“Because it’s there”

Real boldness is to be yourself, and since hardly anyone is 100 % certain what that self is exactly, real boldness is the courage to find out and put yourself on the line.

Such boldness was evident in every application. After all, each applicant puts him- or herself on the line.

But, I saw some applications that bravely exposed vulnerability especially in applications where qualifications were not the main selling point. Maybe this is easier for a young applicant who cannot as easily lean on their CV as an older colleague?

Of course, qualifications, knowledge, and experience are not obstacles to putting yourself out there.

However, a question came to mind: has the professionalisation and academisation of art gone down a path where, little by little, the value of an artist has changed into something that the artist must constantly build and secure; must the artist be a qualified professional who is able to justify everything he or she does, and, thus, defend his or her existence…?

It is precisely boldness, then, that becomes the problem. Boldness means stepping into the unknown. You run out of justifications at some point – that’s where a journey of discovery begins. “Because it’s there,” replied George Mallory when asked for his motive for climbing Mount Everest.

If value lies in professionalism and the CV, the artist easily becomes a prisoner of opinion. Then he or she must do what is considered valuable – and the regard of colleagues, institutions, and the art world in general would carry much more weight than that of the so-called wider audience. But what if my value is not earned but based only on merit? Then I have space and permission to fail without my value being at stake.

And what if there is value elsewhere besides where it is already recognised?

Moving in that direction requires taking a risk. Your value in the eyes of the professional community must be put on the line – just like Mallory risked his life.

Fortunately, an artist does not have to do anything life-threatening in order to be brave.

Being vulnerable is scary enough. It entails opening your inner self to the outside world: look, this is the kind of unconquered Everest I have here in my heart, I have not yet reached its peak, but I want to climb up there – because it’s there. It takes courage. It is a bold initiative.