Dancing on the tightrope
Drawing on interviews we discuss everyday aesthetics in recreational shopping, gym exercise and art making. For our interviewees these practices represent a sphere of autonomy and self-fulfilment, constituted by a constant balancing between restraint and pleasure. In a process which resembles ‘dancing on the tightrope’, freedom and restriction, moments of release and self-discipline, desire and enforcement produce one another. Our comparative material suggests that this process is characteristic of everyday aesthetics. We discuss it under four themes – ‘doing your own thing’, building up competence, submitting to ideals and coping with failure – which build on one another and lead towards an image of self as a self-responsible agent. The process is about active creativity; people are striving to become the kind of people they want to be. This does not imply voluntarism, however. The activities take place in the midst of differently enforcing ideals, values and skills, and most importantly, forms of self-discipline.