Why Do You Do Art?

Alex_Mittelmann_in_his_studio,_Europe_Factory,_Centre_d'Art_Contemporain,_1990

During the beginning of the year, I went on a road trip to Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane, my younger sister ask me while we ride on Pacific Highway;

“What made you want to become an artist?”

I was a little stumped and I went down a little spiral of contemplation.

On my last post, I went all dark and finished off the piece with “Then my brother and my neighbour dies”.

Close to midnight, two sport cars raced down a freeway and one of them crashed into a pole. Later that night, two families lost a loved one each. I lost a music loving friend who lived two doors away from me. He was like another brother to me. We grew up watching anime early into the wee morning. The other was my beloved older brother who was a few months shy from reaching 21. He was a footy loving speccky kind of larrikin. I still miss them both.

Their loss made me…
I remember feeling …
…  a void of dark sadness shadows me for many years to come.

I also hated feeling like that. I’m superstitious enough to believe in attracting bad luck. If it did happen to be me, it’s not one little bad thing but a waves of an onslaughter of bad shit coming at once. Having your car break down is nothing when you realised that you don’t have your wallet on you, or when you’re walking on a sweltering hot road to find the closest payphone to call the tow (all because your mobile dies with a flat battery). But hey, at least I got a lift from the tow-truck.

Death has a funny way of waking you up. It shakes you violently and reminds of you of the bigger picture. 10 years has gone by and time does heal, kinda. The combination of my ex-boyfriend and the loss broke me down into pieces. Ironically, it allowed me to rediscover who I am and laid down the foundation to become the person I am now.

I won a scholarship to study in Germany and typically my twilight-doomed boyfriend told me to stay. It’s a pity he wasn’t the sparkling kind. I went anyway, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. My only regret is that I wasn’t single while I went. In my own naive way, I stayed true to him but the same couldn’t be said about him. Time away was good as it allowed me to find moment of independence.

Long story short, I broke up with him. It did take me a while to adjust, I was with him close to 7 years. It took me a while to un-condition myself and find value in my self-worth. When I finally woke up from the gloom, I allowed myself to imagine the new possibilities of where I’d like to go.

Numerous solo-adventures happened, from going the one week party binge in South Korea to the sobering experience of seeing the traumas of Japan’s tsunami/earthquake aftermath. I then found myself suffering from creative laziness and moved to Sydney to find new inspiration and direction. I thrive on being an artist and its only been a few years since I decided to take down that pathway. It feels right.

There are lessons we can learn from these dark experiences. Since then, it’s been a journey of self-respect and appreciation. I recognise an asshole when I see one and treat them accordingly. Such people are worthy of pity, and mostly a source of amusement. Have you ever heard of the word, schadenfreude? That’s how you can describe a person who enjoys the misfortune of others. Apparently I’m such a person.

I think misfortunes is a morbid reminder to not fuck it up. Life is short. From my two late brothers, I learnt to follow my dreams and be my true self. They gave me back my respect and commitment to lead a life of an artist. In many ways, art saved me.

It’s better to be weird and do your own thang than to be stuck in a cloud of self-misery.
Better yet, I found my raison d’etre.

(more next Monday)

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