October 2012 Archives
This is just a simple word map which shows what Chris and I discussed about Mapping Kiki Smith.
"Postures are necessary if not sufficient condition for generation of meaning and feeling." -Linda Nochlin
When creating compositions I am always concerned with the way a body moves and fits in a space. The human body is so telling of emotions. Like the drawn mark the body evokes different moods just in simple movements. The slight tilt of the head, hunched shoulders, standing up straight, sitting, lying down, these positions and postures say more than the artist can say about the feelings found in their work. I am interested in the body in motion, they're a flash of losing control and the photograph captures and freezes that moment like no other medium. To be able to engage and contemplate such a raw moment is invigorating. My work has explored this movement paralleled with stillness. The stoic pose can be elegant but jarring. There is something otherworldly present in simple arrangements where a lack visible emotion can be more enrapturing than the expected look of anguish or ecstasy. I am interested in capturing and creating these fleeting moments and freezing them and juxtaposing them to create this index of the human body.
I made a charger, plate, bowl and cup out porcelain that Erin and I made. (Element of community) I pinched and shaped the clay with only my hands and fingers as the tools. I decorated the surfaces in a very loose and sketch like manner. This is how I am currently working, in a very sketch like manner. I made a placemat out of paper and drew designs of pots and surfaces that I am currently thinking about and working towards. I added images, and examples of inspirations. My work against a backdrop of inspirations.
The intersecting planes of Yung's work inspired me to map her major exhibitions on an Asia-centric world map, then see what kinds of visual spaces they create. Though the resulting shapes and voids didn't have the effect I expected, they speak to the geographic pathways of Yung's work and the shape of her artistic practice.
This piece of stamped and cut brass opens first one door then the next, each opened door moving the artist closer to her studio. This key does not open the car door, because the artist already tried that. Twice. It does not open the back door at home, unless that takes more than 7 attempts. And certainly not the garage. It just doesn't. The first attempt at inserting this key into its intended lock met with resistance until JH pounded it into the tumbler, exposing a distinct bend. This was flattened with a mallet whack or two, and it now opens its two doors without resistance. The key still does not open the car door. Or the back door. Or the garage. But not for want of trying.
The Studio Critique
My work is on the walls, but not all of it. I don't know why I have hung those pictures like that...is it misleading? Twelve people sit around looking at me, they are being very nice, I think I am answering their questions fairly coherently. I try to sound considered, but I try not to listen to how I sound. My mapping practice work is all around and I am glad I did that and that it has coincided with this critique. It makes my studio look a bit more lived in. It has been hinting at possible new directions in my practice. I am sitting on the desk, the added height gives me a bit of confidence and I can move around more freely. Later on I worry that the way I am sitting is reacting with the jeans I chose to wear today and creating an unfortunate and embarrassing focal point, but it is probably my imagination. I am given lots of names to look up and everyone looks happy about the conversation. I take this as a win.
Here is a PDF with some images of my map, I will bring my computer to class with more images.
All of the information on how I mapped my work is in the link!
A Kinetic, Time-based, 3D Rendering of a Map Metaphor Using Found Footage
Not sure how I feel about this yet. Calling it an experiment.
As this difficult week comes to an end, I've been thinking of places that I've used to bring comfort and shelter. In El Salvador, I used to have a small cave that my friends and I had called "escondite" or hide out. This escondite was in front of a neighbor's home. It was a small cave that delicate ivy leaves had formed in front of her house. As you were inside, nobody could see you from the outside. We liked this sense of privacy and secrecy that this space provided for us. It wasn't a big space, but big enough for our tiny bodies to sleep, read, relax or hang out in there. The water meter was located under a concrete compartment in the ground. We would use this space to save our snacks, books, plates and toys. A small water canal would run right by it, so that was where we would use the restroom if we didn't want to run home. As I have said before, I spent most of my childhood wondering around the streets in El Salvador. The civil war ended when I was 6, and a sense of security and peace was beginning to merge after years of suffering and death. I didn't understand any of this at that age. I could only understand my world in the sense of my home. My home was my world, and sometimes the world there was difficult to take. The escondite brought shelter, a space I could hide from outside harms, discomforts and my mom. I wish I could find an escondite, a place where I could go to recharge and comeback when I was ready. This is of course not an option, because I'm a grown up now, and time moves on without waiting for you to be ok. I've been told that the first year of grad school is the hardest. Well.
noun: A small piece of paper, fabric, plastic, or similar material attached to an object and giving information about it.
An item used to identify something or someone, as a small piece of paper or cloth attached to an article to designate its origin, owner, contents, use or destination.
A piece of paper, card, or other material attached to an object to identify it or give instructions or details concerning its ownership, use, nature, destination, etc.; tag.
A word or phrase heading a piece of text to indicate or summarize its contents.
A descriptive term; an epithet.
A distinctive name or trademark identifying a product or manufacturer, especially a recording company.
Architecture: A molding over a door or window; a dripstone.
Heraldry: A figure in a field consisting of a narrow horizontal bar with several pendants.
Chemistry: See tracer
verb: Attach a label to (something).
To attach a label to.
To identify or designate with a label; describe or classify: labeled them Yuppies. See Synonyms at mark
Chemistry: To add a tracer to (a compound).
I decorate my apartment with maps because I love their visual aesthetic. They are the greatest merging of visual representation and abstraction. Expanses of space ranging from the entire globe to the floor plan of a bedroom are flattened and represented by a series of lines, shapes, colors, and symbols - abstraction. Yet all of the information is there, precise and accurate - representation. Every road, lake, highway, and political boundary that exists in the real world is plotted. Maps are landscape paintings. All of the history and every experience occurring within a space are there, but remain invisible. The map is matter-of-fact, not caring about the history and experience but acting as a demarcation of their locales. Political boundaries are a perfect example of this. I have a world map from the 1980s that still shows the USSR as a nation. I also have a more recent one depicting the now independent nations. The map makes no commentary of the political situation in Asia and Eastern Europe, but simply does its job in depicting the new lines that have been drawn.
Mapping the practice of Mark Bradford
We will likely have a couple postings about our map...Sorry to add to the clutter!
Click HERE to link to a web document Mara and I have collaborated on with the mapping task in mind. This is an in-progress snapshot, so what you see will not be what you get!
So if you click the link the image you see is somewhat interactive. There are links imbedded which take you to some websites about what we were thinking. For example, if you click on the coffin, you will be linked to a wikipedia site for the human condition. Our logic here is the presence of life and death simultaneously in many of Kiki Smith's figures and arguably in her installation "Kitchen".
We talked about being able to view the space in "Kitchen" in various lenses of maps. Where does she spend her time? How would this translate into a thermal image (ie- infrared house background). In this sense the image before you is more of a key or legend than anything. It is a starting point through which you could access what we thought about this installation.
See other postings for further explanations/reasoning/thoughts.
For my personal mapping piece I decided to make a list of everything I used for a day. I then built a device which allows me to scroll through a roll of thermal receipt paper in order to make a formal record this list.
As suggested in the title, this project is meant to be a work in progress. However, the visual representation of my list is still feeling fairly unresolved and I am not sure I have accomplished what I want. Perhaps a scroll is not the proper format. I often work in and from little fragmented moments, so pieces of paper may be more fitting. The device is also distracting for me. The device originally was meant as a quick solution to handling the pesky rolls for an artist with clumsy tendencies. As I was working on the roll, I developed the device. It became more refined and incorporated with the aesthetic of the roll/inventory.
here are a few more photos of the work in progress:
Life/Theater: Jerry Goralnick
Artist and "experientialist" Lee Walton works in subtle ways, weaving small acts of performance into the everyday urban environment. He orchestrates public theatrical work that is sometimes noticeably peculiar, but is often hidden within the mundane activity that surrounds us. He calls these works "Life/Theater," arranging complex systems of actors and props to perform intricate pieces, virtually indistinguishable from the composite performances of reality. With these pieces, he challenges audiences to notice the beauty and theatricality of the everyday life surrounding them while critically questioning what is "real" and what is "not real" within public space.
With Life/Theater: Jerry Goralnick, Walton has both expanded his timeframe and reduced the size of his cast. One man, Jerry Goralnick, sits at the same lunchtable outside of the UBS Building in Manhattan. For 62 consecutive workdays, he wears the same attire and executes the same hour-long ritual. Normal activities become aberrant, but only with a careful witnessing of the cycles. This experientialist piece reveals how an individual can become like the architecture of public space, when action is repeated over a prolonged period of time.
This is a basic spreadsheet that serves as a scattershot map of my practice. I had intended to make a game board, but struggled against the form. This better reflects the random nature of my thoughts, using simple binary 1s and 0s.
There is a constant shift in my head as I am working. Questions arise constantly about formal ideas and also about the validity of them. I need the back and forth of different tools, clay bodies, materials, and processes. My mind is in constant motion as I think of slab building as I am throwing. Or I think of forms I want to create as I'm painting different shapes on my wall. If I don't go along with the desire to create in multiple ways, there's a sense of plateau in my making. I feel stagnant and unsatisfied. The exchange of ideas from one medium to the next is a web of thoughts and can only be created in this way. Is this fulfilling the processes to what they desire and need? Am I giving the ideas their full potential? When faced with one way of working, one tool and one blank canvas, the thoughts aren't as exciting for me. I need that energy of motion and different undertakings occurring simultaneously to keep the momentum of every practice moving forward.
Josh and I worked together to come up with a couple of mapping ideas for Mark Bradford.
You stink! You smell a pack of dogs. Even though you are small, your breath smells like the rotting seas. When I wake up in the morning, it's you, a bright a shiny new penny. Stretch, stretch ready, lets go! You seem to forget that I have needs, like waking up or sipping tea. You have no cooth! You poop for all the world to see and wherever you fancy, your little pink butthole, un-ashamed. Or is it me who is the uncivilized, keeping you tethered and following you around with a little powder blue bag with fake powdery smell, gag! Must you hog the couch? Why don't you get a job and stop staring at me endlessly, all-the-live-long-day with that expectant, unrelentless, quivering, unabashed stare-down.
Oh wait I love you.....
I did my artist mapping on Gunvor Nelson after seeing her piece "My name is Oona" at the Walker. The video shows a black a white video of Nelson's daughter playing. As a background sound, you hear the looping of her daughter's voice saying over and over again, "My name is Oona" and the days of the week. The quality of the video is very dream-like and haunting. I stayed there inside that room being hypnotised by the imagery and sound.
I never realized how messy my mapping practice would look when put together.
I guess a person who is not me would make it look more organized.
A person who is not me would have better writing.
But organization and good penmanship is not important to me. The good thing is that the lines align, they meet in many places; this is good because it proves for once that my practice is not wondering aimlessly.
More photos/close ups:
Here is a map (literally) of my practice. I created a custom Google Map with markers for some of my inspirations and source material.
I am torn between a couple of mapping pieces I want to elaborate on before next Friday. I will start with the first idea I was thinking, one which I labeled about this week :
Chris, week 7, label- a mapping practice
By groth206 on October 20, 2012 10:22 AM | No Comments | No TrackBacks
When thinking about mapping my practice, I recalled something I had done about a year ago and now I plan to revisit. I decided to make a list of everything I used during the course of a day. More specifically, I would write down or sketch every object I physically touched. The first day's list took form on labeling tags from the Iron foundry at which I was employed, digitally through emails, and also in my sketchbook. I began to have battles in my head as to how specific I should be. I would ask myself questions such as, should I begin to list the parts of the wholes which I am documenting, is it a water bottle I am using or should the vessel and the lid be separated, and the water inside?
I began to doubt the entire concept of listing everything I used when I asked myself about light and sound. I touched the light switch. What about the light? The sound of the internal components of the switch? This began to develop into something very interesting in terms of objects and their physical extensions into the world, but this concept was anew from the original goal. So I eventually decided to just let the list happen naturally as if it were a habit of mine. I would document the object as it were a whole. I called it "A WORKING INVENTORY OF EVERYTHING I USED TODAY".
Revisiting this idea seems like a wonderful way to realize what it is I am doing, working on, and interacting with. I believe it will reveal that I should spend less time hitting the space bar with my thumbs and find more objects/tools for making to add to the list.
My second idea is more about mapping a behavior. Specifically the objects created would be a map of the act of drying off one's body after showering or bathing. I am still working out the technical details of how I will create the image. My initial idea was to shower/bath in some liquid which would then "paint" on to the towel as one dries. After stewing the ideas over, I have been moving towards methods which could be better described as some form of printmaking or print-taking. I would like to develop a "kit" for this process and collect maps from others which would all be installed together.
When thinking about mapping my practice, I recalled something I had done about a year ago and now I plan to revisit. I decided to make a list of everything I used during the course of a day. More specifically, I would write down or sketch every object I physically touched. The first day's list took form on labeling tags from the Iron foundry at which I was employed, digitally through emails, and also in my sketchbook. I began to have battles in my head as to how specific I should be. I would ask myself questions such as, should I begin to list the parts of the wholes which I am documenting, is it a water bottle I am using or should the vessel and the lid be separated, and the water inside?
I began to doubt the entire concept of listing everything I used when I asked myself about light and sound. I touched the light switch. What about the light? The sound of the internal components of the switch? This began to develop into something very interesting in terms of objects and their physical extensions into the world, but this concept was anew from the original goal. So I eventually decided to just let the list happen naturally as if it were a habit of mine. I would document the object as it were a whole. I called it "A WORKING INVENTORY OF EVERYTHING I USED TODAY".
My work cooks itself on a gentle flame over time. I occasionally lift the lid and give it a quick stir, but I have learned to trust that it will tell me when it is ready. This is time as conveyor belt, hamster wheel. It is something I need to endure and can't hurry. I can't hurry time. We liken taking a photograph to stopping time, but the line of time without space is an imperfect model. If we imagine it instead as an infinite hall, straight as an arrow and leading ahead forever, we might better describe taking a photograph as opening a door into a room along that hall. The size of this room can be readily understandable, or densely inscrutable. The hall continues outside, but we poke our head or step inside for a moment and shuffle around this space we created. In a good photograph, space is more important than time.
I am going to continue making these, which are brief sketches of thinking I am doing. Some are literal others are not.
Mapping my practice has turned into a collage on a wall in my studio. I felt that I needed the space to expand and let my "map" grow. Being able to see the transformation in my work in the places that I have moved, I feel a strong connection to those physical adjustments I made in my life. So starting this exercise I literally created my own map of the 5 states in which I have lived. Having all of the state outlines in front of me will help me delve into the ideas I'm starting to explore in my work and understand my practice further.
I never thought I would be the type of person that could and would move as often as I do. Picking my roots up, packing my condensed life away in my jetta VW station wagon, leaving my friends behind, and driving across the country to a whole new place is not an easy thing for a person like me to do. I enjoy my comfortable surroundings and having my regular coffee shops and bars to go to. I like consistency and the unchanged. Yet, with my homebody mind frame, I have moved 4 times in the past 4 years. Each move became easier and easier as I developed an understanding of the process I would go through. I became aware of why these moves were so important to me.
These shifts in my life have affected my work. The changes may not have been very obvious ones. Yet, there's something intriguing for me in that transformation. I'm interested in what triggered me in those environments to allow my work to change and to grow into what it needed to be.
For my mapping, I have been collecting images from occurrences or life experiences that have not only affected the person that I am today, but ultimately the work I make. I'm in the process of obtaining photographs, and text that influence my work. This process has included researching photographs from the civil war in El Salvador, the earthquake that happened in 1986 (because I was alive there when these events happened. I can't deny that they have not influenced me) Photographs from my childhood, places I've been, books I have read, works of art I admire, people I admire, text that has changed the way I think, ideologies I hold closely, and all the others things that influence my stream of work. I haven't decided how I'm actually going to present this, but I might make a box where all these photographs, texts, and events fit perfectly. I might also either hang them or arrange them in a way in my studio too. (I was also looking at interactive maps online, but I see Jim is thinking of doing that. haha) .
I will map the right and left sides of my brain with their assorted dis/functions, and these will take the form of a folded game board. It will be done on time, I swear.
* I tried uploading some photos but wasn't able to will try later.
For my Mapping Practice I have chosen the studio because it is a place that relatively stays the same. I made a place setting meant to be symbolic as well as literal. I made clay with Erin for the first time last weekend and found it to be a very rewarding process, as well as a lot of work.I created a place setting with the clay that I made and used my hands as the tools. I am still unsure how to decorate these objects as to give it the best representation of my practice. A single place setting is seen as representation of me and symbolic of what I use to nurture and feed myself.
Here's my plan. I found out you can make custom Google Maps, with your own points, routes, directions, images, etc. I'm still messing with the interface to figure out exactly how it works. So I'm basically making a literal map that will be interactive. I'll make one more post before the due date of my map in progress. Right now There's not much to see.
I have spent the past week thinking about how I work. It hasn't been an easy task to dissect, when what I do is something I just do. I realized I spend so much of my time trying to free myself of over-thinking everything and settle into a practice where I try to let the process just flow through me, let the work happen inherently and naturally. But this is hard to achieve if I am in the process of constantly changing everything right? Clay bodies, surface, firing..........etc. What is it that I am searching for? One thing that has remained consistent for me is the studio. Where ever I have been the studio practice is always the same. Firstly it is where I work. It is a place I cherish and is a refuge from everything! When I walk into my studio the first thing I do is make a cup of tea. A ritual perhaps. I walk around in circles for a few minutes trying to recapture the feeling of the time I was there previous, even if it was frustration, it is always a good place to start, a continuation of the thought process. I will look at the pots I am currently working on with fresh eyes, to see if i am pleased or adjustments need to me made. I will clean my work space so i have a feeling of starting a new and I am with out distractions and annoyances. When I am settled the process of making begins and this is when I am at my best. Everything slips away and I am alone with my work.
White Board Experiments
(apologies in advance for terrible phone-otos)
As I begin to consider mapping my personal practice, I conducted a few experiments with organizing the words and concepts that I associate with my work. I tried a mind map:
Between this class, building an online presence, and applying for various opportunities, I've been writing a lot about myself. The last two experiments relate these words to the various elements of my practice. I find I reuse the same words and phrasing, and I begin to lose touch with what I'm actually trying to communicate. For next week, I'm going to continue experimenting with these words and their combinations.
I'm also struck by the tangle of lines in experiment 3. Do I cast a wide net, or do I operate in the in-between spaces?
When I first started taking photographs a lot of planning went into them. From the location, the outfits, the model, etc. I was constructing these images of what I imagined to be stills from my own made up movies. The characters were always caught in these states of between, where something had either just happened or was about to happen. The aesthetics, composition of the photograph were always very important, I also cared that the photograph was a nice photograph to look at. I am sure I was following the steps of Gregory Crewson or Jeff Wall without knowing who Gregory Crewson and Jeff Wall were. Looking at them now, they seem naïve and sort of adorable. I can't say that they are "pretty", because they have this kind of darkness, heaviness, disturbness and longing in them. The self-portraits I was taking during that same time had the same qualities as well. I guess, where I'm going with this is that I am amazed how much my photographs have changed since them. Not only the subject I choose to photograph, but my whole process of how I take photographs. My priorities have changed too.
I can start by saying that not as much planning goes into them. I usually throw myself in a situation, without much of expectations of the image I hope to get. When I was shooting with film for the Long Beach series, I would only take two frames at the end of my interactions with the people I was meeting. "1 more just in case." My Professor at the time hated when I would tell him that. He would say, "What happens if you don't get it. You probably won't see that person again?" in which instance I would always answer it, "then I didn't get it." My photographs at that point became more spontaneous, depended on intuition and the experience itself. They have remained this way. "Aesthetically pleasing" images as people call it, are never the most important thing for me. It is not what I work for. Yet, in my last series I am constantly finding beauty in the ordinary every day things that happen in front of me. Not planning, but accepting it when it happens. I find this process comforting and one that works just right for me.
This is a sketch of how I plan to map my practice. I plan to create a large diagram of this on a wall to represent the various underpinnings that influence my work and create a visual representation of their connections.
There is something in way written text moves me. Writing is the beginning of all my creative explorations. The moment a creative thought pops into my head I am reciting it over and over until I can relieve my angst of losing it by writing it down. Once I begin to write the idea begins to grow into other ideas so in this moment of clarity I am able to make connections with other trains of thought and create new ideas that lead to pages of writing. The sketch is in the written line. I look back over my sketchbooks and reread the thoughts that are held there many which have fallen on the page and were buried under other pages of thoughts. Text is aesthetic and meaningful. Looping lines joined together by thin ellipses or short staccato marks they are all in the service of conveying and providing meaning. I am interested in this as a form of mark making, layering passage upon passage creating palimpsest history or marks. My practice begins, continues, and ends with writing. The image is born from text.
I propose to create a map of my studio and the influences and associations that live there. This will take the form of a 1:1 scale synchronous overlay on my studio that details these influences in the form of text and drawings. I have no images of it yet, and I doubt it will translate into images but I will upload some for next week anyway.
This is something that I consider relevant to my practice but I have a hard time getting straight. Sometimes I am interested in the post-modern experience of identity fragmentation, and at others as just a practical visual process/style that I use in my work. I suppose I use this style to reflect the post-modern identity thing. This all seems straightforward, so why am I having trouble? I can't find much writing on the subject of fragmentation and art, there seems to be a lot about the post-modern experience, but I have a hard time relating that back to my art in anything other than a general kind of way. I have chosen to write about fragmentation in a research project that I am working on, and its use in the work of artists who have crossed borders, but I don't know if I can give a good reason (beyond personal experience) or formulate a question around that. I was hoping that I would have a chance to learn more about the subject in the process of doing the research, but I am feeling pressure to define myself before I have done the research, which is currently fragmented.
In between writing this and uploading I had a small epiphany. I am more interested in the idea of an identity constructed of fragments than in the idea of a fragmented identity.
My practice is sporadic. Instead of putting up a fight, I follow my distractions into a contented state of euphoria often consisting of cat videos on the internet (or other recorded animal related observations). Other times, I work diligently on something until I never want to see it again (this is what traditional printmaking feels like to me [in my current personal opinion]).
I work quickly most of the time. I will think about something for a really long time trying to vaguely lay out a plan, but then in an often spur of the moment situation slap the piece together using an intuitive approach that negates much of the already vague plan. This usually creates new directions/distractions to follow into another project and keeps things lively (maybe). I also make tons of flops. These flops are often recycled into other flops. Sometimes the layers of flops turn into worthwhile projects.
I work a lot. I make a lot. I am usually going in lots of directions at the same time.
Mauricio Lasansky once said, "When you are drawing it is like you are sitting on the phone waiting for someone to answer. Most of the time it is the wrong number." I apply this to any artistic practice though.
Street Food Lighting Project Installation
Jorge Manes Rubio
I've spent nearly a year considering food in our public realm. The purchase, preparation, and consumption process, so necessary to daily survival, is regulated and contained and seldom shared between strangers. Food, the sizzle and the substance of it, is where life happens, and bringing "life" back into cities is where my personal practice begins. As it expands, I use temporary acts to reveal the potential for life, and to cultivate a desire for more permanent social structures to accommodate it.
This project, by Spanish designer Jorge Manes Rubio, uses a small ephemeral gesture to cut through the complex issues and illustrate the powerful presence of food. Building on an earlier piece in which he visually transposed images of storefronts from one part of a town to a dark corner somewhere else, the Street Food Lighting Project uses projections of vibrant outdoor market scenes to instill a measure of life into otherwise uninhabited streetscapes. The limited dimensions of a blank wall expand, creating a visual depth and a desire for physical deepness. The results are both a summation of a problem, and a call to action.
Note: I shared some of this in class on Friday. I think it's a great example of an artist lexicon.
Abraham Cruzvillegas / Autoconstrucción
Origin of the concept
The autoconstrucción concept comes from a house building dynamic that is led by specific needs from a family and by the lack of economic funds for constructing a house at once. People build their own homes slowly, as they can, with limited money, with the collaboration of the all the members of the family, and with the solidarity of neighbors, relatives and friends, sporadically. Houses evidence the process in layers, through which is possible to watch the experience strata and the transformations, modifications, cancellations and destruction of the structures, according to family changes and new needs. Aesthetic decisions are intertwined in a piling that shows also the ability of the constructors to use any material available or at hand, depending of the place, situation and circumstance. Hybrid combinations of materials and constructive strategies are very rich and diverse. Autoconstrucción is not a weekend hobbie as bricollage or DIY culture, it's a consequence of unfair wealth distribution. Oppossed to the massive projects buildings, autoconstrucción points to an autonomous and independent architecture that is far from any planning or draft: it's improvised. Even when autoconstrucción happens all around the world (like in Brasilian favelas or shanty towns abroad), in my personal experience I lived the entire process of autoconstrucción in my parent's house in the South of México City, which is a land of volcanic rock, that was invaded in the early 1960's and on by immigrants from the country side, looking for a better life in the big city. Slowly that people started building their houses with lava stones and recycled materials gathered in other neighborhoods. For many years, there was no water and no services in general at all. Fighting for the property of their lands became an everyday activity, as well for the access to electricity, pavement, etc. Women became leaders in those movements, along with young guys and children, while men were working, many of them as construction workers in the so called modern Mexico.
When I started to use it
I appropriated the term to name all my work since 2007, when I improvised a whole exhibition in New York, working only with materials found around a gallery, and attempting to reproduce the dynamics of autoconstrucción (not representing it, but activating it). Anyway I started working with the idea as a personal fact (and not as a chosen subject matter) that was underlaying my work since the year 1999, when I took many pictures of houses of my neighborhood, of the volcanic rock there, of some details of my parent's house. Then I wrote a text telling that story through my own experience, what I witnessed during all those years without a nostalgic approach: just facts. This text was just finished last year, and became a book accompanied by many images, including some lent by neighbors, shot in the early years of the autoconstrucción. It was published in Glasgow, when I was invited to do a project at the Centre for Contemporary Art by Francis McKee. I've made sculptures, drawings, paintings, videos, a theater play and a film, under this name. Maybe it's time to move to 'autodestrucción'.
What it means
Autoconstrucción means a structure in which everything is possible, as it has infinite and diverse ways to take a shape. It is a way of thinking more than a method or a technique, it's a way of life. Improvising, testing all kind of combinations, according to specific needs (like expressing one self) is a rule, that provides absolute freedom. Autoconstrucción is for me the most authentic way of creativity, as it blooms in the most adverse circumstances, it's pure ingenuity and will. Whatever the shape, language or format of autoconstrucción may adopt, it never can be mistaken or misunderstood, hermeneutics, use, function and/or contradiction are its fuel.
I use to work in a very intuitive way, even when some of the production stages could be called 'conceptual', so I start with impulses or ideas, and there is a need that appeals to the possibility of transforming them into shapes. I work with materials that could be used and normally I never question which could be its use, but I choose them from surrounding reality, from anywhere I could find myself, with indifference, which means that I don't choose materials because they are nice or ugly, they just must have the potential to be used. Materials by themselves are not important, their quality or status of fragments is very important as parts of a whole. Wholeness is unstable, conceptually, physically. Meaning is meaningful only in terms of the whole, including the use of the whole, which means interpretation. Simple or elaborate constructions are analogous and absolutely different at the same time, depending on the level of complexity of the inherent processes to make them, their final status should be simple and accessible to inhabit, watch, read, touch, listen, re-build or deconstruct them. Geometry and chaos are depicted according to the diverse needs that demand their construction, and stages of construction can be frozen as well, to show specific transparent moments of the process as definitely unfinished. They can be rearranged in different ways depending on the context, situation, circumstance, including displacement, replacement or shift as part of their permanent change. So, autoconstrucción is freedom, contradiction, transparency, simplicity and change. HANDMADE
Ideological framework/Economic platform/system of production
It's very easy to perceive the origin of the materials composing an autoconstrucción; fragments evidence themselves their economic/cultural sources. The clash of the diverse economic systems and production contexts produce complex reading/living systems according to the viewer/inhabitant. The will to construct with any material -any or all of of them- or even without materials, is more important than the aesthetic or economic value of them. The platform on which autoconstrucción operates is very often a collaborative one, exchange value then is a fluctuation between monetary capital, work capital, speculative capital and waste. When an object is discarded by a person it's valueless, for autoconstrucción it could be seen as prime matter. Autoconstrucción does not deal with garbage, but with prime matter. Recycling is a common practice now, but for centuries in so-called under developed countries, scavenging and harvesting used materials and objects has been a normal activity. Pepenadores in México pick cardboard, metals, and discarded furniture, cans, bottles, paper, etc, in order to give them a new life. They collect, classify, accumulate and resell to transform. Then a new cycle starts. When I make an artwork with found objects or materials (i.e.: aluminum, wood, a forgotten bicycle, my own hair, shark jaws, a cowbell, teeth, a chair, wax, coins, plastic or sheep shit) they remain and keep their original qualities and defects. At the end, if the piece is dismantled, the fragments, remain the same: there is no alchemical transformation, there is no trick or magic. Transformation occurs only in the viewers mind. And in my hands, of course. So, a stone is a stone before, during and after the art/architecture approach, it does not represent anything else but a stone being a stone as a stone. When the same stone is taken from the paving to thrown over a police barricade, or to the window of a government office, it will be a stone anyway. But a happy one. Autoconstrucción meant for me, for many years, before making art, a constant struggle with authority, not only because of the situation of growing in a challenging context, learning to deal with scarcity, solidarity, roughness and resistance to the environment, to the local governors, and to self indulgence. Now it's more an ideological consequence in which all my acts involve my own genealogy and my future as trying to arrive to acertain degree of consciousness based in all the mentioned above. Autoconstrucción is not biographic or anecdotic, is not narrative, it's not thematic or comunicative. It is the very expression of survival and work. It's also humorous, ironic, paradoxical and delirious.
Roof out of line up with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chickenwire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong.
The fences and houses
built of barrel-staves
and parts of boxes
William Carlos Williams
There is one main path of will in my work, based on the attempt of making consciousness about the self-construction of identity. One of the main metaphors is the process of construction of my parents' house in Mexico City.
During the first half of my life I witnessed the slow construction of the house in which my family lived. All of us participated in this process. The construction started in the mid-sixties, as part of a massive invasion of immigrants from the countryside, in a rough volcanic rock area in the south of Mexico City, not included in the original urban plans.
The materials and techniques used have been almost completely improvised and dependent on the surrounding circumstances of that unstable economic and social moment, as it happened in diverse places, not only there, but -perhaps- around the world. Then solutions were based on specific needs and situations, such as a new room, the modification of a ceiling, or the improvement or cancellation of some spaces.
Being conceived and built without budget or architectural intervention, as it appears now, the house seems to be chaotic and almost useless, but every detail and every corner has a reason to exist, to be there. My parent's home is an authentic labyrinth polished by the patina of simultaneous use, construction and destruction.
That autoconstrucción, (self construction) as this kind of edification is called, should be seen as a warm process in which solidarity between neighbors and family members is very important. Not only in terms of collaboration itself, as a shared economic capital, but as an educative and enriching environment for any individual, as someone in the community, with the others.
The different series of work called 'autoconstrucción' regard that house as a whole, looking at some details and techniques improvised by or according to specific urgencies of family members. Instability: "roughness, volts, jerks, sulks, balks, outblurts and jump-overs" in each piece are transformations of the house's references in terms of a certain locality, as shifts of somatic awareness, as physiological presence in time and space: multiplied, simultaneous.
Many of my works are evidence of my will to confront at once two or more radically different economic systems through bricollage or assemblage, making hybrid marriages and bizarre mixtures of materials and techniques.
There is no representation of the technical details of the construction, but a reproduction of the diverse dynamics involved, regarding at the economic and social environment as a sort of scaffolding through which I do my moves.
Even when sometimes isolated pieces remind -in a figurative way- the basic structure of a "house", more than just proposing models of poor architecture, my main goal is to produce knowledge on how activity becomes form, as trying to renew for myself a meaningful vehicle for intuition and invention.
On the other hand, and as a silent soundtrack in time and context, alongside the sculptures I make, there is an equally contradictory accumulation of information translated into drawings, pictures or moving images and sounds, appropriated from music, books, other images and experiences in my lifetime.
Collections of film posters, cancelled images from news papers and postcards, video bits, music tracks or kidnapped text fragments, compose some of the groupings I seek to share as the witnessing of my own cosmos. They are the carved pebbles forming the walls, floors and ceilings of my house.
It is in the manner of the Mnemosyne Atlas composed by Aby Warburg, as an accumulative and affective search of the expressive sign in everything, that I harvest to build up the whole image of my integrity.
It was also said by Buckminster Fuller, that matter is organized in nature by sympathy. This applies for my collections of objects and images and sounds, and for my three dimensional work.
Through subtle or minimal transformation, without anecdotes, without narratives or even without skills, my work is just a proof that I'm alive. The transformed information, materials and objects in my work composes as well, the definitely unfinished construction of my self, through an approach to reality. Through bare facts.
Check this out. Something to think about for mapping.
(this one isn't a very good link... but one of his more literal map pieces)
Sol Lewitt Wall Drawing
A Page from Mara's Sketchbook
Goal: Produce work on various new mediums. Rediscover my hand in the work and push content past the tipping point. Make something everyday! Small collages, large process pieces. Work on an in process piece for at least a year.
Purpose: Working independently in my studio. Classes should be something to acquire skills/experiment with materials relevant to my process.
Processes to explore in grad school:
• Wet-plate collodion
• Platinum plate collodion
• Gum Bichromate
• Printmaking & Ceramics (translucent/opaque, printing on paper thin porcelain, projecting video onto paper thin porcelain)
• Intaglio: to explore make making that would be eventually paired with photographic image
• Solar plate etching: trying to achieve beautiful midtones
• Four color intaglio etchings
• Lost wax metal casting (small trinkets, jewelry/sculpture)
• Textile work
o Bleach prints
o Large fabric prints
o Sewing thin fine filigree like lines of abstracted organic forms; weeds, branches, veins blood vessels
• Drawing an aneurism, migraine, stroke (looking at blood vessel mapping in brain, heart, lungs)
• Photographic printmaking
o Sculpture (ceramics)
Looking Outside Art Dept:
• Religious Studies
• Women's/Sexuality Studies
This guy... he was really great, Lee Walton. Calls himself an experientialist
He came here for this strange bizarre residency I was a part of in August
Only here for five days but he decided he really wanted to get to know the city
He does this thing called city games
He writes these sort of manuals for experiencing a city
So he decided he an afternoon to find out some things about Minneapolis
So we got together and we had a (?) and we came up with rules
We bought this Korean melon from this grocery store
And the rule was that we had to convince someone to carry the melon.
And to allow us to follow them and as soon as they were done they would just hand us the melon back and we'd have to stay there until somebody else would carry the melon.
And we would keep like wondering around as the melon got carried from
Person to person
And there was another rule... that if we saw a bus we had to catch and take it until it turned
So we wound up in the middle of scenic new falls (?) like down by the river talking to this family from Texas
It was just like this little thing to do... like this little experiment
What would this be like... it turned into this amazing adventure that was really kind of encapsulating of Minneapolis
That was what was really impressive to me about this guy, he was able to take this goal... and he turned it into part of his practice
I'm just in sort of art love with this guy
that makes sense to me
so many other things make zero sense to me, but that
I get that.
It was nerve racking this experience
We sort of swapped out who had to approach people
And I started saying we're playing a game... instead of like we're making art
Like trying to find a different way of trying to bridge that gap with people because I think it's really easy to get intimidated
I've always been artful but never really felt like I fit in the art world
I love objects, but I can't be object oriented
It's the experience of a space and what that is and how that can affect both the individual and the community
So I'm really interested in seeing how the larger conceptual art world can be almost infused or filtered through a community and kind of be for everyone
And I think public art just has this sort of watered down, ceramic mosaic quality
This very static concept of what public art can be
And I see all this potential for wonder
And reconnecting people with their environment and space around them because the world is really a fucking amazing place and it's something that we forget all the time
We miss all these amazing sensory experiences. How can this one glaringly beautiful accent... this one intervention become something that opens your eyes to the rest of it. And I'm not sure if that's even possible
Its not about the concrete object its more about your perception of that object and how can art change your perception of the things that surround you
It was kind of when I realized that that was the part of architecture and design that I was interested in... it suddenly made sense as a body of interest.
For me it was a moment in Millennium Park this summer, and I talk about this moment a lot, because it was like I just reached this enormous summit after ten years, it was like I'm here. Voila
Everybody was so happy and playing in this sort of dense space because there were a lot of things happening on many different levels but the experience of it and the way there were interacting was so playful and joyous
And this guy who looked like somebody I could have gone to high school with... he said this is the kind of place that makes you wish you were a kid
Like god I want that in my city. Cities needed places were you're just like that
We don't have enough of that. We don't spend enough money on that
It's why I try to do what I do
I spent so many years working as an architect trying to work really hard making these buildings for rich people to have their offices in, and it felt so sterile
Even though I was literally building the world in a sense it didn't feel like I was influencing the world
It was just like this commercial armature
I don't think of myself as an artist
That's a really tough thing for me
Maybe because I just seems like a loaded discipline... a loaded word
There's a certain way that artist operate in the world... see themselves in the world and I don't feel that way
And maybe it's just a misconception on my part or some sort of bias.
I do come from a family of engineers
I should probably get art therapy to figure out what I have such a problem being in the art world
I've always loved art and I think its this really crazy pursuit... its so deeply intrinsic to our existence that I thing questioning the value of art is ridiculous
But at the same time... I don't know, help me.
To a certain extent... just to be fair I don't feel comfortable being and architect or a landscape artist I don't feel like those labels work either
Maybe its practice art or public art or maybe I'm an experientialist.
No label feels very comfortable
I did this show last Friday, it was all dough based. It was dough-based art
I made pretzels and this board of pretzel words and this dough that expanded and fell it was a very kinetic. And there was this trade that I did. I traded sour dough for recorded stories
Food was an accidental medium for me. I hit upon it when I was working on my thesis project for landscape architecture, I wanted to create this really sensory carnival experience I saw as this big moment in space that would unfold and attract people and create memory that was particular to that place
Food is not necessarily the goal of what I do but is the medium by which I can achieve these goals. These sensory rooms, these collective experiences, this gathering together of people to make connections where there weren't any connections before.
I never intended to any kind of food based practice, but it turns out food is really rich in a literal and metaphorical sense
You can eat at the trough or you can just eat something out of the microwave
It can be this pure medium of self sustenance, because we all have to do it
...I baked 250 loaves of bread to use as modular construction forms, cultivated sour dough. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface. I gave four dinner parties as a part of my thesis project... not even scratching the surface of what it means to share a meal, what it means cooking as a performance, cooking as a social transaction,
its endlessly fascinating
and I know that at some point I'm going to have to take all these I ideas and things I'm learning from food and do something else
unless I want to be baking bread chairs when I'm 50... well haven't baked a whole chair...that is very interesting.
How to interview a nanny for your toddler
Will you answer your cell phone?
How to interview a new flatmate
Do you smoke?
How to interview your favorite musician
Why are you doing an interview in the first place?
How to interview Gary Busey (as dictated by Gary Busey to Hunter S. Thompson)
Start over. Call my name like you first got here. Don't make it like an interview. Talk to me like you're personal.
How to interview someone (from Errol Morris)
Shut up and listen.
How to conduct an interview (from Scholastic.com)
Research, research, research.
How to interview your heroes
Learn the Quick-Start method. No excuses! I'll show you a system that will enable even a shy technophobe to post a first interview within 3 days.
How to interview and build relationships with the most "influential" people in the world
Understand the new "gatekeepers"
How to interview a "source"
Call to make a definite appointment. Just because modern influencers are accessible in a variety of different ways, doesn't mean they are any less busy and waiting to selflessly serve your needs (and why would they?).
How to interview Dr. Who
How to interview an author
Select an author.
How to interview yourself
Stick your camera on a tripod and snap stills of yourself until you're happy with the framing.
How to interview a doula
How long have you been a doula?
How to interview Olympic athletes
Have they won a medal? > No > Were they expected to win? > Insult them by asking why they bottled it and show your general ignorance about their sport.
How to interview a closing lawyer
Ask: Besides real estate, what else do you do? (Best answer: Just real estate. Worst: Personal injury.)
How to interview a college football coach
Ask: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
How to interview a hardware salesperson
Talk me through your most complex customer deal? How did it start, who were the stakeholders and what objections did you have to overcome to close the deal?
How to interview like a party animal
Send the questions ahead of time.
How to interview a rock star
Consult a successful rock star
Late Night Label
I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. I am exhausted. (exactly 180 words except for this)
I have never been able to sleep in. Loving a baker who leaves home at 3:36 sharp every morning has only reinforced this. So the other morning I put the kettle on the stove, grabbed a handful of change, and walked down to the basement with a heap of soil garments smelling a bizarre mix of metal shavings and stale bread. After the washing machine had completed it's spin cycle I loaded the damp clothes in to the basket and opened the door to a cold dark sky. The city was more quiet at 5 AM than I had ever heard before. The air was cool but my virtual weatherapp told me today would be a great day to dry my clothes on the line. The moon was bright and centered over the line as I pinched each item between my squeaky wooden alligator jaws. This is one moment of serenity I hold onto as the days grow shorter, but the busyness of life continues.
Unfortunately, the recorder (object/tool) and the recorder (operator/me) had a SNAFU after Kevin and I interviewed Beth. The perpetual circling of pixels on the little screen wouldn't stop and resulted in a file with no contents.... I guess I shouldn't have expressed to Kevin and Beth how great the recorder had been to me....murphy's law? or maybe I should have been knockin on wood.
here's my take from notes and memory.
K ~ Beth, why the MFA program? why now? (perhaps a "and now its your turn to answer this question" question)
B- I have always wanted to teach, except when I finished my undergrad, so I moved to England. Life happened but teaching was always something I wanted to do. My children are 19 and 17(I hope I didn't make those up Beth...) they are very independant and I have the attitude that they will do just fine. This three years is for me. Its my I won't feel guilty time.
I find this an interesting parallel with a vein of conversation which came up several times during our time together about youth experiences. Beth grew up with her father, Ron Dow, making film and photographs. To her this medium, process, and life was ever present during childhood development. Her father's life in art and image making shaped her and now, in turn, Beth's children are growing up with their mother making images (father too) and they are constantly exposed to thier parents experiences in this realm. So, if I may pose a new question Beth, what does this lineage, tradition, or recurrence mean to you?
Where do your ideas / projects come from?
B- I am highly distractible. Many of my ideas come by chance since I am susceptible to tangents and spontaneous thoughts.
Instead of struggling to put together cohesive sentences of Beth's response, I will summarize and reflect: Beth talked a bit about how she is constantly self-censoring. One/some of her
friends have said she is someone who would never have to do drugs to come up with something out of the blue, outrageous, or an intuitive but distant connection. The instances of absurd thought and realizations Beth speaks of point directly to the humorous and playful qualities of her work.
sumptuous-kitschy. necessary-idle. sensual- morose. lawerence welk-tiny bubbles. metal- acid. blood- paint thinner.
broken- fixed, peppery- clean. expensive-desire. cheap-tra la la. tired-truth. happy-chance.
small-obliged. comfort-solitude. breeze-skyscraper. skyscraper-fog. cinderblock-mustang.
dance party-essence. pubic hair-locked doors. falling-in love. marriage-seasickness. crying-delightful. forced genuine encounter-jasmine tea. renaissance-bogus. taylor- not even J Crew would want a crumpled up sour face like yours. get over yourself-no really! any day now- next 3 years. djr-head down, orifice open. mine-mine. you-maybe. telephone- torture
mittens-fuck you! ryan-superdouche. fluffy-delightful. spooning- noon. spooning-noonskidoodoos. middle aged-vote. sad-sundays. money-overratted. evodia-rotten bananas. dead flowers- wedge. chance-tattoo. peach diamond-jealous. spooky spoons-new cup. power yoga- daydream. bath-bed. dog-child 180 words-not tonight dear, i have a headache. register-vacinnations.
I stepped outside and felt the harshness of the cold air make my bones hurt. My hands feel numb. I know this is not the worse yet, I know more is soon about to come. Yet, I'm finding comfort in not knowing how bad it can feel. This must be one of the best things. Obliviousness. To not know. To not know how bad something can hurt. It's just like being a baby. Curiously, dangerously learning how to walk, not knowing that if you fall, it can hurt really bad. The thing about babies is that they soon forget about pain, and do instinctively what hurt them in the first place. Dogs have this beautiful naiveness too. To hurt and then forget. How great must that feel, but then again, they don't remember. Memory is a silly thing, because we actually don't remember the actual pain, but we have the gist of it... and that's enough to prevent us or to teach us not to do certain things. We store and file these memories of pain, so we know what to expect if something like that happens again. So here I found the beauty of amnesia. To hurt all you can, but never ever recollect.
I made the recent transition to a smart phone a mere 5 months ago. I'm not so sure it was the right choice. The accessibility to almost any information I could imagine, distracting myself from my own thoughts by going back and forth between different apps, was a whole new world for me. All of these phones are almost always bound to be broken within its two-year contract, take up too much space, and you can look at facebook whenever you desire. The list of horrible things about smart phones can go on and on.
Even so, I admit, I love my phone for the many times it has come in handy. But I want to keep it that way. It should only be a helpful tool that just so happens to also be my communication device.
If I ever, EVER, turn into one of those people at concerts though, who is looking at facebook, tweeting, instagraming, messaging, and taking 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 pictures of the same band in the same pose, I will throw my phone at a wall and be done with it.
LM: What makes you get up in the morning?
CM: I am the kind of person who feels like it needs to make the most of every minute of every day. Life makes me get up in the morning. I'm not afraid of dying, but I just really want to treat every moment of my life as something really precious.
LM: What was your experience with ceramics like? And what was that recognizable thing that makes you think this is it? This is what I want to do.
CM: My first experience with ceramics was sort of by accident. I work with these two women and I didn't actually make ceramics, I just helped them. I would do deliveries. Mary would have this ceramics business, so I would help her package her stuff and drive it to the different locations. Without knowing it, I was gravitating to this situation. Only to find out later why I found it so fascinating. What I really found fascinating was these women, they were using their hands to make their living. Being really creative, and being really resourceful. Being really proficient. They were really exemplary. Just strong, independent, resourceful women that I really appreciated and that was my first experience. For me, it didn't come until much much later that I found that I could make a living with ceramics. It wasn't until probably 10 years later
LM: Do you remember a specific moment? Or was it just a series of events?
CM: I think it was a series of events. I was always surprised in being able to figure things out by myself. How to navigate the world on my own. It was something that I learned as a young child. Ceramics is like a vast ocean of information and there's so much that you can do in the realm of ceramics. There's also like a lot of knowledge that you need to know to be successful. I got this job at Park City at the ....art center and I just kept failing miserably. I mean, I was supposed to run this center, and I had never taught before and I wasn't sure how to fire a kiln, but I was sure this is what I wanted to do. So, I'm sure I can figure it out, but I was not figuring it out. So, I decided that what maybe what I really needed to do was get a full art education. In that same art period, I was making my work, and selling my work. I was making money and my pots were in demand and people would always comment "Oh, it matches my kitchen" And I just remember being like. "Who gives a fuck about your kitchen?" And at that moment, I liked the work I was making, but I wasn't in love with the work I was making. And It was very important for me to love the work I was making. So, I started to go back to school, and go back to be able to gather up my information.
LM: Was this for your undergrad?
CM: Yeah. So, I didn't start my undergrad until I was 34.
LM: Where did you go?
CM: Northern Arizona University.
LM: Did you have a good experience there?
CM: I did. I feel like that experience I had was very much about me sort of navigating the situation. But in me, navigating a situation was really about me not letting other people in. I just wanted to be on my own, and figure things out. And it was also about sharing experience and learning to accept what other people had to offer.
LM: So, recently you have decided to start from scratch from your work. What direction do you hope your work takes after this?
CM: I guess, in a lot of ways I feel like my work is forced, because in ceramics there is this community and it's definitely there are those who are very successful, and there is those who are not. And I want to become to the level of those who are very successful. But I feel like in like getting of the spirit of that conversation, about matching their kitchen. I was sort of forcing my work. I was not letting happen naturally. I was thinking of things that are very sellable or things that people might like, and that's not why I wanted to go to school and I find out that it's for me to get really caught up on those things, you know...being successful, and being able to market my work. And I really wanted to start from scratch, because I really wanted to find the true essence of my work. That is really important to me.
LM: (This is not in my questionnaire, but I always ask my friends this) Would you be happy making art if you weren't successful?
CM: I would, because I feel like I really need a commitment to this and to myself. In making this commitment. It's all about me and the artwork and exploration. I think is the most important component of where I am right now. I feel like I would still make art. I would find another outlet. I would certainty not go for a desk job, if I wasn't successful. I think were tied at this point.
LM:What do you fear the most?
CM: The thing I fear the most is the body breaking down and the mind keeps going, because I don't know how to navigate life without my physical form. I really fear the day that I really want to ride my bike, but can't....want to go on a hike, but can't. ...As far as art goes, never truly knowing myself. That's terrifying. There's some outside forces that you have to reckon with on a daily basis, and I feel like that gets in the way of being sort of settle, and move to myself and really being to reflect, who I am, or where I am, where I'm going and what's important.
LM: What moves your work?
CM: What moves me to make my work?
LM: I mean, what inspires you to make work?
CM: Always getting better. Always seeing the improvement. Always learning to see differently. New forms, new lines, new colors. Having something come together so wonderfully. It may not ever happen, but it's most definitely the most motivating factor. And you know...coming to see myself as an artist, because I feel like an artist now, but I want to able to feel that essence.
LM: What makes someone an artist?
CM: Maybe creative. Honestly, to be able to take a little venture into your creative self. Like a drawing in a napkin. One thing I really love are little kids drawings, because they don't have those innovations...those formal thoughts. I guess what makes an artists, it's your willingness to want to be an artist.
LM: What is your favorite memory?
CM: My earliest memory. I was probably around 7 or 8. And we went to the aquarium in Boston. I always been sort of a very close person, and as I get older I really to open myself up. I remember going to the aquarium, and not really spending a lot of time interacting with the other kids, but I took the bus home, and I sat on the front seat, and I felt this serene feeling of independence. It was the first time that I had an "adult feeling" When I was really able to reflect what I was feeling. To be proud in that moment. To be alone. To be independent. And to be OK with that. That felt really good.
LM: Ok, Tell me something you would only tell me?
CM: aaahh....geeez....um...I'm going to skip that question.
We both laugh.
CM: I feel like there's so much I can say, but I don't want to say too much because...
LM: I'm recording?
CM: Yeah. I mean..there's something that keeps coming back to my mind that I have never told anybody, and it would be kind of fun to say it. Knowing that no one else would really know,but you...but....
LM:.... I am recording....Ok..that's ok...So...this is more of a question for me. What do you do with doubt:
CM: I just struggle though. I just keep making. I feel like I have a lot of experience with doubt, and It's totally a useless feeling and experience, and it sort of hinders you in a way. I mean as much as it seems like doubt and grad school go hand in hand, I think it's going to be really more harmful to me more than anything else right now. I could use my energy for other things. I need to be powerful and just keep going.
LM: What is beauty to you? And is it important?
CM: It is really important. To be beauty is a funny thing. I keep finding beauty in a lot of different things. I can find beauty in something that is really funny or really ugly, or something that is very touching. I feel like beauty takes on many different forms for me. I fund so much beauty in nature, in being a human being and feelings emotions and in the struggles that we have.
LM: Does it influence your work?
CM: I think it does. It doesn't come directly, but for me it would be more of a catalyst for those feelings that I feel. I differently, that sort of beauty that moves me and inspires me, it comes in printmaking or drawing, because it is the best way for me to convey those feelings. I don't think beauty comes from objects. The objects that I make are sort of different kind of beauty. They are meant to enhance your life, your surroundings, and hope that you make connections with your home.
LM: But do you think that the 2D, affects the 3d?
CM: In a ways, but I think I am in the baby steps stage, because as much as I love printmaking. I am in stage zone of printmaking, but I have a lot of awesome ideas for prints. That ugly beauty side. But I don't think those are very separate, but when I get some time, I would really like to explore the 2D, printmaking side. It is something that I am very excited about.
LM: What has been your proudest moment in life or in art?
CM: My proudest moment in my life was grinding ...(something I can't hear well in the recording) And In art, my proudest moment was getting into grad school. Being accepted into grad school means that you're obviously doing something right. By far. Second proudest moment.
LM: What has been your favorite lie that you have told?
CM: My favorite lie? That I have a twin sister. I guess when I used to wait tables and I would see guys in bars that I had seen when I was really drunk or something. ...These are YOUR questions...these are not art questions.
LM: Yes, they are. This is the way that I would interview someone.
CM: -mocking me- "Tell me something you would only tell myself"
LM: Do you feel like there's a difference where your life ends, and your art begins.
CM: I feel like there is, but I'm sure some people would see it that way. Sometimes, I'm just washing the dishes, but some people could turn it into an art project. Some sort of conceptual....
LM: That's going to be my next project. I'm going to go strangers homes and wash their dishes. So, thank you for that.
CM: I'm going to say no, because we have psychology, philosophy, sociology. Those are all full of opportunities for art projects. I feel like every moment there's an opportunity for art. Whether we can see it or not....
LM: So what's your favorite word?
CM: silliliqui (sp)
LM: What is that?
CM: It is when you talk out loud to yourself. But it's more like a formal event where you're having this dialogue and you're talking to yourself, but you're sort of talking to other people, so you can understand your thoughts. I also love the word Chance.
LM: Like the idea of it or just the word?
CM: I think both. Chance. Oh, that's such a beautiful word. I'm going to go get a tattoo tomorrow. Chance.
Talking Kevin Obstatz over mouthfuls of cookies and sips of coffee.
This is how the formal interview session between Kevin, Beth and I began...
B- How old were you when you first became aware of art?
K- (mouth full of cookie)- The whole question of art versus entertainment is central to where I am coming from. I can answer that easily with film. It first occurred to me that someone has to make movies for me to watch them at 12 or 13 years old. I took a summer class at 14 about how you make a movie and I was like wow, you can just do that yourself. I was aware of narrative way before I was aware of what fine art meant. I remember being actively un-interested in art museums, but stories would hold my attention.
B- When did you start realizing the moving image was part of that museum you ignored.
K- Midway through highschool I discovered in Stanley Kubrick movies for example the idea that a narrative has a set of expectations attached to it. A narrative is satisfying when it is checking off the boxes of those expectations. Somewhere in the middle of highschool I realized it wasn't necessary to follow those rules. You could make a movie that challenges a person's expectations and doesn't giving them what they need or what they want. Not until college was I exposed to any art films of an aggressively non-narrative formalist work. Even then it was a slow and gradual progression of interest for me.
C- What films or movies, or moving pictures were you attracted to when you were younger? Do any experiences stick out?
K- At some point I had this distinct memory of being a little kid and my parents were watching Back to the Future. I remember seeing the scene where the Delorean comes out of the back of the truck for the first time, there was spooky music, and fog from the fog machine and I remember having a visceral reaction to it.
It seems beth and I were trying to look in Kevin's earliest years for his formative experiences as an artist. Stories of experiences as youth are often interestingly evocative and easy for a participant or listener to relate to. We all have experiences when we realize the layers of media, ideas, and motive behind a movie picture. For Kevin it is the scene with the Delorean. For me it may have been when I was so bothered by Hocus Pocus I had to leave the theater. I knew it was just a movie but I made a deliberate act to avoid that experience.
At a later point in the interview Kevin explained another one of his formative experience as an artist and filmmaker. This time less freudian. After college, Kevin spent some time in France. He explained the culture he encountered of wonderfully small venues of experimental filmmakers. Dispite this culture he found himself not enjoying many of the films. After this he related his distaste with those films to his work. Kevin's goal isn't to make art that is difficult. Instead for him the idea of exploring what he can do with film, or the idea of committing to super 8, for example, is approaching film as an artist.
An indistinct figure curls on a loveseat. This person's back is lined up with the front edge of the cushions, and a knee is pressed into the back support. It is not clear whether the eyes are open or closed. On the floor below the figure is a pen clipped to a section of newspaper, neatly folded with the crossword puzzle on top. All but one of the words have been entered.
A second figure sits on a slipcovered armchair nearby, to the right or left of the first figure, depending on a lot of things.
Headphones and Music
Almost the only time I ever wear my headphones is when I'm painting. Its mostly the only time I actively choose music to listen to rather than abstractly listening to a radio. I really enjoy music but I am unable to listen to it academically, I almost never hear the meaning of the words, they just blend together into another part of the song. What I get from music is distraction, and rhythm. When I am painting I put on my headphones (cheap but respectable sennheisers) and then it is the perfect fit. It distracts me from hard thought. It turns the world away from the cocoon I paint in. I get a little paranoid as well though, especially in these studios with locked doors, I am worried I will miss someone knocking on the door, or Jim will sneak up on me and paint me on the back of the head or something. I like music with rhythm when I paint, and old rock (or something else, I am uncertain with music genres), I just bought two albums on Amazon, Boston by Boston, and Kansas Greatest Hits. Maybe I will improve my American geography at the same time?
I've used the model of a radio interview conducted by Terry Gross because I like the way questions and responses can be edited (control freak). This was the first time I had interviewed anyone, and the recording showed that I suck at asking succinct, eloquent questions. I've been interviewed live and by email in the past and have always preferred the chance to think about my replies before blurting them out. I'm curious about how much editing was done to the chat between Dan Graham and Kim Gordon because it felt relaxed and casual. They have known each other for years, and the ease of an old friendship is evident here. I hope to develop long friendships with Chris and Kevin. I loved talking with them because they make compelling work and have interesting things to say about it.
The three of us met together, with one person being interviewed by the other two. Some of the questions here are mine, while others were asked by Chris or Kevin. I kept them all in here because it was a natural conversation that let questions arise as responses were given.
This assignment made me see that I'm timid about asking questions. I always want to know a person's backstory and to have some insight into their motivations, but I realized that I try to puzzle that out for myself. You mean to tell me I only had to ask?
Here they are . . .
What path led you to art? The materials you use are so broad, and it seems like those interests would come from childhood. Were you a creative child?
I grew up in a family of 4 kids, and i was the youngest for 5 years. I was quiet and very non-confrontational, and was always playing and tinkering. My uncle had this really elaborate train set, and it was so fascinating to see this little world he built in this dingy, musty basement. I'm interested in that tinkering nature.
The work we have seen of yours has this rough quality. Is that aesthetic a kind of through-line, or has it evolved?
I've always had a problem with this process of refinement and this process of perfecting something and fine tuning it to the pinnacle. I don't see much value in that.
You use seemingly gentle elements, yet that innocence is slyly upended by subtle interventions, where songbirds become regulated automatons, disembodied cat paws reach out under doors, and you are exposing the wires and the process. How did you come to marry the simple innocent elements with subversion or the unexpected?
I always have this idea that theres more that meets the eye, and that's that tool of observation. Not just that an object hits your eye and you recognize it; it's a dialogue, an inner dialogue you have. Maybe you use that object as a jumping off point, but then the way I manipulate and work with different materials and expose the wires is a way of me revealing how I'm trying to deal with certain things I'm dealing with in the work.
It seems like your work comes from asking "what if?"
I try not to pin it down too much. i like to think of those aspects as metaphor in my work, but I want to keep it open ended. There might be several metaphors, and I try not to get stuck on one.
Have you had conflicts in class about your choices to keep things rough and your resistance to pinning things down? You trust your instincts. Does that cause you trouble in class?
I leave so much of that unresolved, but I find I enjoy that. There is that sense of discovery but once you discover something then you have this new understanding of it. Sometimes it's that moment before that. Once you educate yourself in something you lose that awe that you had previously. Some would say that's the natural development and you need to find more things that interest you.
That's that pre-intellectual response, that instant you see and feel it before your brain has caught up and tried to make sense of something.
How do you recreate that moment? How do you present it? The hardest thing is that I'm trying to recreate my own representation of that moment.
The marks you made on thermal receipt paper were playful and experimental. How does discovery inform your work?
It's a process of trying to find those little snippets of discovery and being aware of little nuances, but also it comes from a practice. Organically letting these situations of discovery happen but then actively pursuing them is troublesome.
The importance of craft and the mark of the hand, your hand, is readily evident in your work. I see that you can deftly handle all kinds of materials, so what would you do if you had an idea that required a process or material that you had no experience with? Would you shelve the idea, learn how to do it yourself, or would you find someone who could fabricate that component for you? How important is it for you to make everything?
At this point its important for me to do everything - it would be very hard to give that up. I love to learn those new techniques, and that's one part of the work - me discovering, and i need to have those personal experiences to recreate them.
I also wonder how collaboration might figure in your work. What sort of new territories would you be open to exploring? It seems like its against your nature. I don't want to read that into you . . .
I've always had it in my head but I'm a control freak. I would love to collaborate with somebody. I'd like to think that I could work well with people. It's hard because of that whole passive personality.
What big, crazy idea do you have lurking in the back of your mind that you wish you were brave enough to tackle? Is there an idea that is still a bit overwhelming, or do things happen more organically in the moment?
The things I focus on are the more lighthearted and playful. Maybe there are some more things that have a more serious overtone, or dark overtone or more purely intellectual. Theres this piece by Felix Gonzales Torres, 2 clocks, titled "Perfect Lovers". He synchs them in perfect time, and over time they drift apart. I bought 2 shitty clocks and they arein my living room
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
I've been into podcasts and stories, listening to the Moth, Radiolab, and This American Life.
Are you easily distracted?
I try to distract myself when I'm reading. If I'm doing something I'm totally enveloped in, my mind is actively searching for other things to distract myself.
How old were you when you first became aware of art?
It first occurred to me that someone has to make movies for me to watch them at around 12 or 13. I was aware of narrative way before any concept of what fine art is.
What films were you attracted to when you were younger?
I was really in the mainstream when I was a kid. I have this really distinct memory of being a little kid and my parents were watching back to the future and I remember seeing when the DeLorean comes out of the back of the truck and having this sort of visceral experience that someone was creating this experience for me. It's been this continual unfolding for me. It wasn't really until after college when I lived in Paris for a year, thats where all the hard core experimental stuff was going on. I wanted to know more about what was going on there.
So what was going on in Paris that made you uncomfortable, or made you unsure?
Paris has this really small, scruffy experimental film culture. Maybe that's the experience that should have been my formative experience. A lot of what I saw there wasn't comfortable for me because a lot of what I saw there wasn't enjoyable to watch, and I don't think that my goal is to make stuff that's difficult.
I hope you don't feel guilt about holding on to the angle of entertainment. Why can't something be enjoyable? Some of the most simple things in our lives cut to universal truths, and why can't that be a part of what we do?
I'm not rejecting that per se, but its a little bit hard for me to figure out where I fit in because I do still value and am still making more traditional stuff and I'm also interested in something completely different.
You already have an impressive résumé that includes grants, directing, editing, feature length films, and commercial video. The decision to commit the next 3 years to school tells me you were looking for something more. What made you decide to attend grad school, and what do you hope to gain?
I was making stuff and it was kind of fitting into my life just fine. I would go work a bunch and then I would have a project I would want to do, and I would either just pay for it myself because I was doing alright financially with video work or I would apply for grants. I was having some decent luck the last few years, but I didn't have a sense of continuity to it. I felt like I was kind of making it up as I went along. I would make something and share it with a few people here and send it to film festivals and then it would go on my web site and the I would make something else. I think I was really curious about what a bigger working structure would look like in terms of my work and thinking about everyone else's work, and thinking about the conversation, the dialogue about these forms as they are evolving. I wanted to be a part of the dialogue. I felt isolated but I wanted to know what other people were making and talk to them. It was less about inclusion or belonging and more about contributing. I also feel I have a lot to learn and there is a limit to what I can teach myself.
I see that you have been mentoring teens. How did you get involved with that?
I was making independent films in Minneapolis and was frustrated with it, and then I went away to Paris and hung out with these experimental film people, and that was cool but I felt like I didn't really enjoy being there but I learned from that experience. And then I came back and fell into a documentary project about this mentoring organization. They were into rites of passage experiences as a way for teen boys to make the transition into young adulthood. Film is a lot about archetypes. In a way it's less about individuals and more about archetypal roles. The reason a movie like the Matrix or Lord of the Rings is so popular is that its this hero's journey quest in this very basic stripped down form. This mentoring program tapped into this very basic hero's journey.
Its like what we were talking about - the entertainment purpose of mainstream film takes us on this journey and that's why its so effective, and that's what they are trying to access in your work. My goal is the synthesis between these three years, figuring out how all these things fit together.
Which film do you wish you had made yourself?
I think if I could be anyone I might choose Terrence Malick because the stuff he gets to make is so gorgeous, and his way of approaching it is so amazing. His films are beautiful and he doesn't try to control everything. There is all this room for moments to evolve.
Your recent work with 16mm relies on chance and the release of control. How do you manage to successfully move back and forth between that process and the commercial video work? Which side is more cathartic, because I can see how either could be.
I think there's something holistic in having both. They are both satisfying in different ways. I think the rigor of commercial work has trained me, but then I get to be really loose and invite more chaos. Those two poles create this great space in between where everything can occupy a different space.
The first time I heard the album "Goat" by The Jesus Lizard, I didn't really like it. My older brother had it on in his car. "You like punk music, right? Check these guys out." I didn't get it. It was slow, and even quiet at times, and the songs were five minutes long. I thought punk music was about short, fast, pissed off songs. This was way over my head, and didn't understand until later how brilliantly this band had deconstructed a genre that is pretty limiting if you follow the formula. This music is still pissed off, but in a more sophisticated way. Bands I was into at the time like Negative Approach were pissed off in a reactionary, knee-jerk way, and they just screamed about it until they ran out of gas and the song was over. The Jesus Lizard's sound was more calculated. After much careful consideration, they were STILL pissed off. They understood that the loud parts of songs are more effective after slow, creepy buildups. Instead of jumping out and pummeling you in the head like most punk bands, they were hiding in the bushes, stalking you, taking careful aim at your kneecaps. Genius.
O: (Bar noise, Chicago on bar speakers) Chicago, take one.
O: This is art.
I: This is what sound art is.
O: This is interview art.
I: Are we supposed to talk about art?
O: I guess.
I: I came up with questions for you, but I feel like that might kill it if I just read questions to you.
O: I didn't come up with any questions.
I:Are you obsessive compulsive?
I: No? You don't do weird things with touching doorknobs or anything?
O: No, I don't have any rituals or anything.
I: I was thinking about how you are really into the repetition thing, and I was wondering if you were into repetition cause you started printmaking and really chose this idea of printmaking to focus on or if you were drawn to printmaking cause of an obsessive-compulsive inclination.
O: Well, that's why I brought up when Willie Cole suggested we might suffer from the same "disease" where we repeat things, but it is very much different from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I am not trapped in repetition, but I am drawn to it. I am comforted by repetition.
I: You do work that is not printmaking but use repetition to make it printmaking. You treat things like the typewriter like printmaking. The crocheted items being used as printmaking base. Using this technical side of printmaking to transform items that are not traditional print materials.
O: Well that came from wanting to pull out concepts of printmaking. I am not really interested in using it just as an expressive medium anymore. I kinda like fucking around with ideas a little bit more than imagery at the moment.
I: That makes it funny, too. It's what you do when you are making prints, but it seems absurd. But it is the same thing.
O: It did just seem like it made sense with the typewriter. I thought, this is letterpress just automated.
I: Yeah, It's an impression on a piece of paper.
O: I though, this is perfect. I can make prints so fast now. (as Jim faces television to watch baseball game) Have you ever done a painting of a baseball game before?
I: No, I have thought about it though, a painting of baseball stadium at night.
O: Yeah, It seems like it makes sense for you to connect your love of baseball and your interest in painting these effects of light.
I: I actually gathered a bunch of source photos before and was going to do a painting of Comerica Park with the lights on and nobody there. I never did it though.
O: It is really intense artificial light.
I: Well, look at this game; it's at Yankee stadium in New York, it's later there than it is here. It's night time but on the field it looks like daylight. I wish I had cable so I could watch baseball at home.
O: You should get a free trial
I: Yeah I should. I can't watch playoff games online so I've been going to bars to watch them. I wonder how much money I've spent on beer and food to do that, I probably could've just signed up for cable by the time the World Series is over.
O: Yeah but you've been out and you've had beer and food, you're not sitting in your house!
I: I could have eaten food and drank beer in my house though.
O: But it's not the same, you're going out.
I: No, it's not the same. It's better when I'm in my house. You know when the last time was the Tigers won the World Series?
I: HOW DID YOU KNOW?
O: What?! I just guessed! Is that really true? I was just trying to come up with a year that would sound like, "IT WAS BACK IN '84 MAN."
O: Interview over.
I: Baseball, this is really important stuff. We should talk about art though.
O: Okay, what have you been working on?
I: Remember the carnival photos? You saw those? I'm working on something with those and it's starting to look good. The problem I'm having now is that what I like about these images is what's making hard to paint. I'm going to do a big composition where I pick and choose things from different photos. I'm doing little studies of the individual elements now.
O: And then you'll make them into a bigger scene?
I: Yeah, but it's hard to piece the elements together. Everything is lit by those saturated colored lights, and the intensity looks equal no matter far back in space things are. It makes it so the rules of atmospheric perspective are gone. It's night and there are just outlines of things framed by lights, so atmospheric perspective, to use that stupid fucking 2D design class term again, it doesn't apply. And usually that's what my shit is all about. I'm trying to figure out how to put all these elements in relation to each other. I tried today with all my photos out doing sketches, it didn't happen.
O: How big is the big one gonna be?
I: Big as hell. At least five feet in the shortest dimension. Bigger paintings are easier than small ones. You don't have to fuss over stuff with little brushes and rulers and shit. You can just use a house painting brush to do the same thing when it's bigger. You can see what you're doing.
O: I had a professor in undergrad who was very anal in the way he painted. He had this tiny brush, tiny, and he'd be holding it all the way at the back and painting shutters on this giant painting. Just painting lines on the shutters.
I: I never got that holding it all the way at the back thing. I've seen pictures of Matisse in his studio with this huge brush and he's holding it at the very back. I've heard you can get a lot more control if you learn to do it that way, but that's the biggest load of bullshit. I've tried.
O: You just haven't learned to do it right!
I: No, it's bullshit.
O: I made these implements for the thesis show I did and one of them was a baby spoon glued to the end of a really long rod after Matisse's giant brush. I did a portrait of a hypothetical child, a copy of a Nolde painting. I did it all with this spoon on the rod, which was about as tall as me.
I: Is there documentation of you using it? I'd like to see that.
O: No, but there's a picture of the implement I can show you.
I: What are these little things on it?
O: Ornamentation. It's supposed to be like a ritual staff.
I: Those look like something you'd get in a gift shop at a national park.
O: My friend gave me this stuff. She would give me clothes and jewelry she was trying to get rid of.
I: The portrait looks way more controlled than I thought it would be. Maybe there's something to that holding the brush at the back trick. I was picturing something that looked like a child did it.
O: When I was in kindergarten, during free time I would draw figures with their brains and hearts popping out. All of their organs popping out of their bodies. The most creative stuff I've ever made.
Cm: What are some of your first memories of making art?
LM: I went to a Catholic school and we had an arts class, it was more like arts and crafts and my first memory was making these little baskets out of pine needles and I remember being very fascinated by that. None of my family makes art and I never thought I was creative or artistic.
CM: What was it about those little baskets that you really liked or enjoyed?
LM: I think what I really liked then was that they were a useful thing and I really liked making something with my hands. I like the idea of picking something that is around me, and making something out of it. I liked the utilitarian side of it. I was studying psychology and wanted to be a social worker before I went into art, so I have always been logical about things.
CM: You moved to the United States when you were 14, do you feel that your move had some impact on the art that you are making now?
LM: I think I definitely wouldn't be making art if I didn't moved here because in El Salvador you have very practical careers, especially for women. I wanted to be a doctor when I was little. I wouldn't have had the luxury of making art; my life would have been much different. Most of my friends back home have, like, 3 kids, that's good for them so...
CM: What was your first your first experience with art that made you change your path?
LM: I applied to San Francisco State to be a social worker and I had a year off so I wanted to take classes I always wanted to take. So I took piano, because I have been trying to learn the piano since I was little but my fingers are really fat and not good for that. I took photography because I always loved... I bought my first camera and it was one mega pixel and it was this really fat Kodak camera and I really liked taking photos, and people would tell me they are really nice photos, but I was never really secure with myself and doubted my abilities, so I took a class. I know this is pessimistic but I was hoping that my teacher would tell me that I wasn't good at it so I could get this crazy idea out of my head that I wanted to be a photographer. But he told me that I was really good. My professor told me I should consider persuing this more. We became really good friends and then at the end of the semester I decided that I wasn't going to major in social work. It was a big process because before I went into art, I was volunteering and was very involved in the community and I really wanted to help people but when I went into photography I felt that it was a very selfish route and I had problems making the decision, but I knew it was going to be the right thing for me.
CM: Do you think that your desire to be a social worker and help people comes through in your work?
LM: I think how it comes through is that I am really interested in people. I want to get to know people; I want to have intense relationships with the people I meet. I have always been interested in why we do things, how do we react with others and for me I still struggle with what my purpose as an artist is, and how am I helping the world. I feel like I am not but I am working on it.
CM: How do you come up with your ideas and your concepts? Where do they come from?
LM: They come from the things that I am interested in. One project that I haven't talked about was Online Dating. It was the only project that I dropped because I couldn't deal with the ethics of it. I do a project because I want to figure something out. It the only way I can answer these questions for myself.
CM: Tell me more about Online Dating!
LM: I am really interested in the idea of online dating; I am interested in the idea of trying things on. I'm interested in how people present themselves, the things that they write to get your attention, the photographs they use so to get other people to see them. I was doing this project where I was going to on these dates with these men and I was documenting everything, phone messages, photographs, but it was the first project that my subjects didn't know that they were part of a project and I couldn't deal with that. It has to be collaboration. I couldn't deal with me playing with people's feelings.
CM: It sounds like it was an amazing project! It seems that them not knowing would be the only way to approach the project in order to get their authentic self or it would become something else entirely.
LM: The thing was I went on three dates and the guys were so nice and they were always asking me out again and I was always like. ...Oh... no, thank you...
CM: It seems like you put yourself in a lot emotionally compromised positions. Do you feel like this is the basis of your work; as an exploration of emotions more so then the images themselves or the concepts?
LM: I am definitely more interested in experience. In the end I do get a product out of it. I do get photographs but the experience is number one. The person I am interacting with is number one and then the art follows it after. I am interested in me and people experiencing things together.
CM: Is there a body of work that you would classify as your defining moment as an artist.
LM: Yeah, definitely my Sleeping with Strangers project. I was exploring something I was very interested in and getting the answers I was looking for. I was interested in what happens when you just meet someone and get into bed and talk to them and experiencing things together. What happens when I come to your house, your sacred area, and I am coming there asking you about your childhood, I watched T.V. with them. It was an honest experience that I was really enjoying.
CM: So your work seems to be about humility and intimacy.
LM: Definitely about intimacy. Sometimes forced, but it is genuine at the time. It is genuine in a forced encounter.
CM: Who are some of your influences?
LM: My first influence was Dwayne Michaels. I really like how he thinks that photographs don't tell the truth, like a photograph of someone crying doesn't tell you what it feels like to cry. He says we are feelings not what we look like and how do you explore deep things, how do you explore questions of death and heartbreak. How do you answer those questions? I was always interested in that philosophy side of it. He thought that most photographs were boring. I got to take a class with him and he got to see my work and he wasn't very interested in it. He thought it was boring, but it was an amazing experience, he is very funny and very smart and he changed and still influences the way I see things. Diane Arbus as well, not so much her photographs, but I read many journal entries, and I read many things about the people she would interact with. I was interested in the way she thought that the subject was more interesting then the photograph, more important. I like the relationships she had with the people she photographed and she had a lot of respect for them. Respect is important to me.
CM: Do you have a favorite a least favorite part of your process?
LM: Doubt. I also feel like I do a lot of things by instinct
CM: So working instinctively, that would be a favorite?
LM: Yeah, I do things by instinct, in the beginning I am not sure how to answer why I take certain photographs or why I picked it or why I put them together but I know that's the way it has to go and it takes me a while to justify it and that's when the doubt comes. I do trust my instincts enough to go for it. I can be very doubtful and distracted in my work. That's my least favorite part.
CM: Where do you see yourself in ten years with your work?
LM: I have very simple goals, I think. I want to make art for the rest of my life but I am not interested in the rat race. I want to keep taking from my personal relationships and own life experiences in order to follow something. I am not interested in constantly pursuing something; I just want to keep making art. I would like to teach part time because I really like teaching. I would like to have a family, make art, teach, grow my own vegetables and have dogs... That's were I see myself in ten years.
Grindbakken, Rodor (2012)
The Grindbakken, a vacant warehouse dock in Ghent, is a relic of the city's industrial shipping past inhabiting the landscape of a future residential and recreational zone. In the meantime, the structure will house a series of temporary interventions in its roofless, segmented spaces.
Rotor, a Belgian creative collective, designed a reductive act of interference as the first installation, selectively limiting the whitewashing of the surfaces to highlight the building's historical layers and narrative elements. Striated planes of grime, residue from years of storing gravel, and pieces of graffiti are framed by pure white, while unpainted lines reveal the transition between the original concrete pours. The artist/designers also preserved small pools of life, corners of lichen and edges of weedy grass. Much like a neighborhood undergoing a transformation, the Grindbakken's story of transition is understood by witnessing the simple contrast of new and old. The building becomes a small-scale experiment of what awaits its surroundings, as the decay is renewed and the abandoned repopulated. Its success lies not in hastening towards progress, but in making focused observations and exercising cautious restraint.
I wish I could be like, "you could do that"
I'm always afraid to talk to people
I just make the images and I just sort of put it out there
I don't mind what people think about them
I only ever photograph friends
I've seen people like, oh my God, I'd like to take a picture of them
Maybe you could carry your art cards around
You could be like "Hey, I'm legit! Could I take your picture?"
I see myself as an artist who happens to be into printmaking right now
I lose myself as a person who can't really draw
The drawing I make doesn't satisfy what I'm going for
I'm ready to move on
I'm in this weird in-between place
Just make something, but what do I make?
What does this mean, and if it doesn't mean something why am I doing it?
I saw that Kiki Smith installation Kitchen and fell in love with it
That's my end goal
I want to make an installation of something, of this small, intimate room
Reading this book called the Poetics of Space
Yeah, he's really interesting
I'm really wrapped up in it so far, and I'm not that far into it
Building the room from the small objects out
Once I get a grasp on that I can figure out the space
I like things to look smooth and polished
I would like to cast pinecones and weeds and...
A cabinet of curiosities that I find and remake
Thinking about the little objects that go into the room
Wherever I walk I'm looking down, I looked depressed
Everyone's like "smile!"
I'm obsessed with animals, with deer, with squirrels, but not rats
I hate rats so much
There's this squirrel down the street
It looks like it fell asleep on its stomach but it's dead
I want to pick it up, but I can't touch it
I pick up rocks, and I have a little cicada
I just want its wings
I want to buy things, but I struggle
I don't know why I have a problem with that
I pin up my stuff on the wall
Just seeing things next to each other I see connections between them
I love books, and I love paper, I just love collecting little precious...
I used to have, growing up, a little box full of the precious things I would find
Like rocks and shells and coins
I'm selectively a packrat
Collections of odd things that I like to keep
In my studio I spread them out on the windowsill because I like to look at them.
I have this interest in things that are tactile, that I can hold or look at
I collect quotes, collecting things that are tangible and and intangible
I have these word documents full of lists and lists of quotes that I like
I write down everything, I have a collection of sketchbooks
I don't draw for inspiration
I like handwriting
I'm just trying to bring it into fruition now
My work before this is very figural
I'm interested in how to have the presence of the figure without them there
Maybe little relics of them, or something related to them
There's this photograph I just found it in this book
A cabinet full of stuffed animals and she's falling out of it
She's a part of it, I feel like that's what I'm doing now
I wish I could have been more articulate
Don't sit and think about it forever
You think about your idea, and should be thinking while you're testing it
I could think and think and think and write and write and write and OK
Just do something
You're you, go at your own pace
Just make something.
I find an image that I'm really excited about, a medium I'm really excited about.
I'm really into photogravure
Once I start getting some materials I'm use to
Have an image in my head, and just make it
I did a photolitho, which is OK
Why did I stop at four?
I'm interested in elements of posture
A slight tilt of the head, or shoulders that convey a lot of emotion
A photograph that captures the right emotion
It takes a while to distill down
I would like to get this pose or that pose
I usually do things in black and white
I think color is beautiful, but there's an emotion attached to black and white
Sometimes people say things
I hadn't really considered myself an artist
I was an art student
And then I taught preschool for a little bit and I taught them little art projects
It's this really weird identity thing going on
It's hard to pinpoint
In that moment, I'd never thought of extending myself into the public domain
I just like to watch people watching art
People ponder, and I want to know what they're thinking
I look at art and wonder what I should be thinking
A gallery is a loaded place
People are forcing themselves to experience it
I would like to just do it
I walk by a building and think, "That would be a good building..."
I'm working myself up to extending beyond my studio
I think that would be a mind-bending experience
In any practice there are the things you do that seem absurd
The only thing I'm worried about is if there's blood on the print
This is a part of the ritual of what I'm doing
It's a sublime moment
Sometimes when I'm just sitting and writing, things are popping into my head
I was there all day, all night, I lived there
I don't even want to pinpoint it
It's this elusive idea that I have in my head
I keep talking about it, it will become too concrete
It's kind of precious
I just want to keep it to myself, and keep doing it
I should definitely go home and do something
It's OK that things haven't been going exactly right
It makes you feel like you want to do something
A Blustery Autumn Night
Outside the art school building on the first truly cold night in October, everything seems to be moving. Tree branches swoop and sway in the hard wind and leaves dive toward the pavement in dozens. The concrete cityscape is lit up Magnesium orange from every direction, streetlights and parking ramp fixtures spilling across the walls, tree branches throwing organically dancing shadows everywhere. Thursday night West Bank pedestrians stride purposefully in straight lines, fists deep in pockets, shoulders high hunched, protecting sensitive scarfless necks from the new, insidious chill.
When I was an undergraduate in film school at USC, there was a kid a year younger than me (class of 2002) named Jon Chu.
I never knew him well, but it was clear from a distance that he was a smart guy, very approachable, and diligent about his work. And, by the time he graduated he had cultivated a certain aura of inevitable success - a golden boy kind of thing. Even in our highly competitive program, which featured a higher than average amount of resentment and gossip, it seemed like nobody had a bad word to say about him.
My senior year I was chosen to be the student representative on the panel that was deciding who would get to direct an advanced project the following semester - kind of an undergraduate thesis film, a coveted role given to only four out of 50 students per semester.
As the panel of professors discussed the 15-20 proposals that had been submitted, I was struck by the impression that there seemed to be a tacit agreement at the outset of the whole process that Jon would be one of the four directors we would choose.
When we came to his proposal we didn't even talk about it very much. He was one of the shining stars of the program, he had earned it - the assumption was in place. I think he would've had to work hard at screwing up his proposal or pitch to seriously jeopardize his chances.
After graduation Jon went on to win some awards and get a lot of attention, including an agent and a manager - he was living the film school dream. And, he was working his ass off the whole time - as far as I know, it was still rare for his peers to begrudge him his success. Moreover, the aura of inevitability was still intact and paying dividends.
I interviewed him on video four years after graduation, in 2006. Excerpts from that interview are here, and it's highly worth watching, I think.
His journey was far from a smooth ride - there were some pretty epic disappointments and setbacks along the way. But of course he persevered, and soon he directed his first feature film, and his second, and third.
What impresses me most about him is his clear vision of what he wants, what's missing from the system, and how he can fit into it.
He was a dancer, and he loved the kind of hip-hop dancing that was going on in the world but that wasn't especially reflected in mainstream film culture, and he saw this resource - all these underappreciated dancers around the world who were using youtube to create a community for themselves. It seems obvious in retrospect, but at the time it was a career-making inspiration (we're talking about 2005 here): he decided that he would be the one to tap into that resource and make a movie celebrating those dancers.
His first film, which was originally intended to be a direct-to-DVD, throwaway sequel (you can hear all about it in the interview link above) - opened the door to all of these opportunities, a web-based dance serial called the LXD, of course Mr. Bieber... and throughout all of it, there was Jon, working diligently, being golden.
And in short, that's what I want from my Fine Arts MFA experience. I don't know if I can achieve the level of success that Jon has achieved / is achieving / will achieve... but he remains a model for me of how to fit your own passion into the bigger picture: how to find a synthesis between what you do and what the world needs (or at least, what the world wants). That's what I'm looking for... I'm no Jon M. Chu, and the world of media art isn't Hollywood, but it seems like the basic equation is the same.
I'll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out...
Big Agnes Ascent
high-contrast 16mm black and white negative film
hand-developed and digitally scanned
Antonio M. Perez, CEO, Eastman-Kodak Corporation
So, I'm responding to this on several levels. On one hand I want to take the camera away from this guy, he's doing it all wrong. We at Eastman-Kodak pride ourselves on achieving unparalleled image quality, giving you something hyperreal and larger than life - so I can't imagine what the appeal might be, to make something this smudgy and jittery and just plain... weird.
I mean, we've been working for a hundred years on film technology, really elaborate chemical processes of coating film specifically so that no-one would have to settle for images like these. And yet, he must be doing it on purpose, because certainly he could've achieved better results with a $100 used video camera if he wanted to.
So if this is intentional, I guess it must be some kind of reference to the dawn of cinema, back in the early days of experimentation with photography and moving images, the salad days for George Eastman, who probably couldn't imagine the level of quality and consistency we'd be able to achieve in this industry a hundred years later in his wildest dreams.
And I guess it also makes me kind of sad, because we had a good run, that lasted more than a hundred years, and now the company is, frankly, kind of in decline - we're selling off a lot of our patents, for processes and techniques which took some of the lab guys their whole careers to develop.
The official line is that we're adapting and evolving, and you know, getting into all this digital acquisition and projection and whatnot - and that's great, don't get me wrong. But even though we're all excited about the future here, at Kodak, it seems unlikely that we'll ever be in the enviable position of like 90% market share of photographic technology in the USA again.
Communal Grandpa Wisdom
I grew up in a neighborhood with a communal grandpa. Grandpa (everyone in the neighborhood called him grandpa) often looked after me in the same way he neglectfully looked after his own grandchildren, but took a unique interest in my development as a young man by naming me "Susie Q". I never understood it, but I went along with it and enjoyed having this special nickname even if it was a girl's name. Everyone in the neighborhood latched onto this practical joke, and so I became... Susie Q. I need to add that I was a very short, scrawny, wimpy little kid (still kinda am minus the short part).
Anyways, years later after I moved away and into another neighborhood without a communal grandpa, I heard the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue". It's about a boy who was named Sue to ensure he grew up tough, as he would be forced to fight people who made fun of him for being named Sue. So it occurred to me that perhaps Grandpa was trying to do the same for me, but it didn't work.
When I first read Kevin's artist statement it caught me off guard, and I sent him an email to tell him how much I liked it. Its form is unexpected, because he begins by describing a friend's tragic death. By telling us how he found his way to his friend's authentic story, he shows us his own. Kevin moves us through the more oblique ideas by mentioning his use of the "subjective, personal, and ephemeral", and then gets specific with "the shape of his knuckles, the texture of his hair, tiny idiosyncrasies of his posture and gait." He lays out the backstory and lets the reader follow it naturally so we can understand his motivations.
Without seeing his films, I think he has already answered a question I often want to ask an artist: Tell me what I'm looking at. Kevin reveals this simply by setting the stage and softly opening the curtain. This does precisely what I want a statement to do - it makes me want to view his work.
I didn't reply to your email, because I know what I would say. Europe must seem nostalgic this time of year. The cool breeze is enticing, bringing back memories of us. I know you want to bring me with you on it. You always did and I always let you. I am a sucker for things that I can't trap. Your regret will keep you coming back to me. Drop me in the Channel. Leave me there to die. See the image of me drowning in the deep waters. I don't want you to carry me anymore, I am getting so heavy and you're getting tired. I want you to enjoy the hot summer nights, to breathe and feel the calmness of the mornings. And when the weather gets cooler, I want you to have somebody warm to hold. I am happy to know that you're figuring things out. I am happy you're now doing things for you. Be selfish. Don't answer your phone if you don't want to, and only go home when you're ready. But please drop me in the water. I never really learned to swim, and now I don't want to.
If I were to have a catalog written about this piece, I would invite the french philosopher Gaston Bachelard to do so. His book on the Poetics of Space critically analyzes homes and the characterization of them. I think this view point would be an interesting match with my work. To the best of my abilities, I wrote in what I thought would be his perspective if he were to write about artwork in general.
Personal Spaces; Reviewed by French Philospher Gaston Bachelard, Author of the Poetics of Space
Multiple ideas of space are reiterated in Paradis' "Sensing My Past" piece. An awareness of self comes across from the washy brush strokes of the blue shape in the background. Its abstract quality gives a structure and stability to the rest of the piece. Just as your house is your core and the soul is present in its structure, this form has an identity like that of a home. With the other components of the piece, suggestions of different parts of the home or a town are indicated. Perhaps Paradis had a feeling of understanding and strength in her place of residence from where this imagery was inspired.
The viewers' memories of their own upbringing and past travel come up through the suggestive shapes and patterns. The simplicity of the forms is reminiscent of industrial spaces that can appear in many towns and cities. To what degree can these constructions remain personal to the artist yet relate to an outside viewer? When does it become less about specific places and more about identity or one self? These thoughts and ideas are explored in "Sensing My Past."
Pel. wool. 2012. (20.25" x 8.25" x 9.5")
If I were to curate a catalog for the above piece, I would invite contribution from someone who would provide historical and/or contemporary context to the elements of the work. In the catalog an anthropologist would speak to the cultural roots of wool and the anvil, as well as how these concepts have been developed over time and are prevalent today. I would invite a story or narrative from someone on a contemporary shearing team and someone who has worked on a historical preservation site (theme park or attraction) in the practice of blacksmithing.
Feedings (09092012, 44d55'35"N 93d04'24"W)
2012, In Progress
Fifty small boxes of sourdough starter, cultivated from scratch in my kitchen and carefully fed and grown over the course of three weeks, is given away to strangers. Participants can map and document their specimen as they care for it, bake with it, and subdivide it for other people to use. The natural yeast in my environment is spread through this traditional domestic practice, and slowly mixes and is overtaken by the bacteria in each of its new homes, creating microscopic ecologies that track the history of each sample.
Kitchen Historian: to provide a historical basis for the custom of sourdough cultivation and gifting
Microbiologist: to explain the metabolic processes that create the sourdough, and the differences that exist between cultures based on regions
Slow Food Activist: to give an overview of the movement and how it's affecting our cultural perception of food sourcing
Naturist or Evolutionary Scientist: to provide insight into biological dispersion or the movement of species through space
Baker or gardener: to comment on the daily rituals of breakmaking/growing.
Here, fall is apparent. No buildings or houses block your view of the season. As we pass the "interactive center" and the other side of the campground filled with RV's and pop up campers, we are scared we won't get the isolation we needed. Families with too much gear for an evening or even a weekend outing filled the open campsites. Even though our little campsite has clear views to the unneeded camper trailers of the neighbors, the path of the walk we chose was secluded and peaceful.
Finding the trail, the leaves are most definitely yellow, red, and orange along the quickly cooling river. They fall to the ground lightly and easily, crunching under our feet as we walk through the field in the quiet sunset. I start to remember my relationship with nature that I had forgotten about the past month. About the meditative quality of quiet you don't get in a city. My mind is put at ease and distractions consist of birds flying in front of us, or the cottonweed blowing across our path.
Does/Did Homer Simpson have a goatee?
Yesterday my nephew celebrated his one year birthday by shoving handfuls of frosting and cake into his not so articulate mouth. After recycling the dropped pieces back to the highchair tray several times, he finally finished his slice. Blue frosting stained his soft cheeks and chin creating the effect of a blue 5 o'clock shadow. Watching my cute nephew devouring his cake, I could not help my mind from conjuring up an image of an unshaven Homer. Now fully satiated and feeding off the excitement around him, we helped Homer down from his chair. He stumbled around as if to check himself and his new orientation to the room. Concerned fellow patrons lend him steady hands along with snickers as he makes his way around the room seemingly aimlessly.
Maybe it was the blue beard, but maybe it was someone (with so many eyes upon them) indulging in something so undeniably delicious, evidently gluttonous and obviously excessive. Thank you yellow potbellied cartoon man with an affinity for beer and cake.
A simple piece of stamped brass with an irregular ridge line cut into one edge. The number '5' stamped on one side, 'DO NOT DUPLICATE' stamped on the other. This is an order which seems to have no meaning as I have now duplicated this key three times without difficulty.
This key represents a code, an inanimate secret handshake between metal and metal. Its unique skyline familiar to only one lock. But it is a mercenary key, offering access to its possessor irrespective of their rights or intention. I am unhappy about this key. In an apartment like this I always wonder how many other copies there are that I am not aware of, the landlady doesn't seem to be able to keep track. I once lived in a shared student house where a former occupant got drunk one night, forgot where he lived, and let himself into our house by mistake.
I fear the intentional and malicious repeat of this event. I have no right to add a new key to my collection, so I must go on fearing a matching key in someone else's.
The Killing Jar Series by Beth Dow. An Exhibition
(Introduction to the Catalogue text was written by the guest curator, Prof. Antag Onising. A forensic entomologist and psychologist from the Natural History Museum and Research Institute Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.)
It has been my pleasure to curate this first exhibition of the complete works of The Killing Jar Series by Beth Dow. These have been one of my favourite modern art projects to follow over the years and so I had no trouble accepting the invitation to curate this show. Forensic entomology is still a young science in Germany and so the opportunity to raise its profile by association with the contemporary art scene I could not miss.
First I would like to talk a little about my curatorial decisions. I was given many suggestions by the resident curators about possible arrangements to consider, however after looking at the work I decided that the only valid way to present the work would be in alphabetical order by Latin name. This met some resistance from the staff at the gallery but I consider this an obvious arrangement. As they walk through the exhibition the poetic onward march of the Latin will draw the viewer forward and anchor the images in their natural order.
Now I would like to talk about the main text that has been prepared for the exhibition catalogue. After doing some research on the field of potential contributors that included pest control experts, psychiatrists, special effects puppeteers from the B-movie genre, botanical photographers (natural history), and crime scene investigators, it was my pleasure to invite two highly respected and interesting people currently practising in the world of art appreciation.
Terry Feidman has been an art critic for the New York Thursday Evening Post for fifteen years and his contribution to the debate on art has been described as a "solid example of art criticism". Terry struck me as ideal for contributing to this essay because he has a clinical phobia of insects. I felt his unique perspective and art experience would present the perfect counterpoint to our second contributor.
'Buggy' Leidenschaft has been a leading commentator and collector of Dow's work for a number of years and is considered a leading authority on the The Killing Jar Series. He is also the creator of insectfetish.com and speaks publicly on the subject of entomophillia.
Terry and Buggy were brought to the gallery and asked to focus on two works, Cecropia and Cicada. They were then presented with a series of conversation prompts to which they were asked to respond and converse, their conversation being recorded. The complete transcript intended to comprises the catalogue essay.
Some unexpected difficulty was experienced during the recording. Initially it was difficult to convince Terry to come close enough to the artwork for his voice to be picked up on the one microphone we were using. He relaxed after he was provided with dark glasses, a strong drink, and a refill on his prescription of Xanax. The conversation then progressed very interestingly for several hours until, after a short bathroom and coffee break, Buggy was discovered in the bathroom in a compromising position with Cicada in his possession. After he was forcibly separated from the photograph it became evident that it would be impossible to continue the conversation.
I do not consider this experiment to have been a failure however as the conversation that was captured and the transcripts that were subsequently produced offer a fascinating range of contrasting perspectives and opinions. Perspectives and opinions that can only offer the public that attends the exhibition a full spectrum of possible readings that will fully legitimise any and all responses to the work.
Thank you for reading this catalogue and enjoy the exhibition.
I propose that I contact a factory with an assembly line. I would like to perhaps send each piece of art down the assembly line and allow the employees to examine each item as if they were working the line (I would pay them time and a half of course for this after hours activity). I would then maybe send down a survey about their experience with the art pieces.
If this was not possible, I would have them usher into an exhibition space and in a very orderly fashion circulate the space examining the pieces. They would each spend ten minutes at each piece. I would then give them all 10 minutes immediately following their viewing of the last piece in their ordered sequence to write down what they thought of it.
I think this mirrors my interest in repetition with some pazazz. I enjoy the redundancy of this process, which is perhaps reminiscent of a group of museum goers silently working their way through the galleries.
Mvmnt Cafe, London 2012
Morag Myerscough, Danny Elphick, Lemn Sissay
Carefully cobbled from shipping containers, scaffolding, and plywood, then embellished with paint and poetry, MVMNT Cafe temporarily fills a vacant lot with vibrant color. The place-from-no-place in southeast London was funded by a developer and constructed in sixteen days by scores of artists and designers, timed to coincide with this summer's Olympics. Its clean materiality is overlaid with bold graphics, and punctuated by the tweets of poet Lemn Sissay notifying visitors that THIS IS THE PATH and THIS IS THE HOUSE and THIS IS EYE CONTACT.
This is what we need, a ruthless reoccupation of our land. We take back a lot and sell coffee and ice cream, and we put out tables and pillows and big letters that spell big ideas. You will come with your kids, your dog, and your laptop and sit in a place you perhaps have seen every day and watch performances you will never see again. Someday soon, the screws will be unscrewed and the plants unplanted, and you will miss it. How will the place be changed? Will it forever be the THIS IS THE GATE?
She is undone.
She has been unearthed and in this elaborate ritual allays her secret
To devoir and drag her down perilous through ambushed air
She edges with wary breath sideways into the still sultry earth
And at this gray precipice, emptied space glowed like heavens,
In the sweet memory of distant echoes, 2011
I am writing in the perspective of a poet/ artist. Specifically with Jen Bervin in mind. Bervin creates artists books with poems and drawn imagery. Bervin creates erasure poems utilizing text of other poets and novelists and omits words creating different associations and layers of meaning within the context of the work. I created my own erasure poem from Sylvia Plath poems.
Agave & White Lilly
Sitting in the warm glow of this luminous aura I sink deeper into the cushion of my pillow. The lit candle emanates a heady scent; growing thicker and sweeter the longer it burns. The liquid hot wax melts and tempts my fingers it is glorious in this transitory state. With the lights off the flame creates flickering patterns across the walls. In the candle lit room I feel like I have been cloaked in a warm blanket and in this cocooned stupor I sit and let my thoughts wash over me. Nothing sinks in just hovers over the surface flashes of the day pass by; forgotten responsibilities tempt this moment but nothing has a grasp on my thoughts, as my eyelids grow heavy. I enjoy moments right before sleep. Resigning all leftover tasks to the next day. Just before I slip into a deep sleep I lean over and blow out the glittering flame. Smoke plumes from the wick and wafts through the air. Darkness seeps through the room. I slide deeper under the cover and curl up pulling myself further in and rest my eyes.
(Chris, Emily, Josh, Lorena)
The exhibition introduction reflected on the extreme cultural and political upheavals that have taken place since the late '80s, which began the years covered by the show. Commercialism met idealism, news events were commodities, and the iconoclasts of the era became characters in a global drama.
As a group, we wondered how these "characters" would react to work that was done as a reflection of the era. Our catalog would include fictionalized accounts by Kim Jong Il, East German protestors, Mikhail Gorbachev, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, Ronald McDonald, among others.
(Result from an online Myers-Briggs personality test based on Carl Jung's theory of personality types. www.personalitypage.com)
As an ENFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system.
ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.
ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They're constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP's life, and because they are focused on keeping "centered", the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values
An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.
Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.
Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.
An ENFP who has "gone wrong" may be quite manipulative - and very good it. The gift of gab which they are blessed with makes it naturally easy for them to get what they want. Most ENFPs will not abuse their abilities, because that would not jive with their value systems.
ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.
ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is. The strong sense of values will keep many ENFPs dedicated to their relationships. However, ENFPs like a little excitement in their lives, and are best matched with individuals who are comfortable with change and new experiences.
Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendancies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.
ENFPs are basically happy people. They may become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they're doing.
Because they are so alert and sensitive, constantly scanning their environments, ENFPs often suffer from muscle tension. They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled. They need to maintain control over themselves, but they do not believe in controlling others. Their dislike of dependence and suppression extends to others as well as to themselves.
ENFPs are charming, ingenuous, risk-taking, sensitive, people-oriented individuals with capabilities ranging across a broad spectrum. They have many gifts which they will use to fulfill themselves and those near them, if they are able to remain centered and master the ability of following through.
ENFPs take their relationships very seriously, but also approach them with a childlike enthusiasm and energy. They seek and demand authenticity and depth in their personal relationships, and will put forth a lot of effort into making things work out. They are warm, considerate, affirming, nurturing, and highly invested in the health of the relationship. They have excellent interpersonal skills, and are able to inspire and motivate others to be the best that they can be. Energetic and effervescent, the ENFP is sometimes smothering in their enthusiasm, but are generally highly valued for their genuine warmth and high ideals.
Most ENFPs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to relationships issues:
Good communication skills
Very perceptive about people's thought and motives
Motivational, inspirational; bring out the best in others
Warmly affectionate and affirming
Fun to be with - lively sense of humor, dramatic, energetic, optimistic
Strive for "win-win" situations
Driven to meet other's needs
Usually loyal and dedicated
Most ENFPs will exhibit the following weaknesses with regards to relationship issues:
Tendency to be smothering
Their enthusiasm may lead them to be unrealistic
Uninterested in dealing with "mundane" matters such as cleaning, paying bills, etc.
Hold onto bad relationships long after they've turned bad
Extreme dislike of conflict
Extreme dislike of criticism
Don't pay attention to their own needs
Constant quest for the perfect relationship may make them change relationships frequently
May become bored easily
Have difficulty scolding or punishing others
ENFPs as Lovers
"To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before." -- Rollo May
ENFPs make warm, considerate, passionate partners who are generally willing, eager, and able to do whatever it takes to make The Relationship a positive place to be. They are enthusiastic, idealistic, focused on other people's feelings, and very flexible. These attributes combine to make them especially interested in positive personal relationships, and also makes them very able to promote strong relationships in fun and creative ways. ENFPs take their commitments very seriously, and are generally deeply loyal and faithful to their partners.
There are a couple of difficult relationship areas for the ENFP. The first problem is that many ENFPs have a problem leaving bad relationships. They tend to internalize any problems and take them on their own shoulders, believing that the success or failure of the relationship is their own responsibility. As perfectionists, they don't like to admit defeat, and will stick with bad situations long after they should have left. When they do leave the relationship, they will believe that the failure was their fault, and that there was surely something they could have done to save the relationship.
On the entirely other end of the spectrum, many ENFPs have a difficult time staying focused and following things through to completion. If they have not focused on their ability to follow through, they may have problems staying in dedicated, monogamous relationships. They are so in tune with all of the exciting possibilities of what could be, that they will always fantasize about a greener pasture out there somewhere. If they are not paired with a partner who enjoys new experiences, or who shares their idealistic enthusiasm, the ENFP may become bored. The ENFP who is bored and who is not focused will be very unhappy, and will eventually "leave" the relationship if the problem is not addressed. Since relationships are central to the ENFP's life they will be very "hands on" and involved with their intimate relationships. They may be in the habit of constantly asking their partner how they're doing, what they're feeling, etc. This behavior may be a bit smothering, but it also supports a strong awareness of the health (or illness) of the relationship.
Sexually, The ENFP is creative, perfectionistic, playful and affectionate. Their rich fantasy world makes them fun and creative lovers, who usually have new ideas up their sleeves. They whole-heartedly embrace the opportunity for closeness with their mates, believing sexual intimacy to be a positive, fun way to express how much you love each other.
The ENFP needs to be given positive assurance and affirmation. More than one ENFP has been known to "go fishing" for compliments. They like to hear from their significant others that they are loved and valued, and are willing and eager to return the favor. They enjoy lavishing love and affection on their mates, and are creative and energetic in their efforts to please. The ENFP gets a lot of their personal satisfaction from observing the happiness of others, and so is generally determined to please and serve their partners.
A problem area for ENFPs in relationships is their dislike of conflict and sensitivity to criticism. They are perfectionists who believe that any form of criticism is a stab at their character, which is very difficult for them to take. Conflict situations are sources of extreme stress to the ENFP. They have a tendency to brush issues under the rug rather than confront them head-on, if there is likely to be a conflict. They are also prone to "give in" easily in conflict situations, just to end the conflict. They might agree to something which goes against their values just to end the uncomfortable situation. In such cases, the problem is extended and will return at a later time. The ENFP needs to realize that conflict situations are not the end of the world. They are entirely normal, and can be quite helpful for the growth of a relationship. They also need to work on taking criticism for what it is, rather than blowing up any negative comment into an indictment against their entire character.
Generally, the ENFP is a warm and affirming creature who is very interested and able to have an intense, meaningful, close relationship with their mate.
Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship, ENFP's natural partner is the INTJ, or the INFJ. ENFP's dominant function of Extraverted Intuition is best matched with a partner whose dominant function is Introverted Intuition. How did we arrive at this?
ENFPs as Parents
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable." -- Kahlil Gibran
ENFPs take their parenting role very seriously, but are also very playful. There's a bit of grown-up kid in every ENFP, so they get a lot of fun and enjoyment from playing with their children. However, they consider it essential to pass their strongly-held values and beliefs down to their children, and will strive consistently to create a positive, ideal environment for their children's growth.
The ENFP may exhibit an inconsistency in their roles with their children. At one moment, they might be their child's best friend, laughing and whooping it up, and in the next moment they may appear the stern authoritarian. This inconsistency seems to be a result of a conflict between the ENFP's genuine desire to relate to their children on the children's level, and their compulsion to follow their deeply-felt value system. In other words, the ENFP wants to be their child's friend, but if a value is violated, they will revert to the parental role to make sure their children understand the violation. This inconsistency may be confusing and frustrating for the children.
The children of ENFPs generally feel loved, because the ENFP gives their children plenty of genuine warmth and support. They usually value their children as individuals, allowing them room for growth. The ENFP's enthusiasm and affection may at times seem smothering to their children. This will be especially true for children with strong Thinking or Sensing preferences, who will have a difficult time understanding the effervescence of the ENFP, and will feel at times embarassed by the ENFP's enthusiasm and tendency to display their affection publicly.
The ENFP is able to take care of day-to-day necessities, such as picking children up at the correct times, getting them to softball practice, getting them fed, etc. However, it is a chore for the ENFP and is not a natural strength. The ENFP also has a difficult time disciplining their children, unless a very strongly-held value has been violated.
The rich imagination and creativity of the ENFP parent creates a fun, dynamic and exciting environment for kids. The ENFP's strong value system turns experiences into meaningful lessons for their children. The ENFP parent is valued by their children for their warm, affirming natures, and their fun-loving approach to living.
ENFPs as Friends
ENFPs are warm and sociable people who are keenly in tune with other people's feelings and perspectives. They are energetic and fun to be with. They are very affirming, and get great satisfaction from supporting and lifting up others. They are idealists who seek authenticity in their personal relationships. ENFPs are valued by their peers and confidantes as warm, supportive, giving people.
In the workplace or other casual relationship environments, the ENFP is likely to get along well with almost all other types of people. ENFPs are genuinely interested in people, and are highly perceptive about them, to the point where they're able to understand and relate to all of the personality types with relative ease. They like to see the best in others, and are likely to bring out the best in others. While they are generally accepting of most all people, ENFPs with strong Feeling preferences may have a difficult time understanding people with very strong Thinking preferences who do not respond to the ENFP's enthusiastic warmth. The ENFP will stay open-minded about what they consider a "rejection" by the Thinker, until the situation has repeated itself a few times, in which case the ENFP may shut themselves entirely against the Thinker.
ENFPs may also feel threatened by individuals with strong Judging preferences. With a tendency to take any criticism personally, the ENFP may find themselves irritated or emotional when the Judger expresses a negative opinion, believing somehow that the Judger is expressing disapproval or disappointment in the ENFP.
For close friendships, ENFPs are especially drawn to other iNtuitive Feeling types, and to other Extraverts who are also enthusiastic about life. Like the other iNtuitive Feeling types, the ENFP needs authenticity and depth in their close relationships. They're likely to have friends from all walks of life who they feel close to and care about, but will have only a few very close friends with similar ideals to their own. The ENFP also tends to value the company of iNtuitive Thinkers.
Careers for ENFP Personality Types
Whether you're a young adult trying to find your place in the world, or a not-so-young adult trying to find out if you're moving along the right path, it's important to understand yourself and the personality traits which will impact your likeliness to succeed or fail at various careers. It's equally important to understand what is really important to you. When armed with an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and an awareness of what you truly value, you are in an excellent position to pick a career which you will find rewarding.
ENFPs generally have the following traits:
Bright and capable
Warmly, genuinely interested in people; great people skills
Extremely intuitive and perceptive about people
Able to relate to people on their own level
Service-oriented; likely to put the needs of others above their own
Dislike performing routine tasks
Need approval and appreciation from others
Cooperative and friendly
Creative and energetic
Well-developed verbal and written communication skills
Natural leaders, but do not like to control people
Resist being controlled by others
Can work logically and rationally - use their intuition to understand the goal and work backwards towards it
Usually able to grasp difficult concepts and theories
ENFPs are lucky in that they're good a quite a lot of different things. An ENFP can generally achieve a good degree of success at anything which has interested them. However, ENFPs get bored rather easily and are not naturally good at following things through to completion. Accordingly, they should avoid jobs which require performing a lot of detailed, routine-oriented tasks. They will do best in professions which allow them to creatively generate new ideas and deal closely with people. They will not be happy in positions which are confining and regimented.
The following list of professions is built on our impressions of careers which would be especially suitable for an ENFP. It is meant to be a starting place, rather than an exhaustive list. There are no guarantees that any or all of the careers listed here would be appropriate for you, or that your best career match is among those listed.
Possible Career Paths for the ENFP:
Politician / Diplomat
Writer / Journalist
Computer Programmer / Systems Analyst
It's a whale of a plate! Your grandmother's china with a twist. Candice Methe's whale platter invoking days of old with its floral decals and her tattered table cloth pattern. Black clay as a modern alternative to boring old porcelain. Stop by St. Vincents's Bazaar this Saturday for screaming deals! 2 for 1 bras and underpants before 9 am!
Still at Sissinghurst. zzzzzzzz. They call it Sissinghurst Castle, but seriously, where's the castle part? Some writer lived here and they said something about Virginia Woolf who we learned about last semester, remember? I wasn't really listening. Tomorrow we finallyfinallyfinally get to go up to London to see some play at a theee-ah-tuh. Looks lame, though. BTW I'm pretending to work on my essay so I might have to stop quickly, and this will have to be short because we have to meet in the oast house in a minute. That's the thing I told you about that kind of looks like a windmill and has something to do with beer. I kept saying oats but that biotch told me I was wrong. Anyway, this other lady came up to me and asked if I would write about what we've been doing here on this study abroad trip. She heard that we were learning about the garden and writing about what we see. Mike said it was ok and that I could do it instead of writing a poem about Sissinghurst, or else I could do both and he'd give me extra credit. Well I'm not doing a stupid poem, right?
The lady wanted to know how an American high school student liked this place and stuff, but then she showed me a kinda creepy picture that I'm supposed to think about as I write. It's some old lady standing in the White Garden here at Sissinghurst. Seriously, I told you about that part, and in this pic it isn't even white! There are like no flowers in it and this old chick is just staring at something. It looks like she's trying to figure out how to get through a maze but everything is so short she could just step over it. And it's black and white! Freelz! Who shoots a picture of a garden in black and white? Check it out here.
This lady said if what I write is good she'll include it in the thingy they're printing to go with some exhibition. It's kinda funny cuz I've been here for only like 6 days, I really don't know what's going on, and something I write might be printed! I feel all official.
LMFAO! Zach and Justin stripped and peed into the canal this morning - they looked just like statues! Caitlin took pics - she said she'll put them up on FB. Hope they're not banned. Ooh Zach. Totes adorbs, right? My laptop is screwed so I hope you get this cuz I dropped my bag when I tripped yesterday. These sidewalk things that go all over the place are bumpy and I wore my fab orange platforms. Duh. I don't know why they don't just make these smooth like normal sidewalks. They could be sued! I swear this country is so OLD.
Did you see Caitlin's pic of the kittens yesterday? Presh! That was over at the oast house. Gotta go. I'll be back in the 612 next week already! It's going so fast!
Beth Dow, The White Garden, Sissinghurst (from In the Garden)
Dibond is an industrial sheeting material made of thin plastic sandwiched between two faces of aluminum. It is commonly used in the making of traffic signage: street signs, stop signs, interstate exits, etc. I have been using Dibond as a painting surface. It can be attached to a wooden frame using silicone caulk or other similar adhesive, then sanded and primed. Unlike wood and canvas, the traditional painting surfaces, Dibond is extremely resistant to warping. Mounting it on a frame serves the purpose of giving it something to be hung from and handled by, but it is not necessary to stabilize the surface. Another advantage is that oils and solvents will not corrode it, so priming is done only as a means of achieving a texture that paint will adhere to, whereas canvas and wood must be totally isolated from oil paint so as not to be corroded by it over time. This means that priming Dibond is relatively fast and cheap. It is also much lighter than wood, and comparable in price by square foot. Oil painting is an archaic medium, but it still benefits from advances in modern synthetic materials.
The painting "House #1" by the landscape artist Jim Hittinger shows evidence of black spruce, an invasive tree species, in the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. This species was previously thought to exist only in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Black spruce is coniferous tree native to Canada, and a known carrier of arceuthobium, or dwarf mistletoe, a parasitic plant harmful to native foliage of the Great Lakes Region.
The painting identifies without a doubt black spruce, due to the slim conic shape and dark color of the trees. As scientists, we know that all good art is perfectly realistic pictures. Since Hittinger is in a master's degree program in fine art at a major research university, it stands to reason that he is good artist who paints perfectly realistic pictures. Thus we are absolutely certain that there is a black spruce infestation in Southeast Michigan, where this painting was made. A team will be dispatched to coordinates 42.606441,-83.389256 to remove all infected trees from the area.
Script, memory film
The curtain rises on an ordinary kitchen, where a young couple sit across from each other at a round pedestal table. Tired and a little bewildered, they are leaden with jet lag. We discover through their smalltalk that they are trying to adjust after moving their two small children from London to Minneapolis. The woman's heavy, satisfied sigh as she sinks a little deeper into the cushion of her chair suggests the baby, at least, has been successfully lulled to sleep.
A gentle thump off camera interrupts their conversation, just for an instant. After wincing through another swallow of boxed wine, a second thump is heard, a little louder this time, followed by a young child's soft frustration.
( . . . anguished sigh)
(followed by the loneliest moan of mortal resignation. Mortal recognition.)
The small voice is broken irrevocably, and the universe has resettled itself at a new angle. This 2 year old boy's English accent and slight speech impediment have turned what should have been "can't" into "taunt".
The mother wrinkles her forehead at her husband, too tired to walk into the adjoining room to help her son.
"Honey, what is it? What can't you do?"
In case you haven't accessed, here's the link:
My cells are satiated and bursting with the of vibration of loud, loud music. I am so full that the air is almost squeezed out of my lungs by the pressure in the room. It is dark with the lights shining on the band making it easy for me to blend into the background. The band I have chosen to see has no lyrics to accompany their music making it is so easy not to focus, only to experience. I emphasize this by not looking at the musicians. Sometimes I look at the ceiling, painted black, or at the floor; better yet I close my eyes and I am able to just listen and feel the music. I am lost to the sense of my physical form, I slip away into the nothing-ness. I move with the music but it is a slight and quiet sway. I open my eyes and I have the overwhelming urge to reach out and touch the inner arm of the young man next to me. I do not know him and I am lost between the music and the overwhelming urge to touch the soft spot of a stranger.