art and isolation

a while ago, a friend of mine sternly told me that i should watch that amazing TED video by Brene Brown on vulnerability. it took a few days, but on a cold, gloomy day in Berlin i sat in bed and watched.

i cried and i laughed. i laughed, like she said, in a knowing way ‘oh god..’

and apart from hitting some personal nerves, i loved what she says about humanity’s need to connect. actually i believe this need built into our cell.db – but even if it isn’t, history has consistently presented to us our need for connection and the damage that is done in isolation.

Mauer Monument

having said that, when i was in berlin, it was the first time i got in touch with a level of isolation (and therefore vulnerability) that i hadn’t experienced before and i thrived.

i was removed from my big group of friends, my sense of complacency about navigating public space/the shopping experience, my command of language and even the outside world for a couple of weeks (i spent a week only going downstairs to get coffee and then coming back up to the apartment).

but there was something about that ‘outsiderness’ that enabled me to really get to know myself, my work and my place in the world. sorry. i can’t believe i just wrote that either.
what i’m trying to say is that i discovered the complexity of isolation. it turns out i needed a little something of ‘removed’ in order to have the space to be.

obviously, i’m a modern young lady/geek, so wasn’t completely isolated. i was still checking into blogs i hang out on, twitter, facebook, e-newsletters and phone calls to people. and, to be honest, the fact that i was in germany and within a culture that doesn’t reject art-making kind of helped.

cut to: perth.


isolation is a thing here.

the population is actually small (as opposed to the rhetoric of small population as excuse for poor public service. another rant), the feeling of being closer to jakarta than the canberra is palpable and unless you live within walking distance to work like i do (ha!), it takes bloody forever to get anywhere. it feels like time slows down here.

so, it’s little wonder that there is a combination of intense frustration and intense production here. the artists that are here are super generous, fruitful and really focused on making work that is interesting, engaging with technology and pushing boundaries. i think there’s a reason that there are more art schools in perth than in melbourne, that anyone interested in working with bio/body/electronic art comes to perth and that the state of WA was the first to implement a percent for arts scheme.

perhaps in the same way that iceland is a feminist country – there’s not the overbearing bully neighbours to tell you what to do, so you just fuck it and do it anyway.


i could go on and talk about the link between isolation and space for shame, that enables people to act freely. and i could go on about space/time for contemplation too.

but the other aspect to being separated from the rest of your pack is that you feel vulnerable.
and lonely.
and there’s no room for complacency.
sometimes being complacent is a wonderful thing, even for an artist.
not having to fight for your right all the time can be valuable.

how can technology and the internet and the rest of the world help meter your isolation, so that you have just the right amount of “come here and go away.”

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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