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The Laboratory of Living Arts vs. FAKE
No two artists are alike.
There are as many types of artists as there are intentions is life, to a point that I am not sure how to answer now when I am asked if I am still one.
You can categorise artists in relation to their style,
or the mediums they use,
their true intention as a creator,
as well as their relation to their environment.
I have known for a long time that my kind doesn’t necessarily fare very well, for we are at the polar opposite of the art market amongst other social structures seen as essential to today’s artist.
We might visit these structures, but only because our compass told us to, and we will leave them as fast as we entered them in order to stay on the road.
I belong to a type that is quite unpredictable production-wise, unless you know me and what I believe in, then you can predict most of what I’ll be doing by looking at my environment.
For the past few years I have fluctuated between the shame of belonging to a selfish, cruel, idiotic species, trying to atone daily in small concrete ways with my work and my actions, and my awe for nature and life itself.
And this awe saved me, and my work.
For it simply points out that if nature made us, we are part of it, and it made us this way, as we are, for a reason.
Regardless of what human meaning I might place on what nature is up to, including with us, it is doing something.
My friend James calls it “Making shapes”.
So, I decided to try to follow the most intimate part of my Self, the part I call my compass.
I want to be my best possible self, in all the ways I can. And that’s my business.
And that’s my art.
I make things, but I also unmake things. It can be painting, it can be clearing a river of its rubbish, picking up trash, repairing clothes, planting flowers that bees like, or having a chat with a stranger.
One of the things I am working on at the moment is trying to figure out opportunities to say small things to strangers that seem to be having a hard time.
It’s not as simple as it sounds, you have to be fast, say a lot in a few words, and be understood by the person you say them to. And it has to be for them, even if it makes you feel good when you succeed, it has to be for them. Only for them.
Mostly, I thank people who I can see are doing shitty repetitive gestures that is hurting them, their self-worth, it’s wearing them out. Like cleaning after people who don’t care, or serving people who don’t care. It’s often to do with putting up with humiliation in order to make a living.
I try to say something of value, to thank them, maybe to joke a bit as well. Sometimes I slag the people who might have just been mean to them a bit, while they clean, or work at the till.
I have never said this to anyone. But there it is.
I see the change of the tides, the movement of human masses, different, their texture hybridizing. I feel it all the time, taken by the waves, the undertow, the swirls of air.
And with each tide I see less of my kind standing.
But I trust nature.
I don’t see myself as a painter as much these days as a maintenance agent.
A lighthouse keeper.
I take special care to keep in touch with a handful of exceptional people I know who do good, but at a high cost. These people need all the love and support they can get, as they give so much, do so much good.
I call them lighthouses, for they stand in the world and shine a rare and precious light.
My last series of work were small paintings of lighthouses, one for each of friend.
I still have a couple to make, but it will be done in time.
That’s all for this post. I’m going to leave you with a picture of my own light house,
And some lines by Bukowski:
if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
do it, do it, do it.
all the way
all the way.
Founded in 1994 in Dublin, The Laboratory of Living Arts is a lifelong artistic project led by the artist Laurie Legrand. It focuses on questions such as the accountability of the artist in a culture made up of images, sound and stories as well as what makes an art work potent as a seed for a shift in awareness for both creator and viewer. Over the years her means of expression have varied from writing, painting and performance to street art and installations.
Laurie Legrand, born in Bruxelles/Belgium in 1974, has lived and worked in many countries around Europe but mainly in Ireland and Spain. She is an M.A. Fine Art graduate with Honours from St. Luc School of Art / Belgium, and has been a practising artist as well as an art teacher since 1992. She is studying carpentry as well as sustainable building at the present in CSN and The Hollies, and is now permanently based in Cork/Ireland.
For more on the work of Laurie Legrand