu in mind, being an artist is like a coat that I can’t take off, for if I do, I’d be naked.

Bas Jan Ader

Although I never followed formal training in photography, I was briefly affiliated with an academy, just not as a student. In 1986, I was appointed the position of photography tutor at the Rietveld academy.

For the first assignment, I asked students to sit themselves in the canteen with their camera.

The time of day was up to them: early in the morning without a student in sight, at the busy lunch hours, or in the evening when the part time students entered. It was all up to them, my only demand was that they shut their eyes, clicked their camera, and filled up a whole roll of film. Hopefully, this exercise would loosen and relax their way of seeing.

I don’t remember what the assignment resulted in. However, I do know that I had a meeting with the supervisor at the end of that year. The supervisor let me know that they’d been under the impression that the bottom of my photographic knowledge had come into sight during my year of teaching. They would no longer be needing my services.

I can imagine that for many people it would be a huge blow to hear from the supervisor of an esteemed art academy that they’ve seen the bottom of your photographic knowledge. But I wasn’t too bothered. I asked them for a written statement to confirm the termination of my contract. Including the reason. I wasn’t bothered because I had my Red Folder: the folder where I collected all my Rejections and Disappointments.

As with all collections… once you start it, you need to complete it. I simply had to fill up the folder. And so, I perforated the Rietveld’s letter of rejection and stuck it in with the other rejections.

In retrospect, the Rejections and Disappointments folder may have been too big for its purpose. But the good thing was: to fill it up, I needed a whole lot of rejections. So I had to write applications, throw lines here and there, submit proposals, present my work, apply for jobs. Applications that were accepted were placed in the Green Folder. This is where I collected Grants and Other Successes. The fact that my folder for Successes was as big the folder for Disappointments might display some misplaced optimism.

Thanks to these two folders, I discovered that rejections positively affect your career. I can best demonstrate this correlation through a graph.

On the x-axis I’ve placed the years, from 1980 until now.

On the y-axis you’ll find my income in Euros.

There’s no better measure of success than turnover.

A small dip is visible in 1986, after my contract at the Rietveld was not renewed. I never made a lot of money there. Nobody did, and they still don’t. In 1995, when I quit photography and began to write, a much bigger dip entered.

It’s interesting to compare the yearly rejections in my Red Map to the above. Now we’ll enter a world of higher mathematics, as I’ll place these two graphs on top of one another: the scale of the number of rejections on top of my turnover.

But the point is: during the first fifteen years, the graph of rejections follows the same form as that of my turnover. There must be, then, a direct correlation between rejection and artistic success.

When I quit photography in 1995 and begin writing, rejections still follow turnover, albeit with less precision. Both decline because I still hadn’t mastered writing. I practiced all day, leaving me less time to write applications and in turn, fewer rejections were sent my way.

Slowly, after 2000, my income begins to rise again. As I begin receiving assignments, I write fewer and fewer applications. In 2003, I start writing a column for the website PhotoQ where I analyse photos like a detective. The column is a success and in 2004, the Volkskrant asks me to analyse a press photo each week. My income steadily begins to rise. While the amount of rejections dramatically drops, so does the amount of applications and proposals I write.

At this point, everything begins to calm down. The income rises even further, the rejections decrease until they cross one another, here, in February of 2012. It’s in this very month that the Rietveld asks me to open their graduation show.

The opening of the graduation show!

Yes, then you’ve got it made.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I can’t help but offer four tips to the budding artist:

1)Buy two folders, one green and one red. Place your rejections in the red folder, the successes in the green folder.

2)Don’t bother with self-promotion. Don’t over advertise your work. If you discover something, or stumble across something interesting while working, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell anyone who will listen. Your friends, your parents, the baker on the corner. And if someone’s around who can help you further (you know the type)… just keep talking.

3)Speak about your work clearly and directly. No jargon. If the baker stops listening, you’ll probably have to tell it differently the next time. This is how you start understanding your work better.

4)Don’t be too picky. Don’t just reach for the top. Starting at the bottom can have great advantages. You’ll have room to experiment and to find out what your work is about. It’ll be useful for the future, when you’ll be tossed into the lion’s den.

Art Bin, Michael Landy

‘Who can does, who can not teaches!’ wrote Shaw. By this, he meant that if you were truly good at your trade, you’d rather practice that trade as a researcher rather than a teacher.

Many subjects are taught by professors who teach without any true engagement, who themselves have also been schooled by the very same sort of tutor. It might sound disrespectful, but it’s an undeniable phenomenon.

Most researchers have trained themselves with the guidance of another researcher.

How do you prevent the rift between researchers and teachers growing even wider? Firstly, by employing as many teachers as possible that have been successful researchers.

But also by writing textbooks, readers, and practical manuals in such a way that they show how research is truly done in a practical sense.

Most schoolbooks are written with present day knowledge as their foundation. They follow the history of their subject and its related disciplines from beginning to end. In textbooks, you won’t find many detours or examples of dead-end developments. And if that happens, you’ll know beforehand that it was a mistake. In practical manuals you won’t find experiments that explain a dead branch or root in history that helps understand the subject. Because of this, it seems like the subject developed through a succession of ready-made questions that lead to easily found answers. Knowledge and insight are taught on the basis of their justification.

But shouldn’t it also be possible to approach a subject through the history of its development? By not only looking at the grand scheme, but also at the crucial turning points? As a repetitive process of guessing, missing, and hitting. In the process of doing so, you’d be raising future researchers. And you’d be telling future teachers how researchers work.

Tip 1
Make a work for one person, someone you admire, someone whose opinion and insight are of value to you. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know, but it helps. A good friend, a family member, a fellow artist. Limit your audience to one person. Audiences are often abstract and invisible. And sometimes, it turns out that the audience is only you, which can be deadly. By focusing on one person, your message will be personal and you’ll be able to communicate specifically.

Tip 2
Take a step. Ask yourself: what was I really aiming for? What do I want to tell? Often it turns out you’ve gotten caught in something: in the material, the medium, or the wrong storyline. With another medium or thought you might just hit the bull’s-eye.

Tip 3
To totally contradict the last tip: forget the story. Forget the why. Change the question of ‘why’ and ‘where does it come from’ to: ‘where do I want to go’ or, ‘what would I like to bring into being?’ Move forward instead of staying in the past!

Tip 4
Accept that, as an artist, you live in a world of paradox. You don’t have to be in control of every thought or action to make a good artwork. It might even occur that you’ll make something amazing without knowing how you got there. Imperfections and impairments can be the most fruitful elements in a work process or in an artwork. The most beautiful artworks are never completely waterproof.

Tip 5
Start something concrete.
Invite three artists to join in collaboration. Send something personal (a drawing, found photo, an object) to the other, asking them to deliver a visual response, a visual commentary. That person sends it on to the next, who in turn reacts to your contribution. In the meanwhile, the fellow artist has also sent you something that you’ll have to respond to. In the end, four artworks will be circulating within the group, one of which you’ll have initiated and three of which will be your response to what the other has sent you. This will help to divert your attention, to react on something you haven’t asked for but want to give, as it often goes in art.

Tip 6
If the above tips are ineffective, go on a journey. Go see something special. Of course, that doesn’t always have to be art.