What is a painting? (part 2)

What is a painting? (part 2)

It feels long since I found time to write. After returning from my residency in Texas, I went into a whirlwind of creativity in organizing my house and studio. Throughout these almost three weeks, I also felt utterly lost and questioned many of my decisions regarding my place in the world. This is not the kind of text I want to write when there is so much suffering in the world. But here it is. We don't stop being mundane and struggling with our petty little problems while there is war in other parts of the world—real and material war/ not the war that we wage inside of ourselves.

So, in my personal world, while we've been suffering with the consequences of the Israel/Palestine war through conversations with disagreeing friends, or with battles of discourse online, or seeing the art market shift and fearing the growing of censorship, I've been noticing the expansion of fear in my body. Fear in my body manifests as an imbalance in eating patterns: I feel nauseated and lose my appetite, and I have moments of wanting to eat a lot and feeling like I can't identify what I need to eat. Fear eventually leads to exhaustion, which is a very physical reaction, as if I lost all the energy to make my body move. And with that, my whole emotional substrate is inundated with sadness. It is helpful to write down these basics of understanding the dynamics between feelings and bodily dispositions/sensations as they correspond to the types of real/unreal binaries we waste our time with. Being that feelings are unreal (not measurable, subjective, immaterial, cultural) and the body is real (biological, material, natural, transformable). As I continue to reject psychoanalysis and psychology as theoretical paradigms for personal analysis (I know that there are many uses of these disciplines for social and historical readings, which I am equally not interested in, but I recognize that there is value in anything that many humans devote themselves to), I'm not concerned with definitions of what I'm going through as "depression" or "eating disorder." What interests me is how my body manifests and aligns with the immaterial reality of the world -- the world being all that is out there AND all that I notice.

My point here is that as I organize my house while I watch the war, I come to terms with how a home studio with children is a "lifestyle." I had to stop to google the meaning of this word - lifestyle - as it felt so empty and meaningless when I wrote it here. This reminds me of one of Divya Victor's questions in her The Audre Lorde Questionnaire to Oneself: "What are the words you do not have yet?" I'm missing a word here as I use "lifestyle," a word that would define my continuous attempt to integrate all aspects of my life within the same values to have consistency and purpose. Again, two words I appreciate very little: consistency and purpose. Oh, goddess, what an impossible text to write.

While I was looking for Divya's link I came up to this irresistible picture of Audre Lorde wearing a t-shirt with Emma Goldman's image and quote “If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution," and this wonderful list of questions that Audre Lorde asked in various texts/interviews. 

Simply put, while I make my studio at home, even though I have one designated room for painting, the whole apartment ends up being my studio. While I sit with the children to play in the living room -- the area I designated as the right place to store and keep all the toys -- I feel that in this room, too, we are making art. Sometimes, I conclude that we are making even more meaningful art in the living room as we find ways to live in harmony between three very different characters (mine, Helena's, and Ulysses's), very different needs and moments in life. When we enter moments of total fluidity in which our true desires are met and our satisfactions layer each other, forming the sensation of thick bonds of meaning, I see the creation of the most beautiful artworks. And I'm reminded, yet again, of what a painting is: some thing made out of the combination of intention and chance, some thing that only comes into existence through the human disposition and need to reach harmony.

In these times of war, a painting might be one of our strongest calls for peace.