When you were little you tried more than once to pull out your own tooth by tying floss around it and the doorknob respectively. The part that always looked so triumphant on tv was when the kid would slam the door, turn and face camera, revealing a devilish grin with a river of blood flowing down their chin and a hole where the tooth had been. Dangling from the doorknob would be an odd sort of token of the event, the tooth hanging from the floss swinging to and fro. Following this success the tooth is inevitably put under a pillow and some money is made.
Art making. Much like the process of extracting one’s own tooth. The end goal is usually to place a finished work under your pillow and some money is made.
What if you can’t slam the door shut? You can’t work up the guts to throw yourself into the purgatory that is the time it takes for the floss slack to tighten and evict this dying piece of body out of your mouth. Is that dying piece of body your art? Is your art the act of slamming? Is your art the bloody but triumphant smile after the whole enchilada? It would tie up too nicely if this last question happened to be the answer. You never take a risk, turn around and smile. You take a risk, slam the door, rip something out from inside of you...and fall. Fall, crumble to the ground. You look at this thing you have produced from a closer angle, eyes level with the carpet - realizing the tooth isn’t actually some throbbing scary monster that you have successfully beaten - but a small insignificant piece of body that used to be inside of you. Sure, it is now dangling from a piece of string but in actuality looks more like a jagged piece of popcorn dipped in raspberry jam than a victorious result of the self flagellation that is art making.
You stand back up. Jammy tooth in hand. What felt meaningless from the floor, reeling in pain - now feels like a victory.
Developed photographs come back in the mail. Some are paltry pieces of yourself that you have exposed to the world. Others are exactly what you are trying to say.