Creation is a response. I respond to materials, issues, frustrations and other people’s responses. What do I see in this material, physical or otherwise? What will I see in it if I carve it, cut it, burn it or shout at it? I respond visually. Words have a specific meaning. Visual images play with our individual associations. Association is of primary importance. Without it there is no life in a work of art. Its material is nothing more than itself. With association the work comes to life. It has emotions, opinions and personality. Through work, the artist shows us their own response, to which we, in turn, can respond.
Creating is a forceful gesture. When changed, combined and de-contextualized, a material, physical or otherwise, is forced to be something it would not naturally become. Consider plaster: Plaster, when mixed with water, attempts to mimic whatever shape it is in. When plaster is carved, it is forced to become something else. Telling a story is forceful as well. Observations from reality are strung together to manifest a fiction. When material is combined to create impressions that are not inherent in them, they are telling stories. When I treat a material I attempt to consider the stories it was telling before I met it.
I am very privileged. As a student at an art academy I have every opportunity to be naïve and presumptuous. Academic freedom allows me to work completely independently from the social and economic realities of working as an artist. The academy is like an alien world to the rest of the city. Within the academy debates about social engagement, artistic purpose and discourse are carried on without consequence to anyone outside. Life goes on in the Hague, unaffected by the microcosm of the academy. The academy becomes a shelter. In it the availability of space, tools, workshops and student financing creates a setting within which the art student can work uninhibited by the realities outside academy walls. This sheltering is vital to free experimentation and open discussion.
One day we will be on our own.