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The Practice of Art (poem)

What makes an old man
take off all his clothes,
put a rusty bucket on his head,
stand in a field of broken sticks
take a photograph of himself,
and then present the image
above a pile of red sand
in the sterile space of an art gallery?

By which time the piece makes a statement
that is aesthetic as well as political
and the amnesiac viewer gets what it is saying
about our disrespect for the world,

but comments instead about the depth of black
and the shades of white. And it makes
no difference to our degradation of the earth, but
making a difference was never the aim, let’s face it.
I can’t be worried about the reception of thing.
I am an old man. I have no time to worry
about messages.

What I want my art to do is to carry me
into the heart of creation, the heat of creation,
to the place where my feet
pad softly from crayon to camera
and all I can hear is my own excited heart
because I am about to discover what I do next.

By Belinda Broughton, from Sparrow, Poems of a Refugee about Janek’s life. Available (in Australia) from the publisher Ginninderra Press, and Fish Pond. Elsewhere from The Book Depository (postage free!) and Amazon, among others, and as an ebook from many ebook suppliers.