Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Case for Burning Your Work

I used to cringe at the thought of artists destroying work that they weren't proud of. It just seemed so selfish (not to mention crazy-pants). I mean, didn't the future have a right to experience those pieces? Then I heard about Joey Ramone's brother, Mickey Leigh, releasing the notorious perfectionist's demo recordings and song fragments as a posthumous new album--and I suddenly understood the impulse to burn a bad painting.
Last night at our creative conversations group, a song writer mentioned that her sketch book was a place where there was no fear allowed, both because she was the only one who got to see it and because every artist needs to make some bad art to get to the good stuff. The thought that someone could potentially hang some of that bad art in a gallery or release a few scratchy musing tracks as an album under our names one day could be paralyzing. Artists need the freedom of privacy to experiment in order to create innovative work. And since it is pretty much guaranteed that not every piece of that experimentation will be brilliant, I believe that the match is a perfectly acceptable solution.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite poet burned so much of his work, friend came in and pulled him from the stove he was burning his papers in. It makes me so upset if I think about it too long, but perhaps he knew what was good and what was not. But still. A tough one!


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