I’ve found this assignment incredibly frustrating and time-consuming. But this is because I’ve found myself grappling and really investigating with my own thoughts about my show idea, which I’ve had to spend time on in order to come up with some kind of draft or plan. Throughout the course (and indeed the discipline) there seems to me to be a never-ending potential to question or reconsider every suggestion; each part of my idea could be broken down into a whole new problem to make a whole new show about. It’s stressing me out. I thought that discussing my idea would help, when it seems to have left me with too many interesting options. I probably need to work on this in the future.Anyway, I decided to try to cut down my ideas to make a more specific proposal by drawing a diagram.
The interest in these themes certainly stem from my own anxieties about getting that dream art-world job; we’ve all got career ambition, and I think we’re probably all at least slightly nervous about not ‘making it’ (whatever ‘making it’ means individually). A quick google search and another flick through The Guardian arts jobs website confirmed my reasons for such anxiety: development manager, PA, marketing assessment, trainee recruitment consultant... None of these dreary titles appealed to me, and I must admit that it is quite depressing.
My idea has also been fuelled by another personal situation, in which I have observed my brother existing (quite miserably) in this useless lacuna. Despite getting an excellent and well-deserved degree, he has been floating without direction in between university and career; feeling disappointed in himself although he’s done nothing wrong. I was concerned, and afraid that he was also without hope. However, on asking him to write a paragraph in response to my show proposal, I was really delighted with the realistic yet positive attitude evident in what he had to say. It also occurred to me that it was important to him to thoroughly express his feelings, and he certainly embraced the experience judging on the length of his reply.
My brother reflected on the way that he experienced his degree (English), and suggests that degree subjects ((especially within the arts) do not relate to careers. He enjoyed his degree, but didn’t realise how practically useless it would be to him: “you should keep in mind that your chosen subject has no interest in your career.” Despite this, he remained defiant and determined, and the result was an inspiring manifesto which also reminded the reader not to rely on a degree. It was realistic without being dull, and his response meant a lot to me. I’m proud of his attitude; however, neither of us will disregard his situation. When it comes to finance, you can’t, but more importantly I believe that his/my/our happiness depends on a sense of satisfaction. He knows what he needs to do.
I looked for opinions in other places than friends and family, and found a brilliant response from someone on AAAARG.org. After creating a discussion entitled ‘ever been worried about a career in the arts?’ (and receiving some weird posts), one user, quicksilver, provided me with a reflective paragraph which seemed to share my brother’s realistic yet defiant attitude:
“15 Mar 2012 2:01PM
It's a different condition now and will be different in the future. I'm more than twice as old as you Faith (only a little more), but when I was 20, worry about a career in the arts wasn't even an issue. We assumed we'd have no career in the arts and would have to do it because we loved it.
I don't mean to say that our days were better, but they were what they were. In some ways, people were more inventive, since they didn't assume they'd be able to sell their work or make a livelihood at it. In other ways they were less inventive since they planned expected it was just something they were doing on the way to a long slog through life.
If you love it and stick to it, with luck and talent, you'll do well. The main lesson is to roll with the punches, don't take them to heart.”
I’ve decided to take this comment ‘Roll with the Punches’ as my exhibition name, because it beautifully summarises the conclusion of my investigation of these themes and ideas.
I want to create a show that has it’s foundations in the idea of that luminal lacuna between university and a career.
Because of the country’s economical situation, being aware of the fact that graduates find getting a job difficult is implicit.
What I don’t think has been publically addressed is a general appreciation of how that situation might feel.
‘Roll with the Punches’ will be a response to the lack of opportunities graduates get to respond to this lacuna. Work will be exhibited as a celebration of the ‘art student’s’ passion and love for their subject regardless. Pieces that have been created whilst residing in this lacuna will be chosen for the exhibition, even if the theme of their practice might be very different to the show’s theme.
In this way, the show will be an eclectic celebration of hard work and determination, hopefully encouraging other students not to get quite so anxious.
Included artists will accompany their work with a brief paragraph in response to the show’s theme.
There will also be a response wall in the gallery, giving the audience an opportunity to respond. The result will be a conversation between artistic people within, reflecting on, and perhaps about to enter this lacuna.
Such a situation is in itself a means of support - or at least perhaps the most amount of support that a curated show can realistically give.
The show will exhibit in a University Gallery – an appropriate place for such a conversation.