On What Is Art, Inception and Hazel Dooney

Dooney is who she is by a mix of provocative art, great intellect, deep passion, and seemingly effortless communication skills exploited in compelling sheer volume.

Hazel Dooney galleryAs J.G. Ballard once put it, “I treat the reality I inhabit as if it were a fiction—I treat the whole of existence as if it were a huge invention.” (Courtesy of Hazel Dooney’s Self vs. Self blog)

What is art?

Ask the question 1,000 times and you will get 1,000 answers. There is no definitive answer when perception, bias and experience are involved. Great art provokes as much as does the simple three-word question, “What is art?” There is never a definitive easy answer.

On the deepest level, what do we truly know about our lives?

Inception was one of the best movies in years. It is a mind-bending paradoxical film that leaves everything about it open to debate. It stimulates the way the best art does when it causes wildly different visceral and cerebral reactions when it is viewed. Some consider it the equivalent of an M.C. Escher image portrayed in film. And, as with great art, repeated viewings reveal deeper meanings and new nuances to consider.

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Inception blurs the lines between being a fantastic sci-fi thriller and an evocative high brow art film. The complex plot mixes realities as it fires one’s imagination with an in-your-face challenge to delve into what is real in our lives and what is not.

Who Is Hazel Dooney?

Australian artist Hazel Dooney is no stranger to in-your-face challenges with the way she lives her life and makes her art. Rather than be reigned by the conventions of how art is distributed, she has forged her own means of creating awareness for herself and in the process created a collector base beholden to her, not a gallery, not an agent nor a publisher.

Her collectors buy because they know about her through her incredible outpouring of work through electronic media. She is who she is by a mix of provocative art, great intellect, deep passion, and seemingly effortless communication skills exploited in compelling sheer volume.

A Simulacrum of My Self

In a recent post titled, A Simulacrum Of My Self, she takes on the blurring of our real lives and our increasingly broadened online personas to dig into the art within these different parts of her life. When one begins thinking about what are the realities and differences between our varied offline and online personas, it becomes easy to see how a bright cutting edge artist like Dooney would be up to the challenge of making art in the cracks.

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Whether you care to go there or not, in some ways you are always forced to deal with the simple question, “Who am I?” Of course, for each of us, the partial short answer is, “It depends.” Dooney is taking the concept of melding her various personae into performance art. Here is a quote from her post:

Taken together, the writings and images I publish online are an early experiment in a new form of performance art, which interrogates, almost hourly, the evolving and possibly confounding split between an artist’s real self – and real work – and their virtual edifice.

Read her entire postto get the full gist of what she is exploring with her art. Anyone who thinks that making art and creating collectors is the same as it always was would do well to keep an eye on Hazel Dooney. It’s obvious she has much more to show us.

Hazel Dooney casts a shadow over the art business

Through her persistent and eloquent use of social and electronic media, she has managed to reach our beyond the borders of her native Australia to become an internationally recognized artist. To have achieved this primarily by dint of her own doing without an entourage, handlers or an agent, is remarkable.

While other artists might not have what she has in skills and ambitions to match her achievement, there is no doubt that any with skill and raw determination can use her model to forge something different for their career; something not available to artists in previous generations.

What Dooney does works on me.

When I write about her, it is a much different tone than what you normally find here on this Art Print Issues blog. I find myself challenged to escape the mundane blogging about the business of art and rather to dig deeper into musing on esoteric and philosophical questions about art, about how it is evolving and how the means to make it available changing and morphing as we watch.

Like many artists reading this, my reality is I will continue to forge ahead writing, consulting and producing workshop all the while making large concessions to other parts of my life that curtail these activities as a result. For me, that’s necessary balance. Nevertheless, it does not stop my admiration or dim my enthusiasm for the inspiration I take from watching careers of fearless artists like Hazel Dooney.


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Barney Davey

I help artists and photographers find buyers, sell more art and operate profitably.

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