Cornfields, Paris Hill, New York. 5" x 12", acrylic on paper
Speaking of landscapes, as I was a few posts back -- this is what it looks like where I grew up. While living all those years in Vermont, I could never get used to the field of vision being entirely taken up with mountains covered with trees, and very little sky. I liked that too, but I always missed the pastoral landscape of central New York, broken up into a living quilt of fields and hedgerows, streams and winding roads.
I'm always interested in matters of art and culture: what's happening, and how and why we interact with it as a society and as individuals. Clothing is one particularly fascinating aspect of that; visual art another. In the past couple of days I've come across several good articles on these subjects and wanted to share the links with you.
@Berfrois, here's a thought-provoking interview about art, style, clothing, and the consumerization of non-conformity. In it, the Russian artist Margarita Tupitsyn talks about the evolution of her own personal style, and the liberation she felt when first discovering the non-gender-specific clothing of Japense designers. The Art of Style: An Interview Between Margarita and Masha Tupitsyn.
"For Japanese designers, clothing was about expressing who you are through clothing, not simply signaling cues of desirability...Today, everyone, artists included, aspire to be part of the mainstream. There is no alternative culture anymore. --Margarita Tupitsyn
Archaeology meets life in this essay by Elizabeth Mosier that moves from putting together pieces of colonial china to sorting a fabric stash left by her deceased mother-in-law.
"Memories are my material; writing is the way I keep myself from shattering...
My point is that we value objects (or not) according to the personal meaning that we bestow. Perhaps it’s sacrilegious to say it, but in the months since the sauceboat’s discovery, I’ve often wondered if the pristine Bonnin and Morris pickle stand on exhibit at the art museum escaped the privy pit not because it was treasured, but because it is absurd. In life as in memory, what we don’t use is preserved intact. But the archaeological record is often created in crisis, with emotion guiding what we take with us and what we leave behind." -- Elizabeth Mosier
Having just come back from my family home, which always leaves me full of thoughts about objects and places, time and attachments, this piece resonated -- but so did a quote from Martin Buber sent to me by my friend V., with whom I had discussed my emotional reaction to that recent trip. I recognized myself in the writing of much-younger Mosier, but realize I am heading much more now -- sometimes reluctantly, sometimes gratefully -- into the territory Buber describes:
"Insofar as a human being makes do with the things that [he/she] experiences and uses, [he/she] lives in the past, and [his/her] moment has no presence. [He/She] has nothing but objects, but objects consist in having been.
"Presence is not what is evanescent and passes, but what confront us, waiting and enduring. And the object is not duration but standing still, ceasing, breaking off, becoming rigid, standing out, the lack of relation, the lack of presence."
-- Martin Buber, I and Thou
Finally, I've long been fascinated by the work of performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose most recent piece is "512 hours" at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Unlike her celebrated and controversial "residence" at MoMa, where, for eight hours a day for three months, Abramovic sat silently across a table from visitors who queued for the privilege, in London 160 visitors at a time are allowed into a bare gallery after leaving all their electronic devices in lockers. Abramovic "places" them in the space and tells them what to do, which forms yet another comment on our participation with art and the role of the artist in controlling not only herself but her public, and thus confronting both "normal" society and its tendency toward conformity. This review in the London Telegraph deals with those issues head-on (the first part is descriptive; you'll need to read to the end to get the full commentary by this reviewer.)
In appearance Abramovic looks like a cross between Clytemnestra and an Earth Mother. Her beauty is inseparable from a personality so powerful that she can silence a room just by entering it...
Everyone in the gallery seemed blissfully happy but what I was seeing is what I imagine the open ward of a mental hospital in which the inmates have been heavily sedated must be like. The combination of the long wait in the queue and the atmosphere of soporific peace and quiet presided over by the commanding mother figure, had reduced everyone I saw to happy zombies.
Except me. It took me exactly 30 seconds to realise that I live in a parallel universe to all the people around me. Whenever I’m on a train or aeroplane and the captain tells us all to sit back and relax I long to reply that I’ve spent my entire life trying not to relax and I’m not about to start now. I hated every second I spent in this show. I longed to escape and can’t tell you what relief I felt on emerging from it into a world of light and air where people walked and talked normally, where they checked their iPhone, raced for the bus and had deadlines to meet.
Yet even as my mind raced with all these thoughts I was perfectly aware that of all the people who visited that show I was the one who most needed to be there. The important thing about Abramovic’s work is not what your reaction to it is, but that you react to it at all. -- Richard Dorment
I'd love to hear from any readers who actually attended one of Abramovic's performances in London and/or New York. Even more specifically, what do you think about the provocative statement in the first article, "Today, everyone, artists included, aspire to be part of the mainstream. There is no alternative culture anymore." ?