Tonje Lilleås

“It’s when we fall apart that we make real art”

“It’s when we fall apart that we make real art”. A quote that really hit home with me. Not from one of the great artists of the century, but from one that has inspired me a great deal nonetheless. And I want to investigate a bit further what his statement means to me.

Break the habit

The quote is from a YouTube-video made by Pete McKinnon called “break the habit”. I remember watching it for the first time. I didn’t expect that kind of video from him, as I was used to watching his tutorials to learn more about photography and videography. And maybe that was why I loved it so much. Or maybe it was the fact that he had written a nice piece of spoken word poetry, the only kind of poetry I like. I don’t know. The most likely explanation is that it was the combination of it all. Nomatter the reason, it hit home.

The first sentence caught my attention; “We are creatures of habit. Yearning for a way to be heard, but rarely stop to hear”. “A social presence rather than being present,” had me cheer a bit. And then I got chills when I heard this line “it’s when we fall apart we make real art”. His message is that we have to break the habit that is both constricting us and forcing us to make stuff just to be considered successful, and not because we’re true to ourselves. We’re not present, not listening, not being. And thus we cannot make real art.

The myth of the suffering artist?

There are many versions of the statement “great art comes from great pain”. Looking at history’s great artists it’s easy to think that the statement must be true. From Mozart to Picasso to modern time pop artists, I think we can all agree that people that have seemed to be suffering have given us amazing pieces of art. And you could really interpret the statement “It’s when we fall apart that we make real art” in the same direction. But is it true that we have to suffer to make great art? And is suffering enough?

Maybe it’s less about suffering and more about vulnerability?

Last weekend my wife had a weekend getaway to Oslo. The images in this post are captured during this weekend, and has no other relation with the subject of the post. However one of the activities during our weekend was going to a concert by Norwegian artist Sondre Justad. He just released a new album that he has been working on through the pandemic.

I’m not going to claim that this new album is real art. I mean, who am I to make such a statement? But what hit me when listening through this album is the level of vulnerability. We get to take part in an inner battle that is very raw and real. And seeing him perform brought even a new level of vulnerability. I have no doubt that the concerts he delivered was real art.

I don’t think it’s the suffering that makes the art or the artist. Not to say that Sondre Justad hasn’t suffered. I’m sure he, like everyone else, has. However what makes him an artist is that he chooses to be vulnerable.

“It’s when we fall apart that we make real art”

So what does this quote that I started with mean to me? I think we have to let ourselves fall apart in order to create something that speaks to people on a deeper level. By falling apart I don’t mean suffering or falling into depression or even driving ourselves to the level of being burnt out.

I think falling apart can be loosing the facade that we put up to keep things together. It’s about daring to be and see our true selves, and putting that forward. About being vulnerable. Sharing our flaws, battles and losses, as well as our strengths and victories.

“Here today, gone tomorrow, but we have a choice,” is another line from McKinnons video. And even if I never get to the point where I make real art – I choose to be vulnerable.



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