Thursday, July 12, 2012

(Photo: Cameron And Ian Drawing The Line)

Day 262: Sunday, November 27, 2011

About two weeks back at the photo competition’s after-party, several employees and judges came up and tried to console me by saying, “It’s alright. You are already famous,” which instead of making me feel better did two other things:

1. Helped confirm my belief that that very reason had a factor in me losing.
2. Made it sting that much more because it was never about the fame for me, it was about the money.

For the past five months, I was hoping to pay off my growing bills and debts with the grand prize money because, for once in my life, I wanted to make money off my art rather than to always be losing it. Unfortunately in the end, I did lose and at that moment when I had to return the judges and employees a fake smile back regarding their joke about my supposed fame, I was thinking about my stolen fortune and tried my best to hold off that drowning feeling that was rising within me about how to survive past this month.

Around the same time, I was suddenly offered a solo exhibition beginning in the month of December at a department store. The space was terrible, but since they had a decent budget and they promised that any money that I did not end up using on production, I could keep as my artist fee, I decided to take up their offer. Unfortunately a few days ago, at the last minute, the department store canceled because they felt my idea and photos of a Willy exhibition was- in their exact words- “too daily life”, which didn’t quite fit their high-class image they were trying to convey. When I heard that, I was angry for many reasons, but mostly because I knew that even though I had spent more than two weeks working on it full-time, they would still soon be asking for their entire advance back because from experience, most companies/institutions/organizations, whom earn their money off other people’s art, have the twisted assumption that art is not labor* and that the artist must drop on their knees with gratitude at all times and give it up to them for free.

A few days passed and their letter had still not come, so I went ahead and paid my rent… and I did it with their money because I had to put my foot down this time and because I had no other choice really. Even though that money was morally mine for the time and labor I put in, I knew that I was setting myself up for trouble because like the photo competition that I was in, I could never win since it had always been their game and their rules to begin with. Ironically, at the same after-party, which I mentioned before, I noticed that the only judge, who was unbiased that night, understood as well this game that all artists are forced to play (even famous ones) because- whether it was a subtle protest or a bad joke about our condition- under his sport coat, he was wearing a white t-shirt, which said in bold, black caps:


(... Tacos!)
* This entry took me three days to write.

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