by Joy WongImage from my zine FOREVER IS A LONG TIME. Acryl gouache and graphite on frosted mylar. 2016
My high school art teacher, whom I am still close with today, once told me a tip: if you start to hate the work you’re making, then you’re getting somewhere. If you get to a point where you want to throw the piece out the window, or break your computer, then you are actually really close to the end– just getting over that hump is the worst part. It is the last haze before clarity.
For this post, I had two beginnings running through my head, about creative people and their childhood, about knowing as a kid that you had a “gift” or an overwhelming, even hazardous urge to create. And then I had the same line repeating in my head : I don’t make political work.
There is a certain naïveté in saying one doesn’t make political work. Making is political. To go against the grain, develop a new class of creative labourers and fabricators, or to have the privilege of leisure and the access to financial means to make; art-making is always political.
Good writing is hinged on specificity, and maybe what I specifically meant was that I don’t make the right kind of political work. The foremothers of artwork that I am drawn to, like Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith, like Jenny Salville and Tracey Emin, are all significant figures making work about the body, about abjection and beauty and their work hints at death. They are all political in their making, be it through the medium handling, or the technique, or in some often reductive theoretical prose, political because they are women makers. I related to the topics these artists wrestled with, and to them as humans, because I too am a woman maker, and I also wrestle with the politics of the human body, of death and feminity.
Joy Wong is an interdisciplinary artist and writer working in the GTA. She can be found at buomhof.com