21 Days to Self-Actualization
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Academic Level at Time of Creation
Date of Creation
“Art should not be different from life,
but an action within life. Like all of life with its accidents
and chances and variety and disorder and only momentary
Zen Buddhism, Huang Po Doctrine
As the world moves inexorably through time, day after day, we are confronted with our own actions and their consequences. We are part of many interconnected systems; a culture, a society, and a planet, all of which are frighteningly large in scale. It is overwhelming to comprehend, and even more difficult to live up to, knowing how small a part of a whole we are, but that our actions have enormous effects on the environment and the people in it. We can live in denial, but not without consequences. In this day of unlimited tools and knowledge, it can be difficult to look at all we have access to, to fathom our collective power, and to know what to do with it in a meaningful way. Without work being directly tied to survival, we have replaced personal meaning and value with productivity.
There is additional pressure to be always producing when art is your life’s work. Where does work stop when work is art and art is supposed to fill your life? What is a good balance? As artists in a capitalist culture, all artwork has become commodity, and our self worth is tied to how much commodity we can produce. The pressure to produce is compounded by self-comparison to other artists, resulting in feelings of inadequacy and guilt. We try to keep as busy as possible to keep those feelings from overcoming us.
A lack of self-awareness, self-discipline, and focus has been a major challenge throughout my life and is becoming more and more of an issue as I seek out personal and professional relationships. Likewise, the pressure to produce and its effect on my self worth drives my struggle in our strange and pervasive culture. My work confronts these issues through the creation of an ideal form of myself, a character I perform who fits archetypal social standards and levels of productivity. This performance is actively and continuously documented both inside the gallery and beyond, exploring the anxieties of doing the work one "should" be doing while subjected to public scrutiny and judgment.
Chris Lavery; Sarah Martin; Dr. Antje Gamble; T. Michael Martin
21 Days to Self-Actualization is a durational performance piece. Ideally eight hours a day, five days a week are spent in the gallery at a desk where I work to become the ideal version of myself fueled by societal and internal pressures. I am on full view in the gallery with both a preplanned schedule for the day and a record of my actions as they unfold displayed on monitors mounted behind me so that any and all discrepancies between the two are clear, My laptop display is captured where the majority of work is done, and webcams capture my face and my surroundings. All of these elements are collaged into a clear and digestible layout that is displayed in the gallery as well as live streamed. The documentation of both the progress made and the lapses are key to tracking this human experience where art and daily life of a single individual are blurred.
Photo Credit, Kora Carlson, 2019
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.
Barrow, Chase, "21 Days to Self-Actualization" (2019). B.F.A. Practicum Exhibition (ART 498). 51.