July 13, 2014

Art and Compromise (Fragment)


In my most recent book Polyamorous Love Song there is a chapter entitled “The Centre for Productive Compromise.” In that chapter, rather cryptically, one of the characters explains that the phrase “The Centre for Productive Compromise” is slang for “a really good fuck.” It is an odd, perhaps unfunny, joke and is never referred to again. But as I continued to work on the book I did consider attempting to explain, or at least to question, it. Does good sex take place in the realm of pure desire or does it, somewhat counter-intuitively, take place in the realm of compromise?

I have had several recent experiences in which I have watched artists compromise in ways that, from my perspective, resulted in considerably less interesting work. Some of these compromises were due to financial limitations, some due to questions of accessibility and other apparently the result of simple miscommunication. I do not want to name names. I do not want to accuse anyone of anything, or condemn compromise in any way. I love a good, productive compromise. I simply want artists to think more about the artistic compromises they are and aren’t making. I would like to begin a dialogue around the topic.

Most compromises take place behind the scenes, are relatively invisible. When you go see a given work you have no idea how close or far it is from the artists preliminary desires. If you like the work, you assume that’s the way it was meant to be, but equally, if you don’t like the work, you also assume that’s the way it was meant to be. Nonetheless, there are so many factors along the way of making anything that are negotiated through various degrees of experiment and compromise, though the word compromise is almost never used. What if compromise became an acknowledged method rather than a minor taboo?



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