### The Year I Stopped Making Art. Why the Art World Should Assist Artists Beyond Representation: in Solidarity
作者 | Paul Maheke
译者 | 曾不容
The year I stopped making art, I just stopped. I wasn’t just being slowed down in my progress, I didn’t take a detour, it just stopped. Life didn’t throw me curveballs, at least not more than usual My whole life felt like a curveball. I had no more stamina. Not a single drop of blood left. My body collapsed. That’s the year when I couldn’t hold it together any longer. You failed me.
The year I stopped making art, it was before COVID-19. It didn’t take a global pandemic to end my career. I just didn’t manage to pay my tax return on time. It was 2019 and I had a bike accident on one of my shifts when I delivered food to people’s door. The year I stopped making art, it didn’t take for the wealthiest parts of the world to go in total lockdown, to be made redundant from the arts industry. It was so mundane no one noticed. No one noticed because I couldn’t make an artwork out of it. It couldn’t be turned into art. It just ended. My shows were canceled and no one paid me and no one saw me. I had made art for too long by now to be hired by any company outside the field. No restaurant would give a job to someone with little to no experience in hospitality.
The year I stopped making art is the year my secondary school teacher decided I would make a good factory technician. This was the year my parents had to move further away, away from the center; barely on the outskirts in suburbia. The year I stopped making art is when I realized I needed to speak several languages in order to be an artist, to have a computer with unlimited access to the internet and a smartphone to answer your emails on the go. The year I had to stop, is the year I couldn’t afford to commute to your museum to meet you. I was wrestling with depression and mental illness.
It was 2008 when I became homeless because my benefits were cut and you didn’t pay me. It all stopped when I realized I was the only person of color at your opening. It stopped when I had to clean floors of hotel rooms, airports, and trains to make ends meet. That’s also when I saw you walk in the business lounge. I smelled your fragrance when you passed by. Turns out, they sell a fake version of your perfume at the local market down the estate. I almost smelled like you the year I stopped making art. Me smelling like you was my camouflage. It didn’t make a difference when in 2020, I was forced to stop because of the fragile state of my finances.
The next day, you and I still smelled the same fig leaf scented fragrance you spray in your hair and your neck every morning. You were at your office, in the museum, on the day our president decided to bar access to various institutions across the country to prevent a virus to spread. You carefully applied the alcohol-based gel on your hands and your wrists, which would prevent you from getting contaminated. Then, you went on to check your bank account on your phone. You thought “it should be fine until it all ends”. You just had collected the money from the rent of your tenant, your paid sick leave, the bitcoins someone mined for you overnight. The year I stopped making art you started trading them.
The year I stopped making art is the year I was reminded I did not have a safety net or support structure to carry me through the testing of time like you did. That I was too naive to think I could make it all the way through, just like you.“Jog on!”. You made a swerve and I couldn’t follow. Leaving me to chew on the sillage of your perfume/our perfume. The year I stopped making art is the year I almost smelled like you, but only to realize that, to you, I was always gonna be the smell of forgery.
Paul Maheke (b. 1985, France) lives and works in London. With a focus on dance and through a varied and often collaborative body of work comprising performance, installation, sound, and video, Maheke considers the potential of the body as an archive in order to examine how memory and identity are formed and constituted.