Posted on

Merzing the Night Away*

What brought me here today:

I’m starting to put together my new studio space. I’ve not been able to do any kind of physical art creation in a month. There have been so many other tasks that have demanded my attention during the move. By the time this blog posts the much-needed furniture will have been delivered from IKEA. Hopefully I will have had some time to do some art creation, perhaps some sewing, by now.

My new studio is not large, but I’m not creating huge pieces of artwork. The fact that I will have my own private space in which to create my artwork is a bigger deal to me than the actual size of the space itself. I’ve not had my own studio space for about ten years now. Prior to moving to Finland, my husband and I shared a studio space. The larger bedroom in a two bedroom house.

Need for my own merz:

I’ve been getting increasingly restless by not being able to create artwork. Longtime readers know that creating artwork for me is my personal therapy. As the need to run errands slows down, my need to create increases. Everything feels so…’apart‘ for me right now. I need to have a designated space just for me where I can go and create.

A big part of me also just wants to ‘nest’ a bit. What I mean by nesting is to make our new living space feel like I belong in it. I need to shape aspects of my physical environment to my own personal tastes I suppose. The need to create my own personal Merzbau is really what I’m talking about

Merzbau’s were the creation of an artist named Kurt Schwitters. He has long been one of my favourite artists from the Dada and Surrealists movements. The Merzbaus were altered interiors created by Schwitters in several of his residences. None of the original Merzbaus exist anymore. The Tate has an excellent article about them here. The reconstructed Merzbaus look amazing too!

I have limitations:

The spaces that Schwitters created in his the series of Merzbaus he created are far more intricate and permanent than I have plans for in my own small studio. I need to have a space that’s designed and decorated for no one other than myself. A place of my own creation that is meant to nurture further artistic creation.

Sometimes my wish to own less ‘stuff’ comes into direct opposition to my creation of artwork and a creative workspace. I’m a magpie at heart, collecting so many different types of things that can be used in the creation of my artwork. Much of what I collect is recyclable, so that helps a little. Especially if I have to selectively reduce those supplies and materials.

I suppose that I should look at the accumulation of tool, materials, and supplies for artwork creation in a different way. The majority of ‘stuff’ will be used to create artwork. Artwork that will be sold and leave my studio. Well, hopefully most of the artwork I create will eventually leave my studio.

Studio space:

My new studio measures around 12 (3.7 x 1.8 m) by 6 feet-ish. The landlord calls it a walk-in closet. It has some wire shelves installed along one wall. There are spaces where I could add some small shelving units if I need them. The room has a door that closes, and a window with blinds. There’s carpet on the floor, so I will need to put down a plastic mat for my desk chair. There is also a non-functioning radiator that is already being used as a shelf.

The desk that I ordered from IKEA is a smaller version of the Linmon Adils desk that I had in Finland. I didn’t get the set of Alex drawers that I previously had. I decided that in such a small studio space, I wanted to be able see my art tools, materials, and supplies. The hope being that I don’t forget that I already have something instead of buying more of something I already have.

I decided to get a small rolling cart to hold the items that previously had taken up space on my desk. It’s a Raskog utility cart. I had to get it in gray because that’s all that they had in stock. If I decide I don’t like the colour, I’ll just paint it. I also thought that if it turns out that I don’t like using this cart, my husband can use it at his desk, or perhaps in the kitchen.

Better definition:

I need to better define exactly what I mean by a  creating my own Merz.  I don’t mean that I’m nesting either. That implies that I’m gathering all kinds of things together and creating something larger. It’s not like a bower bird either, because I’m not collecting all kinds of specific objects to display in a way to attract other ‘birds’. A cocoon or chrysalis doesn’t work either, because I’m not hoping to come out or through some type of creative metamorphosis.

My inability to find a readymade description of what I require of my studio, means that I’m going to need to come up with some term specific to myself and my artwork. Right now, I just have no idea what that definition or name could possibly be. I’m sure that in time, the definition will reveal itself.

IKEA in the US:

You may have detected a pattern of IKEA-centric furniture in this post. Part of the reason for that is that we wanted to simply replace some of the items we had previously owned in Finland. My husband and I both liked the Linmon Adils desks. Their prices were also well within our budget. Purchasing from IKEA seemed like the best option too, since we are familiar with the brand and specific items.

We had to make a trip to an actual brick and mortar IKEA to place our furniture order. The trip took a bit of planning, and included trains, busses and subways. From previous experience, we knew that we needed to dedicate an entire day to the IKEA trip as well. I’ve got to admit, it was a hot, humid, and absolutely miserable day to travel to IKEA via public transport. I was completely knackered by the end of the day.

Not in the Nordics anymore:

My husband and I were kind of disappointed by the physical IKEA store that we went to. The staff was incredibly friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They were patient as saints as well. However, the store itself was just kind of...sad. There were a lot of completely empty shelves, as well as display pieces that were obviously put together incorrectly. Or perhaps just broken.

The cafeteria was a disappointment. Whatever they were serving as lingonberry jam was not lingonberry jam. It was insanely sweet. The food we ordered was just not very good. It was if it’d been in a steam tray for several days. The rolls were hard as rocks too. It was all just so disappointing. I do not blame the store employees. They seemed to know that their store was in a sad state.

The entire experience felt like Nordic cosplay for American audiences. There were some words and phrases on wall displays that were not exactly true. No Swede shouts “FIKA!” and then the whole office runs off to drink coffee. I don’t think that most people care if IKEA in the US is an accurate representation or not in any case. Our personal experiences at the IKEA stores in Finland were a more gratifying experience overall.

Circumstances beyond their control:

Once my husband and I had some time to digest our recent US IKEA experience, we chalked a lot of what we thought was sad the on-going pandemic. People ordered a lot of items that couldn’t readily be restocked. The cafeteria was in a state of partial closure because of pandemic restrictions as well. This IKEA may be running with less staff than normal as well.

So, now what?

Right now, I want to get back to creating artwork. I have several different pieces that I want to create. Many of the pieces I want to create are for my online shop. I also have several large, paper mache pieces that either need to be finished, or repaired as well. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I’m not prone to creative blocks. There are always pieces that I want/need to create.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

*The title of this blog is based upon an album by The Shins, Wincing the Night Away. I’ve been a Shins fan for a long time. When I lived in Albuquerque, I saw them perform a lot at the Launchpad.  I linked to some free listening on YouTube, but if you like what you hear, go buy some Shins. They are so incredibly worth it.