On inspiration and being oneself
I just came back from the Vivienne Westwood retrospective at the De Young. It was one of those shows where you didn't have to know who she was, didn't have to be interested in clothes, be a punk or love England, to find some morsel of divine inspiration or strange to say, some strange sense of love (not for someone or something, but the feeling of love as a sort of openness).
What I found so inspiring were the side blurb placards, where Westwood talks about her thoughts/process very simply, in "human scale", by which I mean, just said in a very matter of fact and informal manner, as if you were talking to someone on a street corner [note: For the opposite of what I mean, check out Kiki Smith's captioned blurb on the 2nd floor, which makes you want to gag with all its goopy navel gazing disguised as artistic thought/theory, ... and again with the bad drawing. oy. but I digress...]
It was shortly after Westwood's punk/pirate period that she said "I realized that I didn't have to qualify my ideas. I could do anything I liked, it was only a question of how I did it that would make it original. I realized then that I could go on forever." For me it says something about belief in one's own ideas, creativity that is self generated (from within) even when working from a historical framework, and the "forever" I really took to mean, not so much about self agrandizement, but as the ability to be inspired and to create endlessly via the vehicle of one's own "brain-children".
What is stunning about her is her timelessness, . . . a kind of prescient au courant-ness of thinking. She's mainly known for her punk history. But somehow I feel it's her "mentality of punk" that is her real strength. (i.e. being ever culturally present to challenge the way we look at "establishment", whatever the time frame.
I'm left with a thought her friend and mentor, Gary Ness, taught her: "....there are no new ideas. We must all research the past, to be original in the present."