Above: A movie-still from David Cronenberg's 1996 film adaptation of Ballard's novel Crash (detail). Credit: Fair use.


Being Obsessive. Art is one field in which obsessive behaviour is tolerated and is often desirable. Many of the great artists are/were obsessive. We can think of Frank Auerbach endlessly painting the heads of a few select portrait sitters over and over again through years. Bernd and Hilla Becher were, ironically, rather obsessive in their fascination with industrial architecture. Or more recently, in sculpture, we might think to Thomas Houseago's work: the artist seems to be obsessively driven to make his physical objects, which are somehow always iterations of the same angsty figure.

In art practice, being obsessive can be a vehicle which creates a line-of-travel, a narrative, or a trajectory for your work. If we think of Ballard's characters of Traven, or Vaughan, we can see that there is no explicit difference between a creative obsession and a dark pathological one--the common constant is that the person is preoccupied with a narrow field-of-reference, or field-of-interest.

So, in thinking about asserting and maintaining a successful art practice, it can be useful to make a resolution to follow your obsessions and fascinations. The way forward might not be more balance, but rather ... more obsessiveness.

(1 February 2019)