DRIVE-THRU ART PART 2: Romance creeps up on u ukno¡1!
Art and Romance hold hands as they walk down the street.
Art isn’t romantic in a cliche ‘take me to a gallery and touch my butt’ kinda way (even though that is sometimes nice). Art is romantic in a special sparkly way: sometimes you get it immediately, sometimes you have to wait. But you always secretly hope, no matter how cynical you are, that you get to //feel\\ it.
In Gab’s baby essay last week, she mentioned that my bot tweeted ‘why is the last thing I want to be romantic?’ My bot knows me so well. I don't want to be romantic. I want to smash and dash. I don't want to hold hands. I want to fuck and leave.
But sometimes romance creeps up on you, sometimes there is a flare of desire and the work grabs your eyeBALLS. Then you hold it in your hands and all of a sudden it grabs your heart too. That's Drive-Thru Art.
You fall for its looks and are captivated by the way it moves. You fall in love all at once and slowly too with the things underneath that (that’s meant to b cringey), the things you only notice when you spend time with it, listen to its jokes and laugh genuinely, sincerely.
Drive-Thru Art gives you a gift in your hand as soon as you arrive, and as you drive away you unpack your swag bag and pull out fries, ur burger, ur nuggets etc etc and you eat your beautiful art gift. And it sits with you in your stomach as you go around running errands. It stays with you as you go about your day, leaves salty crumbs on your lap and your fingers.
Art can be a show-er or a grow-er. It can big-bang your face and shut up, or it can slowly burn without you noticing that it's on fire until it's big and wild. It's like that frog story. If you put a frog straight in boiling water it will hop right out, but if you slowly heat the water it won't notice and it will slowly slowly burn to its death. Drive-Thru Art is the third frog storyline. Drive-Thru art is a tru romantic. It sees you walking towards it in the gallery and it stands up, pulls out your chair for you. It holds your hand across the table, completely un-self-aware (or maybe self-aware-but-doesn't-care that people don't really do that). Drive-Thru Art grabs you and holds your gaze. It meets you halfway and then takes you back to their place. You catch feelings for it. And you’re not even mad, because the feeling is so nice.
Meaning can be politicised. Me and Gab sometimes go to Women’s meetings with fabulous Art Ladies. They are wiser and more knowledgeable than us, and they water us with their wisdom; like beautiful flowers we grow and blossom with their <3. We were at a meeting in Res, talking about art and meaning, and someone mentioned that women feel more of a need to justify their work than men, that men are more comfortable providing little to no meaning (or justification, rather). This was all anecdotal, we were drinking wine, ‘industry talk’ ya ya ya. But I don’t think it is wrong; < MEANING IS A POLITICISED OBJECT >. It is a gendered, racialised, identity-specific object. I have begun to consciously make myself let go of the comforting security of being able to say “this is my work, and it is about < this >, and it means < this >.” I have stopped reaching for meaning like it’s a desirable thing to hold to my chest.
And so if I want to stop searching for it in my own work, I should stop searching for it in the work of others. If it comes, it comes; if there is no delivery, that’s ok, it’s not the end of the world if something is as it looks. We should embrace the surface; I think the filmy milky skin is as delicious as the naice milky milk underneath.
Whether it’s one or the other or both all at the same time, we feel different types of love for different types of art in different types of ways. And I believe with all my little brown heart that u must feel it, my precious gems, u must be able to feel it. But I think it’s important to differentiate that Drive-Thru Art is special in a way that Show-er or Grow-er art isn’t. It’s important that academia should engage without dumbing down; I truly believe this is the key to accessibility, not just in art, but in all academic mediums. Meaning is a slippery object. You can understand it without holding on to it. I’m ok with that now. Gab said she can’t find the romance in Drive-Thru Art, that she sometimes doesn’t feel it, that sometimes she just wants to smash and dash the whole gallery scene. And I feel that, I truly do. But I think that that’s the < MOST ROMANTIC THING > that art can be. Oh how romantic, to think it was just a one night stand, but then you kiss goodbye in the morning. And you check yourself, you’ve lingered without realising you’ve lingered. It was there all along, and you never realised. You fell in love at first sight and never even noticed.