‘Soul-Beating’ is a phrase I read in David Reed’s essay ‘Soul–Beating’ in 2012. Reed heard it from the horse’s mouth of Milton Resnick whom he studied with at the New York Studio School in the 1960s: “It was a phrase that Resnick used to describe the method and difficulties of an artist changing his or her work”.
I became enamoured with this phrase immediately because it summed for me up both the difficulty and necessity of changing how you both make art and interact with the art scene if indeed art is about playing with forms, whether with language or image, descriptive or critical, constructive or destructive, ironic or redemptive.
I have been ‘soul-beating’ since 2012 when I first gave up making art for art criticism. After 7 years writing criticism on billionjournal.com I felt the need to beat the soul again in February of 2017.
So here I am again revisiting the possibility and pleasure of making art and developing new art projects when the opportunities present themselves and especially when they don’t.
James Merrigan is an artist and art critic. For the past decade he has been trying to promote art discourse and criticism in Ireland as a writer, editor and teacher. In 2010 he developed billionjournal.com, where he found the freedom to experiment with a more playful and polemical art criticism. James was selected for EVA International Biennale of Visual Art (2014) as a fugitive art critic; he was Co-Editor of the printed quarterly on Irish art, Fugitive Papers; and was Guest-Editor of two issues of Visual Artists’ News Sheet in 2016. In 2011 he was awarded the inaugural Critical Writing Award by Visual Artists Ireland and Dublin City Council's The LAB. A book of his essays was published in 2013 entitled Agents Of Subjectivism. Recent projects including ‘Deep-Seated’ which took as its starting point the psychoanalytic promotion of the ‘talking cure’; and All or Nothing (Summer 2017), a film that looks at the current landscape of Irish painting told through his eyes as a lapsed painter. In April 2017 James launched Madder Lake, a limited edition publication that is a little naughty and scary and propagandises privacy. He will curate PERIPHERIES 2017 at Gorey School of Art. James is a part-time co-ordinator and lecturer for the MPhil module Psychoanalysis and Art at Trinity College Dublin, and he tutors documentary filmmaking and portfolio preparation at Gorey School of Art. He is currently designing a Critical Writing & Thinking through Art course which will run from September 2017 at Gorey School of Art.