Lessons From…”Halland” by Nika Harper

If I did this correctly, you should be able to view a relatively short video clip above. If not, hopefully the link is there and functional for you to view it elsewhere. I am not the greatest with technology.

I have professed my admiration and “fandom” of Nika Harper’s work before in this blog, but this particular video caught my attention. In all fairness, it came after the original post I had written anyway so what if I am using a previously discussed artist, whatever, I don’t owe you anything. (Have no clue who on Earth I am supposed to be talking to at this moment. Let’s chalk it up to sleep deprivation and stress from work, shall we?)

I honestly have no idea why I find this particular story/performance (?) of hers so captivating. It could be the obvious personal nature of the content which, in a way, works as a revelation of the author creating a, seemingly, more personal connection with the author. Or merely the content being well written and delivered that manages attract the audience. Or some odd combination of various elements working in unison to ultimately make a worthwhile artistic creation.

While the latter holds the best response, I believe that two specific elements of this piece make it transcend into a memorable work; obviously these are the topics of discussion for today’s lessons.

First, the dual nature of the piece and performance, as given by the various cuts and change in tone, demonstrates the odd, evolving relationship between artist and audience. As an aspiring creator, I am intrigued by the new dynamic between artist and audience and its constantly changing forms and expectations. As a consumer, I have to be aware of this shifting paradigm in order to not scare off  into obscurity those whose art I appreciate and want more of. It is a difficult balancing act at times.

After all, we know live in the grand digital age where I can follow my favorite actor’s blog or read a comedian’s hilarious Twitter feed or see what that one writer I really like is posting on Tumblr. This is great, right? I mean I can communicate directly with my favorite artists giving my immediate opinion of their newest endeavor and be kept up to date on every single aspect of their careers and have little insights into their personal lives like their tastes in music, books,  food. This sounding frightening to anyone else?

But it is the new reality where the audience feels like they are their favorite artist’s friend and as though they own the art created. Fans have always felt ownership over bands, books, and movies, but now because of the pipeline to the artist this sense of ownership has, in some unfortunate cases, evolved into an entitlement.

The harsh truth, however, is artists do not owe you anything. The previous statement was lesson one for the uninitiated among you. They don’t even owe you the art they make. Nika’s musician whom she appreciated and followed for years owed her, and the rest of his fans, nothing. Now, just to be clear I am not saying that she felt she was entitled to his music or anything of that nature. I am merely stating that while it was sad and disappointing to see the band break up and no longer hear the melodies his mind and hands compose, nothing was owed to anyone.

He made music that she, and many others I ‘m sure, loved and still listen to, but that was all that was in him and even that was more than could have been asked. All any artist in any medium owes the world is to create what is inside them, and at times not even that much is involved in the transaction. So, next time your favorite band changes direction and comes out with a new album that you don’t like, or your favorite comic introduces a character that just ruins the series, or a character in a popular film or television franchise is changed, remember that none of that matters because those artists are allowed to do what they want with their work.

As well, you are allowed to hate it and no longer support them and even move on to something else, but you can never demand that they change what they created because they owe you. That’s not the way art works.

Frankly, this slightly rambling post seems a bit longer than intended, so I’ll try to make the next lesson short. Really, Nika, in her ending lines amid tears, says it better than I probably could, but here goes. Appreciate your artists because they might not always be around.  As well, I would add an addendum to the artists out there, Appreciate your audience, regardless of size or number.

Most artists don’t create for the money, very few make it big no matter what you may think. However, having someone, anyone, appreciate your work makes it just a little bit more worthwhile and in the modern age you can find an audience for your creative outlets. Hell, if you write a comic about teenage Cthulu’s weird adolescent problems with gender swapped characters, I guarantee there will be an audience for it (myself included).

So, creators, know that your work will not be thrown out into the void and audience, remind your favorite artists that someone is there listening every once in awhile.

Thud endeth today’s lesson.


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