Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
what struck me most was paul's statement that a primary impulse behind his collage parties was a longing for the type of community he had while in university. like many an artist (or anyone, really) i can absolutely relate. university or college (or high school) fills up so much of your day, time, identity that when you leave that social context you find yourself somewhat unmoored, afloat. it's hard enough finding kindred spirits in that context, let alone when you're removed from it. and despite many organizations' efforts, "the monthly meeting" just can't take the place of daily, ongoing or intermittent opportunities to talk about the piece you're working on, or the series you're exploring, or the brand! new! artist! you've just discovered!
he also discussed a number of alternative artists' ventures that move outside of the traditional artmaking and distribution contexts that are quite intriguing. the upper trading post is one such venture. i'm sure there are others of this ilk. anyone?
the notion of collaborative spaces, and social spaces is an intriguing one, whether those spaces are physical or virtual. while i'm still not convinced of the virtual context's ability to foster true community (there's just something about faces) there are ways - there must be ways - to create opportunities for community. where art is more of a communal process, or at least the communal process is an integral aspect of the finished work.
matthews higgs' talk generated ideas about how one can use forgotten or neglected spaces. small, hidden, ignored spaces that can be activated and energized by art's presence. or the creation of spaces dedicated to that collaborative impulse, where work is never finished, where dialogue and discussion and coffee and beer and wine are ever-present and ongoing.
higgs also spurred my interest in relational aesthetics (again). while that may make the art-work less 'arty', i think it's important to acknowledge that art is relational in nature. it must be. as bourriaud states, relational aesthetics are "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space". it may be a little passe now, but i still think the human interactive element in the art process (both while making and when experiencing) is an important consideration for the artist.
i must admit that my desire to work collaboratively, and my ability to sustain that and complete the task (assuming 'completion' is even part of the process) have not been that successful. and i find myself asking why that is. is it the lack of human presence? is it too much reliance on a shared passion for an idea, and that virtual community doesn't have the legs to carry the load? am i too idealistic? demanding? not demanding enough? even in situ, i wonder how much the invitation to add and participate can work? how does one create the conditions for that dialogue between viewer/ reader and work and viewer/ reader? creating the context can only do so much. people still have to choose to engage and "enter in".
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Judge my work, that’s fine. It’s here, it’s on the wall. But don’t judge my soul. So even though it sounds a little tongue-in-cheek, it isn’t. And in terms of God — not religion, but in terms of God — I have a vast amount of faith, and belief.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
and i agree. but when we say "questioning the truth", don't we really mean "questioning that thing that is masquerading as the truth"? aren't we really speaking about the artist unveiling or unmasking? aren't we referring to their task as a presenter of truth and revealer of lies? one of my favourite books, the prophetic imagination by walter breuggemann, refers to the truth-telling function of the voice of the church - which i think also extends to the voice of the artist (in whatever medium):
the task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the of the dominant culture around us. they are to criticize the status quo and energize us to action. simply, it is to identify those things that are not as they should be. (emphasis added)in other words, art is about a hermeneutics of hope.
A.H. also asked: ...what about the viewer's role? Each viewer brings their own knowledge, experience and bias to the viewing process and this influences what they take away from the experience.
obviously, every viewer does indeed bring their own "baggage" to their viewing of a work, but my position is that one does not begin there. if that's your starting point, it's not really about the art, it's about you. and art is not first and foremost about the viewer. it does not, in fact, simply exist as a blank template upon which the viewer imprints their own desires and psychology and hopes and fears. i actually think that's a very modern approach to, and attitude about, looking at and thinking about art. art is about me. well it's not, actually. or at least not particularly. that kind of thinking brings us to the place where "art can mean [radically and completely] different things to different people". poppycock. i think that is only possible if art is all about the viewer's [personal] experience and not about the relationship between the viewer and the art. and i think that is the wrong way to approach art. let me explain.
it's like that c. s. lewis quote i referred to in the previous related post. we have to come to art with a willingness to engage in a conversation, and that means at least as much listening as talking. all of that is ultimately mediated and shifted by the viewer's open-ness to what the work is communicating, exploring, offering. in fact, the simple process of starting with describing the work, and making connections between those descriptions, and then [slowly] moving to interpretation (rather than jumping to our interpretation immediately - almost without even really looking at the art) will help bring a greater balance to that interaction.
i prefer to believe that the art (and artist) is trying to communicate something. it may be a criticism or it may be propaganda. or it might be asking us to consider something (but let's face it -- that usually does have an agenda). one would hope that the artist has exercised some responsibility as an artist and has thought through and considered the work they have created, how its materiality, presentation, context and imagery/ symbols conveys the message. that being said, if we exercise some measure of the same care in reading/ looking at the work (i.e. deciphering), we really can't simply interpret the work however we want to -- we have to engage with what is there. and while our experiences et al certainly can colour those interpretations, i think the core will be pretty consistent. in anything, our experience should enrich and add nuance to those interpretations.
then again, i'm an idealist. and very demanding of both the viewer/ reader and the art i look at. and my own ideal viewer/ reader.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
there are several things that i like about this video -- chief among them, the role of the [arts] pastor to simply pastor/ shepherd ("release/ unleash") the artist in the local congregation. and not only the artists, but everyone's inherent creativity. i also like the references to serving the local community/(-ies), not only by releasing the congregation's song in the community but also telling their story (stories?) in an artistic or creative way. this is part of what i consider a primary calling for the artist (christian or non): serving.
the second question - does the church set the artist free? - was more problematic for me. yes, the church was a patron of the arts in times past, but the church also was a patron of excellence. i think that part of the church's role as a patron also necessarily involves an ability to distinguish and determine (perhaps even discern) what work or which artists are worthy of patronage and support. the question i have is: why exactly was the church the main patron before? what was the impetus behind its patronage? status? power? didacticism? evangelismo? i think we sometimes gloss over the intricacies and context of that particular history of the church and its role in culture. certainly, the church did play a major role - after all, what is often referred to as "the cultural mandate" is part of our calling as fully alive humans - but it is complicated. so why were "the arts" (and there is a history in various aspects of the church for all artforms: music, dance, literature, drama) a focus? and how does that play out now? and what does it mean that the church was a locus? what does that mean for us as part of a community (or communities)?
the last section and its repeated emphasis on beauty was also quite generative. dostoevsky said that "beauty will save the world". beauty as a theological concept is a driving force for much of the theology of art, and there is a moral component to the idea that is crucial to our activity as artists, let alone christians. further, in the last 10 years or so, the notion of beauty is increasingly invoked and explored in contemporary work (and often, oddly enough, in conjunction with notions of spirituality), and no longer ignored or ridiculed. there's something important about beauty. it has a moral rigour to it. i especially like craig's question:how can we create moments of beauty, truth and splendour that cause us to pause? and, presumably, ponder. reflect. open ourselves up to the possibility and capacity of art to move us.
i do wonder, however, about the emphasis that somehow the 21c is purely a "visual century" and of rushing headlong to embrace every form and expression of that visual culture. in his other do you see? video (this one is #2) craig speaks of slowing down. perhaps the inundation of images (depending on your source, we are bombarded with anywhere from 4,000 to 20,000 images a day) is more a matter of incessant demand rather than simply the visuality of our time. how do we/ can we/ will we create or facilitate that place of [visual] rest? i think it's more a matter of finding and presenting the right image(s) for the right purpose (the idea of "fittingness" being another way to look at beauty) than embracing our culture's proliferation of images (iconophilia) or abandoning them altogether (iconoclasm). i mean, images are powerful - they are not, nor have they ever been, neutral. which reminds me, i need to keep reading iconoclash.
anyway, certainly lots of grist for the mill...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
- visit a gallery and explain why you're there
- purchase a piece of art to support an artist
- visit an artist's studio
- take an artist to lunch and explore their world
Monday, September 28, 2009
what i find so compelling about this piece is not so much the references to faith (and, like peter, walking on the water with jesus) but the way it literally and physically incarnates the idea -- it makes the sometimes rather abstract notion of faith something palpable. the artist comments that numerous people had a difficult time trusting the piece i.e. they had no faith to walk on the water. in order to experience the piece fully, you had to start walking. which is, actually, the point, regardless of where you approach the piece from (physically, spiritually, whatever). there's a very real tension between fear and faith.
i wish i could have walked on the water -- even if only for a few steps...
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
simply put, the video is astounding. it depicts, in sand, the suffering of ordinary people caused by the invasion of ukraine by the german army during world war two. regardless of my feelings about the "TV talent show/ competition" phenomenon (i think they enable short cuts to fame and fortune rather than an embrace of the process of working on your craft and developing as a true artist - regardless of medium), ms. simonova justifies the genre.
to paraphrase karen stone:
we use words to explain and teach, but we use images to move people:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
we went to the art institute of chicago on our 10th anniversary road trip. unfortunately, we didn't make it to the contemporary art museum. next time. however, there were some beautiful pieces there. highlights (and revelations) for me were:
cy twombly - big splashy paintings. surprisingly colourful. like gigantic peonies mashed on the canvas. the surprise for me was the size of his minimal and elegant sculptures. of course, they will eventually be a conservator's nightmare...
gerhard richter - there was a room of his paintings, both the photo-based work (from the 60s and 80s - loved the candles) and the large abstract field (ice) paintings. his work is really about vision - seeing. the act of looking.
bruce nauman - i've always found him a polarizing, though important figure. i think he, warhol and duchamp are very much touchstones for a lot of contemporary work. there was a neon piece - human nature/life death; a text piece - in which he plays with possibility and permutations of a single line of text, exploring permanence and meaning; and some video pieces - the clown torture series, which were maddening. annoying. grating.
robert gober - i'd never seen his installations, and here i saw 2! sure, they're layered and multivalent and double-sided, but they're also quite elegant and open. i especially love the fact that all the objects are hand-made - plaster casts and glass casts - and hand-painted; not the industrially produced objects they seem to be at first glance.
philip guston (born in canada, btw) - couple in bed is a lovely painting, devotional even.
sol le witt - there was a great wall piece...
lastly, there was an astounding (and huge) caravaggio: the resurrection. what a strange painting. otherworldly. yes, he could paint - textures, skin, shadow and light. but it all seemed so surreal. a fascinating painting...
the medieval wing was closed, which was disappointing.
the real [chicago] highlights for me, however, were the public art installations.
1. anish kapoor's cloud gate - 110 tons of fun. i've loved his work for decades. i could speak about the sense of the sublime in his work, the ineffable, the 'spiritual' -- but instead i'll note how his work always disturbs my equilibrium - i always feel de-centered when i look at this work, and cloud gate is no exception. not only that, it's a tourist bonanza. it was pretty crowded outside it, but inside, in the swirling vortex at its center, it was even more packed. people filming themselves and each other. very communal. brilliant.
2. magdalena abakanowicz's installation agora (greek for meeting place). 100+ walking figures fill grant park. her work has always spoken to relationships, from her early performances (public sculptures) with her then partner ulay to more recent pieces. this piece is powerfully affective - as you walk through from the periphery to the center, where the figures are more densely grouped, you feel the press and presence of these sentinels, these faceless witnesses.
3. the crown fountain - a 230' pool is book-ended by two 50' fountains, glass block towers with LED projections of chicagoans' faces. fun. and absolutely astounding at night.
4. frank gehry's jay pritzker pavilion, a 120' high stainless steel spaceship of a concert stage. unbelievable.
i'm running out of superlatives. i will visit chicago again. definitely.