THE HABIT OF WINNING
I’m not sure when I bought my first college yearbook but I know I bought it because I was tired of sourcing vintage snapshots one photograph at a time. I thought, “There are a lot of pictures in a yearbook.”
I can be lazy.
Before starting college and taking those first steps towards becoming an adult I thought very little about achievement as it’s defined in our world. I was not an athlete and although I did fine as a student I had no desire to outwardly achieve anything other than what was required of me. In college my perspective started to change and I became more focused on external signifiers of achievement. As things like grades, honors, and race times took on increasing importance, I began to structure my life around them and found that I was very good at the game.
In the beginning this was all well and good but over time the connection between the ‘achievements’ and what I truly wanted became more and more hazy. And repeated experiences of ‘winning’ and then realizing that the glory only gave me a minute’s reprieve before I needed to start making plans for the next one taught me to be wary about what I wished for. So it was much to my surprise that I started making work about winning while in art school.
Isn’t art about the making?
Wasn’t I most concerned about the process?
Well, yes and no.
In a world where athletes ‘retire’ at the top of their game, seemingly because they don’t want to ‘lose’ in public, I am not sure that we will ever move beyond winning as a goal, but sports metaphors are not always a great role model for living a life. As an artist there is a desire to have your work seen and to be understood. The work I made in The Habit of Winning mocks our obsession but also serves as a daily reminder for myself to try and keep this desire in check. It’s not that I don’t value striving for something, or even the goal to ‘win’ when appropriate, but I know that the desire to ‘win’ can take on a life of its own, and at times become the goal in and of itself. This is alarming because winning just to win has no meaning or long lasting value if we are actually going to be honest.