Art & Writing by Christina M. Turner


Forgetting Myself

The ability to forget one's self makes for a good observer.  Writers and photographers in particular seem able to suspend belief in their own existence while chasing a story or the perfect shot. How often do you see people in impossible situations, catastrophes of their own making, with a camera in their hand?

For painters (and gamers), the ability to suspend time, to let go of it completely is essential, because these cherished endeavours devour time greedily.  I think that's what makes the conversation about how much an artwork should cost so fraught: in order to even create a work, you have to let go of ideas of value and resource management.  Keeping track of how much time you sink into a work will necessarily encourage you to cut corners and call something done when it isn't quite yet, and making decisions for any reason other than what the work demands will lead to lesser work.

This all can have troublesome side effects that cause the creator to bump up uncomfortably against reality, but I believe there is really no alternative for those who seek to create a new reality than to first let go of the old one.  Priority must be placed on the ideas, developing and manifesting them, at the cost of everything else.  What do you want really and truly and very most? Because push will eventually come to shove, and you can only hang on to one thing.

The caterpillar asks Alice two of the most fraught questions you can ask an artist: "Who are you?" and "Why?"

The caterpillar asks Alice two of the most fraught questions you can ask an artist: "Who are you?" and "Why?"

This has a backwards facing effect on the artist, who is prone to commit so completely to the forgetting that they loose track of themselves entirely. Is it essential for an artist/cultural creator/observer to forget the concrete so entirely that they actually forget who they are?

Perhaps that's the appeal of developing a persona to slip into in public. You can more easily remember something you've created then the large, multitudinous, faceted you that defies ready commodification. And then, how much of identity is fabricated, consciously or not? Perhaps we who are sensitive to this are more willing and able to play with identity as a material.

Ultimately, perhaps most usefully of all, the ability to forget myself allows me to move forward, to embrace each possibility as if it just might work this time.

Christina TurnerComment