Some time ago in New York theatre group underwrote an unusual project: a young playwright persuaded the theatre to put on a play a day that she wrote for an entire year. Now I don’t know who the audience was, but a friend in my playwrighting class caught a show and reported one evening that it wasn’t that great. He wondered aloud how the writer managed to sell the whole concept. That’s simple, our instructor Mick said without skipping a beat: she thinks she’s good and lets people know it: you’ve got to believe that your work is good enough to deserve that kind of attention — and act that way.
This episode popped into my head when I read an article about a German artist named Markus Lupertz who’s made a career out of erecting controversial sculptures in public places. What fascinated me wasn’t the hubbub about his latest venture — a huge, one-armed statue of Hercules — but his brazenly self-adulatory attitude. According to the New York Times article, our man Markus “embraces the cliché of the self-declared genius.” And then some! Here’s what seems to be a typical comment of his:
“I only work with students who admire me and think I am great. If I am not the one that takes their breath away, I don’t feel like working with them, because this would be a waste of time. It’s not about their individualism, it’s about my individualism. It’s not about their genius, it’s about my genius.”
Wow! While this seems a bit over the top, you have to admire the guy’s moxie!
His ego may be in overdrive, but he believes in himself totally, in the value of the work he’s doing, and in expressing himself fiercely and uncompromisingly. He has no qualms about challenging convention or confounding expectations about what his art should or shouldn’t be. He’s creating dangerously — that’s for sure!
I’m thinking that I could actually use more of that kind of creative chutzpah myself. How about you?