Burn all your boats
2009. It was the CCP Thirteen Artists Awards and the recipients were tasked to come up with a show. Wire Tuazon would curate.
I first met Wire in 2000 when I showed in, and would eventually join, artist initiative and artist-run space Surrounded by Water. He was like the father of the group.
I learned so much from SBW– especially about work ethic. I learned that I should work constantly. Painting is like any kind of work– you do it everyday. That’s the only way to do it. That’s the only way to get better.
I didn’t understand art then (well, I don’t think I understand it now) but I learned much about the other aspects of art through experience. We documented shows, did the installation ourselves (more like us following Mike’s orders), cleaning up after openings, painting walls, cleaning bathrooms, taking turns manning the gallery.
We didn’t have a lot of money but there was a dream and we worked for it. I came in late in the game and I just feel so lucky to have been part of that group.
Anyway. Back to 2009. I had this idea of drawing a 360degree sky, a drawing as huge as a room so that the viewer would actually be inside the drawing.
Short story: it would cost me a lot of money to construct the circular room plus all that paper plus everything else. .. That I actually told Wire that maybe I shouldn’t do it and do some other half-assed thing instead.
And Wire sent me a message: Dahil lang sa ganun CD hindi mo na gagawin yung trabaho na gusto mo?
I felt ashamed for having given up too easily.
So. I went on to construct the room, do all the drawings necessary (300 normal sized drawings), install for a week and so on and so on. Since then I promised myself to never be unambitious. To not have a fallback. If I have to not sleep for a month and suffer all sorts of injuries to get a drawing done, then that’s what it will take.
My friend Vicky posted recently: When Cortez landed in Mexico, the only way he got his men to defeat the Aztecs was to burn all their boats so they could not return home.
I feel like I’ve become soft recently. That I’ve chosen comfort over dreams. I don’t know. Maybe it’s with age. That I have to be practical and think of the future and think of security and all that. (That’s a totally different post.)
But anyway, no, this isn’t about that. This is about pursuing a vision. What am I willing to do to get what I want? Today, I burn all my boats.