I’ve been tinkering around with my website, completely redesigned! It features a lot of my writing, visual work, project archives, and has a new look. Take a few minutes and check it out at pappas-kelley.com, and then let me know what you think.
So I was talking about this recently with some of the ‘old timers’ from Don’t Bite the Pavement history, and obviously it is still in the early stages… But we have been thinking about putting together a new instalment of the video and film series over here in the UK. I just sent off a couple proposals, so keep an eye out for a new call for submissions and guidelines in the usual avenues and we’ll keep you posted.
From the archives, here’s artist Lauren Steinhardt talking about the series:
“Don’t Bite the Pavement provided a crucial platform for nurturing the talents of emerging film and video artists in the Puget Sound area. Each gathering of Don’t Bite the Pavement was a chance for artists and viewers to gather, interact, and to show and discuss their work both completed and in-progress. In this way, DBTP became an integral and vital part of the arts community.”
Here is something I wrote a couple days ago looking back at Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement:
Paul McCarthy may be an odd choice as an example for what’s ideal, as his work is often centered around the not ideal, and in many instances explores the shockingly corporeal. But last year I was lucky to catch the tail end of Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement at the Whitney, and saw how his work captivated and utterly transformed the dynamics of a gallery space. The exhibition was built around three installations (two of which were made specifically for the show, but based on unrealized proposals McCarthy made in the 1970s), and perhaps because these plans came from earlier in his career, we see the artist’s ideas less entrenched in the shtick of being Paul McCarthy (in his defense, the work still centers around spectacle and neurosis, with architecture here being a stand in for the human body, so it’s still classic McCarthy). Aggressive and disorienting, McCarthy’s is a violent and disruptive architecture, one that displaces us as viewers, and one that shows how art can transfix and demand presence.
Things have been busy around here. Sorry for not keeping you all up to date…
I just sent off a new article entitled Uta Barth’s Distrust of Narrative Cause/Effect and Agnes Martin’s Surrendered Perfection for an upcoming anthology by Evo Girls. I’ll keep you all posted on that, but I also sent off two new video pieces for exhibition (one to London and the other for the US and Australia). So a lot is coming out right now, but beyond all this thinking about Barth and Martin, I’ve been thinking about having had the opportunity to study and work with Claire Denis and Barbara Hammer. Each are very different, and the way their work looks and approach are completely different, but I think they are both an influence on the work I have been doing lately. It’s odd how these things come together, but take inspiration where you find it I suppose.
Signs are one of the more overworked bits of thought, like small pack animals carrying the weight of the world’s meaning. And along with this each philosopher or school of thought likes to have their own take on what exactly entails the framework of the sign, how they behave, their dynamics, and with each new approach they morph, pinch, subvert, or are twisted in order to fit within some larger framework. Signs are like the proteins of philosophy, in that they begin to “taste” like whatever they are cooked or seasoned with. It’s with this in mind that I approached Christopher M. Drohan’s Delueze and the Sign. As someone who’s only recently begun dipping a toe into the ideas of Delueze, it was through the familiar vantage point of the sign that I chose to approach. In Delueze and the Sign, Drohan highlights a surprisingly cohesive and accessible set of Deluezian semiotics from various sources into a concise volume that remains true to the language and dynamic approach. Through this system, signs emerge as a means for understanding the relationship between things as a way of learning and making meaning in the world. As Drohan observes: “It is signs that expose new relations in our world, and it is the search of signs that creates the most basic meanings through which we know the world” (23). In all of this Drohan should be commended on his ability to use language to clarify Deleuze’s key concepts, but also as a means to illustrate and give passion to the dynamic process set forth by Delueze, who in a sense is marrying a world of essences and ideals to objects and material realism through an analysis of the sign.
Several days ago I put together this video to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis and the Mt. St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980.
When I was little we lived about thirty miles from the mountain. On that morning the sky turned dark, everything shut down, and grey ash snowed from the sky. Schools around us were called off for the rest of the year and ash had to be plowed and shoveled like snow. When school started we practiced volcano drills wearing paper breathing masks and getting under our desks the way previous generations prepared for nuclear bomb drills.
The mountain had been known for its symmetry; the most beautiful mountain in the Cascade Range, the “Mount Fuji of America.” And so it felt like some mythological vengeance or jealousy when the prettiest mountain exploded, destroying itself and everything around.
On the same day singer Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself. Only a month before that the band released the single Love Will Tear Us Apart, and it is probably the song most associated with lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. I like the way the song sounds as the mountain destroys itself, they feel the same, coincide, and remind us that indeed: volcanoes (and love) will tear us apart, again.
With all the coverage around the gulf oil spill lately I’ve been thinking about beaches when I was a kid. Growing up near the coast in the states, we spent a lot of time beachcombing and scavenging the shoreline. When lucky you’d find bits of beach glass, the frosted shards produced by the tumbling action of the shore. Through a simple process garbage was transformed into gems, and there was a hierarchy and system of colours based on rarity. As I got older this glass was gradually replaced by the then still exotic plastic castoffs from Asia; strange junk food wrappers, laundry detergent, and unknown bottles labelled in foreign script, all caught in a direct current from afar. Then it seemed evidence of some elephant’s graveyard of objects, a place where things were drawn to as a final resting place out there, and you were lucky to catch a glimpse of on shore.
And now one hears about the great Pacific Trash Vortex, an immense floating island of plastics and sludge that some say is the size of Texas or possibly the entire continental United States. We’ve made a destination of our garbage, and as such it may still be an elephant graveyard of sorts, however instead of the fevered desire of poachers, we’ve constructed a manmade continent or monument of temporary objects that never break down, always hovering just past our shore and accumulating.
What does this mean when things don’t break down or go away, but instead continually accrue? Exploring this is Ramin Bahrini’s film ‘Plastic Bag’ about a discarded bag struggling with its immortality, and narrated by Herzog.