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Burn out in Art and Politics

Burn Out in Art and Politics

Even the most prolific artists in history have spoken of periods of artistic inactivity and creative burnout. Identifying the difference between creative burnout and an intellectual apathy towards a particular field of creativity might be pertinent before running to the second hand shop to locate a copy of the artists way, or taking up some still life painting class when the last thing you ever wanted to do was paint a still life.

With creativity being pushed upon 'creatives' as the 'fourth way' ( I made this up but see it everywhere), a form of activity which can be easily streamlined into economy, policy and business, it is hard not to just go, fuck this, don't label me a 'creative' if all that is about is to bridge a rather large gap between capitalism and culture, to make this gap fluid and make the prerequisite for culture production that it serves meritocratic capitalism and private interests. It is hard to make 'things' for the sake of 'things' in order for them to be used in the pantomime that is culture making.

Seeing many artist/activist responses to the current political nightmare which is plaguing first world politics, the swerve to the right, the swerve to the unaccountability of capital and the dash towards policies that seem to be digging us deeper and deeper in our own six feet hole as a species, it is hard to justify representational, mimetic codified art works that purport to have any didactic aspirations. Hard hitting work is memefied, the opaic boundaries between conventional activism and artist activism blurred. Questions of parachuting, ethics, politics, accountability, privilege.......

I can see artists such as Gregory Schollete managing to traverse the making with the doing seemingly with ease. I see activists managing to traverse the doing and the making in order to find new ways to protest. I just don't know where to place myself, if anywhere at all. Making or doing, both, neither.....

I am currently researching prefiguration in anarchist theory, which surprisingly has a lot of cross over points with art history, and terms and language with socially engaged community practices. This is of interest as it is giving me a little hope and less of a pessimistic attitude to forms of collective action that are not grandiose or annihilating. Reading on prefiguration and the anti-fascist movement is making me question my own stasis in action. I regard my intellectual engagement as a form of action, however it is perhaps too much intellectual and not enough physical. Perhaps it is burn out. There is always a temptation to just look at my own family, and say ok, we need to just do our own thing, try to ride out the storm, while I think about it all. Im just wondering if this burn out is something I will be able to explain to my kids in future years.

Artistic burnout and poltical burnout have a lot in common it might seem, and perhaps living more prefiguratively is the key to my own stasis in both fields. In prefiguration the making and the doing are at once the same. In art the making and the doing can also be at once the same. How the practices can be matched up is key to my own emergence from artistic and political burnout. I hope.

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