“Whatever it is that’s aroused by these cues, isn’t put off by any lack of originality.”
Robert Pirsig


Artistic Direction


At SweetClarity, Shahar is the Artistic Director. Ever since we formally recognized this I have been thinking on what a wonderful thing it is for a company to have Artistic Direction, and though I have a clear sensation of what this is, I found it hard to explain (to myself and therefor to others). One recurring quality of art for me is the difference between thinking or talking about it and actually doing it. Whenever I think about my art work I get drained and bored, whenever I engage in art work I am inspired and passionate. So I will use this quality to shed some light on Artistic Direction and how it touched me today!

I will indulge in one flashback – it was the second night of performance (and final night) of the Hunch festival. The previous night’s performance was too long and Shahar, acting as Artistic Director, decided to cut it short. For some people this created a difficult situtation because it meant that personal ambitions needed to give way for group, the performance and for art. In this moment I realized (though it wasn’t something new) that I have complete confidence and faith in Shahar and his craftsmanship. I noticed this because I realized that other people were having a hard time because they did not have this trust in Shahar. They were experiencing loss and fear instead of the quality of the group work.

With this established quality of trust and faith in Shahar I would like to recall two interlinked events, one from two weeks ago and the other from today – both are about Artistic Direction in SweetClarity.

The first took place in Barcelona during the Tune project. Shahar and I were sitting in a coffee shop and we were talking about the artistic invitation at SweetClarity for artists and their art work. My feeling was that the invitation was very clear to me even though I cannot express it in words. Shahar insisted that this needs to be developed and I became very defensive (and maybe a offensive?). It is my trust in Shahar that signaled me to realize that my discomfort is indicating that Shahar has touched on something important. Since then I have done some thinking and writing about this, and today at another coffee shop here at home, it matured into something more specific. We haven’t nailed it down yet, but we are much closer. I also realize now how important this process is in establishing clear and relevant communication with other artists about SweetClarity.

After our coffee shop encounter we came back to my home (the office) and made the first attempt at adding an audio soundtrack to a visual presentation at SweetClarity. I will need to share some assumptions and insights from SweetClarity to make this point so please bare with me.

A typical SweetClarity scenario, until about two hours ago, was that visual art presentations are displayed in public places such as restaurants. Currently most restaurants have a single screen which can only be viewed by some of the visitors, for others it is outside their field of view. For people who can view the screen, the soundtrack would make sense since it would compliment that visual presentation. For the others without seeing the visual presentation the soundtrack may be distracting. Therefore adding a soundtrack was set aside for the time being.

… back to today… Shahar was curious to see a presentation with a soundtrack and we went ahead and tried it. The result was spectacular – finally SweetClarity appeared in all its glory! With SweetClarity now freshly pumping in my veins – I came to another realization.

We view and present SweetClarity as an Artistic Business Venture – art comes first. When I refrained from adding a soundtrack, my priorities were confused. I was putting business (speculated restaurant needs) ahead of the art (the soundtrack was like magic). The consequences of this realization are a whole story that has just begun… what is relevant for this post is the role of Artistic Direction.

I can’t believe how simple it was and yet I couldn’t see it. The role of Artistic Direction at SweetClarity means keeping SweetClarity facing in the direction of Art… nothing more and nothing less…

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