Sunday, October 13, 2013

DIARY 118 ~ New Work & an Old Work Causes Offence

Now the exhibition is up and running (already half way through its run)  I've sold one piece from the exhibition and got one commission. As I approached this thinking I'd not sell much from this space these are a welcome bonus. The show looks very good in the Cambridge Buddhist Centre's albeit limited hanging space. I'm getting lots of appreciation which is gratifying to hear. So on the level of raising my artistic profile, in the Sangha at least, it has done its job.

I can now begin focusing on developing new ideas, of which I have more than there is currently time available to start. Last weekend I began work on a new piece in gouache which is going well, so far. I've also begun doing some exploratory drawings for my commission, which I think may be enough of a basis to start work on soon. The commission is to make something for someone's shrine, and as they are into Pranjaparamita, I'm using phrases or words from the Heart Sutra as the basis for creating tonal areas and patterns. So far only in fine black, but I got some coloured fine-liners yesterday so I can mess around with those. I'm imagining text/tone sandwiched in-between layers of gouache.Quite excited by what's coming out of it so far.

My weekly work schedule at Windhorse is in the process of changing. Still doing one day in the Kitchen, but with the addition of 21/2 days in Reception from next week. The final element, which is some data entry for the new Retail Website is being held up at the moment, but may kick off the middle of this coming week

In the meantime I've been putting in some time on the Windhorse Archive and Scrapbook Blog, and finally finishing the Warehouse Mandala, by stenciling a flower made up of Flames at each of eleven door exit/entrance. The stencil didn't turn out quite as bold as I would have liked, but it is good enough. It also means I can tick another completed project off my list. Ironically some elements of the first part, the Lotus Border installed in 2010 have worn away, which I alternate between liking the idea of, and wanting to restore. But the latter would be to fly in the face of its inevitable impermanence, and turn me into a neurotic artistic conservator. So I'm leaving well alone.

There was one unexpected consequence to my exhibition going up. Two days after the Private View, someone came to see me to ask me to remove a painting that they found offensive. It's actualy my oldest completed work, dating back to 1993. Its a piece called Static-Stasis-Statice. Its made up of photocopied newspaper cuttings, and is ostensibly about our desire to capture on camera the essence of a life or a lived experience, but how photography can never do this. In fact nothing ever can. The central photograph only shows a row of people. I chose it because it captures the moment before they are to be executed. Its of a notorious act of ethnic cleansing by the Nazi's during the war. Understandably the circumstances are obviously both emotionally and morally loaded. The photo was taken one assumes by one of the perpetrators of the massacre. The Statice in the title were respectfully placed over these photos as a sort of momento mori. For even these so called 'everlasting flowers' have decayed over the years.

Personally, I don't believe we should sanitise our exposure to reality. Nor that a judgement should be made solely on the basis that someone may or may not be offended. Offence, from a Buddhist perspective is a form of aversion, of not wanting to be presented with some unpalatable aspect of reality. Artists can deliberately set out to offend, and in many cases with no outcome other than offence as justification.I can only take responsibility for what my intention was in making the artwork. Someone's reaction of offence is largely their responsibility. Whether I set out to cause offence, or unwittingly cause offence is mine. There being differing consequences based on the degree of skilfullness or unskillness I used in the making of that piece. I didn't feel my motives were particularly unethical, nor that one persons offence alone warranted the removal of the piece. In the end I left it up to the Buddhist Centre to decide. Their concerns were no doubt more focused on the potential for offence and how this might impact on the reputation of the Buddhist Centre, so they asked me to remove it.


Though I was irritated for a day or two, this was simply my pride and ego feeling wounded by the un-justness of it. But in the end I decided to put this to bed, by remembering to hold a Dharmic perspective. In essence, by not allowing myself to be further blown about by the Worldly Winds of ~ Praise/Blame ~Pleasure/Pain ~ Gain/Loss ~ Fame/Infamy. From which point of view, whether this picture hung in an exhibition or not, or whether someone was offended or not by it, are actually not very important at all.

1 comment:

grainsilo said...

The opening was good, I especially liked the om, ah, hum. Is that a drawing of yours, the 2 off set squares, interesting, tin? looking forward to seeing it!