Posts Tagged ‘annotations’

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Thomas Hirschhorn’s Monuments and Displays

April 3, 2009

Thomas Hirschhorn’s work parallels elements of a project I worked on and developed for a number of years called the Tollbooth Gallery. The Tollbooth was a reclaimed hunk of concrete in a public space that housed a twenty-four hour outdoor video galley and paper-based installations (video, audio, and paper) in an urban setting. The exhibitions changed every six weeks and featured work from artists from around the world. One of the most exciting aspects of the project was the precariousness of the materials and equipment that were left in public spaces even in the most extreme weather. The project was always in danger of vandalism, theft, or weather failure, but that became part of the work and how it was received. In order to succeed the project had to create a relationship where it trusted in the casual passerby and chance encounters. Like the Tollbooth, Hirschhorn’s work often consists of hewn together spaces in public locations that house an idea or event.

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Agnes Martin’s Writings

February 4, 2009

Agnes Martin’s Writings read like art torah, striving towards an inner perfection and finding a place of honesty in one’s efforts. In my work I am at a crisis and wish I could spend more time wrapped in her process. Her ideas are profound, yet resonate with the dailiness of life, as she seeks an underlying awareness of perfection. I found myself wishing I had some Agnes Martin chip I could have installed in my head (keeping these ways of thinking at the forefront of my thoughts about art and writing). She is wise in exactly the way I am not.

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General and Annotated Bibliography

January 29, 2009

For those that are interested I’ve finally posted my general bibliography and annotated bibliography as their own pages (link to the right). All of these books are from the past two years and correspond to the manuscript I am currently working on and art writing/essays that I have done during this process.

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Martin’s Branwell

September 10, 2008

Douglas A. Martin’s Branwell is a novel that bleeds the line between novel and historical fact. It’s written in a style that traces the tragic story of Branwell Brontë and composites it through the lives of those involved, from golden child and hope of the family to drunken dissolute, all while the politics of family allegiance drift and Branwell falls further into oblivion. This hallucinatory narrative shifts back and forth, switches tense, shows us one reading only to challenge it later, and ultimately unfolds a tale embroidered of speculation, suspicion, and earnest confession, where one is never certain of the absolute truths.

The novel feels invitingly Nineteenth Century, a lost Jane Eyre, yet contemporary and pluralistic. Like Victorian novels it follows the main character from early childhood until death, but here the voice is many blended perspectives. The result is a dream or hallucination that feels true and harvested from the period. I’ve always had a soft spot for old British novels like Jude the Obscure, Mill on the Floss, or even Moll Flanders. This has the same sense of inevitable doom, with damp decayed surfaces, but the success of Branwell is that it doesn’t mimic these other works. It’s not a copy of style, but something hybrid and new hewn out of the pieces of something else, halfway between poetry, biopic, and a novel.

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Robbe-Grillet: Jealousy

August 17, 2008

After reading Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy, it’s apparent why his writing is so closely aligned with visual art, as his approach embodies a sort of object based conceptualist mise-en-scène. The reader is bound meticulously to the cataloguing and scrutinizing of objects in rooms and nurtures a relational system based on distance, proximity, and difference.

Jealousy is a compulsive observation of interactions between the implied narrator/character’s wife A… and a neighbor Franck. The novel is set on a banana plantation and documents the narrator’s growing suspicion that A… and Franck are having an affair. The language focuses on extreme surface, chronicling objects, proximity of things, and disembodied individuals treated as bits and pieces; relational. All is static, purgatorial, and repetitive in this world; change and growth come through revisiting the flood of surfaces and exterior observations. What is different? What changed in how the narrator decodes the tableau of objects as he seeks to confirm his suspicions? A slightly damaged and subjective empiricism is at work here. Sitting on the veranda the narrator observes:

A…’s arms, a little less distinct than her neighbor’s because of the color—though light—of the material of her dress, are also lying on the elbow-rests of her chair. The four hands are lying in a row, motionless. The space between A…’s left hand and Franck’s right hand is approximately two inches. The shrill cry of some nocturnal carnivore, sharp and short, echoes again toward the bottom of the valley, at an unspecified distance. (49)

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Holden Caulfield

April 30, 2008

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye is a difficult piece to write about well, and even harder to write something original about. The story is set as a flashback and takes place over three days in which the protagonist Holden Caulfield is expelled from boarding school, decides to leave early and returns to New York to stay in a hotel, while becoming progressively disillusioned about societal roles and expectations. Through this he becomes increasingly unhinged by the events around him and suffers from a mental breakdown. The plot takes on a tangential feel as one event triggers another digression on Caulfield’s path from prep school to emotional collapse, but the structure is deceptively concise and directed while appearing lateral.

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Liminal Space in The Science of Sleep

April 28, 2008

When The Science of Sleep came out in theaters I was teaching a Surrealism class to a group of about thirty high school students at a public school as part of my film program. One of the hardest things to teach students at that age is content. They were great with technique, craft, and formalism, but the hardest thing was to get them to understand what their work was or could be about. This class was probably one of the most successful tools I had for helping students to understand this leap, and in retrospect it helped me with my understanding of the film The Science of Sleep.

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