Artist’s Life 101: I would be nothing if not for all my failures

I have been quite grateful for all the artworld rejections I’ve ever gotten for the past week. ​

On November 1, I got an email saying: “We really like your work. We were wondering if we may suggest screening AND SO I SAID piece, we think it would go better with the overall flow of our program.” I submitted KILLER JANE, which is 13 minutes, to this festival – the other movie is 5-1/2 minutes.​

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If you participate in the art world in more than one medium long enough, you will find yourself in the same sort of situation in more than one medium. I can recall exactly how upset I was the first time I submitted two sculptures to a competition and my favorite was passed over while the other won me a prize. That experience did not make any less awful the night my scene partner and I gave a staged reading of my first two-person monologue and right afterwards the artistic director of the venue said to the audience: “I think this should be a solo performance and (pointing out another actress who was in the audience) [she] should do it.” They had to scrape me off the floor that night.​

And then there’s the more than once of we-love-your-work-but-we-haven’t-made-our-final-decision-yet; and you wind up not getting selected. It takes years and years and years of rejections to recognize semi-finalist or honorable mention as currency.​

So with all the rejections, disappointments and in my face ego battering under my belt, I laughed and told myself: “Don’t get too excited about maybe getting into this festival – you know the drill.”​

I was going to write an essay about it however it turned out. I have been trying to get into art venues in Montreal for 20 years in three of my mediums. And I wish I could be there when Burnt Experimental Video Art and Film Festival screens AND SO I SAID.​

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ARTIST’S STATEMENT, November 30, 2016

For about a minute (3 years, actually, I think), I had a fiscal sponsor so that I would be eligible to apply for grants as an artist. I think I applied for three grants in the first six months of my sponsorship. I did not get even a nibble of interest in my proposals, which I expected to happen, having been competing for exhibitions, gigs and cash as an artist for most of my adult life and thus knowing rejection is part of the artist’s life.

I suppose I could say that I gave up, even though I maintained the sponsorship just in case while feverishly creating work that I spend (not that much cash outlay on, really) most of my waking hours making, somebody else magically appeared and offered me a grant that I needed a fiscal sponsor to administer.

But I could also say that since I’ve mostly paid for my own work and dealt directly as an independent artist with art dealers, collectors, theater producers, casting directors, video art curators and film festival administrators, that nobody is my boss except me and I am not beholden to anyone except my husband who is periodically inconvenienced by stage sets all over the apartment.

Anybody who puts their work “out there” is participating in the System no matter how much they might rail against it – as I will never stop pointing out that art dealers, curators and producers would not have anything to do if artists stopped making art or just didn’t play with art dealers, curators and producers anymore.

Independent artists, even ferociously independent artists like me – who would rather fail and or be repeatedly rejected than take commissions, fill out forms and reports, create and justify budgets, follow protocols that exist primarily because of bylaws nobody’s ever read since the person who wrote them, and commingle with patrons – are just as much part of the System as those folks who get all the grants.

The System is anybody considering your work at all for any reason and to any end.

THE CAPE EXPERIMENTS by Sylvia Toy: The Body The Mind (Color/Stereo, 2’57”, English/No Subtitles, USA, 2016)

I am particularly pleased with this latest piece.

Proposal for live performance of “THE HARPY TRIBUNAL” 

The Harpy Videos By Sylviatoyindustries

Returning to occasional live multi-media performance seems to be on my path, though I enjoy all the aspects of making movies not to continue to spend most of my time making movies.