12 sty Another Brick in the Wall
I close my eyes; the raindrops are slowly banging on my window. High Hopes is playing in the background, 7 minutes of switching off my brain and just allowing myself to be. Hot coffee is warming up my fingers as I start to think about everything, and anything. My brain never stops, not only searching for inspirations, but also answers. The theme that is going through my head right now is a big one… and I doubt I will find an answer. Question that I started asking myself since I started teaching the art students.
Why do they censor their ideas? Where does it comes from? Censorship. Something my parents were fighting with, so I could create whatever I choose, without fear. And now? Now those kids are their own thought police (Mr. Orwell is probably turning in his grave and screaming in the despair!).It all started with a simple brief I gave them *self-portrait* to show the world who they are. What are they afraid off or what makes them happy. Using any technique- as long as part of their work would be a photo of them taken in the studio.
I have opened a can of worms! When they read it… there was fear in the air! There was few that almost cried! With a simple brief, that I think every artist that went to University had to do.
I slowly talked them through it and the process, and they became more ok with it.
Now the discussion later was what got me thinking… all I have heard was “but I cant show them this, this might offend someone”. With my background I smiled and said “So what? If someone is offended by this, is it your problem or theirs?” “but… but…”
I think it is one of the cultural differences I keep finding. My education was in post-communist Poland in the 90`s … if I had problems with a fellow student, I confronted that person. If I would go to a teacher and tell someone about that, I would be the most hated persona in the class. Same goes with the freedom of thinking, and the freedom of speech… When I went to uni, I was laughing at some of the “controversial art” that had no meaning and was aimed only to shock… Here in UK, everything is different. People will think 3 times before they say something, they will keep editing their thoughts so long until they are 100% they will not offend a single person… Perfect exapmle of Crimestop. Orwell wrote: “The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself. The process should be automatic, instinctive. Crimestop, they called it in Newspeak. He set to work to exercise himself in crimestop. He presented himself with propositions — ‘the Party says the earth is flat’, ‘the party says that ice is heavier than water’ — and trained himself in not seeing or not understanding the arguments that contradicted them.” Sounds scary? So why so many people are trying to do this now?
But I digress, coffee is gone, and my pen just makes unconditional lines on the piece of paper. That lines will transform into something by the end of my thought process I am certain about it.
Two weeks after the brief was handed out, I see some ideas. Some very safe ones, some funny ones, one “I do not give a s**t about this brief” and some just showing what the person likes. And after another week or two I asked why you choose this? I get faced with yet another wall… I mean seriously a wall “oh you don’t want to know… oh noo…” when I pushed a little they break, but I hear “I have an anxiety I don’t want to say this” I go into “ok you will not have to tell anyone else, but I need to tell you how to show it in this piece…” When did this happen? When we as people started to hide behind anxiety to not engage? How do I wake them up? How can I show them that it is not important what other people think? It is important what you think and how you as a person feel about something…
I try my best to open their minds! I think I should inspire them even more… show them that there is another way, so far I don’t know what else to do. I could offer extra time for them to talk about the current issues and how to show them in art, or just wave it into my lectures… it’s a big one for me, what else should I do? There is one question that jumped into my head now. I will see if it works next time. “What would you do if you were not afraid?”