Why am I an Artist?

Is it not irrelevant to ask why someone is an engineer, bus driver or artist? No it is not! Deliberating our choices in life opens up a unique passage to see our own actions and their significance in relation to the society and their significance in relation to the society and the world. To me, the question ‘Why am I an artist?’ is relevant every day.

Subconsciously it hovers in the background of my actions and arises instantly the moment I have to rationalize my doings or my works to myself or to others. It is a question above all about the construction of my worldview, the choices with which I try to explain and show to fellow humans my view on the paradox of the human existence. That is why the question is not irrelevant but a very difficult and significant moment for deliberation.

In his book The Generous Man Tor Nørretranders discusses among other things the place of art in the biological evolution of man. According to Nørretranders’ main idea biological development, evolution, is more than survival. It is also about experience; trying to make the opposite sex convinced that they are being offered something. Man tries to be something to others, so as to make a good impression. To produce for them a positive experience.

To Nørretranders’ sexual selection is also essential part of evolution and here he refers to Darwin’s other main work The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Therefore Nørretranders’ second main idea is that sexual selection is natural history’s creative motor. Man’s sense, creative force and cooperative skills have been evolved from mating dances and courtship.

In brief; many objectives appended to art such as striving to beauty, self-expression, understanding the world, searching the new unprejudiced action are the result of selection in relation to sex. The seemingly contradictory claim made by Nørretranders is significant because it strives to understand humans’ actions in relation to culture and the surrounding society in a broad manner. According to him, the human is creative, social, daring, cooperative, unselfish and open because it is challenging and therefore makes an impression on the opposite sex.

Certainly sexual selection is the primary agent in many of our actions. However, it is hard to consider sexual selection to bee the only guide that has lead me to the artist’s path that I have chosen. So intricate and random has my path to become an artist been.

The legacy of my home – physical and mental – is one of the background influences on my journey to an artist’s career. An architect father, a home aestheticized to an unconditional order and the emphasis on the omnipotence of spiritual values and knowledge forced me to rebellion and to break in many ways the heritage of the home, my first environment. The conscious opposition to tradition compelled to live in the moment and trust the strength of the content of one’s head. It directed away from the world of order to towards liberating chaos, a unique voyage of discovery.

Another example of finding the path has to do with choice of point of view. At the entrance examination of the architecture department I did not pass because of lacking drawing skills. At the examinations of art schools I was one of the few chosen because of good drawing skills. So our vision of the world is always related to the one’s point of view.

Why then am I an artist? The more I delve into my history, the more I am inclined to explain it with evolution. My development has been influenced by my genetic heritance which has directed my choices in life to highlight empathising, freedom and trust in the unique moment of existence. During my development it has started to profoundly to effect all of my actions as a member of community.

I do not want to be an author whose conscious goal is to create of himself and his work a historically unique life story which follows it’s logic and understandable track from the beginning to the end forming an artistic arch of evolution, an intact whole. In other words to repeat a learned pattern of making well-received works throughout one’s life. To me art is incoherent bouncing around, uncertainty and conscious risk- taking and experimentation. In Nørretranders’ words, man proofs his worth by making things difficult.

Markku Hakuri
Article in the Catalogue Whole in the Universe, 2011