I'm not the first person to feel like this or to have lost someone close. I find myself thinking and talking in cliches and words I have heard so many times before. Things like 'it was for the best', 'it was a relief in the end', 'make the most of everyday', 'it could be worse', 'she is all around us', 'she's here in spirit'. I take on board all this and find the warmth and support of friends and family reassuring.
However, what has happened to my compass with regards photography. My bearings are all awry. Before she passed away, photography was something really important to me, something positive to focus on in amongst everything else. But now. It all feels a bit pointless. I have no idea what to photograph, why I would bother and for what purpose. I know this is all part of it and trying to work out the meaning of one life. I can't get myself motivated to pick up my camera or start my course.
I have been catching up by reading some of the very thought provoking discussions within the OCA forum recently too, which is gripping stuff. There is so much intellectual debate which I find fascinating particularly the Tracey Emin, Goldsmiths and Beauty v Shock (and this) debates. I must come clean here though I have merely observed and not participated in these discussions. I should probably be writing this on the OCA forum but it is very self-indulgent and is not offering anything further to the debates.
But like others, watching the artists come out of Goldsmiths for example or the sketches of Tracey Emin, I just feel I am never gonna 'get it' if this is what top art institutions, artists and galleries are seeking. I don't aspire to it or 'value' it or like it for that matter. I am not saying their art isn't worthwhile, I am sure it is.
From a different perspective, life is short and if I spend the next ten years studying and producing art, and I ultimately produced something along the lines of what they are creating, I'm not sure I would think it is time well spent.
If you're a hundred metre runner, Hussein Bolt is the runner you might aspire to being. If you want to cook well, you may look to Jamie Oliver, Michel Roux, Delia Smith or a plethora of others for ideas and inspiration. But you know what, when I watch Goldsmith's students I didn't once think 'I am inspired to create art like they do' - ever! I do sort of 'get' contemporary art in principle, but I am clearly missing something fundamental. Therefore I wonder if my compass bearings are a bit off and whether art or art photography is the direction I should be pursuing.
There is an article in The Guardian here that I think is helpful. I am not an unobservant person, but we are such a bi-product of our culture it is so difficult to appreciate what we see with any objectivity. I am also aware that perhaps the most reputed and intrinsically shocking and/or successful artists are those that can identify the boundaries of acceptability in our own culture at a particular time and push beyond them. I don't know if I want to do this. Are there not other ways for contemporary art to go?
You can see why top artists often emerge from 'bad' places because would you, by choice, explore or have the understanding about these disturbing issues otherwise. Is their unique perspective just it? And exploring it voluntarily would be disingenuous.
My own life is a happy, functional and fairly normal life and I am sincerely grateful for that. I have not suffered abuse or ills not found in every household. How can I express anything that is 'shocking' when my own life is happily not. Does this mean my art will be pedestrian no matter how hard I try? Will I struggle to offer art with any value at the lofty heights of Goldsmiths, Saatchi or Tate Modern? How would the OCA philosophy on art compare with these other institutions?
What about the enjoyment of it, which I hear myself ask. I did enjoy photography and probably will again, but there are many other things in life too that I could be doing. I just want to be sure that I am investing my time in it for good reason. Being a hobby is not quite enough of a reason today...