So, as I was wrecking my brain this week trying to figure out what I was gonna talk about and how I was gonna talk about what I didn’t know I was gonna be talking about for a public speech I needed to prepare for, I suddenly found myself completely paralyzed and falling quickly and unsafely into the abyss of procrastination. Sleepless nights, confusing thoughts, heavy drinking was gonna come next, depression.. & then I realized: ‘Wait Linda, hold on.. you know this place, you know this place well, you've been here many times before.. this is the experience you have when you step onto the rehearsal floor with a brand new piece of music to fill with movement that doesn’t yet have shape, this is the cold sweat that drips on an empty page as you sit to write a new poem, the chilling terror provoked by a blank canvas staring back at you.. now, before i go on sounding like I'm some kind of super cool renaissance woman, let me just clarify: I was indeed blessed with many different talents, however I do not excel at any particular one so that the main product of my blessing is once again confusion and procrastination as I spend most my time deciding if I should do this, that or the other till eventually I just get on Netflix and watch the new episode of ‘Sex in the Wild’ or something mind bending like that.. but the point that I was making is that that kind of debilitating intimidation is something I've grown used to, and like me every other artist out there. We all know the challenges involved with that first stroke of a brush.. and the thing is that any other non artist person would probably stare at the empty canvas for a while and then eventually just move on and go eat something, but we, as artists, can't. We are compelled to make something happen, we are compelled to create. We will get back to this particular artist obsession & its roots later, just follow me for now, I promise I got a plan.. the artist will sit haunted by the opportunity to express till the end of time, writers suffer through years of so called writers blocks & waste their life & livers away awating that moment of genius to come through so they can spit out their next novel.. and we really truly hurt through those fruitless times cause only when we are in it we can be truly at peace.. and why is that? We will try and answer that later.. but the bottom line is that we can't help it, it's not a choice.. just like pooping, which is truly the only purpose we have as organisms in this cycle we call life.. human consciousness is a bitch, very distracting in that sense..

So, I had a crazy uncle, like most the population.. Now, my crazy uncle was born not just an artist but a genius painter. At age 3 he prolifically produced watercolor masterpieces that I, after 4 years of fine art school, could not dream of reproduce. He was also the first born in a family afflicted by the pressure caused by what we would call ‘old money’ and my grandma, a stoic and infallible matriarch, obviously counted on him taking over the family business as it would happen in every other respectable ‘normal’ family. Little she knew that our family was far from ‘normal’, which is ok considering ‘normal’ families only really exist on some altered reality.. so my grandma put my uncle through business school, and she really pushed, trying everything possible to turn her hallucination into reality, she went as far as paying for my uncle to graduate, but it was never gonna happen. All she accomplished was his total resignation from his obvious path. He gave up painting, but not without first executing his greatest & final masterpiece. I truly believe my uncle created & designed his madness as a performance art piece that lasted almost 40 years, which is even more impressive considering he didn’t quite make it to 60.. and he was brilliant at it, so committed, he really was impossible to have around, never violent or self harming, just unbearably annoying and unable to hold on to any sense of responsibility. I recall family members recognizing my tendencies and comparing: ‘Oh, you're just like your uncle!’ And I hated it: 'Why? Why do I gotta be like him of all people? He’s a nightmare!' But in retrospect, I find some awkward sense of pride now in it, as an artist I mean, 'cause I truly suspect he did all that to make a statement, a statement that would effect everyone around him greatly and forever.. and that’s what art does.. or its supposed to do.

Oscar Wilde wrote: ‘All art is quite useless’
By the same token Nietzsche stated: ‘We have art in order not to perish of truth’, a statement that in a few words explains the purpose of my crazy uncle’s existence.

The truth is, and here we will try and understand why as artists we are so trapped by our compulsion to express, that art happens through a vessel that first and foremost is in itself effected by something provoking. Even when art happens in nature, which I believe it does, it is reigned by the magic of impermanence as the perfect landscape gets influenced by the seasons and that convenient passing cloud letting the light shine through just that way so it can turn reality into something that goes beyond it. And the artist, this often overly sensitive pooping machine needs to be effected in order to create something effective and a true artist will not truly feel at peace unless he moves from such kind of inspiration. And that is why art touches us so deeply, because it’s the product of someone who's been touched, because it’s the product of different elements crashing, sometimes violently, into each other causing effectiveness. Empathy, this innate quality we have as human beings to be effected, this thing that enables us all to connect to one another so that our hearts can vibrate with matching frequencies, even if for a split second.. empathy I believe to be at the core of what drives the artist to create and it's also what allows others to connect to his or her creation. And exercising empathy is a reason good enough for me to keep celebrating art.

But does art have a purpose? And does it have to?

Well, I am an activist at heart and as such I tent to have very strong opinions on the subject, however this last weekend I had the pleasure to spend some time with an incredible human who also happens to be a successful and deeply talented composer who challenged my artistic activism. Talking about art being a tool to raise awareness, he pointed out that if anything, in this day and age, society is saturated with the opportunity for awareness, so much so that people shut down & retrieve into apathy because information is so overwhelmingly available. Of course logic often irritates me and I begun to attach to my activist driven arguments and fell miserably into intelligently preset traps that exposed my ability to be completely cliché.. but as much as my angle within the disagreement was .. not cool, or clever  or even appropriate, the argument in itself has validity: art can exist or happen without a premeditated purpose, but the moment the observer interacts with it, it instantly gains purpose, and awareness is what happens. When we witness the perfect sunset, when we catch a glimpse of a train colored in graffiti zipping through a European countryside, when we discover the brilliant drawing of a toddler, or we stand in awe in front of a Klimt, or close our eyes listening to Bach, or widen our eyes as we stare mesmerized at a dancer spinning across the stage.. we become aware, we become aware of ourselves, of our feelings, of our being here now to participate in this empathic connection.. art is awareness, whether we intend to make it so or not. So, as artists, why not embody our full potential and show our interpretation of reality? Someone said: ‘Artists do not see reality as is or they will cease to be artists’. We have the ability to translate the ugly and make it digestible so that people can stomach the truth, about themselves and the world around them, art can sneak behind apathy’s back and get under people’s skin, something the 8 o’clock news will never be able to accomplish.. when we witness true art we become channels for thoughts we didn’t know we could think, art is powerful within its grace and subtleness, it operates on a microlevel and it effects everyone who chooses to look..


So now the question is: how do we get people to look? And more specifically, how do we get Los Angelinos to look?

Los Angeles, as we all know, is the world capital of entertainment. Now.. I am an entertainer, I'm a dancer, been an actor, a circus performer, even a model.. I've done my time in entertainment and loved it and at some point believed I was making art, & maybe I was.. however, as I was trying to process my take on art in LA, I came to the conclusion that there's a fundamental difference between art and entertainment: entertainment, by definition, does not exist without the entertained.. art just is and we choose to witness it. Which, if u allow me to theorize, means that as entertainers we are simply providing a service, where as artists we create out of sheer impulse and if there's any kind of service involved, its provided by the spectator choosing to look and by doing so serving the opportunity for art to fulfill its possible purpose.

Here's a basic aspect of modern times: we are accostumed to easily delivered instant gratification, meaning that, thanks to the internet and media in general, we can lazily sit in the comfort of our homes and have access to anything imaginable.. virtually, of course.. pretty soon we will be able to produce live hologram performances in our kitchens with the click of a button, a terrifying thought for many of us. We also developed a general social ADD infection driving us to seek mindless forms of entertainment. If we do choose to get out of the house to consume precious gas, pay for parking, squeeze in dinner and invest on some often too pricy $20 ticket to see an event, may it be an art exhibit or a show or whatever.. we expect it to be good, we expect to be entertained. And art can be entertaining, the same way entertainment can be artistic, but that’s not how or why art comes to be. So how do we further stimulation? How can we engage potential observers without compromise? Well, following my crazy uncles lead, I believe situation specific performance art (or site specific as it is more commonly known) is a fairly valid option. We all enjoyed being surprised by the sudden appearance of a massive & gluttunous mural where a run down sterile wall used to be right? Site specific performance art does the same thing, it transforms the usual into unusual, the great difference though resides in the fact that not only performance art is far more interactive, demanding a higher level of attention or even participation, but it also benefits from the element of impermanence which makes it ever so much more unique. Also, site specific performance can be delivered, not quite into someones livingroom, though it could be arranged, for the right price ;).. but close enough, it can move and it can follow, it can be run into, at the supermarket, in the lobby at your firm, on the street in front of your children's school.. at the hotel you're staying at.. As an audience u have a choice, u can seek it out and bring yourself to a site specific performance event or you can hope to some day just stumble upon it at the library.. though who goes to the library these days.. but if someone suspected something special may happen..

And here's the next question: how do we promote such endeavors, how do we finance and sustain the existence of a form of art that can greatly contribute to stimulate the public to seek out more art, not entertainment, art, which we already established is a great way to provoke awakening even when awakening was not being sought out? I am not sure I have an answer for that, as an artist I rather not worry about that, I got other shit to do, like making art for example.. but it is clear to me that the need and demand is there. Site specific art, in a more general sense, was born in the mid 60s early 70s out of the need for social commentary. A site specific installation can only exist on that one particular site, so that the artist's interpretation of reality is fully interacting with reality itself, the fact that by being inserted in public places it becomes available to a larger demographic is a cleverly acquired bonus. As we draw away from the constant bombardment of information, information we often no longer feel we can trust, and become more & more disconnected, site specific art offers us the opportunity to pay attention again without investing too much intention, which seem to frighten most of us these days since apathy is definitely a safer choice. I believe site specific art is destined to become an easy way to stimulate more & more people to develop a new appreciation for the arts in general driving them to seek it out willingly and allowing them to reconnect to that instinctual sense of empathy which is what, some say, defines us as humans, which is what, I say, enables us to unite as one through the musical vibration of our always thriving beating hearts.

In closing, I would like to leave this with a poem. This is the first spoken word piece I've ever written, a classic example of compulsive creative behavior and consequential channel experience.. this is a political poem, dedicated to my legs:

‘my legs just know more’
the beaten path is a way
from which my legs
like to swiftly keep astray
see, these slinky things of mine
like to find ways to design
a rhythmic swirl
to intertwine
all across the dance floor
that i find
right outside my front door
and they don't care
how i dear
to dress my feet:
bare foot, heels,
pointe shoes or ski boot,
i just move to the beat
of this soaring heart
i keep
safe from the dart
of this socioeconomic fart
'cause i'm an artist
and these legs wont buy
the lie
that you need money to fly,
why?
shit, in my dreams i float
with the ease of a seal boat
moved by a whirlwind
of emotional swing
sun on my face
yet not in my eyes
moving forward with grace
in harmony with the moody tides
in my dreams my legs are right
to be tapping to the sound
of a military fight
'cause all they know about a battle
is that it's a chance
to dance
with a prize at happenstance!
but when i wake, when i wake
i fear it's a mistake
to let them
take the lead,
i'm not a gem,
just a bead
swallowed by the man.
people say "sit down"
and i, like you
listen to them
'till the rhythm of this pen
that i'm holding
like a scolding
to the brain
gets my legs to stretch up
and complain:
are you gonna follow
the sorrow
of this nation
like all those others
giving into the temptation
to hide under the covers?
"get down, go to work,
kick your heart into the dirt,
file your taxes, pay your bills,
buy a mansion in the hills,
a fancy car to match it all
for fuel prices are on the roll!"
"be consumed by consumerism
and be weary of communism,
for they're known
to be prone
to do crazy things like
censuring the news"... hum..
"here, have some booze!"
the white man likes to say
at the bar
as well as at the altar
of a history that will forever burn
the core of this country constantly torn
between war and freedom!
i know and i see and i panic
at an ignorance
so sadly pandemic
and me?
i have no alibi,
i just can't justify
that i'm american by choice
and do my best
to shut down that voice
aiming at my hypocritical chest
and like a protest
my arms wrap around me
as my legs drive them to be
the reason
to break free
from this prison
built by he
who has the power to see
that i will never find
the secret that man kind
is longing for
but i trust and i bind
with the knowledge
that unknowingly
MY LEGS JUST KNOW MORE
and took me here
to happily
get the gift
that will keep me from being stiffed
and stifled
by a power threatening
to make me a disciple...
so, that's all
don't stall
kick ball...
change
nothing to lose
the world to gain
"keep dancing",
my legs are preaching,
'cause life's sound
is running through your vein!

 

 

linda borini on art, art vs entertainment & the possible impact of site specific performance art, especially in the entertainment driven los angeles market.

EXPLORING HUMAN NATURE

the ubuntudance project