This project is 98% logistics and 2% creativity
said artist Joshua Sofaer on Radio 4 this morning.
He was talking about his current project ‘The Rubbish Collection’ which is one entire month’s worth of the museum’s rubbish laid out to demonstrate its inherent beauty. It is estimated to be over 28 tonnes of material.
The first phase is just documenting; scientific equipment, oil from the deep fat fryers, cardboard from the gift shop, edible food waste… even the sewage is being measured and will return as inert earth in phase two which “invites the materials back”….
Artistic intent and merit aside, it was the comment above that caught my attention. Admittedly 28 tonnes of rubbish is a big logistical nightmare – it makes my weekly recycling and debate over what goes to the dump look like chicken feed. But there is no doubt that a great deal of art is about the logistics.
Possibly not viewing it, although you still have to be aware of what exhibitions are on, see if you can schedule them into your busy diary, queue, jostle for viewing position.. you get my point.
Actually making any form of art is also much about logistics.
This isn’t something we often think about. We have a vague idea that art is instrinsic genius; that it just ‘happens’. The reality is that without the correct logistic support you are limited in what you can make. You need working space, brushes, paper, cleaning rags, canvas and stretchers, panels to be cut and primed, purchasing of materials online to source sensible prices, visits to specialist suppliers and then finished works to be presented; mounted, framed, hung. The list is endless. If I kept a list of how long all this takes it would possibly be quite depressing!
Realising that the actual creation is only part of creating is liberating too.
If I expect 100% of my working time to be creatively productive I am only going to be disappointed. Often we tell ourselves that we just need to ‘get on with it’. But you also need to create a framework for yourself to begin:
Set up your own logistics; sort out your materials, consider if you need to buy anything, how can you work within the space you have? Do you really need more kit or just have a better system of working?
Don’t be frustrated if every moment you spend towards creative output isn’t actually productive.
Make allowances and build in some time for the ‘artistic housework’.
The display will be on show at The Science Museum in London between 25 July and 14 September and you can read more about the exhibition on their website.
The full interview is available as part of this Radio 4 replay (until 2 July 2015)
PS. “One thing I’ve learnt is don’t give your children lunch” on a school trip – there are a lot of sandwiches and apples with just one bite. Maybe that will help your fridge logistics!