« OMG! Bicycle Print Bag + Bicycle Saddle Bag! | Main | Faces on Books »

November 24, 2012

Performance Art = Honest Art

There's a friend who was sharing with me her uneasiness about what she thinks is a whole lot of performance journaling going on in our art world. "No one's being honest in their journaling. It's all about performing for the blog or the Instagram," she said. For her, she'd rather see a journal page filled with raw angst and rage rather than one adorned with pretty doodled birds, stenciled flowers, and washi tape.

Jenny DohHer perspective got me thinking not only about art journaling but about every other thing that I do creatively.

There are others in my life who take a different perspective about the sharing that's going on in our creative world ... people who feel that some folks are being "too honest" in what they share as they point out how they really want to be spared the details about a person's cancer, divorce and heartache. They'd rather see more birds, flowers, and pretty girls who dream big and follow their bliss. (Whatever that means.)

There was a great article in The New York Times recently about Judd Apatow. You know ... the comedic genius behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Freaks and Geeks, and the upcoming film This is 40. Well, in the interview, we learn that what and how he lives and who he lives with spill into his films to influence characters that he develops, situations that get depicted, and detials that get shared. Perhaps it's because he draws from his real life that his work becomes so honest and hilariously relatable to people.

To the matter of his tendency to draw such details and specifics from real life, the article notes how Apatow's explains it to his children: "I've tried to explain to them why we do it ... this is what creative people do. They share their lives, they let other people see that they feel the same things as them — that we're all in this together."

But surely ... if Apatow is like all of us, he has some days that are happy and bright, right? We all have those days. And of course because he's like us, he also has days filled with angst and turmoil. And the thing is ... we see all of that in his work. The good, bad, ugly, funny, and tragic. Honestly, isn't life is all of that?

Jenny Doh

Maybe when I make an entry in my journal, I have an audience in mind that I intend to share the entry with. And perhaps because I have that audience in mind, I don't share some of my deepest and darkest thoughts. Not sure. But so what? Does the fact that I edit some of my thoughts while I journal or paint or collage mean that the end result is not honest? Are paintings and journal entries that deal with the macabre, or depression or uncontrollable impulses only the ones that qualify as "honest" art? Aren't I allowed to have days and therefore entries that are light and happy?

Having said that ... although sometimes what I share may look and feel light and happy, I have also definitely made and shared entries that unveil some of my angst and turmoil. When I do this, I do wonder for a moment whether I've shared too much ... but that wonder is eclipsed by the fact that I have to let it out. And as Apatow points out ... that's what creative people do: We share our lives ... sometimes the pretty, sometimes the non-so-pretty ... we let it all out to let others see that we are all in it together. That some days are pretty, lovely, and funny. And that other days are dark, dreary and depressing. Sometimes tragic. I don't think any of our days have to compete with each other for validation. They simply need to be respected when shared, to show each other that we are not alone.




TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Performance Art = Honest Art:


i am grateful for all art....however it makes its way to me....i love your blog....read it every day....i read some blogs for recipes, some for beautiful, washi taped art, some for their words of encouragement, .... yours for inspiration.....when i'm on the treadmill i think of you in the boxing ring, when i want to paint with fresh colors i choose one of the palate palettes and make myself paint with just those colors, when i'm about to give up on my crocheted poncho that i just can't seem to get right...i look at some of your beautiful crotched pieces....i hear your struggles without you becoming a victim...i feel you are completely honest and please never stop blogging....and if you want.....cover it all over with washi tape...:)

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I do have a problem with wanting to make everything I do pretty (not in a bird, flower, butterfly way, but as a cohesive, balanced piece)and I do have a problem with calling the things I do art. Others sometimes call it so, but I can not. I am just little me, trying to find my way, my voice, my balance, my freedom in the things I make.
Yes, you can call my pages pretty (as my old perfectionist always wants to come out and play)but my journaling is me, struggeling through my doubts, fear and life lessons. I think as soon as someone puts his words and feelings into a piece it is honest, no matter what images are used.
I love to read your blog and thought and see the things you make, it inspires me everytime! Thank you!!! - Irma

Wow, this really got me thinking! It's completely natural to be self-conscious when making art for an audience (and let's face it, even when you sit down with the intention of making something "just for yourself," you have to push away the awareness of what some generalized other would think of it).

I believe that what makes a piece honest is the moment when you look at what you've made (or written) and feel a little wave of release or comfort or peace. When you feel -- even just for a tiny, almost unrecognizable second -- that it's right. Often that moment comes after a lot of struggle or doubt or feelings that it's totally wrong. But when you can look at what you've made and feel something click inside, you affirm the honesty of your work, no matter how others perceive it.

So ultimately authenticity has nothing to do with content or emotional tone or prettiness/lack thereof, but the impulse behind the artmaking.

Thanks for encouraging the entire spectrum of art! The creative process welcomes all of us, freely offering its gifts without regard for the hierarchy that people superimpose over "good/bad," "serious/hobby," "honest/performance" art. "I don't think any of our days have to compete with each other for validation." -- LOVE that.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Advertise with Us!
Self-Serve. Easy Peasy.

Fangs and Flaws: FangGrrr Adventures by Jenny Doh  
Knitting Poetic with Jenny Doh  
Art Saves - CRESCENDOh.com  
Crochet Hemp  

Where you can leave a tip for the tips and tutorials you receive from this site. If you want to. :-)

Some links on this blog are affiliate links for which I receive a small percentage of any sales generated by the link.

Subscribe to this blog's feed
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...