“What do you want people to do?”
A lot of people have been asking me this regarding my senior show and artist practice actually. And I say to them,
“I want people to do what they do. That’s it”
“Yeah, but what do you WANT them to do?”
I’ve been at peace with the fact that what I want doesn’t really matter. Actually, I’m kind of glad that what I want doesn’t matter. Who am I to think I’m so important that everyone should listen and follow suit, for one. For two, who am I to assume my way would be the best in the first place?
Exactly. No one.
Torres always makes me feel a lot less anxious about the whole thing, when I reflect art historically. John Baldessari does the same, when he says
“A word can mean everything and nothing; an image can mean everything and nothing. But I don’t think you can say, “this is this and this is that and there is no argument””.
“Our brains are wired so that we want to make meaning out of things. If you watch videotape and the monitor screen turns to snow and you sit there looking at the snow, you can become convinced that you are going to see something. It just can’t just be white noise”
People make what they want out of things. They can turn something insignificant into everything, or something significant into nothing, depending on their perrogative. Or, you can simply turn things all into having the same level of significance. Just because it’s everything or nothing to me, why should it be either of those to anyone else? I mean, I see things like Torres’s paper stacks and think I’ve never seen something more beautiful. Others see them and think “Really, that’s it?” I mean, I honestly have friends who think I’m crazy to stop in front of a string of lights, or notice the way natural lighting hits a pedestal. It all looks the same to them. And some of those same friends think I’m crazy when I could care less about looking at a Monet painting of haystacks.
Some people look at a piece like this by Baldessari and say “Really man, you broke your promise”, whereas others look and think “I’m really interested”.
Just accept who others are. And accept who you are. The worst thing a person can do is lie about how they feel or think or respond when they see things. I mean, like I said, I have friends who are completely different from me in how they are oriented to view things. Am I right to think certain things are garbage and revel in such formally simplistic things? Are they right to be interested in a painting of haystacks, or anything else that I would find ridiculously uninteresting for that matter?
That’s not the point. I don’t care who’s “right” here, mostly because either we probably both are so far off base that it doesn’t even matter who’s closer, or we’re both right in our own ways. The point in this whole thing is that at least we’re honest about what we do, and don’t, care about.
“In the hotel you probably have the same wallpaper of little Steinberg birds walking around. And I guess, metaphorically, that they must represent people walking around in New York, or are they just supposed to be birds? I don’t know. But in the context of New York they are metaphorically supposed to be people. If you switch it around and you have wallpaper full of people walking around, would you say “Oh, are these supposed to be birds?” No, probably not, they are what they are—that’s the stuff that interests me”
*All these quotes from Baldessari can be found in Again the metaphor problem. An interesting read, if only in my opinion. Take that one as you will.