Thursday, October 1, 2009

"I Can Not Help The Way I Feel"

I walked into the Wellcome Collection today. It reminded me how to tell a piece of art from a piece of bullshit.

Art isn't about form. Function. Color. Contrast. Complexity. Meaning. Devotion.

For me, art is that sinking feeling you get when you look at something truly astonishing, beautiful, horrific, or upsetting. It moves you in a way that you can recall that same emotion when you think back to the memory of the piece. Art is instinctual.

Today I saw a piece that stuck with me. I'm disgusted and sad and yet, I want to see it again. But not look at it.

This very well may be triggering, so I'm linking the sculpture.

"In this work lies an interest in a representational possibility of the emotional landscape of the body becoming manifest in its surface. Visually, the way in which the flesh grows, erupts and engulfs the body can be seen as a metaphor of the way in which we become incapacitated by the emotional landscape in which we live and over which we have little control. Of course, the body also appears to be suffering from some kind of malignancy, as in cancer, but, for me, the image of the figure, coupled with the title, leads one into an open contemplation of the plight of the individual." -- John Isaacs, 2003 (wax, polystyrene, steel, expanding foam and oil paint)


I read the description over and over again. And then I wrote it into my planner. All the while avoiding glancing at the massive, faceless menace to my right.

And then I realized why it was important. What this meant to me.

Replace the words "flesh grows, erupts and engulfs the body" with something like "limbs weaken, protrude and collapses the skin..."

This wasn't about being obese. This is about us. It's talking to all of us who can't have a normal conversation about chocolate because something else in our life is so out of balance we have turned inward, away from the chaos of the world, and toward the comfort of food and controlling it.

The title of the piece: "I Can Not Help The Way I Feel."

It's almost every anoretic, bulimic, EDNOS, compulsive eater's biggest daily battle. It's not my fault that I'm sick but I will still feel guilty about it.


I'm going to try stop being hard on myself for craving British sandwiches so much this weekend and focus on getting some coursework done. I can't help if that doesn't go as planned... but I have to accept whatever happens, embrace it, and move on.

I hope each of my readers can re-direct his or her desire for comfort and control toward something productive, even if it's just an attempt. We are more than what we feel, and we are more than an artist's wax rendition at a curio museum in Bloomsbury.


Ophelia said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that piece...
it's a statue of how I feel so often...
but you are right, we are more than that, I'm glad you are keeping positive, somehow I have to learn to not let that monster of flesh take over me every time I weaken too.

p.s. you don't have proper sandwiches across the atlantic?!

Lulu said...

babes theyre all shit. they were packed days ago, the bread is stale, theres very little of anything except mayonniase inside. Dont be tempted by something so worthless.

Hope that helped. xx

what if summer... said...

I like how you're so into the visceral qualities of art and yet you like art nouveau lol

Art is such a broad term that I never really attempted to narrow it down to anything. When I say a work of art is a piece of shit, I generally mean that it is completely vapid and uninspired, or just pretty for the sake of being pretty. It does nothing new, says nothing of the artist and above all isn't memorable. So, like you say, art is a gut feeling about something that relates your experience to a work. Not only does it resonate with you, but the fact that it may resonate with others means that it is also a key to unifying people. It links people on a deeper level than what we all think is pretty or not.

what if summer... said...

and speaking of shitty art!

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