Sophie Calle, Take Care of Yourself . Installation View . Paula Cooper Gallery . 2009 . Image: Paula Cooper Gallery
“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.”
-Khalil Gibran, The Prophet
"The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold thier tongues."
In a crowd I shut down. You can't get anything out of me and if you do, I become a nervous wreck. One on one, I can't shut up. I say things without thinking and spill out the most ridiculous thoughts that sometimes shock, often don't make sense, contradict, offend, and exhaust. When trying to explain my politics to a couple of friends recently, my conclusion was shot down and I was told that I was a "contrarian".
I'm not very fond of me. I am very aware of my personality traits, so I am very grateful for my family and friends who tolerate me and take me for who I am - while offering much needed insight, advice, and scolding along the way.
This is why visual art is so important to me. It is my language. It is how I empty out my mind and release a soul burdened with energy and frustration and passion and joy and heartbreak. But even my work is rarely clear to the viewer. I generally provide some wordy explanation with a show that might end up confusing the viewer even more. It's frustrating.
I am getting on my own nerves right now as I write this and realizing that I am avoiding the point of the post. I do a strange thing when in conversation that will be rather hard to explain. Instead of jumping in to a story, I'll try to give a background or a disclaimer without any reference beforehand. It causes great confusion because no one knows what I'm talking about without the context...
I believe I am trying to covey the importance of thinking before you speak, act, make art...whatever. I want to share a beautiful work of art by Sophie Callee. "Take Care of Yourself" is an installation created by Sophie soon after receiving a 'break-up' email from her boyfriend. The message was to the point and ended with, "Take care of yourself." About this virtual encounter, Sophie briefly lamented and then developed these four words into a therapeutic and beautiful art installation stating, "After one month I felt better. There was no suffering. It worked. The project had replaced the man." She was fearful that he might come back for reconciliation and ruin the entire project.
I won't attempt to give you my insight on the piece. It will end up another ramble in a ramble. But, please, look up articles on this show on your own. It is a worthwhile study.
I was able to distract myself with art-making during my three-year lament. I produced over 200 paintings. The problem was that I didn't really "own" these works. Some of them were commissioned, some of them were collaborations, many of them were small kitschy objects for decoration (and all were for income). There wasn't much meaning behind them. Even the "Cicada" show was something produced out of some type of obligation. I wish I had been fortunate to have a personality and focus that would have produced a piece of this magnitude and that, I too, would've been free from heartbreak in a month - having sorrow replaced with visual beauty and meaning.
What to take from today's post? Probably just the quotes at the top and some research of your own on the Sophie Calle piece (installation views from Paula Cooper Gallery at this link).
Shut up. Make beautiful things.