Thought Residency: Jacob Wren

Thought Residency: Jacob Wren

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Day 10

(Malmö)

So now I’m in Malmö, Sweden. We arrived here today. I’m completely jetlagged, completely exhausted. We premier a new show on Friday, a show we’ve been working on for two years. And… it’s very strange… I’m still making shows. All I do is question it, but at the same time I’m doing it anyway.

 

Day 9

(Montreal)

And then there’s this song title I remember from being a teenager. It’s a song by Deja Voodoo and the song was called: How Can I Miss You If You Don’t Go Away. And I’ve been doing project after project, one after another, for the past thirty years. Always projects on the go. Yeah and if I stop I wonder… I guess I fear that no one will miss me at all. Maybe that’s what it’s about.

 

Day 8

(Montreal)

I feel the kind of regrets I’ve been talking about here, suggest that I think I should have made more progress, that I think there was something to get. And yet I keep telling myself, I don’t think there’s anything to get. I don’t think money or success or praise were going to make me any happier. But still, I want to find some positive way to keep on being an artist. Something that feels more generous. Something where I’m not actually trying to move forward.

 

Day 7

(Montreal)

A few years ago I wrote a story called Past, Present, Future, Etc. And I sometimes think about that “etcetera.” As in, I mean, what comes after the future? I feel this might be one kind of solution: a different way of thinking about time. Thinking about time without progress, without growth. There’s nowhere to get to, and therefore there’s nothing to leave behind.

 

Day 6

(Montreal)

“I took some time off in my forties to try to get better at what I do.” Why am I so obsessed with this quote, why do I find it so hard to imagine myself taking time off, trying to get better? Why can’t I even imagine what better is? Maybe the thing I imagine most is quitting art to become an activist. That seems what we really need today: less artists, more activists. But I don’t think I can do it.

 

Day 5

(Montreal)

I often say that all my work is about the relationship between art and politics. But now that I’m looking back, that I’m really looking back at what I’ve done, I actually wonder if it’s more about how little art can do in the face of overwhelming political problems. And that also makes me realize how much I want art to do, how much desire I have for art to change things.

 

Day 4

(Montreal)

Of course, while I’m worried about being “washed up,” the rest of the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. I mean we all know the list: fascism, environmental degradation, the continuing violence of patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, so much more. And when I say I’m feeling “washed up,” I mean, I also mean I feel like I’m in mourning for my life. But I wonder: am I in mourning for my life or am I actually in mourning for the world?

 

Day 3

(Montreal)

And then there was another quote, it was apparently something Dr. Dre said to Eminem – I guess I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about Hip Hop, I don’t know if that’s okay – but apparently what Dr. Dre said to Eminem is: “You have to work really hard to get it, and they you have to work even harder to maintain it.” And I’ve been thinking a lot about this, I mean, is that really what I want to do? Am I really interested in trying to maintain something?

 

Day 2

(Montreal)

There was a quote I heard about a year ago. It’s a quote from the Hip Hop producer NO I.D. But actually he’s quoting Quincy Jones. And the quote is: “I took some time off in my forties to try to get better at what I do.” And I really tried to imagine what that would be like, if I were to take some time off in my forties to try to get better at what I do. I mean, I can’t even imagine it. What would that feel like?

 

Day 1

(Montreal)

So lately what I’ve been feeling, ah, is quite “washed up.” And I don’t talk about it very much, I feel a lot of shame around this feeling, I feel perhaps feeling “washed up” is a kind of privilege. And also, I mean, no one really wants to hear about it. But… I thought maybe if I only talk about it for thirty seconds every day, I mean, you can talk about anything for thirty seconds a day. So I thought I would try that.

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About the Author

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Jacob Wren makes literature, collaborative performances and exhibitions. His books include: Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, Polyamorous Love Song, Rich and Poor and Authenticity is a Feeling. As co-artistic director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART he has co-created the performances: En français comme en anglais, it's easy to criticize, Individualism Was A Mistake, The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information and Every Song I’ve Ever Written. He travels internationally with alarming frequency and frequently writes about contemporary art.