In the summer of 2008 I attended an artist talk by Emily vey Duke and Cooper Battersby at the Western Front where they talked about their practice and screened a work in progress, asking for feedback from the audience. I had never been to a talk (and haven't since) where the artist(s) asked for constructive criticism on their work, usually it is complete and nothing will change no matter what anyone says. Is this openness or insecurity? Vey Duke related that her and Battersby's motivations to make art came from feelings of not belonging and of inadequacy - if they made something and put it out into the world, then maybe they could get a response to say that someone is either paying attention, or cares to care. So few people care about contemporary art or what individual artists are accomplishing, that any recognition at any scale is wonderful.
Recently, I attended the closing panel discussion for the 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art which included Michael Fernandes, Karen Elaine Spencer, Joakim Stampe, and Victoria Stanton moderated by Johanna Householder. Householder asked Stanton at one point what the role of "fear" is in her work. After a longer than usual painful silence, Stanton broke the tension to respond with "fear is this"; "fear is being together". Having to talk about your work in front of people results in a mixture of expectations, doubts and insecurities that haunts everyone - even in that room (XPACE), the panelists and the audience members are all privy since we're each very conscious of our roles as contributors to the afternoon discussions. How stressful. Stanton also related that her motivations in her art practice are derived from her inability to connect with other people, so that her work can act as a vehicle that can maybe achieve connection - art that is born out of a feeling of inadequacy. How honest - how relatable, ironically.
I'd also like to address art-guilt* mixed with these feelings of inadequacy as to why I have not been able to write and produce publicly. Writing and expressing opinions has a pressure associated with it - of putting one's self on the line. This is something I didn't mind at first but gradually it grew on me. But, from these same (shared) feelings of inadequacy and guilt, I am able to jump back up on the wagon.
* you know art-guilt - the anxiety and fear that you're not producing enough art stuff; that you should write more, have an exhibition on or in development, be curating and making art consistently and continuously, since everyone else seems to be....and all this is to be done in between life and your full time job.....