08 December 2007

Risk and The Idea of Risk

Deborah Fisher, Twist (detail), 2007, carpet, cardboard and drywall screws deforming an autobody armature

So I wrote a review of Liz Craft's untitled effort at Boesky for the Zine that will be published eventually, and it centered on the idea of risk--what exactly Craft is risking. And it got me wondering what I risk.

I tend to say that I risk failure, but that's like cooking pots and pans for supper, isn't it? Besides, failure is an idea, and I think that sculpture is beautiful because it is flesh. It's not ideas made flesh. It's flesh that you can derive ideas from. So I woke up this morning wondering where the flesh is.

I have no answers to that. I like the idea of risk so much that my practice is clotted with instances where the idea is more important than the flesh. I invest heavily in ideas like structural failure and make a bunch of things that are breaking and eating themselves. This is a fun sthick and I've gotten a lot out of it. And it may be a sauce that smothers the meat.

Not saying that I'm bad. It's more like when it gets dark at 4pm, it's a fine time for introspection.

Anyone else find that what they think they are doing gets in the way of what they are doing? Is it advisable to even try to know what you are doing? I'd love to hear what you all think.


Blogger Carla said...

It all begins in personal myth. I'm an artist, and I'm gonna make some art. Our ideas about what we're doing are some expansion on that. Hopefully, these intentions become irrelevant at some point in the process. It's humbling and exhilarating to watch that happen.

How attached are you to your ideas? Do they become less relevant as you work, or do they interfere? It seems part of the process often involves a struggle between nurturing and annihilating interfering ideas. And the ideas are often barely perceptible. I would say that I currently spend 80% of the process dealing with myself. I don't think this dimishes the work though. I don't believe the cliche that struggle is necessary, but it doesn't hurt. It does take you somewhere.

08 December, 2007 19:04  
Anonymous cjagers said...

Absolutely Deborah! I think about this all the time. So much so, that sorting out all the parts of my activity (the means of deployment and conveyance) has started to become the "work" itself.

Risk and invention also have become the metric for how much I respond to the art of others. I need big risk.

08 December, 2007 23:17  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

Teaching art constantly reminds me of the basic elements of risk. I usually see hesitation and fear of "getting it wrong" and at some point the best students get the idea that you have to go for wrong to get it right. Not having a clear understanding how things will end up is the key. The funny thing is, the process becomes predictable and the approximate endpoint is knowable. I guess at that point the process/material/attitude/scale/position should change. But its difficult to gauge that personally, its good to have someone else in your corner telling you when you should change from a left hook to an uppercut, no?

10 December, 2007 09:37  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Hey all, thanks for conversating!

Carla, I like the idea of it starting with personal myth. But I find that the personal myth is mostly baggage that prevents me from seeing what is actually there.

Know what I mean? Yeah. I am really attached to my ideas. If I weren't, I wouldn't need to realize them. But they can't be realized. And they shouldn't. I think they should be overcome, or catapulted over, in order to find something else that's beyond them.

So Yeah. I agree with you that it's about dealing with my self too. And I do think struggle is necessary. What would the point be if there were no struggle?

11 December, 2007 17:28  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

Hey Chris,

I need big risk too. How does a viewer perceive an artist's risk?

11 December, 2007 17:29  
Blogger fisher6000 said...


Yes, I have also been in the weird position of telling students that doing it wrong is doing it right. I think there are pitfalls in this. You can wind up with "wrong-looking" or other affectations.

Do you think this is a problem inherent in teaching people how to make art in school?

11 December, 2007 17:30  
Blogger Carla said...

Yup, that's what I mean. The 80% dealing with myself is useless beyond it providing some forward motion. You hopefully discard it at some point in the process. That's when the good stuff happens.

11 December, 2007 17:46  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

I do think there is a danger in affectation. I suppose the idea of working thru what seems wrong should be presented to the frustrated student who seems to have a preconceived idea of what is "right". That somewhere within that "wrong" state is another "right" possibility. And of course the student must find that for herself.

I wonder if the student who goes on to become an artist is just someone who is constantly on that quest? And risk-taking, rather than an end in itself, is just a method of escaping tired sensibilities and comfort zones. But its a hard game isnt it? I mean, to be truly honest with yourself and avoid falling in the trap of the "idea" of what is risky. I imagine very few reach that and not very often. I would say there are 2-3 occasions when i would say that i was "risky" on a personal level.

And it is personally assessed, i doubt a viewer could correctly spot an artist's risk unless they had detailed knowledge of the artist's previous work as comparison.

11 December, 2007 23:03  

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