Curator and writer Douglas Dreishpoon from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo in the US has got me thinking.
Trace this back to my friend Isin, whose Masters/ PHD in Curatorship I have been proof reading, and the reason I have been paying more attention to curators and to what exactly it is that they do. He asked several artists in a panel discussion to talk about the above question: what do you do when you are not working? This being obfuscatory curatorspeak, turned into something about “parallel practices”. I can see brilliant avoidance speak here. So next time somebody makes a query about your “new work?” You can simply say, “well I have been pursuing my parallel practices”. Any way the participants thankfully ditched the jargon, and started to speak about everything or in Seinfeldspeak “nothing”. This included a later life discovery of gardening, another spoke about curating other artist’s shows, somebody danced! and spoke about dancing and making art, and someone close to my heart spoke about the joys of wandering, and the artist as 21st century flaneur, but being artists they also spoke about a whole lot of other things too.
Significant in this were memories of early life; and an early life spent in a family that moved around the world a lot, which of course got me thinking about my son. She also spoke about a mother who pulled her kids out of school if there was something more interesting going on, a sighting of whales, for example.
They also spoke about the hours one has to spend pushing paint around, or messing about just so that when “the flow” as they called it, happens you are there to make the most of it. People often ask me about discipline. Yes, you have to be disciplined and show up in your studio, understand how to optimize the conditions (and this is different for everyone) so that when you bobbing about and the wave comes you are there to ride it. But you also have to know when its not happening, perhaps its time to go and pursue your “parallel practices” whether that’s riding your bike, or playing with your friends. And its often in these times where you are distracted from your real work, that new stuff presents itself unbidden and sends you hurtling back into the studio.