September 3, 2015

Open Letters: A Correspondence with Chilean Art Writer Ignacio Szmulewicz, 2


Ignacio Szmulewicz is an art writer in Santiago, Chile. We met the 21st century kind of way, on Twitter, where we "follow" each other. Curiosity at first, followed by sympathy and, not long after that, a writers' friendship. Twitter's 140 characters messages did not longer do the trick, so we got to emailing. Then I received a letter by Ignacio in my mailbox - not handwritten but a standard letter format nevertheless. You can read it here, and I'm responding to it below.




Dear Ignacio,


Pop music and films seems to be a great influence on any writing - always good to have a certain pop surface going on, don’t you think? 

But your letter made me realize that, for me, it was first about art and it’s only then that came in the writing. And even up till now, art instigates my writing and I write because of art and I don’t know if I would write without it. I enjoy the writing about art because it’s the writing process that allows me to think about art. Instead of starting off with an idea, the thinking comes while writing and it’s the writing that brings me closer to understanding art.  

And although I’m passionate about art, it is the writing that makes me content. However, as a kid I didn’t write much, not even a diary, and my writing assignments for school were never discovered as prodigious by the teachers. Even while writing my PhD it wasn’t so much about the writing, which I simply considered to be the output of an intellectual process, and hopefully a readable one. That bliss of writing, I discovered it only afterwards when I was no longer confined to academic logic and free to associate, use humor, even intuition and, oh yes, my very own personal experience - crisscrossing the genres as this beautiful blend of art criticism allows so well. Doing so, slowly I started to think I might be good at writing and that writing, even the critical one, is art. 

For my writing to take shape, I feel like it wasn’t so much the books that I read being a kid that left a lasting impression on me, but rather those mentors at school or at the local academy who opened up my mind and made me feel elated when going up in the creative flow. I remember Mr. Ivo who made me laugh a lot (laughter at school!), my piano teacher Dominique who stood out with her colorful outfits, Gunther singing Cat Stevens, and I still have mixed feelings about Mitzi but, nevertheless, it was she who taught me how to recite poetry, and then there were those Friday nights at the art academy from six till nine, which equalled being in a bubble of the color gold. 



It was my PhD mentor who told me that I had basically two options in life (he has this talent to structure any ongoing chaos). He drew those two options for me. One was a straight line with an arrow, the other one a line that kept splitting up into different directions like a rhizome. Isn’t the rhizome more visually interesting than the arrow? But it was rather willy nilly that it turned out to be the road I took and moreover, it became an image that also defines my writing process. Do you have a kind of image like that, one that, you would say, visualizes your writing? 

Cheers!
An 


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