Darker Days

#1

The journey of horror started even before she made it to the present. As soon as she gained consciousness again she felt this familiar uneasiness all over her body. “I am awake”, she thought and did not dare to open her eyes. Neither did she want to see the light of the fresh day nor read the time on her clock. An entire day of utter terror is ahead of her so unmerciful and cruel that she wished to fall into ashes.

She cried.

Everything is falling apart – at least this is what she felt right now. The very ground she is standing on, her warm space of comfort and safety, her will and strength. The pillars that have been supporting her for the last days are britteling away. Raw anxiety carved its way deep into her bones, paralyzing the muscles and chain her to the bed. If only her mind would have been paralyzed as well. No, she was awake and this fact scared her the most.

The whispering had made it back into her skull and becomes clearer with every minute she is clear. It rips up her memories she clings on into pieces while she can do nothing but watch. Gone. The world lied in flames in front of her, burning the last shreds that once were her retreat, her safe haven. There is no place left where she could hide from her own existence and the vast horror of her meaningless life became clear in the most brutal way.

She did not beg for mercy because she knew there is none for people like her. Each and every bit of pain she feels in this moment is justified. She deserved it. Her teeth were clenched together and the only sound that made it through her throat was a frail groan. Nobody had to explain to her why she has to endure this right now, she understood very well. While burning tears are running down her cheeks, she caught herself on wishing the old wishes again. A bullet penetrating her skull by force, scattering the layer of bones until it reaches the soft brain. She imagined how the bullet breaks its way out again painting a mural of vibrant red on the sidewalk. Her head would crush on the concrete, dragged down by gravity and her mind would finally be calm.  She seriously honestly did not want to wish for it but this is what happened right now. These ideas and thoughts scare her but there is no escape, no way to avoid the confrontation. She is facing herself and what she sees is frightening her so much.

That piece of shit is trolling

Arguments, discussion, different opinions, negotiations. All these things are part of our lives and while they can be exhausting and heated they do enrich our personal point of you as well. What we take from these encounters is usually depending on our own mindset. While I am able to apply the teachings of mindfulness for most of the time you should not deny one thing: there are some people who just want to piss you off. For real.

I am not talking about an ignorant question or the lack of ambition to inform yourself. It might be annoying but I am not upset by it. I am talking about straight up dipshits who fucking shit talk right in front of your face and wait for your reaction. Hoping they can start a vicious circle where the two of you can piss each other back until somebody starts tearing up and one stand triumphantly enjoying the victory. That dear reader is the point where I lose it and forget my mindfulness and zen. These people came to the wrong neighbourhood. I won’t be the one tearing up.

As a matter of fact, I have to say that I am simply not there yet to overcome my anger and investing some serious time to open a dialogue with a person who openly wants to upset me, in order to find a reason for his/her terrible attitude. Not there yet, working on it. So far my most convenient strategy was to explain that person very calm and clear that if he/she pisses me off, I will fuck them up big times. It usually sends the signal that their current behaviour is not ok.

That might be kind of (but in fact not really) acceptable in your private space. While at work and in any other situation in public space I was semi-forced to find a way to handle these people differently. Trust me it is hard and in my eyes less efficient, but I need to pay my rent. Here are 4 methods how not to enter the spiral of insulting each other and giving the troll what it wants.

Repeat their shit

Repeat very detailed what they just said as if you want to make sure that you got everything right. End the summary with the rhetorical question if this is their serious opinion/ proposal/ question.

Expose their shit

I usually experience these encounters when I am in public or with a group of friends. When I repeat their shit I make sure others hear it and are aware of the crap that is going on. Well, it only works if you have the feeling the environment is in your favour and generally sharing your point of views.

Question their shit

What is their damn point? Ask them what they expect from such a statement.  Point out the contradictions and explain where the bullshit lies within. Most contradictions I encounter are

  • expressing an opinion but not accepting the opinion of others
  • asking for tolerance by insulting others
  • potentially opening a conversation by being disrespectful

Explain why their shit is shit

Make perfectly transparent why you think the statement was shit. Whether it is racist, sexist or simply uncalled for because the person is crossing a line. Express the impression that you – emphasize on the fact that it’s your subjective opinion only – have from that encounter.

Make them understand that you know exactly what they are trying to do right now and why your refusal of dealing with this crap has nothing to do with being anti-social or a coward. It’s just the fact that there has never been an honest intention of conversation, to begin with.

Uh no, being an artist does not mean you can behave like shit.

Breaking news, I know.

After a recent incident, I felt like writing this text. Continuing with the theme of demystifying the art realm I would like to phrase this very clearly:

Artists are no gods and should be held accountable for their shit.

To start this serious topic in a fun way let’s have a look at this ranking from the Ranker with the accurate headline: Artist Who Were Bad People.

It might be rooted in the fact that I study at an art school and work with artists myself that I do not see them as sacred creatures who deserve to be worshipped. Of course, I admire art and I am very able to separate my appreciation of the actual art piece and my opinion on the artist. It is not one and the same thing. An online article that is describing very well this difference between piece and person written by Charles MacGrath and published in the New York Times carrying the suiting headliner: Good Art, Bad People.

That being said, artists are able to do bad things and as MacGrath asks in his article: “Why should artists be any better than the rest of us?”

The fact that people create art should not excuse their (crap) behaviour. Neither should admirers of art that nor should artists themselves think that. However, during my time at the art university, I sadly do experience the opposite.

For many people involved in the art scene the end does indeed justify the means. “But I am an artist” is a phrase I have heard a lot. Sometimes it is used as an explanation for whatever fuckery just happened and sometimes it is some kind of legitimation for some fuckery that is supposed to come. I mean… wtf.
The idea of writing this text occurred to me when I witnessed an artist yelling at a lady at the museums. The latter refused to acknowledge the artist’s press card because it was not following the guidelines. In reply to that, the artist started shouting that “she is an established artist performing at the Berlin Biennale and that she always gets into museums for free”. The people who overheard the fact that she is an artist were looking at her awestruck as if it excused anything. At that moment I did not really care if that statement was true or not. (It is true though) She could have been Andrea Fraser herself and it would still be not okay to show up somewhere and behave as aggressive as she does now.

Since I am not an established artist myself I like to compare them to the mentors at my school. Would Hito Steyerl behave that way? Would Olafur Eliasson? What would have been their reaction when they would have been there? Is it even relevant to be an artist yourself in order to criticise one?

“I am a well-established artist performing at the Venice Biennale and I pay for my ticket because that’s what people do.” ?

Artists might do think and work differently but so do mechanical engineers and doctors. Do we grant them extra treatments? Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think that’s a thing.

To come back to the linked articles: After the incident, I researched on that artist and she did indeed perform at the Berlin Biennale on several occasions and her work is indeed fascinating. Would I see her show? Probably. Does this make her behaviour any less terrible? No, it won’t.