The Script Lying On Silk Sheets © 2014, Patrick Lemieux

The Script Lying On Silk Sheets
© 2014, Patrick Lemieux

I saw the call for submissions by the 1313 Gallery here in Toronto and knew that if I wanted to submit something, I’d have to challenge myself. There are few subjects that carry as much baggage as Sex. Obviously, that was point of the call, to gather from many different artists their views on all things related to the S word.
So, what did I have to say?
What could I say?
What hasn’t been said already, or what approach to the familiar ideas could I take?
Well, I had no shortage of thoughts and that was the problem. I mulled the call over for a few weeks as I dealt with more immediate deadlines for other projects. I’d let the thoughts and feelings float around, knowing some would fall away and some would remain. That’s what I expected to happen, anyway. It didn’t quite work that way. I’d come back and, rather appropriately given the topic, the ideas had multiplied. One set of thoughts led to others, just as strong. Imagery and attitudes and historical contexts were all making themselves heard. I started to apply my own specific thoughts and feelings, hoping to push through this crowd and organize it a bit.
I needed a few boundaries, so the best way to start was deciding what I didn’t want to say.
To start with, I didn’t want to be literal, since we all know what sex is. It’s easy to just create an image of something beautiful and/or explicit and say, “Yeah, here, this is sex. This is erotic.”
I also didn’t want this to be autobiographical. I’m not shy, but we’re all different. I wanted to say something, but it didn’t have to be about me. That would be too narrow and too predictable.
Okay, that narrowed the field a bit, but I was still looking at pages of sketches with no cohesive idea or set of ideas. What did I want to say?
Christmas came and went, New Year’s was approaching and I was actually starting to get a pissed off at myself over this. I joked with myself that it was performance anxiety. I sat on the bed, perhaps hoping to trigger some subconscious inspiration, and sketched some more, determined to solve this puzzle. I had images I wanted to use and a few clever ideas I thought might be handy from earlier sketches, but I couldn’t find the through-line, the “theme,” something to hold it all together. I discarded pages and moved onto the next. After a while, around 2 AM, I was reduced to just moving the pencil around, creating non-specific shapes and line. I’d thought about layers earlier, like posters on a wall, some torn, covering up what was underneath, the brick and mortar of the wall. I thought about walls, barriers we put up and knock down. I was getting away from the central theme of the call: Sex. I looked up the gallery website and re-read the description. What were they asking for? Definitions. Individual. Cultural. That sort of thing.
Okay.
I was back to square one. There are too many such definitions. Maybe I should forget it, stick with creating works less loaded with with seemed like the sum total of human history?
Posters on the wall seemed too bleak, too defensive. Sex is fun! Yeah, there’s mental and emotional baggage, but the act itself is thoroughly enjoyable. Still, I liked the idea of layering images. Maybe they told a story? I did not want it to be my story, though obviously I’d have to draw from my own impressions and ideas. I scribbled and sketched and doodled of scattered pages and pictures. Still, not enough cohesion. It was lazy, too simple.
What if the images were collected, like a scrapbook?
I started thinking about how we collect memories, like in photo albums. I thought about my sketchbooks, filled with artistic ideas and experiments, some realized, some not. Some drawings were just practice.
Amidst these thoughts, an obscure memory floated to the surface, of the Dean of my old faculty at university talking about a theatre director he once knew. This director would apparently draw out his ideas all through his scripts. The Dean said the scripts themselves became miniature works of art.
I thought about scripts. I was sitting in bed, thinking about what people do in bed. No, actually, that’s not right. I was thinking about how, not in the mechanical sense, but about what goes through your mind. We all have reservations, hang-ups, expectations, all those things I was that were overwhelming my creative process before.
Did I just I call what do a “creative process”?
I did. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound pretentious.
So, now I’m thinking about how we bring all this stuff with us to bed. There’s what we want, what we’ve done before, the good, the bad, everything. We’re following that script, because what else is there? Instinct, maybe, but that tends to only get you as far as fumbling around in the dark. What we see movies, what we’re told, what we remember from Sex Ed., all of that we draw on in the moment.
We follow a script we make into miniature works of art. Sometimes we write new scenes. Sometimes we tear out old ones that no longer work onstage, taking the best bits and tossing the rest.
At 3 AM I had a coherent idea. The rest was refining, picking and choosing what worked and what didn’t. I’m not going to explain every image. I will say, this not my script you see. It’s not autobiographical. There are reasons for everything in the piece, however.
Now that it’s done and I stuff the loose papers of sketches into my sketchbook, it’s not lost on my the passing resemblance between the overflowing script I painted and the real-life sketchbook itself.
You’d think I’d planned it that way.

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