Coming to the end of this inaugural arts writing gig at Deveron Arts, I am more unsure than ever as to what it is I am actually writing. I know I write, but I know little else. I have no idea what it is I am writing, just that I am definitely writing it. Working on the border of cultural commentaries and creative non-fiction, I am tired of looking, if not legitimating what it is I write, rather, I continue to read the writings that have influenced me as a reader and inevitably as a writer. A small handful of these voices appear on my current reading selection for the Art Reader Network including Gertrude Stein, Deleuze and Guattari, and Serge Deney, all of whom were spectres to my experience of Maria Fusco’s writing workshop yesterday.
Reconfiguring the value and limitations of arts writing as a creative practice that runs alongside, across, in and through the works of visual art our words accompany, Fusco’s approach to arts writing meets at the nexus of experimental poetics, post-structuralist theory, and the sculpting of subjectivity. Shifting art objects, and the history of art itself, as bricks, rather than the keystone, in the arch of understanding and rendering, Fusco pushes us into a minefield of subjective interpretations starting from the first person position of (art) objects.
Encouraging us basically to “re-caress the art object” -- to write and read the object simultaneously --Fusco’s series of writing exercises led us further down the constructive path of subjective reimaginings, and hopefully hit home that writing is a practice that employs creative skill. A quiet, but nevertheless startling realization came during the collaborative exercises, when we had to do pronoun hurdles in small groups, and I was reminded for the first time in a very long time that writing and editing are acquired skills that not many people have grasped. As somebody who compulsively writes and edits, I unfortunately forget before eventually remembering that writing remains one of the most undervalued skills in terms of appreciation and labour value.
Concerns disguised as questions were raised early on as to why one writes if nobody is going to read it? This commonly held position reveals the underlying attitude that writing is supposedly a servant to communicate knowledge, and that knowledge is presupposed, rather than created. Would anyone ask if a musician would play and sing if there is no audience to hear it? Or if a thought is going to be explored if nobody is ever going to understand it? Eventually somebody comes across the work in some incarnation or another, but the work must begin somewhere.
Having been given an option between production or discussion, I am thrilled the majority voted on production, as that’s at least a positive sign towards a better direction.
*First written for Framework and published on The Huntly Review