Should all art be accessible? (a stream of consciousness)
I’ve recently been stuck on this train of thought, so I think it is only natural I extract it from the most delicate folds of my mind and alchemise it into this tangible and relevantly accessible thing for my audience.
I think it’s perhaps a very modern thing to be just as interested and invested in the artistic process as with the final outcome - the masterpiece per se.
The audience wants to know how the artist, the creator, the magician came to their grand conclusion - whether it was this raw, gritty, intrinsic thing and henceforth hopelessly relatable, or more so somebody who has studied words, mediums and analysed outcomes and knows how to piece them together for maximum emotional gain or profoundness when in actual fact it came from somewhere surface level, more analytically comprised rather than purged from the belly of the beast.
In the process of publishing my own work I’ve had to learn very quickly about the concept of accessibility. I’ve previously looked down upon or more so simply not understood as to why artists dull their work in order for it to be accepted more widely. It’s still an enigmatic concept for me and I’m very much in two minds about it.
On one hand I can see how sales are at the very core of an artist’s ideal outcome in this capitalist world, a world in which if you can’t profit off something it’s deemed useless. I can see how by simplifying language and lightening themes and morphing concepts initially for ones self into something everyone can take a slice of and butter with their own meaning equals exposure, success, and naturally, sales. I can see these needs and I can see these links and I am very much on board with this course of action because, after all, what artist does not want to be known for their genius? To grossly reference an overused yet eternally relevant quote - if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
But on the other hand, I can’t part with my hyper specific, gloriously personal and uber cryptic mannerisms within my art. They are the defining traits and they are what makes it mine. The art I’m drawn to of others is comprised of total uniqueness and alchemy and sometimes an exegesis of their process makes it all the more magic, and sometimes, it takes that magic away.
I suppose what I’m trying to say (if one can take a single point from this stream of consciousness) is that just as much as art is sacred for the audience, it is sacred for the artist. Tolstoy said
art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands-on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them. Plato dubbed art as mimesis which in Greek means imitation, meaning it imitates or represents something that already exists - something that exists within both the artist and the audience. Art is defined by how it is perceived just as much as it is not perceived. I think there’s an omnipotent, undefinable beauty in that.
In my upcoming collection of poetry, prose and extracts I’ve left some concerningly cryptic pieces in as well as pieces I’ve re-worked entirely so my audience can cram their own meaning into it, between the lines where I have left the perfect amount of space for their perception between my own.
I did this with the intent of omitting an exegesis, a blurb for each piece if you will, for self-explanation. You can interpret my work however you like, it’s none of my business.
Maybe I’m just a sell-out.
Regardless, I’m learning to claim the notion of accessibility as my own and morph it into something that enhances my art rather than dulls it. It brings me incomprehensible joy to know the thousands of ways my art will be personalised, stemming from the final outcomes rather than drafts, forcing raw, guttural meaning to be extracted from something polished and pristine - oh, the irony.
I think that’s art in itself.
Perhaps it is entirely hypocritical of me to post this or any train of thought I have until my current phase of work is in the world in its entirety, in all of its glory.
I’m still not sure of what point I’m trying to make, so I’ll force myself to end this stream of consciousness here before I spill blood, or worse - secrets.
I appreciate and truly relish in having an audience with fresh hot throats I can ram my detestable streams of consciousness down.
I also hope you didn’t come here looking for answers, because I can’t yet say I have the answer, or any, for that matter.
Thank you for being here.
I love you.