Loving the Pig

Ah, back again. I was recently in Berlin on an art vacation, going to galleries, art shows, having long conversations over good meals, eating the much loved currently in season white asparagus called spargel. It was new to me, this big thick white tender delicately flavored vegetable. I liked it very much; although, even though I am a Taurus and believe that more is more, I did finally have enough spargel.

I discovered a new (to me) young artist whose work, I saw at the Barbara Wien Gallery (http://www.barbarawien.de/artists/canell_tex.php) in Berlin. Her name is Nina Canell. I found her installation oddly compelling, and curious, and inexplicable, and satisfying in ways I haven’t figured out yet how to articulate. Check her out for yourself–here’s one place to see some of her work: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nina-canell

While enjoying a warm, sunny, evening sipping something bubbly and eating good cheese, on a Berlin balcony, a good friend showed me a quote she had come across. She and I collect meaningful quotes for keeping on keeping on making art. I liked this quote as much as the spargel and so I pass it on to you: It is by Elias Canetti, a Bulgarian born writer who wrote in German: First the German, then a rough translation:

erkläre nichts
stell es hin
sag es

don’t explain
bring it forth
name it
walk away

In your art practice, whatever it may be, from the humble to the monumental, how often do you find yourself not knowing how to talk about what you are doing, or have made, or are interested in? How often, whether you say it out loud to anyone or not, do you apologize . . .”I don’t really know what this is about, but . . .” and how often do you then stop yourself?

Or another scenario: perhaps you get part way into something, and it begins to veer off in to a direction you didn’t intend, or perhaps it just stalls out and you freeze. Deer in the headlights: you don’t keep going, you don’t try something else, you don’t just mess with it, you don’t throw it away. You do nothing, except feel anxious. If you are like me, at this point you stick the work in a box or a file somewhere, thinking that some day you will do something with it. Suddenly years have passed and that “thing” still sits in its box, unnamed, unloved, undelivered, precious. Yikes. What to do?

The late, great, writer, Grace Paley, once told her short story writing students that whenever she, Grace, got stuck while writing a story, she would just “drop in some horrible character and see what happens.”

Another bit of Grace advice to someone who was stuck and whining about it; “Oh, just write the fucking story.”

In other words (literally), do the work, name it, walk away.

And apropos of absolutely nothing: on my way home, listening to one of my favorite radio stations, KPIG, http://www.kpig.com, which is known for its absurd humor and witty irreverence, I heard this: “We are all swine. Some of us are lower to the ground than others.”

Gotta love the pig.

Be well. And always take a chance on yourself.