Unreal Nature

October 17, 2015

Which Has to Have an External Form

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:29 am

… there has to be some part of yourself that fundamentally needs this externalization of the self, needs it psychically.

Continuing through That Which Is Not Drawn: William Kentridge & Rosalind C. Morris Conversations (2014):

[ … ]

William Kentridge … Sometimes, a sheet of grey paper is very beautiful, and you ask yourself: ‘Why don’t you just leave it as a sheet of grey paper?’ For some artists that’s enough — they can leave it at that, and the sheet of paper is pregnant with whatever one wants to project onto it as a viewer. The tone, the grey, a memory of fog, of things lost, of things unretrievable and so forth.

[line break added to make this easier to read online] But I’m interested in what one can pull out of that, and it would be difficult for me to be otherwise. Sometimes a sheet of paper will end up as a grey mess, after drawings have happened and then been erased and erased and erased. But it’s been through a journey, and it’s only important if you see that journey or at least know that there has been a very specific journey that’s ended on this grey paper, even if it’s no longer visible.

The grey of the paper is not the same as the initial gloom of grey dust on an otherwise white or neutral sheet of paper, which is often how the drawings begin — with a large rag dipped in charcoal dust and wiped across a sheet of paper. What happens when you have this big grey smudge on the sheet is that you do both construction and archaeology at once; you feel both the black charcoal as it draws on it, and the eraser as it pushes things away. One is looking back towards the white paper and outwards into darkness, and the act of grey lifts the sheet of paper to a halfway stage off the table. Then you can work backwards and upwards.

[ … ]

WK If you’re going to spend you life making objects, or drawings, that have come from within you but that are left outside and that continue to exist, there has to be some part of yourself that fundamentally needs this externalization of the self, needs it psychically. Otherwise there’s no reason to be doing this strange activity. [ … ] At its heart lies some fundamental insufficiency which ensures that it is not enough for someone to look at you as the artist and say, ‘You are who you are and that’s enough.’

[line break added] You say, in response, ‘No, you need to look at the work.’ That’s why, for a lot of artists, certainly for me, although I am getting better at it, criticism of the work is so annihilating. It’s not just a matter of ‘Oh, they didn’t like the picture, that’s a pity.’ If the work is not acknowledged, then you don’t exist or you have not the right to exist. It’s felt — I’m sure that anybody who is involved with work that is from them but which has to have an external form, feels this.

My previous post from this book is here.




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