Gold! Medal! Plays! (No sweating please): An Editor’s Note
Welcome everyone to the November edition of NBT Podium.
This week we discuss the ways in which we compete or fail to compete for “Best Artist” or “Most Art” or “Best Part Of The Art We Think Was Great” or, most succinctly, “Prettiest”.
I’m going on record for the millionth time: I don’t understand art awards.
Art is already a Decathlon of Exposure. Isn’t it? Aren’t all submission opportunities competitions? Isn’t there already approximately twelve artists per audience member, each one of us “tortured” and self-annihilated for the sake of a week of forty-person houses? Why have we created so many advanced opportunities for tumultuous rejection?
Here’s my estimation: We don’t make much money. So? To practice assigning value to our creativity, we forge opportunities to award each other with merit.
Not cute enough to distract my eyes away from the sad huddles of Most-Of-Us who hardly win. Call it envy or call it crude analysis but don’t we hate most of the work that’s awarded? (I direct your attention to televised awards shows: The Oscars, The Tonys, The Grammys).
Maybe we don’t hate it right away. But, eventually the piece becomes a cultural hiccup: An annoying demonstration of one Acceptable Pretty Version of Right Now because it’s unclear what we’re awarding. The artist? The work? The cultural trend or niche that the artist or work is representing?
Art isn’t meant to be competitive.
Ideally, we work from the gut and we craft gratuitously to exert a personal truth eventually daring to publicize our work in an effort to influence any passerby who is open to the influence, maybe, possibly, hopefully, hands-in-prayer-position-we-should-be eliciting change.
Competition broke the thunder.
Today my mother invited me to the art gallery. Her opening offer: “Rachel, do you like art?”
I thought about it.
“I can’t remember.”
She laughed and then apologized. Then I apologized. And then I agreed to see Art.
I’ll be going to the exhibit with her but I’ve refused to ask which one. I don’t care. It shouldn’t matter. We don’t need to be credible and we don’t need to be categorized. We don’t need to be awarded. We just need to be heard.
The stench of a recent award show wafts past my desk as I recall the emotionless cheers from the audience, auto-ignited for every artist, myself include. I looked around. More people were at the award show than at my very own play. Maybe it was the booze offered or maybe it was the glitz but most likely it was the ecstasy of competition.
Are we diluting our purpose? I’m not sure. I’ve asked some artists. Let’s find out.
The funny thing is, I don’t think that the answer is “No Awards”. I see the merit: Give the craftsperson a hand, they work all the time, can’t we credit them, why must they live in self hatred, just HERE TAKE THIS AWARD AND THANK YOU. But, I question the process with which we award them. Who can we trust? Could everyone please be more transparent? Let’s have more awards! Let’s award recklessly! Let’s break the thunder and sever a new storm because as long as we’re being celebratory, why not be kind of weird about it too.
Stay tuned this month as I continuously award recognition to artists I think are exceptional and please feel free to write in awarding your own.
If you’d like to submit your opinion on the topic or even a direct response to this post, email your editorial to email@example.com.
Thanks for reading,