Thursday, August 13, 2009

What do you do when the system doesn't work for you?

I've been thinking about this concept for a few days. Mainly I've been focussing on what is the best strategy going forward.

My first immediate response when something doesn't work is the thought that I'm 'obviously' not good enough for that particular system. Irrelevant of any degree of rationality or outside input, I will always dig myself that little - but often very deep - hole.

Next I will move through a grieving phase. This manifests in thoughts of 'It must be personal' through 'Am I wasting my time/money/energy on xyz?' and lands back again in fields of self-doubt.

I often think - in moments of foolish idealism - that if the system doesn't work for my immediate surroundings and I then perhaps the system is flawed. I hope that thought is not delusion screaming from the roof tops.

What do I do in this case? Do I build my own system from the ground up? Is there not a danger that all I will do is isolate myself even further and just exhaust myself on multiple levels?

There is this niggling thought that I might be building my own little tree house JUST so I can 'exclude' people from my club.

I have to force myself to weigh up the genuine virtues of any new system. What does it bring me? What does it bring the protagonists? Will it improve something - no matter how abstract that might be? Will the 'energy in' generate a nice positive flow of 'energy out'? Can I afford the risk? Will I just become a simple variation of what I originally found so flawed?

I suppose I should frame this a bit ... we are looking at potentially setting up a grouping of studios with a small display space in the city. The numbers are quite painful and - no matter what - it would involve a personal and emotional expenditure that is very involving.

Each time the numbers pull us down, I visualise what it 'might' be, how it could trigger this or that and I find myself thinking in grand terms. These are - of course - completely delusional but at the same time 'risk' can be healthy.

The human factor does tend to worry me though... artists are fickle, temperamental beasts and I think stability is key to making something like a studio group work 'well'.

I guess after each show I find myself thinking was the expenditure worth it? If I think rationally about shows, it's often about getting a handful of people to look at my work... equating to four digit numbers per person. Obviously when they don't look or - worse - are apathetic then that is a rather queasy moment.

Sales are close to irrelevant... I learnt a long time ago to not expect them and especially not to hope for them... all a bit like playing lotto really - lots of wasted emotional energy.

I have often thought that I could spend that same money taking my work to an audience rather than trying to get an audience to come to me. Would it be better spent producing books or edition objects that I get 'out there'? Would it be better producing - shock - more work?

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