My definition of an artist is someone who gives people permission to do something that they've never done before.
I don't meant the critic's fantasy of violent innovation or breaking ground or breaking the glass ceiling but the tiny shift by degrees that comes from real lovers of the form copying and mimicking their own heroes and repetition (think: the blues) and, as a by product of that, causing the machinery of creation to skip a gear and go slightly out of control.
If the work and the creator survives, everyone else working in the field sees that they can take things a little further, and from that point onwards is faced with the choice of whether or not to develop it.
(There's another very middle-class idea that what makes art great is how much work goes into it. I tend the other way: look how much hasn't.)
Alain Resnais made Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year At Marienbad and after that, film would never be the same. Ever. Ever. Ever.
The Mythiq27 exhibition opened in Paris this week. The art by Invader and Rero and my accompanying text are shown above and there is a short movie of the exhibition in total here.
Mythiq 27 is an anthology of art and texts about 27 musicians who died aged 27. Curator and editor Yann Suty asked me to write about Kurt Cobain; I went into more detail about the project earlier here and here.
You can see more photos of the book launch and the opening night on the project's Facebook page and of course there is a Twitter feed.
Suty's project uses the tensions between obscurity and fame to meditate on the short time we all have here. Viewing its collection of dead celebrities, fragile street art and clipped transmissions from a distance lends it an even greater ephemeral quality.
-- Sam Shepard interviewed by Benjamin Ryder Howe, Jeanne McCulloch, Mona Simpson for The Paris Review.INTERVIEWERI read somewhere that you started writing because you wanted to be a musician.
SHEPARDWell, I got to New York when I was eighteen. I was knocking around, trying to be an actor, writer, musician, whatever happened.
INTERVIEWERDid you start right in?
SHEPARDNot immediately. My first job was with the Burns Detective Agency. They sent me over to the East River to guard coal barges during these god-awful hours like three to six in the morning. It wasn't a very difficult job—all I had to do was make a round every fifteen minutes—but it turned out to be a great environment for writing. I was completely alone in a little outhouse with an electric heater and a little desk.
INTERVIEWERDid you already think of yourself as a writer?
SHEPARDI'd been messing around with it for a while, but nothing serious. That was the first time I felt writing could actually be useful.