if you want to leave behind something lasting, don't middle-of-the-road your art

Sunday, February 15, 2015

In this frigid northeast cold—when I am deliberately not writing books, when I assert through seeking, when I am teaching which is to say wholly focused on the work and hearts of others—I have, among other things, been watching my favorite moving art form: the documentary.

Last night: "Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow," a portrait of the artist Anselm Kiefer by Sophie Fiennes.

This morning: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," by Alison Klayman.

These two artists could not be more different in temperament—the first nearly monk-like in his approach to living and seeing, to directing the crews that enable him to fulfill his fantastic visions; the second commanding the world and his assistants through the stage of Twitter and communal politics and irreverence. And yet both remind me (again) of this: only those who walk the cliff line, who don't comfortably retread or remake, who work with vulnerability toward the new, who are willing to say "I don't understand but perhaps someday I will"—have the power to unearth, disturb, and shift points of view.

What kind of artist do you want to be?

As a non-artist in this right now, as someone who has stopped her own work to consider, to ask, What is it all for? What am I capable of?, these documentaries force me into a deeper self-appraisal.


Kelly Fineman said...

I saw an exhibit by Anselm Kiefer years ago at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it still haunts me. But both documentaries sound good. Somehow, it's not surprising to me that a memoirist likes what is akin to visual memoir (in some ways). :)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Your post is so similar in theme to this one from yesterday by Juliana Baggot, an adult and YA author: http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/2015/02/wishing-you-urgent-valentines-day.html

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