All self-conscious irony aside, I am an artist. I live to aid and abet the creativity of others and to make work that sharpens perception.
There is no question about this.
The other day I was asked whether I’m a feminist or not. What? Of course I’m a feminist. If being a feminist means that you don’t question the fact that men and women are equal, then I’m a feminist. None of this nth-Wave rubbish. It’s a fact, that sits alongside the fact that I have legs and that the paint on my house is peeling.
Similarly, there’s no question about my being an artist. It’s nothing to boast about. I wake up with it and I take it to bed. It makes me self-conscious when I say it out loud, and slightly ashamed as I see ‘bum’ flash in the eyes of the person I’m talking to. But I don’t care. Yes, I make no money. Yes, the things I make can’t be put on a coffee table or improve our roads. But they do other things instead.
I imagine that this is a pretty common feeling. There is nothing lofty about my identity, nothing unique.
Which brings me to the anger: today I witnessed a status-rip, a chasm of misunderstanding so deep that I don’t know whether it can be overcome. I overheard a conversation between two extremely talented theatre practitioners who have 30+ years of experience under their collective belt. They were having a conversation about the indie theatre ‘scene’, speaking about various events that have taken place in the last year and the benefit they hold for young theatre makers.
Neither of them had been to any of these events.
By coincidence, I had been at most of these events.
And I listened to them correct each other about what had happened at each of them.
And neither of them got it remotely right.
Those who sit in the lofty clouds of recognition identify as artists in the same way as those in the dirt. We all want to change people, tell stories, develop a sense of community, etc. But we’ve lost any sort of connection between these two positions. Those in the clouds have stopped looking down.