A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
What does it mean to own something? Humans have a history of stamping their foot down, pointing at something, and exclaiming, “this is mine!” but what does that mean? Can anything really be ours? Our property? Our bodies? Our thoughts? There are many theories and speculations concerning these questions that we may never have the answers to. In nature, animals may mark their territory, but it may be taken away from them in a battle and become something else’s territory. In the teachings of yoga and ayurveda, it is believed that our bodies and our thoughts are not ‘ours,’ they make up a vessel that our soul inhabits.
Today I was a part of a discussion of a related nature: authorship in art. Where does ownership begin and end in art? An example that leads us to this question is thus:
an artist creates a piece of work, putting a certain amount of thought and effort into the piece. During the creation process, the artist is thinking about certain concepts and references that they are appropriating and allowing to influence their work. Then, the artist displays the work for the public (or ‘virgin eyes’ as I prefer to call it) to see. The viewers then react to the work on varying levels and interpret/perceive the meaning/narrative/concept of the work. Now, what if the viewers see the work in a completely different light than the artist does or intended? Does that make what the viewers take from the piece false? Or, because the artist created the work with intention and effort and the piece is ‘theirs’, does that mean that they have sole ownership of its intent?
My interpretation is that these questions, which circulate through the art world with as if the answers can validate what artists do, are completely loaded. This is because everyone will have a different answer at a different time and place. Everybody holds their own truths and perceptions of life, and this does not disclude art. If the questions are being asked because an artist is trying to figure out if what they are doing is meaningful or worth all of the trouble, then that is a result of their own insecurities.
For me, I don't care if I ever find answers for these questions, because I don't make art for any other reason then I love to create. How people interpret my work and how that compares to my intention is of little value to my life. Now, as part of my work I do put effort into my work and I am mindful of how people will interpret it, that is just a part of the process. I dont, however, become dismayed when someone takes it differently than I could have imagined. If anything, I see it as a gift when someone can look at a piece that you have dedicated weeks, months of your life to and show you a whole new perspective. Even still, that is not why I create work. Steven Pressfield said, “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution,” (The War of Art), and that is my belief as well. All of the other questions concerning art that inevitably come about in the process are jokes for entertainment.