But is it Art?
This Wednesday’s #litchat session on twitter turned into a very interesting discussion on creativity, and the boundary, if one exists, between art and literature. There’s enough in that for a book – and I hope the comments will begin to explore the question – but it made me think that whilst we’ve said a lot here about the relation between literature and music, and about our links with some amazing musicians, we haven’t said – aside from in regard to the talented artists in our midst – much about our links with the art world.
This is, in part a plug. We have two amazing events next week, both of them in collaboration with the super fabulous Katelan V Foisy from Knickerbocker Circus. You know about the big gig we have at the Covent Garden Poetry Cafe. But Katelan is also coming to Oxford to do a pop-up show at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore that will incorporate an art installation. Lilith Burning: Perceptions, Reflections, and Deceptions of the Eternal Infernal Feminine will take all kinds of approaches to perceptions of the myths of the feminine, and will involve the creation of a piece of art from voice recordings, photography, fiction, and probably a whole lot of other things.
The art we create will go to OVADA, the organisation that runs the OVADA Gallery, where we held our fantastic Open-Armed and Outcast event last month. I was recently at a networking event for artistic collectives that OVADA ran, and what amazed me was just how many exciting possibilities there were to blur the boundaries between art and literature, to use words and art together in practice in a way that I had always thought should be done more (I was a student through the golden years of young British Art, so I grew up with the art/text thing).
I also want to mention The Project Room, a fantastic organistaion in Oxford run by urban artist Emma Titcombe, who, along with OVADA (who are letting Katelan and I use their space to create, er, whatever we make) has helped immensely with putting together this event. The Project Room is a great studio space that artists can apply to use for work in progress, microgigs, pop-ups, all kinds of exciting and creative things, by submitting their proposals to Emma for how they want to use the space. It allows people in the arts who need a studio for a brief period access to top facilities for just a £10 admin fee – all of which goes towards outreach projects.
What’s so great about organisations like OVADA and the Project Room, coming back to topic and our gig on Wednesday, is that “art” is defined in its very broadest sense. Rather, it is not defined at all. Litchat brought some interesting definitions of where the boundaries lie – does something hit the imagination first or the conceptualising part of the brain first. But, ultimately, I have to say no to anyone who will say “House of Leaves is literature not art” or “Magritte’s pipe is art not literature”.
I don’t think we can talk of a spectrum, either. That’s too simple, and ignores the way music fits in, or film, or dance or theatre. Rather, like the inflationary model of the expanding universe, what we have is a myriad similar yet not so similar interconnected points that stand in unique relations to each other – but relations nonetheless. And surely to think of oneself as a writer, or an artist, rather than just “doing what we do” can only serve to limit, to close off, and ultimately render the possibilities for one’s work less rich.
I hope next week, both in Oxford, and in London, we’ll be able to bring something of this boundaryless work to our audience, and have a kicking-off point for the next phase of our individual and collective work. And in the meanwhile, a thank you to Dale and Sarah, and Marc and Penny and Daisy who have already revealed possibilities beyond what I would have thought possible before I got to know you all.
Oh, and watch this space for my next *big* project.