Betty Danon, you always tell your students that the artist’s task
is teaching others what he has learnt from his activity. Is this a way
of making art too?
course it is. This is a way of working with human stuff instead of
using conventional stuff. I stimulate others to create, letting them
experiment with different forms of expression and leading them to
discover the inspiring force inside themselves. As the artist tries to
draw out of paper, colours, sounds, words, combinations ever so new, so
can he try to draw out of people the best they have inside. Each one
holds different sides and skills that are often hidden, neglected or
forgotten, which once they have been reawakened and stimulated will
actually enliven one’s life at large. As the artist pays
attention to the multifarious aspects of his inner world, he has got
such an inner wealth and so much to give others. Keeping all of
it to himself would be such a pain! If art is communicating – and
it surely is – also this interchange becomes art". Today
there’s much talking about creativity.
What is creativity to you?
word creating has much to do with making. It’s giving birth to
something that did not exist before. It’s inventing, putting into
practice, into visible, audible, tangible stuff what was just a mental
form, an idea. Therefore to create means to give an objective
communicable form to what at first shows itself as subjective and
untranslatable. It’s not easy to define it as creativity is not a
single faculty of man, it’s rather the masterly coordination of a
wide range of faculties that allows him to connect his inner world with
the external one, waking with dreaming, the object with the symbol, the
conscious with the unconscious, the logic with the analogic. Creativity
is not necessarily linked to the production of works of art; also
everyday life offers endless opportunities “to create things that
did not exist before”. You can be creative in dressing, in
furnishing your house, in cooking, in running a business, in giving
presents, in organizing a journey, a party… It’s the
ability to generate ideas, to find brand-new solutions and to connect
mental contents that are quite different and far from one another".
Are we all creative?
"We are, but most people don't even dream they are! Creativity
is a faculty that should be cultivated and developed since childhood or
it must be reawakened any time insecurity, self-censorship and laziness
don't allow it to show up. Each of us is a source of endless resources
we aren't aware of. We can learn to draw to them, though".
How can you develop your creativity?
using it every single day; it's like an organ that cannot be started by
pressing a button, whereas it has to be developed gradually, like a
dancer trains himself every single day before he achieves the
nimbleness he aims at. You can develop it, first of all, by getting
accustomed to using your own head rather than passively taking in all
that is imposed on you by fashions, the mass-media, or simply by
others. You can achieve that by getting used to watching reality with
brand-new eyes and developing at the same time a sense of humor, a way
of living life with a sort of playfulness that helps you to live
better". You lead experimental workshops to stimulate the creativity of
people determined to discover their resources.
What practical tips would you give those who want to reawaken and develop their potential?
"I'd suggest they get into children's world, organize games with their
kids or friends inventing or changing rules, invent absurd questions
and find even more absurd answers. Play with words, make up new words,
new alphabets. Read the ending of a book and imagine the beginning.
Invent recipes and give them incredible names. Learn to use easy
effective techniques such as India ink, rubbing, collage and make
little things to use as gifts or hang them to the wall and say "I made
it". Illustrate Rimbaud's "Le Bateau Ivre". Rip, fold, crumple, handle
roughly, and then wet, colour, glue, unglue and glue paper again and
again. Use lipstick, eye-shadow and blush-on to colour your
masterpieces. Dress Mona Lisa anew, or undress her, but please don't
put moustache on her face (as Duchamps did). Fill up a big box with
various scraps you can pick up whenever you want. Write a diary as we
used to do in primary school, and glue in it something that will remind
you of the day. I'd suggest you often drop by the stationer's, invent
your own post-cards or work on ordinary ones, personalize your mail
paper, colour envelopes before you send them. Try to make Mail Art. I'd
suggest you create a corner in your house where you can satisfy your
whims. Finally, make friends with chance, sometimes watch the clouds,
and above all be daring!".
interviewed by M. Shai, pubblished on "Disegno" N. 40, in February 1991.
1 Anagramming a rainy day (1987)
2 Migratory code (1978)
3 Donna Prima vera - Spring Woman (1983)
4 La stretta - Variation on a Donizetti's page (1978) - n.b. the pubblished title is not the correct one
5 As Prometeo said (1974)