I've been having a struggle lately with understanding my work. Within the art world the importance on message is pretty intense. I have attempted to put the purpose of my work into words recently. With the help of my friends, Barb and David, I now have an artist statement (which you can read here). It took many hours of analysis to even begin to get to the core of this message. However, it does not quite feel like the whole story. But, is there even a story?
Last night while Trav and I were having dinner I asked him, "What is the purpose of your music?" He honestly didn't have an answer for me. And why should he? No one presses a musician to be political, or to focus on social issues, or contribute to a revolution. Do musicians do that? Of course! But it isn't an expectation in order to be taken "seriously" as a musician.
On Saturday, we went to the Artist Odyssey screening of a documentary on "Artivist", Mario Torero. In the 1970s, he was incredibly active in the protests involving Chicano Park in San Diego. And has since been vocal about inequality regarding the Chicano community. His work reflects this. After the screening, Mario took questions and elaborated on his personal beliefs. At one point he said, "Art without a purpose is just masturbation."
Is that true? And in this context, should "masturbation" only have a negative context? Does it devalue the work? Does visual art lose its value when there is no message but it is still beautiful/interesting/dynamic/engaging/whatever?
I still feel like an incredible newbie on this journey. Perhaps as I explore more, and my work evolves the question "Why am I doing what I am doing?" will be answered more elaborately and with a greater conviction. Perhaps I will have a better understanding as to why artists are pushed to explain themselves in ways others are not. For now, I guess I'll focus on my work and not worry if I'm only "masturbating."
What is your perspective? I'm curious to hear the opinions of artists and others in the field who feel that this is clearer for them. I'm also curious to hear from people who are interested in art but aren't necessarily artists themselves. Is art without a purpose just masturbation??