FreshThoughts: Dieter Roth – Rabbit Shit Rabbit [Hobbyist vs. Artist]

I went to Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago. Its an interesting town. They even had a whiskey factory and if you know me, you know I like whiskey. But not in an alcoholic type of way. I’m off topic already. Back to the topic at hand.

I strolled into The Fruitmarket Gallery as they were having an exhibit on Dieter Roth. Ever heard of him? Yea, me neither. Not until then at least. I think this exhibit will stick with me forever. It hit me that day how many people use the term “artist” loosely. I’m not here to tell you if you are or aren’t an artist, nobody really has the right to do that. But as I looked at the wall of TVs displaying Dieter’s last days at his art studio in Basel, this guy lived, ate, and slept art literally.

You see…during his later years, he set up a camera in his studio to document what he does on a day to day basis. And literally, every screen I looked at showed him doing one of three things: eating, sleeping, or creating. Once you walk upstairs from the massive wall of TVs, you enter a big ass room. I’m terrible at calculating room dimensions therefore, I won’t make the attempt. It was a big ass room filled with Roth’s art. It looked like a library. It could stand as a small museum on its own. And that wasn’t even all of his art. That was SOME of his art.

Rabbit-Shit-Rabbit, 1972, in which the Lindt chocolate bunny mould was re-used, making an immediately recognisable bunny rabbit from rabbit shit.

So the question I propose to you is, how many of us that consider ourselves artists wake up and create? Not because you WANT to but because you innately HAVE to. Is creating equal to or greater than breathing or water for you? Look at your catalog, do you have a body of work that says so?

I can’t tell you how many times I run into people who consider themselves music artists, but when I ask to hear or see  material….they don’t have any? Huh? Who does that work? Again, I’m not here to look down upon hobbyists at all. We all should have hobbies. My hobby? Probably cooking…I’m not as awesome as I want to be but it is what it is. It’s a hobby.

I guess what I’m getting at is this…there are artists willing to die for their work. Some willing to go to jail for their work. If that’s not you, then cool….nothing wrong with that.  Just think about those artists like Dieter before describing or introducing yourself to others….or yourself.


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