Second life: 1995 – 2001

At the insistence of Gerda Gugganig, the class teacher in my secondary school, who recognized my talent, I visited the artistic branch, department of sculpture of the HTBLA Ortwein school in Graz. She and my mother were the driving forces in preparing my departure away from “home”. Together they prevailed against the patriarch of the family, who had utterly different ideas for my future, who didn’t want to let me go – I think he was not even ill-intentioned, he just wanted to keep me at home. I guess fathers have that from time to time … it just could be in their genes.


I completely failed the practical part of my acceptance test for that school because of my sensational mathematic anti-talent … not good enough for a HTBLA. I in the end, however, managed this hurdle because of my very good performance for the artistic part of the admission process. There it was again, my talent and the golden thread that saved me, once again.


And so it happened … the rural child who thought she would eventually grow up to be a farmer’s wife, took off to the big city to study in a “school for art” as they called it – unbelievable! I was shocked somehow and very excited at the same time. In the beginning I was a very shy and calm student but after some time puberty struck and I finally shone more brightly by skipping school, an art that I truly mastered. As far as I know, me and a dear female friend still hold the record of school hours missed…


Sitting with my sketchbook by the river nearby was so much more worthwhile to me than working on stones and woods in the sculpting studio or skimping the required assignments in the painting studio.
Reprimands that criticized my unwillingness to explain – in an “appropriate” manner – how, where and why I had worked on a given theme in the way I did unleashed the rebellious part in me. “That’s as if I allowed you to watch me take a shower” was unfortunately not a compelling argument to my teachers – it turned out to be even more of a provocation to them.


So, like everyone else, I got used to wielding many foreign words in the descriptions of images and to describing the creative process in a way that satisfied the vanity of those who understood these empty words on the level of their higher education and which seemed to lift them above the common rabble. My lesson was to put this pure, natural and mystical thing that flows throug me since i can remember into complicated structures of explanations – and only after that is done, you can call it art. Before that, the work itself is the same but remains nothing, just blotches on canvas. My teachers were finally satisfied and forgave my many misdeeds when I learned to accept that lesson or at least pretended to.
Back then, I understood that the world of art seemed to be about establishing an intellectual pretense to strictly conceal that my muse, my instincts, my feelings and my view of the world’s processes dictated that which gushed out of me – this incredibly grand and special thing that is neither detectable nor analyzable and can certainly not be locked into words.


At that time, I understood that I made myself vulnerable when I revealed the real reasons for my works and where they come from, and that I could not survive in this self-important construct of an art market with my uncertain personality. This was not where I could fulfill my muse’s duties in peace, for that I would not sacrifice my freedom.
After graduation, I decided – young and crazy aslike I was – to turn my back on art forever. I wanted nothing more to do with something as pompous, meaningless, shallow and soulless as the art market. How naive to want to escape your own talent and hunger, but I guess everybody has these dramatic phases at a young age.



© tamarakolb