The conclusion of my first term on the MA brings grades which are just above my cohort average but a charge that I need to move my practice up a notch.
The staff felt there was not enough vulnerability in my work and didn’t like its theatricality. They want me to have more uncertainty and produce work which is rougher around the edges, they want more truth and think that I might like to withdraw from being both actor and recorder. Their suggestions were that I should concentrate on body/ self or masculinity but whatever it is, I need to get obsessive about it, and introduce awkwardness and discomfort into my work.
They suggest making the work more nuanced, believing focussing on the quietness will go a long way. They felt my work hadn’t developed far enough this term, believing I need to touch people emotionally and somehow unlearn in order to discover a different approach.
They urge me to consider working outside my studio, not use myself as the subject but possibly work with 1 person, probably a man, making low key work obsessively: Get brutal, they said, get brutal on myself.
I have a month before college starts again, I shall use this time to continue my strategy of creating “dramatic” work, this time featuring me in a musketeer costume because I know it is unpopular but there are some practitioners over the last 50 years who have made this work and succeeded and I am not going to give it up. However, In addition to making five or 6 images on constructed sets featuring different scenes of me as a musketeer, I shall also make some work where I take the character outside and make him interact with “real” people in Plymouth. I was planning on doing these things before my feedback and although I may alter the approach I shall still do them. What is different is that I shall look to produce another set of images that run alongside that which doesn’t feature me as the subject but rather, explores something that is part of me. I have been thinking of what that should be for a few weeks already, so it’s going to be hard but in the first instance it might be death, or sex, or religion, or fatherhood, or, well, hopefully I’ll have decided on that by the time uni starts again.
I end the first module of the course content in the knowledge that I have been given some great questions to ask myself which is the only hope I had and I look forward to continuing to read widely and discover by making more work.
Hang on tight, let out a scream and let’s put the pedal to the metal and get on with it!