So the other day I had a dinner party and I was not in a very good mood. It’s probably a mix of hormones, alcohol abuse and my general existential doom in overdrive but nonetheless I was pretty much a sourpuss for most of the night. It wasn’t due to my guests necessarily, they were all lovely, but they were all super duper young. Like early 20s young.
These hot young things are all in the art world nay, art scene, in one way or another and while I usually enjoy basking in their youthful exuberance I just couldn’t drown out the art hag in me that evening.
It was coming out because they (the young ones) were talking about this that and the other thing and person in the art world. Artist, curators, gallerists, blah blah blah. They are all so sincere and into it that it was sort of breaking my brain. I know, I know everyone’s path must be walked alone but for me, the art hag, being 10+ years older then some of them made me utterly unenthused.
I kept saying old art hag things like, ‘(insert name) is a Queen and a terrible curator.’ Or, ‘Darling, you have no idea.’ Or, ‘I’ve known that person for --- years, they will make it but they are just the worst.’ Insufferable? Yes. I was a total wet blanket and while I knew I was doing it I just didn’t give enough craps to stop myself that evening.
I used to do this ALL the time. Before I asylumed myself overseas for a year + to the UK, I was miserable in NYC for about two years. I had been in NYC for over 10 years and I just couldn’t stand the art scene, openings, conversations, and people anymore. The last year or so before I left I barely went to receptions, was barely seen around town. I literally had a boyfriend and jobs that no one even knew about or met. And when I would hang out with my art world friends (basically the only friends I have) I would end up drinking so much that it came out my eyes in the form of tears and I would rant and sob about how Art was being ruined.
Granted, a few years ago the emerging art scene thing in this city was repellant and I had good reason to feel the way I did, but the real problem was that I let it get to me. I got jaded and bitter and I felt pleasure in my self-exiling and my ‘getting it.’ Hooray, who cares if you ‘get it’ though? I mean it matters but you can’t really care because it will only bring doom and gloom.
So, I went away because that’s my thing, running away from my problems, but thankfully it was a godsend. I came back refreshed, relaxed and had a renewed love for this city and all the art and art scene stuff attached to it.
Now it’s been a nearly a year and half since I’ve returned and I am feeling the blah art bug again. This time around it’s not about the market effects on the art world but more the social aspect. This isn’t the young kids fault though. It is mine. I am too old to be gallivanting like a 20 something when I am very much in my 30 somethings.
Age is but a number you may say but it gets different, especially in the art world. The cycles in art, especially for ‘emerging’ art, last about ~4 years. Every 4 (recently it could be as short as 2!) years a trend comes in, makes some waves, marks, etcetera and then it flames out or fades away and then just when you think nothing will ever happen again, Voila! A new one appears. For someone who has experienced a few cycles of this you see the pattern. You are no longer IN the pattern but rather looking at it from above. Those that are new to this, they are inside of it and it all feels so very important and definitive. Some parts might stick but most drop away and that dropping away is what makes art still vital.
Watching it from above has advantages because you can see a bigger picture and it feels both smaller and larger. Being within is great as well because you are riding in the funnel of the wave and it is alive and real. I guess the other night the true fact that I am too old to really, truly be in the same state of mind as the young art things really cemented.
This doesn’t mean that I am not a part of it but it’s making me realize that I can’t go around wagging my finger at every fresh new face. I know, and everyone who knows me knows, that I’m going to be that weirdo art lady that is chilling out with 20 year olds when I am in my 80s (if I make it that long). I will always be doing this not because I vampire off the young but because I know that youth has an arrogance and stupidity that is truly needed to make great art.
I also know that it’s okay to be an old and grumpy hag stewing the cauldron from above. From now on though, when you hear me gripeing and see me rolling my eyes at some silly comment or desperately too cool for school name drop or insight, just ignore me and don’t take offense. I’ll be here to the bitter bitter end and I hope you are too.