05 Oct '18 — the last place I expected to be creatively stimulated
There’s a subtle difference between the life I have access to and the life I wish I had access to.
Yesterday, I watched On the Other River Banks In Berlin: Sasha. During an artist residency program, Liu Xiaodong, a Chinese artist, paints a beautiful trans woman. It was so storybook Berlin. People flock to Paris for croissants and the Eiffel Tower in the same way they flock to Berlin for a certain flavor of queerness. The artist paints inside an alt bau building, similar to the ones I’ve lived in.
However, the Berlin I lived in was nothing like the city expressed in the film. I knew artists who weren’t as fancy. My life was more similar to flea market art. Everything I made was not refined, less technical in skill and consideration, often derived from some other cool idea. Lacking confidence, I didn’t dare to be original. Since I wanted to please, my work lacked a sense of creative freedom. Just an unnecessary mess.
As much as I’d love to make ‘living in Europe’ part of my story, it’s not.
When I got back to the US, I gained an extraordinary amount of confidence. I’ve been able to explore and create in ways I never had the confidence to.
How is it, in the suburbs, that I find such creative stimulation?
The life I have access to is the life in the American suburbs, where things I need are taken care of. Everything is accessible, I don’t have to trip through a foreign language in order to get simple things done.
A part of me has bought into the story that Europe, especially Berlin, is a place for artists. I could make my life in Berlin, it could technically be a life I have access to. However, it’d take an enormous amount of work every day. And if it takes that much work, then I have less time to make things.
So that’s the fine line. I’ve been provided already with an opportunity, but often, I see my opportunity elsewhere, in a particularly inaccessible place.