Posts Tagged ‘art’

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Uta Barth’s Distrust of Narrative/Cause and Effect

April 10, 2009

Writing is most alive when directly engaged in the experience—as a cartography of an encounter or inner space. Recently I stumbled across an interview with photographer Uta Barth where she was asked why narrative annoyed her. Barth’s response captures a lot of what I’ve been thinking:

Narrative holds out for a certain inevitability, it places deep faith in cause and effect. Narrative is about reconstructing a chain of meaningful events based on a known outcome. I’m curious about visual art that’s about the visual. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees is the title of Robert Irwin’s biography. Originally, it was a line in a Zen text. Narrative in art makes us think about all sorts of interesting things, but it derails the engagement with a visual experience.

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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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Letter From Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse

March 10, 2009

M and I were talking about this, so he sent me a copy of it. I thought I’d put it here, because it’s good advice:

Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!
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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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Schjeldahl: Let’s See

August 19, 2008

The New Yorker format of a three to four page column allows Peter Schjeldahl to leap into subjects, look around, and amass a glittering pile of insights for each installment. In these essays on art he seamlessly blends high and low language to bring descriptions and ruminations to life where phrases like “drag queen cheek” cozy up with arcane words like “inchoate” and “fungible.” In addition the scope and range of Schjeldahl’s knowledge and history is daunting, but in spite of all this, his writing comes across as generous, accessible, and possibly even hospitable. His style invites the reader into subjects even if they have no previous knowledge of the sometimes-obscure topics, but his approach leaves the ramifications of these posited notions up to the reader to discover. That’s part of the beauty of this diving-in short format I mentioned before.

Schjeldahl gets right to the point. In his first essay from the collection Let’s See entitled America, he takes a rather worn theme of a lack or hole being at the center of American identity, but transforms it into something fresh.

Americaness is nobodiness. Deep down, I feel like nobody; and this void in me is the earnestness of my belonging. A hole in my heart pledges allegiance to America. (14)

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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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