When I mentioned this to another friend, he said he understood the desire. The piece looked like a geode. It was made from a book but its contents were locked forever. Cutting it open would show just how much book was in there. But why not say the piece contained two small artifacts and a tiny book of poetry in the center? (It did not.) No one would ever know. He thought he would like to see the art together with a copy of the book from which it was made. The viewer could then flip through the book to absorb the contents (and decide just how relevant or useful it was as a book), then look at the art. Back and forth. Here's a word. I see where it came from. The viewer would now know what my artist friend knew. I like the idea of a piece having a discussion with its origins. But I had another thought.
I wondered if the questions of how and where the work started were really what the viewer wanted to know. Would she be satisfied with a set of time-lapse photographs detailing the making, step-by-step? I believe, instead, what she really wanted to do was to get at the mystery of the creative process, which is an unsolvable mystery. Artists don't really know where the first spark comes from or just how the work evolves. The creative process is mysterious, which is part of the thrill of creating and of viewing a thing created. I can think of two results of dissecting, halving, or dissolving the work: 1) the woman could lose interest in the art once she lost all desire to excavate it or 2) she could reconstitute it and create yet another form (discarded book to papier mache rock to ??) which might ultimately contribute to, as Dean Young writes in The Art of Recklessness, "an endless procession of quote marks" (31-32).
I don't think we can examine art too deeply without removing its charge. Over-analyzing something tends to kill its liveliness. "Desire vanishes at the point of capture…" (21) writes Young. Mystery laid bare is not mysterious anymore. What was curious is no longer a curiosity. It deflates. "Anything fully known offers us no site of entry, no site of escape, no site of desire" (85). It seems to me that my friend's piece was successful. Although it may not have been in the manner that she had intended, by embracing that mystery of creative process and making the work, she stirred a longing in the heart and mind of another human being.
|Lisa Kokin: Mars and Venus In Touch, 2008|