Making Art is a Public Act

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Making art is a public act. The distinction between private and public art is false. As false as the capitalist idea of the private, autonomous individual. All art is public art.

I know that what I do—out of the deepest reserves of my being, appears, as I appear, as a distillation of the worlds of which I am made, of which I but a focal point—unique in my becoming, as each person is unique in their becoming—but does not, and could not exist apart and separate from that ecological fabric, any more than I could exist apart from my body.

The body of my being is not limited to this biological body (itself, a complex biome, a multiplicity of organisms, unique in its ever changing configurations), and is not a thing in a world of things, but a thing of that world of things, interfused with and never without them.

What I make, I make together–make unique, together. The fabric of the world of which I am a part comes together in my becoming, in the becoming of my art. A public act from the convergence of the world in and through my becoming.

The world I inhabit, and which lives through me—defines, controls, dominates—in its decadent, disintegrating, violent, suicidal late capitalist form. As an artist, I find no escape from the suffocating falsity, the ersatz poisonous lie that goes by the name of “success.” Showing in galleries. Selling to wealthy oligarchs for their private pleasures. I can reject all that, but it will shape me nonetheless, shape what I do, as much through its negative power as it would were I to embrace it. This is so, because there is no place in this world for art, except on its terms, in its control. Making art—being an artist, then, outside the systems and institutions that are that place, means living no place. No place to stand. Invisible, as one without public being.

You want to make this about money? …the problem of how to earn a living, how to support one’s art—and it certainly is that—but in a world where money, is not the means of existence, but existence itself (look at those living on the streets—how they do not exist in the eyes of passersby!)… in such a world, the problem of how to earn a living is but the surface—doesn’t come close to defining it.

One who rejects the false “success,” will come to understand that there is no other. That one has no alternative but to accept the unacceptable: to live and work as a failure. To make a failed art. An art that has no public being, because the public where it might exist, where the outsider artist might exist, doesn’t exist. Or doesn’t yet exist.

There is the romantic myth—of the individual who exists of and for his, or her, or their self alone. But that’s only another fabrication—a part of the capitalist lie. Because Making art is a public act. The distinction between private and public art is false. As false as the capitalist idea of the private, autonomous individual. All art is public art.

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