Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wanderlust: The Sea and the Sky Are Exactly the Same

Poetry Wednesday


We have balanced a rowboat
across the coffee table.
We get in each day and row,
me, swinging the bat to fight off seaMonsters and
you, holding the compass and shielding my eyes from the sun.
There are fish
that fly overhead and land
sometimes in our boat to be cooked and eaten by you,
named by me, and sung to.
And we row
Singing two different shanties at once,
an unconscionable noise
we wouldn't dare make in the dark,
when seaThings swim up
to the swollen belly of the boat,
there to sleep,
held fast by suckers and slime.

We tie the boat up to the table when we sleep.
We use a simple knot.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

The Rabbit
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hearing the hawk squeal in the high sky
I and the rabbit trembled,
Only the dark small rabbits newly kittled in their neatly dissembled
Hollowed nest in the thicket thatched with straw
Did not respect his cry.
At least, not that I saw.

But I have said to the rabbit with rage and a hundred times,
Streak it for the bushes! Why do you sit so still?
You are bigger than a house, I tell you, you are bigger than a
hill, you are a beacon for air-planes!
O indiscreet!
And the hawk and all my friends are out to kill!
Get under cover!" But the rabbit never stirred; she never will.
And I shall see again and again the large eye blaze
With death, and gently glaze;
The leap into the air I shall see again and again, and the kicking
And the sudden quiet everlasting, and the blade of grass green in the strange mouth of the interrupted grazer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

And Now I Must Go To Poland

Pretty, aren't they? My mum brought some of these lanterns over to me last month from England, and now I'm excited to set them free.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

They Are No Longer Friendly.

She said:
I love the powderpages,
goodgood yes so sweet and yellow
in the lighthouse,
I am addicted to this milk.

She said:
I have silver
I have gold and anemia,
the blood of littlelamb
who is my king.

She said:
I will play
any instrument you can create,
if you will watch me
(I will run down to the water).

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Untitled Poem [Unslide the door]
by Joshua Beckman

Unslide the door,
uncap the lazy little coffee cup.
The pasty people must be part of the dinner.
And a city turns its incapacity in,
foolish city. She was naked
and her halo all crushed against
the pillow while she slept, but I
didn’t care. Wake and totter.
Place a hand over your mouth,
a hand over another.
A killing pain, a bag all organized,
an inch of skin along your leg.
It’s like they kept making babies
and stopped making baby whistles.
Doable, yes, but here they
teach us something different.
It’s a battery. It’s a garden.
The glass box in which the lettuce grew
was broken by nasty raccoons
and we turned the other cheek.
The sun does rise and melt the frost,
the frost in little drops does fill
the empty lettuce, and in this way
the world is truly nourished.
No incredible silence, no
intangible calorie, just
bad raccoon in a good world.
Just coverless table and
silent drape awaiting breakfast.
Imagine how mean people
can be in dreams, and how
kind sleeping seems later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cai Guo-Qiang: Artworks/Fireworks

The first Cai Guo-Qiang piece I ever saw was the Mass MoCA installation of Inopportune: Stage One (2004). In many ways, it was an awkward introduction to his work. His installations, beautiful though they are, do not lie at the heart of what he does. Because Cai Guo-Qiang likes explosives. A lot.

Cai came to mainstream prominence when he worked on the fireworks display for the Olympic Games at Bejing, but that was not how I discovered him. I was taking a Chinese art class at Vassar during my sophomore year when his work suddenly popped up on the projection screen. For two months we had been learning the spectrum of celadon glazes and the nuances of Chinese calligraphy--don't get me wrong, I loved the class, and might have ended up specializing in Asian art, had that professor not left Vassar the following year. But to visualize, as we had been for months, millennia of painstaking ink characters and forms struck from the earth evolving to the rainbow bombs on the screen was....a treat.

Inopportune: Stage One (2004), installed at Mass MoCA

Today Cai Guo-Qiang lives and works in New York City, but he studied in Shanghai and Japan and was born in Quanzhou City in 1957 to a painter and a historian. I kind of like the sense of it, the way art, pinioned in between the politics and traditions of history, gives birth to a new art, one that resists. He's a genealogical Newton's Law. In an national artistic tradition that measures and constricts, Cai embraces spontaneity. The gunpowder is the brain, the colored lights are the face.

As I said, I think that his gunpowder "paintings" are the most special of his works. It's easy to be drawn in by his firework displays, because they are both beautiful and entertaining, but you have to also watch the videos of his gunpowder painting creations. It's very like a dance: he sits quietly in some lonesome space, planning his designs with charcoal and paper. The canvas rolls out, huge like water in a great warehouse. He spreads the gunpowder, "fire medicine", in eddies and swirls, at times, I think, letting it land where it will, changing his mind and changing his patterns. Stones keep things as they are, and he lights the gun powder. From the edge of the spectacle, the work is lost to smoke, but dozens of his aids, like worker bees, rush into the fog to put out small fires and remove the heavy stones. The smoke clears, and Cai meets his creation.

Here's the thing: I love how varied Cai Guo-Qiang's work is. His fireworks are as beautiful as his installations, which are displayed perfectly with his gunpowder paintings. But there's something about his variability that doesn't sit right with me. I've loved artists before that were just as varied in their form and materials, and for me there's been something right about that variability. I just can't settle with Cai's works though. Maybe that's the point; I haven't decided yet.

Dream (2005), The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, USA

Wanderlust: Light and Magic

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

(the truth that everyone knows but no one admits)

brother goes cockeyed
nudging tin cans along
a fine bench

hulaHula girl
on a blueberry dash
inhaling the fumes from her grass

man sitting naked on the rocks
picked up a thing
with his eyes half-open

mother has feelings
at the airport gate
(it costs a quarter
bag your liquids)

i wear new clothes when I paint
and make them old.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Partially because Joshua Beckman is the shit, partially because we email, and partially because he's like my Bob Ross of poetry.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trust Me. I'm the Doctor.

It was recently brought to my attention that I talk like I'm on crack about 85% of the time. Thank you mother.

I blame it on a combination of coffee and gusto. LUCKILY, I have found my fast-talking soul mate, and NO, it's not Brian. Sorry Brian.

It's Matt Smith, A.K.A. Doctor Who. I. Am. Obsessed. Here's why:

If you don't already know, Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi program in the world, and it rocks. Heed me. I usually do NOT like space "stuff" (aliens, space ship thingers, lasers, etc, with the exception of Wall-E and Stitch), but this show is so well done. I'm not an expert; I've only seen the Matt Smith seasons, and a few of the Christopher Eccleston episodes (which I liked less), but I've heard that the David Tennant episodes are snazzy and I'm willing to watch them, mostly because David Tennant=Barty Crouch Jr. Oooooo yeah.

Why is it good? The writing is phenomenal (at least from the seasons I've been watching...I watched two seasons in one week, I'm cool), and you're guaranteed to fall in love with the characters. When I watch it, I'm outraged at least half the time because I'm so worried about whatever happens to be trying to kill/eat them. And these writers are so smart-- they mix history in with art and science and magic and actually pull it off. I feel like some shows try to do it and end up making programs that only work if the audience is half-asleep. But this show is smart, and it expects its audience to be smart as well. There's a Churchill episode. There's one that plays on Bram Stoker's Dracula. There's a Nixon episode. And one of my favorites takes place in the life and mind of Van Gogh (played beautifully by Tony Curran):

The Van Gogh episode is gorgeous, and, to make me even more ecstatic, it guest-stars Bill Nighy as a doting tour guide at the Musée d'Orsay. Brian and I kept a book of Van Gogh's paintings in front of us while we watched it, because you could freeze almost any of the scenes, and there was a reference to one of them in it, if the entire scene itself wasn't a recreation.

The other great thing about the show is that it's often SCARY. One of the reasons I have trouble watching earlier seasons is because the special effects just aren't that good (the show used to operate on a super low budget), and they can't ever get the villains to scary-dude-status. But more recent seasons DO. Aside from the Tony Curran episode, The Time of Angels was probably my favorite episode, because it had me peeing my pants. Not really, but it freaked me out. Basic premise: A monster race of "Weeping Angels" that can't move if you're looking at them, but come at you as soon as you blink/look away. The Doctor and his groupies get tricked into a labyrinth FULL of them, and it's all flickering lights and dead people from there. Good stuff.

I recommend starting with the first of the Matt Smith episodes, and working your way up to date. Purist me wants to stay start from the beginning of the beginning, but I didn't do that--I started with a few Christopher Eccleston ones, as I said, and it almost made me quit altogether. Matt Smith will get you hooked though. Guarantee.

Annnnnnnd, here are some gems:
The Doctor: 'Course then they started having laws against self-marrying. I mean, what was that about?

Angel Bob: The Angels are feasting sir. Soon we'll be able to absorb enough power to consume this vessel, this world and all the stars and worlds beyond.
The Doctor: Well, we've got comfy chairs, did I mention?
Angel Bob: We have no need of comfy chairs.
The Doctor to Amy: I made him say "comfy chairs".

Rory to the Vampire-Piranha-Man: You big stupid great Spongebob...

Dream Lord: "Friends". Is that the right word for the people you acquire?

Van Gogh: It's color! Color that holds the key! I can hear the colors. Listen to them. Every time I step outside I feel nature is shouting at me. "Come on! Come and get me!" "Come on! Come on! Capture my mystery!"
The Doctor: Maybe you've had enough coffee now. How about some nice calming tea.

Craig: Is that a reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury?
The Doctor: I'm his special favorite. Shhhh.

Rory: You are so beautiful. I love your get-up. Oh, it's great. You should dress as a pirate more often. Hey, hey. Cuddle me, ship mate.

Idris: Biting's excellent! It's like kissing. Only there's a winner.

Ok, I've started watching the David Tennant episodes. They're good. Not as good as the Matt Smith ones, partly because I'm in love with Matt Smith and partly because Billie Piper annoys the pants off of me. But they're good. Hooray for 4 more years of Dr. Who.