Friday, December 19, 2008

Motifs, Music, Mothballs and other 'M' words...

I wrote in an artist statement a few years ago about my awareness of the lack of a motif ‘library’ in my creative life.
A person with Celtic heritage, for example, can draw on a broad and extensive range of symbols, history and language. In a similar vein, people who subscribe or belong to various sub-cultural groups or have had, for example, some form of traumatic experience have this ‘luxury’ as well.

I don't consciously subscribe to any particular social, gender, racial, sexual or any other sub-cultural grouping. Even fundamentals like being ‘a man’, ‘a heterosexual’ or ‘a New Zealander’ are void as I find myself having almost no affinity to those definitions in a popular sense.

A study of a personal genealogy or ‘tool box’ is a purely intellectual exercise and I instead find myself looking for an emotional response to external stimuli.

If something moves me, is it something more than social conditioning? Is there an innate aspect involved? Can I subscribe to something across cultures, without some historical basis? Are there hidden borders that are taboo?

Classic FM has had an Oud fetish over the last year or so and I have noticed that the music moves me quite intensely.

Whilst I have no middle-eastern connection on any level, I find that Islamic art (see here for some examples) in almost all it's manifestations causes a strong visceral response in both Elisa and I.

At the same time I feel unqualified to acknowledge this response creatively. Irrelevant of the ideas of collective experience (ie. the human experience rather than the Turkish experience), it feels wrong somehow. I have this same problem with Gaelic and Gypsy music.

Not quite the same vein but nonetheless important is how we encounter this issue with other sub-cultures. I have always made the argument that there are people much better and more skilled at dealing with problem x or y.

I am only qualified to talk - as Duane Michals put it - about my experience.

It is art that makes grand our own stupid lives - Richard Tognetti

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