Our class began with a group reading of the introduction to Magic: A Gramarye for Artists by Jamie Sutcliffe. I had read it beforehand and I did see some value in the text – mainly the ideas stated here: “Magic’s relationship with art is deeply strange and symbiotic. We could even say that magic practice is inherently artful […] Magical cultures and sentiments depend on aspects of performance, craft, and visual projection”. What Sutcliffe fails to mention enough is the existence and importance, historically and contemporarily, of ‘non-Western’ practices within the world of Magic. Even the word ‘Magic’ is risky here given that the belief systems of many indigenous cultures were violently shut down by colonizers who didn’t see their spiritual connection as something real (the word magic, to me, implies a certain lack or escapism of reality). The richness and cultural diversity of magic and spirituality in the world cannot be simplified or briefly mentioned in a few paragraphs, and although its connection to artistic practice is worth discussing, I disagree with this approach.
These are things that I raised in class and I was happy to see nods of agreement. It felt good to remember that I can be critical of scholarly text, as there is much more value in forming and expressing my own opinions instead of ‘blindly reading’ to these readings – much like the difference between listening and hearing. I can apply this to my own artistic practice as well. Truly listening to an internal or external critique of my work is always going to be more useful than presenting and accepting things as they are.
Continuing on the theme of Magic, the next task was to form pairs and come up with a spell that would help us get into a creative headspace. Janos and I agreed on the following steps:
We then joined up all of the group’s spells into one. It was interesting to see how, once again, diverse the ideas were in the group.
In the tutorial, I came in with little to show due to recent personal trouble. The focal point of our discussion was my difficulty to commit to an idea. We discussed how a non-linear creative process is a viable and valid way to make things, making the most of the spontaneity and ambiguity of my ideas. As I am going to Milan next week, I’ve decided to do some work there in the form of listening and writing exercises. It is a place that holds a part of my identity (because of my family) and its sounds are very familiar and often bittersweet. These exercises may not lead me directly to a clear idea and a finished artwork, but they could either be included in the final piece or be used as being a part of my brainstorming process.
After I got home I noticed this chair that had been left abandoned for a few weeks in our house’s entrance hall:
Our neighbour said they were giving it away and I noticed that its base had a very beautiful, circular shape. So I detached it:
Somehow, and I cannot explain why, this piece of wood felt ‘right’. I want to use it as a starting point for my instrument, the idea that I have now picked to commit to. It has a hole in its base with space below it for me to potentially put a bag of air (similarly to bagpipes or the Harmonitree as discussed in the tutorial). I like the size of the object too.
Another idea I had that really resonates with me is of an instrument that is only playable by two people (or that sounds different when two people play it). I want to explore this idea further in the next weeks.