by Nadia Batool Hussain on Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 2:26am
it started with the eclipse, with how kissing a man and marrying a man are very different things, with neruda, with tears on the early train, legs brushing on strange legs, gloved hands and sitting on the floor. but then the keys were misplaced. and we got lost. and then we found it. the finger bridge. the hot chocolate. navigating the slippery rocks in trusty boots. gurgling stream – or was it the river? i am not a nature girl. we were looking for something in the woods. a story? then began the telling and the listening. the diner. the cemetary. sprinkles and jimmies. more words for my brain. if only i didn’t feel so sick.
The internet is a funny place. It documents life in a way. All those years ago, I was looking for something. In those faraway lands, right here at home – I was looking for something. We’re all looking for something.
In my quest, I found a lot of pain. No, this is not a sentimental journey into the past. This is a frank self-evaluation. If you’re not interested, nobody is forcing you to read on. Why so glum, chum? I ask myself a lot these days. Everyone makes mistakes but some of us make more than their fair share. We make the mistakes you can overlook on a good day. Our hearts and our minds are carried away by kindness. And then, when kindness is replaced with what lies under it, we are disappointed. And then we are marked with yet another scar. All of this is almost self-inflicted. We allow and so, we deserve.
And here I am, so many years later wondering if indeed I am masochistic. Nothing new here, people. I’ve talked and written about this too many times. But am I masochistic? Are we all masochists? Do we enjoy this miserable game? I look around me and all I see is suffering and insecurity. As somebody told me recently, these are difficult times for us all.
On another note, there has to be more to life than just this crap. That’s what I tell myself every day. My art practice is almost at a standstill. My health has deteriorated. Work is weird. Everything seems to be falling apart. Even the aunties have quit their aunty-ness. This is all so depressing.
But there is something…perhaps a new obsession which is difficult to define at the moment. It is absolutely illogical in the context of “real life” and makes no sense if I think about it too much. However, it has given me more inspiration than anything else for a long time. That got me thinking about the practice of art-making. Maybe the whole idea of muses was closer to the truth than I thought. Who knows? In constructing my own reality, I can do anything. And isn’t that what I do? I construct reality and then show it to other people. For some reason, they’re interested in looking. That part of art-making has always pleased me a great deal. People like to look. As long as its worth looking at, I suppose.
Sometimes when people tell me that they “don’t get art” I want to smack them. What’s there to get? Why do they expect profundity? Why can’t they just look and let it tell them about a new world somebody else constructed just for their viewing pleasure (or their own viewing pleasure). In this brave new world, where we “share” everything – our thoughts, ideas, pictures and emotions, what’s the harm at looking at some artwork and just – looking? Why do people expect some profound statement in a picture? I have to admit it frustrates me.
Many years ago, in another world, I was manning the coffee station at a wedding at the Racquet Club, Philadelphia (wearing my sweet black bowtie) and the wedding singer did a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” – the following lines got stuck in my head:
Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Those were good times indeed. I had been on my feet for 10 hours but I felt alright. That’s where this drawing came from. Those were good times, yearning for that feeling – but it was a good yearning. That’s where my artwork comes from. Life and those moments when songs or people get stuck in my head. Is that so profound? It is something we all know.