Not exactly sure what I want to write about this week (on this Sunday afternoon). I’ve been thinking today about what I want to do next in my life. Been looking at a lot of open calls for residencies places. I don’t think I really understand the current state of what it means to be an artist as your main thing in life. Not just to practice art while living the rest of your life normally at a normal job etc, but to live in this odd limbo where you don’t have a normal job and you just… hang out and make stuff? It seems very sporadic, I guess you move around to different residencies or projects, open calls, getting small little piles of money that you then whittle down while you’re living and creating. That seems kind of crazy but there is something alluring about it as well. To just be a sort financial nomad and live life.
One of the reasons that I never considered this approach to living is that I’m most familiar with the living situation in New York City, where you really can’t do that. Living purely as an artist in New York is really a late career move. You have to have a couple of degrees or awards or big shows or something to actually do it I think. This seems more doable in Athens. I understand that my perception that Athens is cheap only comes form the massive disparity in earnings between the US and Greece but I do think there’s also a cultural difference. Being unemployed is of course much more a norm here and because of that I get this sense that there are methods to scrap by. There are ways to live for a period without a job, and figure it out. In New York if you don’t have a job or some huge pile of money, getting a job is like a frantic dash, because rent is so expensive that you’ll be packing up all your shit in cardboard boxes if you don’t get a revenue stream pronto.
I’m starting to see some parallels between Athens (or maybe European cities in general?) and the American midwest. I get the sense that in the midwest you can similarly scrape by in a way without having to make a crazed effort to raise capital. I have a feeling that you could even live as a working artist by doing side gigs or having a small part time job or teaching workshops or something (probably a combination of grants, teaching, workshops, selling work would be enough to pay food and rent while still being an artist primarily). Because of that reason I’m becoming more attracted to these cities. Maybe this is just a sort of imaginary perception I have though. Anyways the way I see it now, the midwest seems to be having somewhat of an artist rebirth, with a lot of interesting and progressive ideas around, in a place where you can genuinely live.
New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston, they’re all becoming prohibitively expensive for artist (fuck becoming, at this point became). And this expensiveness carries with it a cultural bearing. That all things at the end of the day have a capital tint to them. For as much as New Yorkers love to be anti-capitalist, underground and DIY art is just way harder to do in New York-if you don’t want to be on the street you have to be capitally focused to some extent. Because of this I see an opportunity in middle America to be a place for more genuine creation. There are of course fewer institutionally backed galleries (which ok you got me, I love in New York) but maybe there can be way more wacky shows, DIY house galleries, experimental collectives, guerrilla art, street works, art that doesn’t have to be commercially viable. That to me is more exciting than ever right now.
In that vain I feel myself finally shifting towards a new mindset. One that I’ve strived for, and told myself I’ve had for a while, but now I feel that It’s actually here (telling yourself you believe something isn’t usually very effective, rather I see now what’s happening in my brain as an observer). I am shifting to a mindset away from commercial viability, and away from the need for recognition. To make art, simply. This is completely parallel to my budding interest in guerrilla art. Public guerrilla art by nature is not commercially viable, and it’s often anonymous. You don’t get to see who interacts with it, or how much they like or dislike it.
I’ve found an astonishing lack of information resources about guerrilla art on the internet, the primary one being from the wonderful Keri Smith (we actually built a device for one of her works in a university class taught by a friend of hers). She writes simply and candidly:
My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome. To do something that has nothing to do with making money, or listening to the ego.