26 November 2006

nina katchadourian

The family field trip to see the Nina Katchadourian show at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College was a resounding success, especially the sounds from the elevator and from the video monitors and in the dark room and from the mouths of siblings. It was so great to share her work with other people who enjoy postcards, words, games with words, nature, books, and other themes that appear in Katchadourian's work. And they had a wonderful panoply of works, many of which I had seen before (and it was wonderful to see them again).

Downstairs, there was a show of more than 100 drawings, part two of "Twice drawn." There were several drawings that were especially enjoyable and each of us -- Dad, Bert, Doug, Carol, Barb, Bruce, Cathy, and me -- had particular favorites. I had fun telling Carol and Bert about the Mark Tansey drawing of Duchamp and Rrose Selavy in passing trains. I have a poster of the Tansey work of Indians looking at Spiral Jetty and that poster is in the room Carol used to occupy as her bedroom at 33. There was also a Smithson drawing of a corner sculpture, and Carol had an art class experience with Smithson years ago at Alfred University. And there was an Oldenburg or two. I saw Oldenburg in Oberlin when I was in grad school and got his signature in one of the little Dutton paperbacks of his work. The title of the show comes from the vintage of the works which dated from some time ago or recently, not a survey of drawings but a look at resonances.

The looking at resonances is playing out in the call for participation in the February-April 2007 show of the Queer Caucus. We officers accepted an interesting curatorial offer from Sheila Pepe which she called "Mother, may I?" Rather than looking at simple artistic precedence (precedents), the entrants are challenged to come up in pairs wherein an older artist granted permission to a younger artist (I don't think the older/younger need be merely chronological, not probably even being dyads). A couple people have criticized the theme on the list, and I sure wish their energy went into creative challenge of the theme rather than confrontation.

20 November 2006

all we are saying is give peace a chance

David Dorfman and company were at BAM this past week, doing "underground" which is a tribute to the Weather Underground and social and artistic action. It was a beautiful show with lots of good sentiment. Questions on the back wall as well as vocally: have you ever killed anyone? have you ever wanted to kill anyone? have you ever loved anyone? are you a pacifist? In another section, one of the dancers tries to explain how if she killed three people, she could save ten. She gradually progresses until she says that if she killed a billion, she could save a zillion. My reaction was to ask myself if there was hope and then that came up in the Dialogue afterwards with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of the Urban Bush Women. She had been reading someone who was positing a theory of quietism. What is enough? You can always do more, and sometimes you have strength only to do less. The performance ended with the dancers throwing little magnetized light blobs against a metallic wall where they turned into a starry sky or fireworks display or bright future.

Another theme of the BAM Dialogue was that art is important in activism and a creative force in the world. Do your art, whatever it is. Do your part too, I guess. In the Sunday Times (that's N.Y. Times), there was a wonderful profile of Maxine Hayt and Marcia Tucker by Elizabeth Hayt (Maxine's daughter). Maxine Hayt, partly under the influence of Tucker, exercised her art because she had to. While it meant that she wasn't always at home, she enriched the lives of her husband and children while doing what she had to do.

17 November 2006

Proteus Gowanus rocks!

ARLIS/NYers gathered at Proteus Gowanus last night to hear from three artists who are part of their "Library" theme year. Before they got started, Sasha introduced us to the Proteus program; this year's project folks include Matty Rosenberg (doing an artists books project), Deirdre Lawrence (working on a show at Brooklyn Museum), Nina Katchadourian, Jeanne Liotta (doing a project on media and ephemera in conjunction with Donnell), and chained books.

Andrew Beccone told us about his Reanimation Library and how it came to be, starting with his mom the librarian and an early job in a library in Saint Paul (Macalester?). A couple-three hundred books are on the shelves at Proteus, all cataloged, but the collection development policy involves the books having good images. Lots of Qs because science books can have remarkable illustrations, especially when they are looked at with "millenial" eyes. (Faith and I noted we were unusual at the gathering in being considerably over 40; Nancy arrived soon after.) Andrew mentioned that the books were mostly outdated, and one book was partly obscured by someone's head. I was reading the title as Pipilotti Rist which is hardly outdated; the title turned out to be Piloting ...

The collection development policy: odd books; copyright-related materials; images that get re-used by others.

Andrew is building a database, and has experimented with LibraryThing but doesn't see that it's an appropriation of his idea. Anything that would expedite record creation is fine with him. Cataloging takes effort, you know.

Shelly Jackson has two projects: an ethereal Institial Library and its more physical Circulating Collection. The latter is all of the books that are in circulation: in private collections, checked out of libraries, thrown away, lent. Shelly also spoke of "the problem of cataloging." Associative, redundancy. The example was long noses: the relation between Pinocchio and Cyrano might not be in your "cataloging" to say nothing of the fact that the Japanese call Americans the long nose people (as Faith mentioned). And then there's Warhol and his re-use of plastic surgery ads. And my "no more nose jokes" which has faded with time. When I searched nose in our opac, I found Nose book: representations of the nose in literature and art.

Jeffrey Schiff talked about his library project at Wesleyan University which has several components: book with a count of the books in Borges's Library of Babel, DVD of new titles athe library during one month (flashing by; boy, did I want a pause button), call numbers put in relevant places around town (and on the ceiling at Gowanus), "The world of ..." signs, and a wall piece moving from "bread" to other words selected by random.org.

Wendy Walker and Tom LaFarge will be talking about chained books on December 3rd.


06 November 2006


boy, tony better be grateful. his birthday is tomorrow but we're supposed to get together on wednesday. that night, there's the "Night of 1000 Drawings" at Artists Space and a book event in Tamiment and a lecture on the Thaw miniature staircases at the Cooper-Hewitt .... and now i see a message from Location One that nina katchadourian -- NINA KATCHADOURIAN! -- is going to speak there on wednesday night. nina's work is stupendous and her webpage is pretty splendid too -- http://www.ninakatchadourian.com/index.php

05 November 2006

six degrees

From Strauss to Monk. On Friday night, it was Strauss's "Four last songs" sung by Karita Mattila at Carnegie Hall. Yesterday, the music continued with an afternoon recital at Morris Jumel Mansion in Harlem. Carlene Stober and Charlie Weaver played 17th and 18th century string music in the 1765 house. Lovely and oh so civilized but not pretentious. Then on to the A train from 168th Street in Manhattan to Lafayette in Brooklyn. A fine supper at Scopello (their ravioli di funghi is very satisfying with a glass of nero davola) and off to BAM for Meredith Monk. The Majestic/Harvey was filling with stage smoke as a sort of chant/drone filled the air. Mystical. Then the first words out of Monk's mouth are "Last song" with words by James Hillman. Her last was more of a word piece than Strauss's: last dance, last chance, last place, last rites (melancholia still continues?). Still, the circle is always there.

One of the encores at the Bavarian Radio Symphony concert on Friday night at Carnegie Hall was played pizzicato, which circled around at the Morris Jumel Mansion as Carleen and Charlie did some plucking on their fiddles. Charlie's theorba was a beautiful instrument.

And as I was enjoying all that music, I was finishing reading Chronicles, volume one by Bob Dylan in which he describes his sources with a longish bit on Brecht and Weill toward the end. The mixing of politics into the words of your songs. The book is quite compelling, not least because it is not over-edited, leaving in inelegant, if not also wrong, grammar.

melancholia continues and disappears

Yesterday I added an entry here with the subject line "melancholia continues" which included some text from Strauss's "Four last songs" which I had heard sung at Carnegie Hall by Karita Mattila the night before. The words:

O broad, contented peace!
So deep in the sunset glow,
How exhausted we are with our wanderings --
can this then be death?

(copied from http://jsundram.freeshell.org/ProgramNotes/Strauss_Leider.html)

When I copied/pasted the words yesterday, there was some "bad" character that caused the posting to not take on the first saving. I then retyped the text and it seemed to take. I happened to look today and it wasn't included so I republished the blog and, alas, the whole entry disappeared. Sigh. The miracles of the e-environment.

Ever onward ..... whatever, exactly.