I used this at the start of a talk I gave yesterday about my work. As a general philosophy, a little forethought can go a long way in many circumstances (like before opening my mouth to insert my foot!), but when it comes to the practice of art, the late Marcia Tucker, curator, critic, writer, founder of the New Museum, and stand-up comic, was right on.
Art teaches me, not the other way around. Attempts to force the work into a preconceived form aren’t just dead-end journeys, they’re bus trips to hell, seated in the rear next to an overflowing bathroom. In the studio, theory invites preconceptions to masquerade as ideas and impedes the openness, vulnerability, and uncertainty necessary to engage wholly and honestly with the work as it develops.
There are always opportunities to over-intellectualize. What I’ve mastered is the temptation to pre-intellectualize. If I let the art and the process of making it take the lead, even the unsuccessful pieces show me something I haven’t realized before. Then there’s something to think about.