You would think that I was done with writing, but I guess I’m not.
It has been a while though.
I have just submitted the second draft of my thesis and I am celebrating on this Friday afternoon with a glass of wine and a documentary. Perhaps it was serendipidous, but I just watched Shut Up, Little Man! (check it out on Netflix) which delved into all sorts of ethical issues around art and ‘research.’ Having just laid myself bare in my thesis, I am feeling all sorts of anxiety about how I represented others. Did I say enough? Did I say too much? Could I have said it better? Who would have known that this little voice of doubt and constant questionning was actually good for research…?
In this film, two guys in their mid-twenties. taped their neighbours surreptitiously. They lived in a run-down, impoverished area of San Francisco, in a place they refer to as ‘The Pepto Bismol Palace.’ These neighbours were poor, they were alcoholics, and they fought. And it was caught on tape. The film was a great exploration of ‘found art’ that turned into something more – a ‘zine, a cassette tape network, a comic book, a play, a movie development deal. But in the end, what was their responsibility to these neighbours, to these men whose intimate lives were laid bare?
Thinking and reflecting on this film and on my work, I think about amazing it was to have nine women share their stories with me and in turn, how liberating it was to share mine too. Yet there is a piece of me that worries. Information can be decontextualized and it can move so fast; consider Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and all the other hip sites that this twenty-nine year old woman hasn’t even heard of yet. How do I make sure that what I put out in the world is meaningful and beautiful and thought-provoking and honest, without being exploitative and sensational and obvious and mean?
Sigh. I just want the world to be simple and yet I know that it’s not. I am happy with the choices I have made in my work. With the full consideration of how others will see it and feel it. I think that it is insightful and balanced and grounded and reflective.
And I hope that it doesn’t sit on a shelf collecting dust.
I want it to live in the world, as I live and as the nine women live – open and frank and thoughtful and real.
Only time will tell.