Dealing with the Art Hangover

Coming to the end of my time here in Berlin for 2015 and having had some time to process this with others, I want to talk about a very real thing I want to call the “Art Hangover”. This “hangover” has many manifestations but for me it has manifested itself mostly through art experiences over the past couple years. I would describe the feeling like this – whenever you have a ‘high’ experience usually socially and directly linked to feelings of intimacy, community and meaning, and then you abruptly leave that context. The feeling that ensues of loss, disconnection and lethargy, or general ‘down-ness’ is what I’m referring to as the ‘hangover’ and mine is pretty wrapped up in my art life.

This one that I’m anticipating comes at the end of my second residency in Berlin with about 50 other artists from across disciplines and from around the world. There are photographers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, photographers, video people, sound people, consciousness people, people who use the kitchen as art, people who use relationships are their art, people using augmented reality, people who perform, people who can’t talk about their work because it involves internet security and anonymity, people working towards the betterment of others, people who love. On top of that, not only do we engage and critique our work across disciplines but we read philosophy and history and dialogue with ‘human-ness’ across time. The rituals of engagement and stimulation promote a level of intimacy because we quickly get to a point of sharing the deepest parts of ourselves because that is where our work comes from. We share and give and learn and grow and love…

And then we stop.

We don’t stop but we leave this physical community. We go back to where we have our studio practice and wonder if that all really happened. We feel all the excitement of the growing ideas and the residual affection we have for each others’ hearts and minds. But then we sit in our studios/work spaces, for the most part alone. This is the art hangover.

So – in the interests of myself and others that are feeling this about now; here is what I suggest for dealing with it.

  • Make an effort to keep conversations going digitally with the members of this temporary community.
  • Look up exhibition opportunities in order to have something to look forward to.
  • Consider how you might be able to collaborate with other artists or who might be interested in what you’re working on right now.
  • Make work. I definitely get a ‘high’  from making things and I would like to get in a habit of relying on this high for motivation.
  • Blog, write about things related and unrelated to what you’re dealing with, just to get it out.

Let me know if you have more suggestions for dealing with your art hangover and getting out of that after-high low!

The Art of Asking

I have not yet finished this book but I am currently reading The Art of Asking: or how I learned to stop worrying and let people help. by Amanda Palmer.

A lot of the work and research I am currently doing is looking at human interaction and exchange outside of the market economy or the “logical” way we have to perform together in society. I have been thinking, for example, about creating a framework to continue working which my Portraits for Cocoa Farmers project would be subsumed into. Ultimately the projects and research I’m interested in doing comes down to a core of love. Love for our place, our environment, people, ourselves; focusing on love, truth and beauty can easily be a lifelong project and I enjoy thinking of ways these things can manifest themselves.

The Art of Asking has been extremely impactful as far as understanding how the real art of any object is the conversation and connections it initiates. This book also talks about the importance of building community through your practice and how this community provides a feedback loop and inspiration for new work. I recently had a conversation with an artist colleague and she proposed the formula of: Ritual => Intimacy => Community. It’s a loop too, because with community you will create and recreate rituals and intimacy and ultimately this is how we were meant to be as humans. Our fullest human experience is engaging with others and growing as a result. This is the focus of my art practice and why I am such a fan of Amanda and her book! You can find it here.