On the importance of unsettlement

Posted on 1 October 2010


I’m on my way to my eighth This Is Not Art.

That’s right: eighth. I’m getting old. I like it.

TINA  is my annual renewal, a sabbatical, a retreat. It is also an onslaught to my ideas, sensibilities, and sense of identity. It’s the only place I still get shocked by artists. It’s refreshing, like rolling around in the snow after a sauna. I imagine.

My main impression of TINA is the mix of people and ideas and events and cliques and interests. The mash of everything means that everyone feels out of place quite a lot of the time, with the paradox that everyone has that in common.

There are a million panels and events that I want to go to but I know I’ll only make it to about a third of the ones I circle in my printed program this afternoon, and I’ll end up at a whole bunch of other things that didn’t catch my eye on the page.

It’s the unexpectedness of it, how the whole experience unbalances me, that appeals. Even though I’ve been going for so long, TINA knocks me out of whatever orbit of thoughts I’ve slid into during the year and shows me new possibilities.

And by ‘showing me new possibilities’, I mean it pulls the rug out from under me and belts me in the face with them. Then we all go for beers.