Somewhere along the way, I began to recognize that my time in the studio (and my life?) can be reduced, quite plainly, to an exercise in seduction. And while it’s not exclusive to creatives, I’m sure it’s a common tie that binds making anything at all. I’m getting to something, scouring scientific papers trying to work it out:
The “art of pleasure” requires a careful plan of behavior, which has communicative relevance, and simultaneously must be able to elicit an emotional response. If it can provoke not only an interest, but also attraction, then it can create or increase a feeling of desire or need.
To seduce, to attract, to be led along, quite simply, “somewhere else.” Heart over mind and conversely, or, better still, passion bound with knowing one another… Sensual involvement.
And of it’s inherent reciprocal nature …if the seductive game is to be effective then it must involve a degree of flexibility that of being able to harmonize and synchronize with the partner. Every move must be carried out and evaluated according to the partner’s response.
What are we if we aren’t slow dancing, intensely, with another human?
Even if I am convinced that I’m making art for myself — producing the kinds of things I want to exist in the world — it’s impossible to deny the fact that I’m still making this for you too, whoever you are.
And what turns you on and how can I make you desire and need what I have? And isn’t what I have, in essence, what I am, ultimately, turning myself inside out and putting myself on display as the object of desire? And is what I have to offer intoxicating enough to create a meaningful connection to you without betraying what is real and honest in me?
The realization that the work I create is a mutual exchange with you — that I desire your quickening pulse and a shift in your face as your eyes dilate. That I want the surface of you to come alive, to reverberate, to know that you are receiving my signal. That I need you at all…
A friend recently gave me a book written in celebration of the desert, understanding that I’ve recently developed a torrid fascination with the desert or, more specifically, the idea of myself in the desert. I want to thrive here. I want to shrivel up in the white hot light of here. I want to make the loudest noises here and I want to make no noise at all here. The book is aptly named, “Because It Is So Beautiful” and speaks to the love of place, or topophilia. (Note: I make a part-time job of looking words up and the double meaning of torrid was an accident but then there really are no accidents, are there? See for yourself.)
So now when I ask myself why I am doing any of this, especially when it’s hard to do and there are so many other worthy, worthwhile things that come naturally to me, the answer is and will be, forever and ever, because it is so beautiful.
Because when a certain mark or shape or brush stroke exits my body and lands on a surface and the sight of it makes me weak… When a pool of pigment is so lucid that I can hardly believe the power to orchestrate its arrangement was ever in me at all… That it’s possible that there is beauty sliding around inside of me — that my guts and liver and blood could be so beautiful.
And, what’s more, that even if the marks and shapes and strokes fail to resonate, my white, hot, burning desire for them remains. And the seduction of that, too, is beautiful and that is all and that is everything. In turn, Siri Hustvedt offers “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women:”
“Searching, meeting, seduction, rejection, and retreat evokes ongoing rhythmic narrative of our undying physical need for other human beings, a need that is forever impeded by obstacles, both internal and external... reminiscent of dreams, and by their nature dreams are more emotional than waking life... often erotic and destructive pulse of human desire...”
I temporarily lean on this as a statement for my work — an undying physical need for other human beings, akin to an erotic dream and potentially destructive, that I’m attempting to process through multiple prisms: Manipulation. Order. Control. Progress. Self-Improvement. Desire. Attachment. Work. Survival.
Each of these touchstones is a sidelong glance accompanied by a distinct, but related, body of work. Work that I intend to mount and exhibit at the end of the year, sink or swim. An audacious goal, I am relying on the depth and intensity of a lifetime practice and deference for making to get me there. Focus and grit with a dash of hustle. Combined with a newly discovered connection to materials from the natural world: Just pick up a stone and let your body make a mark with it because it is so beautiful.
And I’m beginning to recognize these impulses for the proverbial ‘carvings on the cave wall’ that they are. That scratching of “I Was Here,” no better or different than running my nails down your back.
Yet, what I could possibly have to say is of far less significance than the fact that I’m right here, right now, standing before you to say it. That I didn’t let the immensity of the wall, or the darkness of the cave, frighten me back into a corner. Instead, I was seduced into the white hot sun, the earth in my hands, to make my mark.
Because I was here.
Because I am here.
And so are you.
And together we are so, so beautiful.