By Serena Wong
We sometimes have this suspicion that art is trying to trick us, pull the wool over our eyes and ridicule our taste. But in reality, art is just another language. Not the language of an elite club guarded by secret codes, but a tool to distil the chaos of the world around us into meaningful chunks.
It is a language that we can all learn, and words and writing is the key to unlocking its meaning. In part, it’s about trusting yourself and your experiences in the world to act as a conduit, for the visceral experience of art and the challenge of putting that into words.
There is a magical moment when you find the right words, the right phrase which captures something in-between the intangible idea and its realisation into a physical object, out here in the world with us. Those words that you find to bridge the gap between feeling and knowing, that allows you to translate and articulate how the world resonates through the act of making and viewing, that is the true power of words and art.
In that battle, that leads us from the unknown to the known one must wrestle with the sublime. What we don’t know, or don’t understand threatens to overwhelm us. One can look into a stormy sea and feel paralysed with fear, be humbled by the sheer force of nature and yet we also know that we stand on solid land. Through the displeasure of feeling powerless we are forced to address that moment of fear and find the solid ground to move forward from.
Great art-writing breaks down the barrier and removes the fear, it liberates us to see and think and feel in whole new glorious ways. Ways that aren’t about judging or evaluating, but simply about seeing and thinking and feeling.
Serena Wong grew up in Queensland, but don’t hold that against her. In 2011 she moved to Adelaide to study a Master of Arts (Art History) and Master of Arts (Curatorial and Museum studies) at the University of Adelaide, which she undertook with blind optimism and relentless enthusiasm. Currently working at the Art Gallery of South Australia as the Assistant for the 2014 Adelaide Biennial: Dark Heart Serena rates this experience as a ‘dream job’. Serena’s wish is that every day is summer and that jargon will be banned from all arts writing.