Thursday, January 24, 2008

Should you be reading this?

I haven't read anything since Sunday evening.

OK, I have read things for work, seen a few headlines over people's shoulders and read the kids a chapter from a star wars book. But I haven't read a book on the train, looked at any blogs, or searched for anything interesting on the internet.

I first did this five years ago, when I read Julie Cameron's great book The Artist's way. Half way through the book Cameron tells us to not to read anything for a whole week. The purpose of the exercise being to stop smothering your own creativity under the weight of other people's writings.

I decided to do the reading break again this week because I was becoming addicted to checking the Independent Fulham Forum to see whether Fulham had signed the human goal machine who is going to help Jimmy Bullard keep us in the premiership.

Abstinence shines a harsh torch on your habits. Each day I would check the forum ten times, read any Fulham report in all the newspapers at work, check the official FFC website, and look at my favourite Fulham blog. I was even picking up both of the crappy free papers that they give away on London streets (and that I had boycotted on environmental grounds) just for the little sentence they give on Fulham every night.

I like Cameron's book because it is direct and stark. She doesn't think creativity is optional, or a hobby. Her book isn't a guide to drawing pretty pictures or writing charming stories. For her the existence of the universe was due to a bold creative act, and we as valued creations of that universe are here to create too.

Our main excuse for not expressing our creativity is that we think we don't have time. As soon as we turn off the dripping tap of things that we do to entertain ourselves, (reading that novel, watching the telly, doing that google search), we are faced with empty chunks of time, staring at us, waiting to be put to use.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Police hand olive branch to Smith

Location: Entrance to 'The world as a stage' exhibition, 3rd floor Tate Modern
Date: Midday, New Year's eve, 2007

Gallery guard (whilst handing me a brochure to the exhibition): Police hand olive branch to Smith
Me: what did you say?
Gallery guard: Police hand olive branch to Smith. This is new, Tino Sehgal, 2003
Me: why did you say that?
Guard: It is Tino Sehgal's work for this exhibition. I choose a headline from a newspaper. I say the headline to the visitor when I hand them their exhibition brochure. If they they something in reply I repeat the headline and add
the words 'This is new, Tino Sehgal, 2003'. If they ask any other questions I can explain the work in any way I like. But mostly people don't say anything, they look at me as if I was mad, or they just walk in.
Me: Why did you chose 'Police hand olive branch to Smith'?
Guard: I was in a rush today so I just picked the first headline I saw. I can pick any headline I like but it has to come from todays paper.
Me: So the headline changes every day then?
Guard: Yes, and if I want to I can change it during the day too. One day I chose the headline 'Bad shoes can cost you your leg' and I had to change it because a lady took offence and asked me whether I thought she was wearing bad shoes. When I used the headline 'free sex parties for tourists' people's ears would always prick up whenever I said the word 'sex', that got a reaction from everyone.
Me: (stepping backwards as I saw a middle-aged lady coming towards the exhibition entrance): thank you for explaining that, have a nice new year.

Guard: (handing an exhibition brochure to the lady): Police hand olive branch to Smith.
Lady: thank you

Two young ladies approach
Guard (handing them each an exhibition brochure): Police hand olive branch to Smith
1st Young lady: sorry, what did you say?
Guard: Police hand olive branch to Smith. This is new, Tino Sehgal.2003
1st young lady: Ahh, right. Thank you