maandag 1 april 2013

2013/11 Satisfaction is an ambition

Satisfaction is an ambition 

While the people of the world tried to make the world move faster, I got distracted. Having the pleasure of my hobby, my interests, and my work be one and the same with my life, I finally realized I do not have to run anymore. Besides, art is not sports. Running faster does not make you better. At first, I thought something was wrong with me. Why can’t I find the urge and the will to continue nonstop every hour of the day as I did before? It wasn’t long before I started finding things to blame for taking away my motivation: Living in a country that is addicted to changes and new things, I sometimes felt my work was less interesting to people in my society because they had already seen it before – even if it was 7 years ago and it has grown 600% since then.
It must be said that I am an artist of last resort. I was a social worker and used the arts and music to reach the audience and convey more than just enjoyment. Painting, music, film, theater, literature, poetry, and dance are all expressions made by humans, and humans mainly communicate in order to be together. Only after social work was cut from the budgets and I became unemployed did I have a name to give to what I was doing. There is no room for a description in the space available on those forms and factsheets used everywhere. So, okay, call me an artist, if that makes things clearer. Whereas before I did exactly the same thing, but in the name of the society I live in, now, I have to do it in the name of myself. But I feel like a lion. I worked my butt off for my society and fulfilled my responsibility with pleasure, being a peace warrior among soldiers and civilians. But now that I feel like a lion and act like one: I only do something when I am hungry.
I started to blame the arts commissions. How come my work can be presented everywhere in the world but is not capable of winning support from one commission in the Netherlands? I have tried to find an answer, but I stopped because it would only be speculation. Obviously, I am not a journalist, and I know many people who should be happy about that. I could have blamed the incestuous situation at arts organizations or among Amsterdam “canal beltway” insiders, for whom New York appears to be much closer than Eindhoven, or those anywhere alike. I could have blamed all those who might think politics is inappropriate in the arts. I can only say that political appointments are inappropriate (great issue for another column), but I assume that by now these people are a bit more enlightened, and if they are not, I am happy not to have to meet them too often. I could have blamed the EU, because I do not believe dozens of countries decided independent of one another at the same time that massive budget cuts in the arts might help their national deficits, especially when you know that the entire budget for the arts in the world is a fraction of those deficits. I could have been angry about the social effects taking place everywhere: out of sight = out of heart. But why be angry at facts?
Sometimes, I try to think of solutions. How could I introduce new people onto the team to get a new constellation of management, acquisition, and presentation? But after a few years of unemployment and budget cuts that came at the same time, most financial buffers were gone in no time, and it turns out it is hard to convince people to participate for no payment. I expected to find people with active minds who realized that with the work I do, more people could make their living. But that seems to be an illusion. People consider it mine, or at least not enough theirs to take part. Maybe it is the same as with women: when you are looking for the woman of your life, you will not find any, but when you are just yourself, you might meet them easily. I thought about working as I did before, but then I thought, “Hey, wait a minute: I was a manager, theater-maker, curator, driver, mechanic, museum director, and webmaster all at the same time. But the normal evolution in these specialty fields is that each of these subjects demands more and more attention every time. Since that is the reason I was close to burn-out in the first place, better not make the same mistake again.”
Is this situation desperate? Not at all. Life is great and beautiful, despite the awful news presented to us by corporate media. I keep on traveling: I keep on meeting new people in new places with new faces who share with me the simplest of street philosophies. These people, probably unwittingly, have made me aware of the fact that life is good in itself and that artists, despite their talents and efforts, will not make the world a better place. They will only serve as a counterweight against those who destroy the beauty of life with their self-interest and egoism. So, my aims and ambitions are not so important anymore. Life itself is. Satisfaction became my new ambition, and with nice people it is easy to work on.

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