Should life serve art, or art serve life? That’s the key question to understanding why I killed Daniel Lee Kendall some 3 years ago.
Sometimes we wish we could edit part of ourselves out – we like our hair but wish our lips were fuller. We like our height but wish our skin was a little smoother. We like that we’re creative, but wish we were a little more motivated… fill in your own story. Daniel Lee Kendall was and is my name, but somewhere along the line I became separate from it.
Killing Daniel Lee Kendall was an attempt to be free. Free of shyness, free of anxiety, free of uncertainty. Free from the mental prison I often found myself in. But then, what if it’s my shyness that allows me to be vulnerable, and that vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity? – the place where we dance with the divine. What if it is my anxiety that allows me to be sensitive, and sensitivity the path to experiencing some of life’s best moments? What if uncertainty allows me to question and become curious about this bizarre life, which for me is one of life’s greatest joys.
But it was also this: a decision not to buy into the romantic mythology of the ever tormented, forever alone, artist. A choice to explore the idea that if art is in its proper place it should make life richer, deeper, more fulfilling. The apotheosis of art and the artist is a deadly mythology which I decided I had no more room for in my life. Art is a tool, a finger pointing to something that can’t be pointed to, a mysterious pool of hope that lingers amongst the darkness of our inner lives. It should never be the destination, but a way. A process that brings light and new insight. Expanding life, not diminishing it. The highest art is a life lived well, and if making art doesn’t serve that end, then i’m not making art, and i’m not living how I want to live.
Holding all that together comes with a certain tension, and resurrecting Daniel Lee Kendall is not a return to the past but an attempt to embrace all of that. All of me. The shyness, the fear, my love for dancing and conversation, playing sport and adopting different personalities, getting loose while locking in tight, engaging with the struggle to become more lighthearted. It’s tempting to reduce ourselves to just one aspect of ourselves because we perceive it to be simpler, but as soon as we reduce ourselves to that one element we crave the things we left behind.
I watch a Childish Gambino film clip and have an insatiable desire to dance. I listen to the articulate drawl of Jim Morrison in an interview and want to lock myself in a room to read and think, but too much of that leaves me ancy and needing to scream and run, and then Noel Fielding knocks on my door and I just want to laugh and let my imagination run wild, painting childish paintings and writing silly poems, which inevitably leads me to a serious conversation with a good friend engaging the heaviness of my heart…
So what’s it like to be all these things? The idiosyncrasies, the seemingly mismatched messiness and mystery of all that makes us human? Well, that’s what I’m dancing with right now.