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Monday, 11 July 2011

Risky Business

Run!!! K Howell 2011 Pastel on Paper 21 cm x 14 cm
     Art is fraught with risk. There are no guarantees that execution will match up to vision. The work may or may not be exhibited. People may or may not respond to it if they see it. Even if they do respond, the artist may or may not be aware of the success or failure of the work in that instance.
     We all invest a great deal in what we do, but as artists, uncertainty is our friend. Uncertainty is the dark underbelly of possibility; if we have one, we have the other.
     I know I'm always struggling to balance emotional intensity with games; trying to invest a work with strength and authenticity of vision, but also a certain amount of playfulness. I should take myself more seriously; I should have more fun. This is a risk.
     But risk, I believe, is what makes work interesting.
Yesterday, I attended a concert. The chamber group was marvelous, the sound world intriguing but ultimately upstaged. By a cactus. The unquestionably phallic shape and the fact that it was amplified gave the succulent a playful presence in the percussionist's toolbox. The spines kept me watching. So much potential for drama. Will they blindfold the percussionist? Will the stage hands be impaled? I spent the duration of the piece renaming the work and re-imagining the staging for maximum comic and tragic effect. So I've learned this valuable lesson: If you put a cactus on stage, harmonics aren't quite so interesting*. When RISK is presented as a possibility, the audience wants it explored. (Assimilating this information as I write.)

*This is not a criticism, just a fact. It was a very good event. And the film! Pierre Reimer's Modell, made to accompany a composition by Mark Andre, was brilliant. Very witty, slightly sinister, thoroughly entertaining. Clever and playful. I loved it! And I would've told him so, but my French is specious and my English... not much better. I failed to make my response known. I didn't want to risk sounding like a prat. Won't happen again.

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