confused finig. pic by toni munoz.
This is one of those weeks where I go around and around in frantic mental circles questioning the choices that got me to where I am. What is driving me to make work? What is the machinery behind my process?
Like I’ve said before, without the structure of a full-time gig, it’s easy for an artist like me to run into all sorts of existential questions. Unless I’m right in the thick of a project, I have time to stop and question myself. And right now I don’t have the momentum to ignore the worry that it might all be a total shambles. And so last night, sitting alone in a parked car, I was thinking over and over about how projects get started.
How does it happen, then? Finig where do your ideas come from?
Usually the seed of an idea comes from my frequent and high-dosage sensations of jealousy, fear, anger and particularly, spite. That’s where it starts, and later, if I’m lucky, comes a slightly more healthy mix of constructive emotions.
The seed of an idea is usually the urge to needle someone. Most of the YAH events that I programmed came from a specific urge to annoy Hadley or Yolande. This is how we came to hosting a Christmas In March event with a reenactment of the Beep Test in the middle of it. Or I air a stupid thought on social media, and as soon as someone criticises it, that’s enough to guarantee that it happens.
even my best ideas are bad, and involve me being a reindeer for hadley. pic by adam thomas.
Then, once an idea exists, you can apply your social conscience, intelligence, sense of craft and aesthetic values on top of it. Does it engage the community, is it accessible, is it meaningful, does it resonate with the context? These are crucial filters, but the idea itself doesn’t come from those questions. Nothing so noble or constructive in that first moment.
If enough people say something is a bad idea, I’m gonna double down on it. I could’ve let Kill Climate Deniers go, if not for the fact that some peeps insisted on making a feeble melodrama out of the fact that ArtsACT funded the script development. Now the sheer fact of that challenge has engaged those instincts, and it’s going to happen. Because it matters, because it’s relevant, because it’s saying something purposeful and worthwhile, but also because a bunch of people think it’s a bad idea.
My decision-making flowchart is a fucking shambles, and my internal mental process for What Should I Do Now is more dependent on what’s on my walkman than any kind of logical scheme. In general: If I’m not feeling scared, I’m not happy. If I’m not out of my depth, I’m not happy. If I’m not directly contravening someone’s well meaning advice, I’m not happy.
I don’t have a plan, but I know that I can’t really trust anyone else’s example, because I don’t know anyone who’s done what I want to do. And what is that? I don’t know, but I know it doesn’t look quite like anything I’ve seen before.
My decision-making is based off bad instincts, fortified by collaborators who, I mean we trust each other, even if none of us really knows what it all adds up to, and guided by cobbled-together bits of advice from my mentors. Brenna Hobson. Nicole Canham. Jan Wawrzynczak. Tassos Stevens. Robyn Archer. Good, thoughtful advice, applied haphazardly and without a sense of the big picture.
I think to myself, what are you doing? I think to myself, you have to do something, you have to make something. I think to myself, these are the stories you need to tell, these are the things you need to fix. I think to myself, have you fucked over anyone recently? I mean, specifically? I think to myself, make something, anything, to distract yourself from thinking.
I think about the refrain of this old Gomez tune a lot – the chorus goes, ‘you better convince me man, cause I don’t know what I’m doing – you better convince me man, cause I don’t know who I’m screwing.’
this was karnabal, which was also a confusing experience. pic by jordan prosser.
Some days you’re at a crossroads, and all you really know is that none of the roads go anywhere you want to be, but you need to keep moving or else you’ll rot on the pavement where thou rottedst half.
You don’t want to get a gig in any of the structures because you don’t believe in the system, you’re not looking for a full-time job as a whatever in an organisation. But outside those structures you can’t do anything, make anything, change anything. And you’re already implicated up to your neck and there’s no point pretending otherwise.
You want people to see your work, you want your work to be part of the ecosystem, you want to be a part of the conversation and somehow move the conversation towards that point of crisis, you want to build platforms where people can come together and begin to address the real challenges facing us as a species, as a planet. But you don’t know how to connect your work to all those people in the world. How does work find an audience?
Those institutions, the theatres and the TV studios and the radio stations, they’re full of beautiful people working hard, and some days they seem so porous and other days they seem baffingly impenetrable. And you feel like if you could fold yourself into the right shape maybe you could slide through the gaps. But there’s no logical way to do that and maybe it’s bad news to start thinking about folding yourself into anything.
Jess said our job is to keep flashing our lights at the sky:
The problem for us is having enough rocket fuel to beam up our signals for as long as we can, and to trudge along with enough water packed on our backs to stay healthy in all the right ways. Our job is to keep making, keep creating, while recognising that sometimes the sky is very full and even very bright messages can be dulled by the camera-flash cacophony that surrounds us.
JUST HAVE YOUR LUNCH SORTED FOR THE DAY
And today I just wrote, for no-one really, something that doesn’t really fit anyone’s template of the art they want, a piece about a vigilante group forming to rescue a kidnapped popstar, a thing just for me, probably.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m doing.
I don’t know what I’m doing.