B-but, Mr Jimson, I w-want to be an artist.''Of course you do,' I said, 'everybody does once. But they get over it, thank God, like the measles and the chickenpox. Go home and go to bed and take some hot lemonade and put on three blankets and sweat it out.''But Mr J-Jimson, there must be artists.''Yes, and lunatics and lepers, but why go and live in an asylum before you're sent for? If you find life a bit dull at home,' I said, 'and want to amuse yourself, put a stick of dynamite in the kitchen fire, or shoot a policeman. Volunteer for a test pilot, or dive off Tower Bridge with five bob's worth of roman candles in each pocket. You'd get twice the fun at about one-tenth of the risk.
It seems obvious, looking back, that the artists of Weimar Germany and Leninist Russia lived in a much more attenuated landscape of media than ours, and their reward was that they could still believe, in good faith and without bombast, that art could morally influence the world. Today, the idea has largely been dismissed, as it must in a mass media society where art's principal social role is to be investment capital, or, in the simplest way, bullion. We still have political art, but we have no effective political art. An artist must be famous to be heard, but as he acquires fame, so his work accumulates 'value' and becomes, ipso-facto, harmless. As far as today's politics is concerned, most art aspires to the condition of Muzak. It provides the background hum for power.
Zeena Schreck is a Berlin-based interdisciplinary artist, author, musician/composer, tantric teacher, mystic, animal rights activist, and counter-culture icon known by her mononymous artist name, ZEENA. Her work stems from her experience within the esoteric, shamanistic and magical traditions of which she's practiced, taught and been initiated. She is a practicing Tibetan Buddhist yogini, teaches at the Buddhistische Gesellschaft Berlin and is the spiritual leader of the Sethian Liberation Movement (SLM).
For some young artists, it can take a bit of time to discover which tools (which medium, or genre, or career pathway) will truly suit them best. For me, although many different art forms attract me, the tools that I find most natural and comfortable are language and oil paint; I've also learned that as someone with a limited number of spoons it's best to keep my toolbox clean and simple. My husband, by contrast, thrives with a toolbox absolutely crowded to bursting, working with language, voice, musical instruments, puppets, masks animated on a theater stage, computer and video imagery, and half a dozen other things besides, no one of these tools more important than the others, and all somehow working together. For other artists, the tools at hand might be needles and thread; or a jeweller's torch; or a rack of cooking spices; or the time to shape a young child's day....To me, it's all art, inside the studio and out. At least it is if we approach our lives that way.
Pregnancy had seemed a reasonable excuse for letting her metal-smithing tools languish, but that accounted for only eighteen months of the last twenty-six years. Motherhood wasn't the real problem, though it took him a long time to figure out what was. She needed resistance, the very quality that metal most demonstrably offered up. Suddenly Glynis had no difficulty to overcome, no hard artisan's life with galleries filching half the too-small price of a mokume brooch that had taken three weeks to forge. No, her husband made a good living, and if she slept late and dawdled the afternoon away reading Lustre, American Craft Magazine and Lapidary Journal, the phone bill would still get paid. For that matter, she needed need itself. She could overcome her anguish about embarking on an object that, once completed, might not meet her exacting standards only if she had no choice. In this sense, his helping had hurt her. By providing the financial cushion that should have facilitated making all the metal whathaveyou she liked, he had ruined her life. Wrapped in a slackening bow, ease was a poisonous present.