Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

Division of Labor

We go east
At the helm you are
careful, spotting

in the back with
explosives, tending a great wish
for warmth.

(You burst, and I can smell sunlight.           I ignite
and burn perfectly,
      without a conscience,
                    in one direction)

I am afraid of the wind.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:
Third Anniversary
by Sara Guest

What’s lighter than now?

Your shadow close to the lighthouse
the green rocks
the green rocks
the shell
the pink insides
the shell eaten away

thick-fisting sun
how love washes through me
the scrubbing

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Liked Today: The Setting of the (Summer) Sun

Fading Glory, Empty Stages: The Installations of Tim Etchells

Tim Etchells is a poet at heart. It's clear from his body of work that he prefers to articulate himself with words, even when those words appear in the drama of art installation. His phrases have all the pith of a carefully chosen line of poetry. The beauty is in their simplicity, in their vagueness and endless possibilities for application. The future will be confusing, you will live forever, and there is still hope. These are not questions, but certainties.

 The wonderful thing about these works is that they have a direction, and that is where the meaning lies. Read, for example, the artist's statement about the 2010 installation he calls "Red Sky At Night":

Red Sky at Night is an accumulating installation that changes each day over the course of the exhibition through the addition of new material. On day 1 a set of helium-filled balloons, with hand-cut cardboard letters H-O-P-E suspended below them on ribbons are installed in a line against the ceiling. This first set of balloons will stay trapped up against the ceiling through the hours of the gallery openingm, until after 8 hours or so they lose a little helium and start drifting from the ceiling. By next morning the first batch of balloons and letters are all on the floor, most likely immediately below the place where they were installed.

At the start of day 2, a new set of 4 helium-filled balloons and letters H-O-P-E gets installed against the ceiling. These will again drop over an 8 hour period... and again come to rest on the ground. The next morning – day 3 – the same process of installing a new batch of balloons is repeated and so on. The process continues daily through the exhibition, on all days the gallery is open to the public. Over the course of the exhibition, the floor beneath the balloons installed at the ceiling slowly fills with balloons from previous days and the work shifts from being a relatively minimal intervention in the space to being a rather sprawling, colourful and chaotic one.

In this work, then, there is movement on multiple levels. Each morning, "HOPE" is again raised up high, and as the hours pass, sinks slowly to the floor before being raised once more. And each morning, there are HOPE's unlucky companions who are left to lie below, accumulating like bodies.

There's also something interesting in the way Etchells extracts the most interior of your thoughts and wires them to the gallery wall. The sentiments he chooses are those too close to anxiety or longing to be given voice, and yet there they are, distilled from all the things that are easy enough to say and lit up before you. You're standing beside a stranger, uncomfortably staring at your own hopes and fears. But they belong to the stranger too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Little Love

Between TAing, the coffee shop, and the noise from the drunken frat party that kept me and Moody up last night, I'm all tuckered out. But also geeking out about the return of Doctor Who tonight. What does geeking out involve? Potentially fort-building (Doctor Who is best watched in a warm and cozy blanket fort), candy-gathering, and general hopping about. Busybusy. So I'll leave you with a little love, and the promise of an update about the art of PhD-getting very soon.

I love the music videos made by the animation company OH YEAH WOW, and especially the ones they do for All India Radio. Here's the love:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

my weakness

i watched you hunger;
it was a twilight-in-your-eye,
more lidless than The Want
of water
                          in mine

(do you remember when we watched the sea-bird
        with his head down
                and a white beard?)

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Cafe, Person Crying
by Sara Michas-Martin

The spirit unbundled like that

no place

proper to land

eye to eye                  out of reach

the meanwhile


the shared quality

of accents

a need to level

continuously a script

burn spots                   standing quickly

after not standing

hard to judge

for instance

corners on most people

from the margins


some things

born without aid

or antonym

it’s common in fading to ignore

a sigh let go

a short descent

radial sob

here                   in this room together

innumerable the ways

we are not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Say Something Nice

I'm sharing this for three reasons. 1.) It made me smile. 2.) I miss New York City. 3.) The little dude at 2:12.

To infinity...and beyond!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


Into the sea, holding a fish,
you are settled, and do not think of dropping her.
You dream at night, sometimes
of Open-Arms-and-Swim-Away.
It is a hungry dream, made
in the grey-turning-of-things,
of the tide,
of the pause to remember
the way things float in a net
with the doomed fishes
and sink with them.

I’ve named her,
(You say it is too early) but
I know you love this

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, something(s) not-mine that I love:

Oh, atlas
by Joshua Beckman

Oh, atlas
you forgot my island.

She Considers Trading Her Secrets
by Catherine Pierce

These girls, she says. These girls, I could smite them.
These girls, if they knew about the tree inside me, or

the rabbit trap, or the plastic doll parts. If they knew
about the dog I walk each night in my dreams, her big

teeth showing, her paws like dinner plates. If they knew
how I like knowing she could eat me but chooses not to.

That is how I feel safest. These girls. If they saw me lit
by the dome light of my station wagon. If they saw me under

his hands during the ice storm. What would they say?
Would they kiss me? Would they share their licorice

and chlamydia? Would we talk about equations as if
they held the world? Oh, these girls. They are dumb

as bicycles. Their eyes like tree knots. Their smiles
like paper. If they knew that my world is not their world,

is gloaming-colored and damp, echoes with howls and bells,
floats in the space between the desert and the past—

would they ride the carousel next to me? Would they,
for once, give me the best horse?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New James Clar

I've posted on James Clar before. He's one of my favorite installation artists, and if I'm not adoring his work (which I am, the majority of the time), I'm usually at least appreciating it. But I have to say, I just got a look at some of his most recent pieces, and I just don't like (most of) them. I've included a few of them below, with his own statements about the works. I'll let you judge them for yourself, but I'm a bit disappointed. It seems like he's been quite focused on making sociopolitical art, which I like. However, he's lost the beauty and the hush that, for me, makes his artwork powerful. By its nature, political art is often difficult to digest; the world isn't always pleasant, so why should its art be? But when the art no longer works on the pulse of that part of the mind that loves the aesthetic ineffable, it starts to suffer. I hope he finds a balance, because  I like where he's going, just not where he is at the moment.

Left Hand Cuts Off Right

134 x 30 x 30 cm
Fluorescent tube light, acrylic, dog leash and megaphone
Edition of 2 + 2 AP
Left Hand Cuts Off Right presents a power structure. A megaphone, often used in people power revolutions is connected to a dog leash which is pulled through a hoop of light. When mass groups of people organize to revolt there is someone or some group that is organizing, funding, or structuring the revolt; these are the people in power.

Up Against the Wall

300 x 70 x 10 cm
Fluorescent tube light, acrylic and kandora
Edition of 2 + 1 AP
Cities like Dubai have been able to modernize by embracing technology and globalization. The majority of people living here are foreigners and that has caused curiosity and focus on what the actual local culture is, and from the local side it has caused an identity crisis of sorts as they are now pressed to verify who they are. In this piece a kandora is held up high by a rod of light, letting you see it from far away, but at the same time it is immobilized and pressed against the wall.

**Up Against the Wall is actually the one of his newer works I like. It's quite frightening, but it's also graceful, and that's what holds you in front of it. Like its aesthetic message, it's political one is clear and unsettling, but articulated gracefully through spatial metaphor. 

Border Patrol

115 x 200 cm
Acrylic, indicator lights and wire
Edition 1 + 1 AP
A map created using indicator lights depicts two sets of information. The white lights show the areas of the world with the highest population densities, and the red lights show the locations of active nuclear missiles.

Staring at the Sun
2.5 m diameter
Fluorescent tube lights color filters, steel tube, wire and motor

Wall mounted lights with special color filters create a kaleidoscope of light. In front of this hangs an abstract geometric shape that rotates, alluding to the sun. Made from stainless steel the object reflects the light, causing it’s shape to warp and shift.

**I kind of like this one as well, but it's closer to what I know as classic James Clar. It reminds me of when you hold your fingers up in front of the sun, letting it come through here and there between the bones, black against white.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


He said,
“She took out all my insides
and hung them on the outside,
on all the lonesome ledges
she had loved
and hung from
and she put out all the candles
and she put out all the noise
and the moon got quiet,
she said,
‘to make it like the water,’
and I looked at her for answers,
and she lit up all my insides,
and she strung up all my questions
and I thought that it was madness, but
knew that it was goodness,
she anchored me to the floorboards
with spoons and stakes and newsprint
for which she had paid in pennies,
and the promise that she would do this,
and when I was all around us,
she lay there on the carpet,
and she stared up through my branches
and they were waving in the water,
she said,
‘I know what you are thinking,’
and she did.

Annnnnnnnnnnd, something not-mine that I love:

Dark Wood, Dark Water
by Sylvia Plath

This wood burns a dark
Incense. Pale moss drips
In elbow-scarves, beards

From the archaic
Bones of the great trees.
Blue mists move over

A lake thick with fish.
Snails scroll the border
Of the glazed water

With coils of ram's-horn.
Out in the open
Down there the late year

Hammers her rare and
Various metals
Old pewter roots twist

Up from the jet-backed
Mirror of Water
And while the air's clear

Hourglass sifts a
Drift of goldpieces
Bright waterlights are

Sliding their quoits one
After the other
Down boles of the fir.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vally Nomidou's Paper Women

Vally Nomidou's paper sculptures first caught my attention because of their resemblance to Gehard Demetz's wooden children.  But as much as I am captured by Demetz's little ghosts, there's something about Nomidou's creations that seem more raw, more real, though they are, in fact, made of something more processed . Both artists have chosen, with some purpose, we must assume, a subgroup of humanity as their subject matter.  Demetz has chosen children, a classification he could once claim, while Nomidou has chosen women (of various ages), a classification to which she will always lay claim. There is mediation between vulnerability and strength which is echoed in material form. Their materials are the same, and yet they are not. Both are hewn from plants and trees--alive things made un-alive--and reconstituted as strange, Pinocchio-like creatures who aren't alive, but are, or would like nothing more than to be so. 
I read a wonderful article on Nomidou's Let it Bleed exhibition, written by Dr. Lina Tsikouta-Deimezi. She discusses the roles of Existentialism, Phenomenology, and Freudian psychoanalysis in Nomidou's work, quoting Sartre: "Existence precedes essence." I like the trajectory this gives the art. It is as though the form has come to being, materialized as the precursor of some phantom will. Its existence is a process begun in the form, which is partially-but-not-completely dormant. They're not sentient in the way that Demetz's sculptures are. These are more like the crumbling white skins left behind by serpents than the serpents themselves.  

I think it is worth noting that, unlike Demetz's children, Vally Nomidou's women don't ever really seem to engage the viewer. Some of them lift their heads and look forward, but never with the same self-possession as their wooden counterparts. The majority cast their closed eyes downward, tired, sad, dejected, or ashamed, perhaps. 

In some of Nomidou's women and girls, holes bored into the skull or slashes made in the torso show a stratification of newsprint and cardboard which are really all different versions of the same thing. There is no true inner framework, no difference between core and crust. In some places paper innards spill out like film from a much-loved cassette, while in others we see wire and seams, as though bits of flesh have only been closed together over that percolating consciousness. 
When I was writing my undergraduate thesis, I found Natalie Kosoi's 2005 article on the relationship of Rothko's paintings to Sartre's and Heidegger's philosophies very helpful because it posited that art as a medium reveals an essential human anxiety about the inevitability of death.For Heidegger, it is the primordial condition of “nothingness” which constitutes all that is anything. Existence is realized only in relation to the nothingness of which a thing is born, that which surrounds it, and that which it must become upon death/non-existence. Anything that exists does so like a tiny light turned on temporarily in a dark room; there is a force, unseen and unseeable, which turns it on, a period during which it burns, and a force that turns it off, returning the room to darkness. But without the darkness, the light would be meaningless; sudden light in a room already illuminated goes unnoticed. The human being is thus constituted by his eventual return to non-being (death). In Nomidou's work, I find this with the interplay between sculptures that are inhabited, and sculptures that are not. Most especially, in sculptures which are becoming inhabited. It is directional, and almost a inversion of Heidegger's theory of non-being.