Is there a world where the ’ultimate selflessness’ is a form of delusion and narcissism? Unfortunately, that world, by some wild coincidence, is our own. When GAHSP spoke to artist and author Johan Deckmann, his stance on improving the world with his art stroke a few cords in the heart of this author. What, at first, seems as libertarianism applied to the arts is, actually, merely a fair estimation of human’s abilities in regards to the injustice of it all, free of delusions of grandeur and various manifestations of the saviour complex.
A psychotherapist by trade, Deckmann chose to merge his professional aspirations with his lifelong passion for creating. Classical training in the science of the mind allows Deckmann to build art pieces pierced with satire so sophisticated that it makes the average comedian no brighter than Chandler from the ’cult’ television series F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
What is your story / background as a Creative?
I started painting in my teens but pursued a career as a psychotherapist. In 2015 I began my book series as a hybrid between my practice as a psychotherapist and being an artist.
VALUES /// PROBLEMS
What are three fundamental values that you would like to embrace throughout your career?
To pursue truth regarding yourself, others and our reason to exist, honesty with yourself and others which I think leads to well-being and passion, having a goal, a direction that adds meaning to your life.
What are three relevant problems that you wish to solve or improve with the help of your work?
Personal awareness that leads to peace of mind that leads to better relationships. Eventually, this ability should lead to a happier and more empathic world, but it will never happen because only a minority of the world is engaged in this process. But it’s better than nothing. I work on a strictly personal level. I have no intentions of improving the world as we know it. I simply don’t believe it’s possible. Only to a limited extent.
Johan Deckmann answers questions related to our #ASK campaign
Are words more important now than ever?
Question asked by Bosco Shane, Artist & Writer, London
I think they are as important as ever. Back when the holy books were written and the epiphanies were given, words were important. And words are still a big part of our life. Just as humanity has grown, so has the importance of being reminded of the principles that make life better. I think words like that need to be written and read across the sky, on every street, all across social media, so they can’t be missed.
Are we creating better art; is the condensing of influence creating more unique works?
Question asked by Ashleigh Hobbs, Artist, Brisbane
Who is to judge? I think art that touches our hearts or adds value to our life is good art. I think that almost everybody has the ability to project their personality into something that we might call art. Far from everyone sees this as a relevant activity. Otherwise, everyone would be an artist. So maybe that’s for the better. I don’t think there are any limits for what should be perceived as art, because it’s definitely in the eye of the beholder. Social media is a great gift with all its variety and inspiration and new artists are growing in that soil every day. And some of them create unique works.
When will the audience pursue actual strength rather than fame?
Question asked by Lee Ann Lui, Photographer, Hong Kong & London
I think this is a matter of personal awareness. Without strong mental boundaries you are an easy target. We experience a massive exposure on social media and fame and fortune are placed on a high pedestal. This seems to be the highest achievement. It’s not a new thing but I think this idea is more massive than ever before in the culture on social media. But personal awareness isn’t something you can download. It takes time and effort and, most of all, you have to really want it and believe that this effort will benefit you. But it will benefit you on some level and it just might help you to focus on your unique abilities and strengths instead of chasing what seems to make sense to someone else.
How to end the difference between people?
Question asked by Panni Margot, Fashion Designer, Buenos Aires
Whether you believe or not, the principle of treating others as you want them to treat you is a big part of the solution. But again, it will only happen to a limited extent.
What is your definition of success?
To wake up and feel valuable, to feel good enough without the approval of others. To have a clear sense that your life makes sense, and it matters that you are alive. That and the ability to abstract from the unavoidable pain of life.
SUCCESS /// FAILURE
If you decide to become the judge of your own success you can set the rules yourself. Of cause, failure is unavoidable, so it’s important to remember that one of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when experiencing temporary defeat.
SUCCESS /// RESPONSIBILITY
I think you have a responsibility to give it your best shot. If everything goes wrong, you will have a good consciousness.
SUCCESS /// PROGRESS
Again, progress is very individual. What feels like progress for one person will feel like stagnation or decline for another. But, you can’t score without a goal, right? So become aware of what’s important to you. Not to your family or friends or society. Become aware of what’s important to the person in the mirror. You have to start with yourself. You need to be filled up yourself before you can pour into other people’s glasses.
This interview contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.
Written and Edited by Julia Horvath and Gennady Oreshkin
Image Courtesy of Johan Deckmann