Yesterday the exhibition I wrote about several times was opened. I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on my experience. It was quite a rollercoaster, so, it definitely deserves a moment to stand still and exhale. Perhaps, it is important to start from the night before the opening to provide some context. I didn’t catch enough of sleep as I had to finish the hypnotype test I was postponing until the last moment. The weather that night was remarkably unstable, rewarding me with some rapid changes in atmospheric pressure. As a result, I woke up with a rather severe migraine and honestly speaking the tiredness, sleepiness and slightly anxious excitements combined together didn’t give me a good fresh boost of energy. I recognised this feeling, I would always have a similar experience before an exhibition opening. I never enjoyed being present at my shows, people coming in, the talks, asking questions that are mostly rather generic. I never reflected upon this behaviour. Why do I feel uncomfortable? Is it a sign of insecurity? Or perhaps a fear to be confronted with weaknesses of the work? Fear of questions? Unfulfilled expectations? Thus there is a lot going on in these moments and I can’t put my finger on what is most relevant to me. But let’s ponder on the most recent experience and see whether some of the problematic areas will reveal itself.
It was a long opening day, started slow and gloomy. Gallery space, the works are on the walls, the video is playing, the sound is gently audible from the corner of the room. The air feels slightly stretched. Working on this show felt good for me, the process started kind of slow but then towards the end things came together. It reminded me of how a day flows. A good friend passed by in the early afternoon, we had a long conversation about art, motivations and degree of revealed secrets. She asked me about some of the works, provoking me or as she said poking me to have a deeper insight into my decision-making process. I took her provocation defensively at first falling into the old closed thinking patterns, where I would cover the lack of clarity with defensive attack. This time, luckily our friendship allowed us to wiggle out of the awkwardness and superficiality of the situation and we managed to do a deep dive, philosophising about art, walking on the edge of thinking. We know each other for a while, and she as no-one else knows my weaknesses. She saw me at many openings and all of them where accompanied with this feeling of discomfort I mentioned earlier. Yesterday was no different except that I noticed that it didn’t change. Once that happened, it allowed me to tap in the discomfort and see what was it all about. Is it the gallery framework? A lack of context? Past assumptions? Fear of rejection? Can I stand behind my work? Is it too shallow? Is it too vague? As I am going through these questions, I scan my body in order to catch how they feel. None of them gives me unpleasant sensations or discomfort. A friend of mine came up with a suggestion that I don’t like to be put in a box, or get a label. That sounded a little closer, but what’s behind this rejection? While going through these thoughts, inquiring together into the nature of this discomfort, a thought popped up. All these works look finished, and they are expected to be looked at as finished statements. And indeed, if we look at them on the wall, they look quite compact and done. If I lay my experience over them, I don’t feel done at all. Imposing clarity on these seemingly finished entities doesn’t feel right. I got pretty excited about this insight and immediately thought of the triad being, doing and becoming I wrote about in one of the previous drifts. Taking this card out of my pocked, brought some fresh air. It brought a realisation that these works, even though they look finished, are only part of the process. In the rush of events, woking on the show, being tired and so on, I forgot the most important rule I teach to my students: you are not your work. And, as I was sinking into the feeling of rejection, this simple thought pulled me out and shifted the perspective.
Going meta on myself, understanding that the works are mere fragments of an ongoing process, saved my day. So simple and so obvious yet so often the most difficult part to do. When this thought entered my being in the space, things started to flow smoother, in depth conversations stared to emerge, people were engaging with the work in a different way as I was opening up to the possibility of becoming and being honest about it. The opening has surprised me, people where lovely and giving, I felt the joy arising in me together with the desire to share, instead of crawl and hide into a hole. Writing this comes with new insights that linger in the memory after yesterday’s event. This makes me really happy. I feel that by undergoing the experience, doing an artist I gained a deeper understanding of my being an artist and realised that my becoming is an added value to provide an honest dialogue and trust into the framework to accommodate me.