Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Artistic liberties

I have just received photographs from a friend who is a Dancer. Yes, with a capital D, because that's the way she says it. "Hi, I'm K and I'm a Dancer." The photos are of a works premiere (whatever that may be) from a dance workshop she attended. Now, I didn't know she was attending a workshop. I don't know anybody else who attended the workshop. Moreover, I am not a Dancer. Or just a dancer for that matter. This left me slightly confused as to why K had decided to email me 76 photos of people I don't know dancing. Oh, sorry, they're obviously Dancing.

These photos were accompanied by a
lengthy email telling me how she got so much out of the workshop and a lot of waffling on about pureness of form. I won't bore you with the details, bad enough I had to wade through the email. I do that out of guilt more than anything else. And to read between the lines, which is far more interesting.

See the thing with these Artists (using the term loosely here to describe all aspiring painters, sculptors, dancers, Dancers, actors, directors etc. who live for their art and keep banging on about it as if they're doing the entire world a huge favour) is that they're incredibly competitive and petty, largely insecure and in need of constant validation. I know this because I went through that phase in my teens. I am a founding member of a small independent theatre company which, as far as I know, is still up and running. I was actively involved for 10 years (I started when I was 14) and I know all too well how things turn out. While there is great camaraderie, the moment a coveted role/show/film comes up it's every man and woman for themselves, dogs eating the proverbial dogs until one comes up on top of the pile when it all dies down, the fake smiles a plastered back onto the faces and everybody gathers around the Chosen One, pats him/her on the back and quickly
skitter away into a dark corner to bitch about them while mentally flagellating yourself wondering what it was that has made you so shit.

It's in no way healthy, being so dependent on outside approval. But the inner workings of any of these art-
sy groups are truly fascinating. From K's email and photos I could easily gather that within their little workshop were found:

a) Miss A. The queen bee. Averagely talented, think she's hugely talented. As much flesh on show as possible, will flirt
outrageously with anyone she thinks may further her career. Girls don't like her. Men don't really know what to do with her. You will find her on the foreground of most photographs or using one of male friends as a pole dancing pole.

b) Miss L. Miss A's best friend and second fiddle. Thinks being associated with Miss A will make her more popular/talented. Ironically, often more talented than Miss A but less ruthless and desperate. In group photographs she's the one with her arm around Miss A while Miss A fights to get the most exposure.

c) The Amateur. The Amateur is someone who's not really all that into Art. He/she joined because his/her friend didn't want to go alone. Male amateurs sometimes hang around Artists in hope to attract a mate or appear more interesting. Female amateurs want to belong or appear moody and interesting. The Amateur doesn't give a toss about pureness of form or method acting. The Amateur is there for a good time and maybe a shag.

d) The Scorer. 99% of the time The Scorer is male. He's there to exploit the vulnerable nature of Artist females. Insecure beings, female Artists will latch on to anyone who tells them they're beautiful (pretty is a 4-letter word to an Artist) and talented. Female Artist will repay any complement with a sexual favour of choice, provided The Scorer has played his cards right.

e) The Oldie. The Oldie has been there from The Beginning. The Oldie is old beyond their years, their face a map of a journey completely devoted to Art. They've made sacrifices, they've done it the Hard Way. They have stories to tell and there's no more receptive audience than young, impressionable minds. Inside the group The Oldie is revered as a tribe elder,
imparter of wisdom. The Oldie has done it all and wants to tell you about it. To an outsider The Oldie is a has-been trying to grab back some of the golden years by returning to the place where it all began. Like a dog to its vomit.

f) The Talent. The Talent is a rare find but they do exist. The Talent is someone who actually has a chance to make their Art into a paying job. They work their asses off and get results. The don't waffle on about pureness of form or method acting or suffering for your Art. They're the ones to watch out for, they've every chance to make it big.

Now I do understand I may have come across a bit harsh. But I need to stress that all I said above applies to the ones claiming to be Artists. These people are a completely separate breed from people who actually are artists. I have the greatest respect towards people who make their living as artists, no matter what the field. It is extremely hard work. 3 months in a drama school was more than enough to determine it wasn't a line of work for me. Because that's what it is. Work.


  1. Nice post! Funny and true! So where do a, b, c, and d end up when they're 40?

  2. c and d will more than likely out-grow the Art at some stage and pursue other things in their lives, in the case of d that probably is women.
    Provided b has managed to get a life of her own instead of latching onto a, she could be anyone. She could be the woman serving you coffee or she could be your boss. If, however a still has a hold on b, the two of them will have continued on the Artistic path in the hope that a will achieve greatness. B is there merely to make a look better. A will find it increasingly difficult to let go of the Art even if she finds herself unsuccessful. She will blame it on younger talent and accuse them of sleeping with people to get ahead. And then promptly follow suit.