Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not All Universes Are Portable - Or Even Intelligible

Fig. 1. Sundial - 16th Century (German)

'I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.'

Douglas Adams

Monday, March 30, 2009

While Sipping Meditatively On My Eastern Cocktail ...

Fig. 1. Painted 19th century Tibetan mandala of the Naropa tradition: Vajrayogini stands in the center of two crossed red triangles

'Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours. Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.'

Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home Is A Beauty Spot On The Face Of An Ugly Void

The Sunday Six: Edward Hopper

Fig. 1. Lighthouse Hill, 1927

Fig. 2. Corn Hill (Truro, Cape Cod), 1930

Fig. 3. Ryder's House, 1933

Fig. 4. Cape Cod Afternoon, 1936

Fig. 5. High Noon, 1949

Fig. 6. Second Story Sunlight, 1960

'In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.'

Gertrude Stein

Your Ears Will Orgasm #53: Antonin Dvorák - Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ('From the New World') (MixPod Player)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Future We Ordered Never Arrived, Said Grandma

Fig. 1. Grand Entrance - Paris International Exposition, 1900

'The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true.'

Robert Oppenheimer

Friday, March 27, 2009

Five Ecstatic Skins: Or, To Our Bodies Turn We Then*

Fig. 1. Tanatos Banionis Creative Group - Divine Wind, 2008

'[By] an aesthetic idea I mean that representation of the imagination which induces much thought, yet without the possibility of any definite thought whatever, i.e. concept, being adequate to it, and which language, consequently, can never get quite on level terms with or render completely intelligible. It is easily seen, that an aesthetic idea is the counterpart (pendant) of a rational idea, which, conversely, is a concept, to which no intuition (representation of the imagination) can be adequate.'

Immanuel Kant

* John Donne (The Ecstasy)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

That Night, Goldilocks Dreamt She Met Proust In Hell

Fig. 1. Claude Lévêque - Le Grand Sommeil, 2006

'True paradises are the paradises we have lost.'

Marcel Proust

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two Portraits Of An English Spring (For Dive & Katie)

Fig. 1. John Everett Millais - Spring (Apple Blossoms), 1856-59

To Spring

Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.

William Blake

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Too May Think The Amen Of Nature Is A Flower*

Fig. 1. Henri Matisse - Fruit, Flowers, and The Dance, 1909

'First, the colours of beautiful bodies must not be dusky or muddy, but clean and fair. Secondly, they must not be of the strongest kind. Those which seem most appropriated to beauty, are the milder of every sort; light greens; soft blues; weak whites; pink reds; and violets. Thirdly, if the colours be strong and vivid, they are always diversified, and the object is never one of strong colour; there are almost always such a number of them (as in variegated flowers) that the strength and glare of each is considerably abated.'

Edmund Burke

* 'The Amen of nature is always a flower.' (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Addendum: Not long ago, Katie (politely, as always) took umbrage at a joke I'd made at the expense of sport and, by implication, lovers of all things sporty:

Lucio, all sports can be made to sound completely ridiculous when broken down like that. But like art, I think there’s a place for it in the world.

She is right, of course - which is why I replied:

Never fear, Katie, I can make art (and most other things cultural) sounds just as absurd!

And I can. Only there are times when no such effort is required from me, as is amply demonstrated by the following extract from Edmund Burke's self-parodying musings on beauty (imagine it being read by a member of the Monty Python team and you'll see what I mean):

The next property constantly observable in such objects is Smoothness. A quality so essential to beauty, that I do not recollect any thing beautiful that is not smooth. In trees and flowers, smooth leaves are beautiful; smooth slopes of earth in gardens; smooth streams in the landscape; smooth coats of birds and beasts in animal beauties; in fine women, smooth skins; and in several sorts of ornamental furniture, smooth and polished surfaces. A very considerable part of the effect of beauty is owing to this quality; indeed the most considerable. For take any beautiful object, and give it a broken and rugged surface, and however well formed it may be in other respects, it pleases no longer. Whereas let it want ever so many of the other constituents, if it wants not this, it becomes more pleasing than almost all the others without it. This seems to me so evident, that I am a good deal surprised, that none who have handled the subject have made any mention of the quality of smoothness in the enumeration of those that go to the forming of beauty. For indeed any ruggedness, any sudden projection, and sharp angle, is in the highest degree contrary to that idea.

In other words, the smelliest baby bum is preferable to the finest bouquet of natural crystals!

(By the way, the remaining conditions Burke insists must be met in order for something to qualify as beautiful include smallness, variation, and delicacy.)

Thanks for the prod, Katie! {:-})

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Difficult Thing Put Simply Is Not Made Any Easier

Fig. 1. Large Tortoiseshell Octagonal Box and Cover Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl (Tang Dynasty)

'Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.'

James Joyce

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eugene and Caspar Jump Through Plato's Window

Fig. 1. Caspar David Friedrich - Sunrise over the Sea, c. 1826

EDMUND: You've just told me some high spots in your memories. Want to hear mine? They're all connected with the sea. Here's one. When I was on the Squarehead square rigger, bound for Buenos Aires. Full moon in the Trades. The old hooker driving fourteen knots. I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself - actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! ... Then another time, on the American line, when I was lookout on the crow's nest in the dawn watch. A clam sea, that time. Only a lazy groundswell and a slow drowsy roll of the ship. The passengers asleep and none of the crew in sight. No sound of man. Black smoke pouring from the funnels behind and beneath me. Dreaming, not keeping lookout, feeling alone, and above, and apart, watching the dawn creep like a painted dream over the sky and sea which sleep together. Then the moment of ecstatic freedom came, the peace, the end of the quest, the last harbour, the joy of belonging to a fulfilment beyond men's lousy, pitiful, greedy fears and hopes and dreams! And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint's vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see - and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again, and you stumble on toward nowhere, for no good reason! (He grins wryly.) It was a great mistake, my being born a man. I would have been much more successful as a sea-gull or fish. As it is, I will always be a stranger who never feels at home, who does not really want and is not really wanted, who can never belong, who must always be a little in love with death!

From Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill

Fig. 2a. & 2b.

Addendum #1:

Interview with Bill Viola at the Venice Biennale, 2007 (TateShots)

Addendum #2: Katie (thanks!) and ESVM's poetry corner...

Even though I live close to the Pacific ocean, seeing this Friedrich and reading the O'Neill passage (I so need to re-read Long Day's Journey!) make me think of the Atlantic ocean, and how much the sea meant to my Grandfather. I'm sure he had a similar sense of a bigger belonging when out at sea.

I'll lay off the ESVM for a while as I'm sure you're tiring of her, but she had such strong feelings about her beloved Maine coast, and I think she and Edmund would have been a good match:


People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore, -
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbour's head,
What do they long for, as I long for, -
Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning, -
One salt taste of the sea once more?

Addendum #3: Anonymous' (thanks!) poetry corner...

L'Homme et la mer

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroument infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n'est pas un gouffre moins amer

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l'embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n'a sondé le fond de tes abimes;
O mer, nul ne connait tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remord,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
O lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!

Charles Baudelaire (Les Fleurs du Mal)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Topic: No One Can Teach You How To Paint The Rain

Fig . 1. Vincent van Gogh - Rain, Auvers, 1890

'The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech.'

Vincent van Gogh

Your Ears Will Orgasm #52: Singing The Rain - Mix (MixPod Player)

1. Rain - The Beatles
2. The Rain - K-Os
3. Tears In The Rain - Zomby
4. I'm Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage
5. The Rain Knows - The Wentletraps
6. No Rain - Blind Melon (THDP Remix)
7. Green Rain - Shugo Tokumaru
8. Singin' In The Rain - D.O.A.

Addendum: Katie and ESVM's poetry corner...

I've never seen this van Gogh; now I won't feel so bad that it's supposed to rain all weekend as I can look at this painting and be uplifted. Thanks for the soundtrack too!

Would van Gogh and ESVM have hit it off?


No matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie and bleach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.

Friday, March 20, 2009

There Is No Science Of The Beautiful, Only Critique*

Fig. 1. Kutlug Ataman - Frame, 2009

'Frame is a lightbox of an enlarged replica of a photograph taken during the early 20th century in Eastern Turkey, when photography was a still a new medium. Because of the way in which it is framed the photo reveals more than its original subject - an army general with substantial political power at the time. The anonymous photographer ignored the logic of classical framing which is rooted in the rules created during the Renaissance in the West. Instead, the framing follows the rules of pre-Renaissance representation typical of Byzantium, where social status and political power determined the frame and size of the subject. As a result, the army general, as the centre of political gravity and the top of political hierarchy, is framed in the centre. The lower ranks around him are cut off by the frame, which is determined not by rationalism but power.'

Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz

* 'There is no science of the beautiful, but only a critique.' (Immanuel Kant - Critique of Judgement)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That's Right, Pop Never Did Eat Itself ... Or Its Gods

Fig. 1. Andy Warhol - Christ 112 Times (detail), 1986

'Mortal men ask God for good things every day, but never pray that they may make good use of them. They want fortune to wait upon their desires, but they are not concerned that desire should wait upon reason. They would like all their household furniture down to the last article to be made as beautiful as possible, but they are hardly ever concerned that the soul should become beautiful. They diligently seek out remedies for bodily diseases, but neglect the diseases of the soul. They think they can be at peace with others, yet they continually wage war with themselves. For there is a constant battle between body and soul, between the sense and reason. They believe they can find themselves a faithful friend in others, but not one of them keeps faith with himself. What they have praised, they reject; what they have desired, they do not want; and contrariwise. They lay out the parts of the buildings to a measure, and tune strings on a lyre to a hair's breadth, but they never attempt to harmonise the parts and movements of the soul. They make stone into the likeness of living men, and they make living men into stones; they despise wise men themselves, but they honour the statues and names of the wise. They claim to know about everyone else's affairs, although they do not know about their own ...

What a sorry state! We seek the greatest in the least, the high in the low, good in evil, rest in activity, peace in dissension, plenty in penury; in short, life in death.

I beg you, my friends, let us seek the same ends that we are already seeking, but let us not continue to seek them in the same place. The man who believes he will find a thing in its opposite is mad and miserable.


Marcilio Ficino (from The Folly and Misery of Men, c. 1463)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I've Got A Brain In My Chest And A Heart In My Head

Fig. 1. Andrew Stevovich - The Truth About Lola, 1987

'The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it.'

Stanley Kubrick

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

So, How Long Is A String Of Novelties? (Per Valeria)

Fig. 1. Cai Guo-Qiang - Fetus Movement II: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 9, 1991

'The first and the simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is Curiosity. By curiosity, I mean whatever desire we have for, or whatever pleasure we take in novelty. We see children perpetually running from place to place to hunt out something new; they catch with great eagerness, and with very little choice, at whatever comes before them; their attention is engaged by every thing, because every thing has, in that stage of life, the charm of novelty to recommend it. But as those things which engage us merely by their novelty, cannot attach us for any length of time, curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections; it changes its object perpetually; it has an appetite which is very sharp, but very easily satisfied; and it has always an appearance of giddiness, restlessness and anxiety. Curiosity from its nature is a very active principle; it quickly runs over the greatest part of its objects, and soon exhausts the variety which is commonly to be met with in nature; the same things make frequent returns, and they return with less and less of any agreeable affect. In short, the occurrences of life, by the time we come to know it a little, would be incapable of affecting the mind with any other sensations than those of loathing or weariness, if many things were not adapted to affect the mind by means of other powers besides novelty in them, and of other passions besides curiosity in ourselves.'

Edmund Burke

Monday, March 16, 2009

If You're A Loony And You Know It, Clap Your Hands!

Fig. 1. William Hogarth - The Interior of Bedlam (from A Rake's Progress), 1763

MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane. For illustration, this present (and illustrious) lexicographer is no firmer in the faith of his own sanity than is any inmate of any madhouse in the land; yet for aught he knows to the contrary, instead of the lofty occupation that seems to him to be engaging his powers he may really be beating his hands against the window bars of an asylum and declaring himself Noah Webster, to the innocent delight of many thoughtless spectators.

Ambrose Bierce

Your Ears Will Orgasm #51: Peter Maxwell Davies - Eight Songs for a Mad King (MixPod Player)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

There The Noble Grotesque Will Exist In Full Energy*

Fig. 1. Liu Zheng - The Four Beauties 1/4, 2004

'I believe that there is no test of greatness in periods, nations or men more sure than the development, among them or in them, of a noble grotesque, and no test of comparative smallness or limitation, of one kind or another, more sure than the absence of grotesque invention, or incapability of understanding it.'

John Ruskin

* 'Wherever the human mind is healthy and vigorous in all its proportions, great in imagination and emotion no less than in intellect, and not overborne by an undue or hardened preeminence of the mere reasoning faculties, there the grotesque will exist in full energy.' (John Ruskin)

Addendum: The Sunday Six - Gooey Grotesqueries: Ernesto Neto - Leviathan Thot, 2006 (Pantheon, Paris [Photos: Rion Nakaya])

Figs. 2. & 3.

Fig. 4.

Fig. 5.

Fig. 6.

Fig. 7.

Erin Manns: Leviathan Thot at the Pantheon in Paris is an enormously ambitious work, encompassing the length, breadth and full height of the vast space. I'm interested in how the project developed, and how you accomplished the realisation of the work?

Ernesto Neto: I was invited by the Festival d'Automne organisation to make a site specific piece. I saw the space, and I began to plan a project for the Pantheon. I showed it to the people from the festival and they liked my proposal. They asked me to do a detailed plan to present it to the Pantheon and MONUM administrations. When I was preparing these final plans, I woke up with a dream, and it was pieced together with the word "leviathan". In three days I developed the basic plans for a second work. I sent both and they decided to move forward with the new idea - Leviathan Toth. Even though it looks very complex, the principle is very simple - it's a geometric plan that falls down with gravity, using the "buttons" columns [the elements of the installation that are filled with sand, or at times polystyrene beads] as counter weights. The effect of gravity acting on the content gives form and spirit to the skinlike surface.

EM: Your work is as indebted to philosophy, metaphysics and linguistics as it is to the corporeal, the sensual, the sensorial. The Pantheon, in many ways a temple to French intellectualism (interred there are figures including Voltaire, Rousseau, Emile Zola and Marie Curie), seems an appropriate context. Was this a consideration in locating Leviathan Thot?

EN: The fact that all of these great people are interred there is not exactly the direct influential point - they are part of it and they represent it, but besides the architecture, the Pantheon's history is very important. The building was built as a church, and just before it was completed, the French Revolution occurred, after which the structure was transformed into a mausoleum temple to great men. Then twice more it alternated between church and temple over many years, depending on the political system - monarchy or republic. This transitional point from mediaeval times to the present day, after the growth and the crash of modernism, became very interesting to me. Also located there is the Foucault pendulum, so, as the building has in its history political change it has also a poetic monument to modern science. These two situations represent, in a way, the great people who are there, the political philosophers and the scientists, so I didn't feel their influence directly but they represented this history and the fight between rationalism against mediaeval obscurantism, as well as the passage from old times to modern revolution. In a way I think this circumstance represents a bit the shock we have now between the contemporary world and the pre-modernist time.

EM: The iconic neoclassical architecture of Pantheon, and the strict formalism of the statues and columns and decorative wall frescoes within, contrast quite beautifully with the elegance of the organic visual language of Leviathan Thot. With this project, but also in your work generally, significance is as much about space and the visitor's relationship to the work in the space as it is about the work itself. Do you find it particularly challenging to negotiate the aesthetic differences of various architectural spaces you present work in?

EN: As you may know I had first been invited by the Festival d'Automne to make a piece for the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Pitie-Salpetriere, where they had been doing shows for many years. After the great work by Nan Goldin, I was supposed to be the next artist to produce a major project there. It would have been realised last year, but the priests of the chapel became unhappy with Goldin's work, and turned their back on the project after many years of collaboration with the festival. As a first decision they cut or censored my piece, even though the work was different for the Salpetriere. I would say that the chapel of Saint-Louis is a naked building regarding decorative elements in relation to the Pantheon, and much more feminine. When I arrived at the Pantheon (I had been there years before to see the pendulum) I was quite surprised again by the strong decorative presence. For my preparations I decided not to concern myself with the gigantic void in the Pantheon; I didn't want to fight with it, but rather be a bit indifferent, use what it could give, as with the holes from where the piece comes down, and let the art establish its own dialogue with that framework. In fact there was one consideration - I thought about making the piece in pink and soft blue-green, some complementary polarities that I've been working with in both a colour and symbolic sense, but, with the amount of decorative information around it and to respect the history of the building, I decided to do it in off-white (marfin as I prefer to say) in order to be more aligned with the classic side of my work, and to blend with the neoclassical responsibility of the architecture.

EM: Do you have an ideal place (piece of architecture or a location) in mind for which you dream about producing and siting a work?

EN: Inside of a cave!

EM: I've always found intriguing in your work the possibility to explore dialectics of lightness and weight, balance and suspension, translucence and the opaque, interior and exterior, physical and philosophical, structural and corporeal. Perhaps you can talk a bit about the importance of these elements to your practice, how they inform your work conceptually.

EN: I think this is life, we walk on a string, and I like to be in balance between these conflicts. Even though we all, or some of us, want peace, our state of living is a continuous conflict. This is our condition in life and I believe that if we accept this basic and inexorable fact, we would be much more open to consider and respect others, to be open to discuss new ideas, to understand ourselves better and to deal (not in the sense of better or worse) with the many different cultures that exist on our big and small home planet.

Regarding my practice itself, I always wanted to develop some works that could stay in a state of balance, that the viewer, mentally, could deconstruct and reconstruct again. The process should be simple, direct and visible - this always has been an ethical position. For me to do art is to think about relationships. Every work I make is always about a relationship: one element interferes with the other element, and the result is a sociability from one to the other, so you should have an interaction that achieves a limit - a precise balance before equilibrium is lost. This interaction creates an internal habitat based on a mutualism where every part can express itself. This concept of mutualism is a main concern of my work.

EM: Is Leviathan Thot in any way a culmination of a recent body of work, or related to the major exhibitions you've had earlier this year at Malmo Konsthall, Sweden and most recently at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York?

EN: Leviathan Thot is a consequence of some branches of works that I've been developing for some years -- following on from the dangerous logic of wooing I made for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculptural Garden in 2002. This year I did another hanging polystyrene beads piece at Bob Van Orsouw's gallery in a show titled how to put it up, dulcieneia. This was an independent work, but also a study for Leviathan Thot. The Creature (from The Malmo Experience) came from a different branch -- it's a cotton opaque "relax piece", where I create an environment in which visitors can take off their shoes and enter different naves. This kind of piece takes you completely out of the ambient space [the gallery] by generating a particular organic, and perhaps utopian, atmosphere. The energy is much lower than Leviathan Thot; for example, to provoke a serene habitat, there are organs and organelles inside (smaller sculptures) which people can interact with. What we are made of of, the piece at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, was a colourful environment, derived from the work in The Malmo Experience.

EM: Language, rhythm and, in many ways, poetry seem to occupy an understated, yet significant place in your practice, would you agree? Your titles for works and exhibitions alone often elicit a certain musicality. Words at times seem to appear as much as for how they sound as for what they mean.

EN: That's the same with the works themselves. I think my work is a dance and I believe that our society, as a sculpture, is a dance. Dance is symbolically the transcendence of the relationships we have in our day to day life, as with Brancusi's Kiss I think all the relations we have are a kind of dance. Every art manifestation is an expression but most people try to not express anything by their actions (maybe, unless they are in love, where the level of subjectivity gets much more intense). We are trained from birth to control our expression, or to objectify it, but when people dance or just move a bit with any music or sound that comes out, there is an expression of themselves also. Our body, it's an organic dance; the scientists say that the internal communication of the peptides, the relation between the key and the keyhole, is a kind of dance. There are meanings and concepts within the structures of my works but the surface carries the dance, the musicality. About the titles, sometimes I condense meanings in order to create an onomatopoeic significance, or to create a kind of confusion of meaning, which can be read some ways towards an understanding of the work, but also keeping open the possibility of the viewer establishing his or her own interpretation of both the work and the title independently.

EM: Speaking of dance, a few years ago you worked on a piece for a Merce Cunningham production. Was that process a complete collaboration, working together to conceive both the dance and the work - for example how the work would contribute to the dance and vice-versa? And was this the first time you'd worked with a choreographer in this way?

EN: The way Merce Cunningham has worked for a number of years with many artists is to commission the artist to create the set and the company develops the dance, then the two are put together. So when they invited me, they sent me some videos of some dance pieces and two books, one of their history, and another of his animal drawings, then I met his team. I decided to be more sculptural then scenographic, and the key for the collaboration was the practicality of putting it up and down, as well as the animal book, so the piece was conceived as a hanging "flying" organic abstract animal. Some dancers said that it felt good to dance under and they used it to have a better sense of space, to know where they were while they were dancing. I only met Merce in Paris, when everything was already finished and the work was combined with the choreography. It was a very emotional moment. In the end I think it was a dance between me and them. It was the first time I worked with a choreographer.

EM: I'm interested too in your other activities, such as the gallery you've been operating in Rio de Janeiro for the last few years. What was your motivation for opening a space, and how do you organise your programme there? Do you find it contributes to your artistic practice in any way?

EN: A Gentil Carioca is three years old now. It was created to be a communication channel between the artists and the community, so we do solo shows and we look after some artists to help them grow and develop their work. We also make group shows, generally of younger artists, or work with more established artists when we think there is a subject to be discussed in a more political way. We think also that as an artist the gallery can became a political tool because it subsumes the subjectivity of each one of us to the objectivity of the institution that can act without the precision of the personality of each one of us.

It's amazing though to see the artists developing their work, bringing it to the gallery and thinking about how to show it, how to develop an idea for the frame of the gallery and which kind of frame we want the gallery to be. Ultimately we like the gallery to act as a meeting point for the artists. It's also extremely interesting for the three of us - me, Laura Lima and Marcio Botner - to be showing and talking about the work of the others for a general public, to put our own artist side away and to open space to promote the work of others.

EM: It's interesting that you are at times using A Gentil Carioca in a way that might be considered political, or to perhaps convey a political message - can you discuss this a bit more? Is it for the immediate context of Rio de Janeiro or more globally political?

EN: It's more in a context of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, that's the size of our voice right now. It happens through our dialogue of how to exhibit art and how things are going on in this country. We live in a socio-political catastrophe and we believe that the only way to change all the problems, like the heavily corrupted institutional culture, the economic knot, productive action and social violence in every sense, is through the educational system that had been destroyed by the military dictatorship. Politicians don't talk about education here; in fact nobody does. So, we have done some group exhibitions that can open some space to talk about these issues. We also have a specially commissioned shirt called educacao for each new show. An artist develops it and can do or say whatever he or she wants as long as the word educacao appears on the shirt. Sometimes there are localised concerns that we address through Gentil. For example, when the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, a important cultural institution in Rio, was censored during an exhibition earlier this year and had to remove a controversial work by artist Marcia X, through Gentil we organised a movement against this action, and support for our movement grew around the country. It's a small thing, but what we realise is that with Gentil, as an institution, we can operate these kind of things, in a productive way.

EM: Finally, how do you imagine the future development of your practice?

EN: My future! What for? I don't really think very much about the future, and I never really know where the art is taking me. Live!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In My Dreams, I Am Looped In The Loops Of Her Hair*

Fig. 1. Robert Doisneau - Square du Vert-Galant, 1950

'Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.'

Jeanne Moreau

* Brown Penny (W. B. Yeats):
Brown Penny

I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Addendum: From Anonymous (thanks!).

'La tragédie du grand âge, ce n'est pas que l'on est vieux, mais que l'on est jeune.' ('The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.')

Oscar Wilde (Le Portrait de Dorian Gray)

Friday, March 13, 2009

If There Is No Light In Your Tunnel, Switch Tunnels!

Fig. 1. Jenny Holzer - Monument, 2008

'And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.'

Abraham Lincoln

Addendum: Katie (thanks!) and ESVM's (thanks!) poetry corner...

What a neat-o Holzer! It would be very trippy to hang out in this tunnel. I saw a Holzer exhibit at the Walker in Minneapolis in the early 90s, and I'm really bummed I didn't keep the set of Holzer ink stamps that I bought. My favorite said, "A lot happened before you were born".

Lincoln, meet ESVM:

Midnight Oil

Cut if you will, with Sleep's dull knife,
Each day to half its length, my friend,—
The years that Time takes off my life,
He'll take from off the other end!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's All Take A Spin In Cinderella's Lellow Cadillac*

Fig. 1. Yayoi Kusama - Pumpkin, 2007

'Critics who treat "adult" as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adults themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. ... When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.'

C. S. Lewis

* As far as my nearly three-year-old niece is concerned, the word yellow is pronounced "lellow".

Your Ears Will Orgasm #50: Asobi Seksu (click to connect to official website) - Mix (MixPod Player)

1. Thursday
2. I'm Happy But You Don't Like Me
3. Let Them Wait
4. New Years
5. Sooner
6. Walk On The Moon
7. Mary & Me
8. Familiar Light

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

If You Stab Us, Do We Not Burst Into Mournful Arias?

Fig. 1. Palace Garnier (still known to many as the Paris Opera), 1875

'Of all the noises known to man, opera is the most expensive.'


* 'Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.' (Robert Burns)

Your Ears Will Orgasm #49
: Peter Maxwell Davies - Miss Donnithorne's Maggot (MixPod Player)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good Books Teach Us To Enjoy Life, Or To Endure It*

Fig. 1. Gerhard Richter - Lesende, 1994

'When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.'

John Berger

* 'Books should teach us to enjoy life, or to endure it.' (Samuel Johnson)

Addendum: Quotes from Anonymous and Larissa (see comments):

'Le métier d'écrire est une violente et presque indestructible passion.'

George Sand

'Les livres ne sont pas des objets comme les autres pour les femmes; depuis l'aube du christianisme jusqu'à aujourd'hui, entre nous et eux, circule un courant chaud, une affinité secrète, une relation étrange et singulière tissée d'interdits, d'appropriations, de réincorporations.'

Laure Adler

'I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.'

Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bring Me The Head Of Miss Barbara Millicent Roberts

Fig. 1. Barbie at 50

'A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.'

Bertrand Russell

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Possibilities Grow Tall In The Soil Of The Impossible

Fig. 1. Paul Delvaux - La nascita del giorno, 1937

'A creator who isn't grabbed around the throat by a set of impossibilities is not a creator. A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities.'

Gilles Deleuze

Addendum: The Sunday Six - Anne Siems

Fig. 2. Bird Medium II, 2008

Fig. 3. Birdsong, 2008

Fig. 4. Coral Apples, 2008

Fig. 5. Flutist, 2008

Fig. 6. Little Creatures, 2008

Fig. 7. Roost II, 2008

Saturday, March 7, 2009

No, We Cannot Separate The Means From Their Ends

Fig. 1. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes - The Procession, 1816

'Who wills the end, wills (so far as reason has decisive influence on his actions) also the means which are indispensably necessary and in his power.'

Immanuel Kant

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Art, We Always See More Than We Are Looking At

Fig. 1. Beth Lipmann - Still Life (detail), 2007

'We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.'

Anaïs Nin

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Always Avoid A Brilliant Image Of A Fuzzy Concept*

Fig. 1. Jasper Johns - Light Bulb I, 1958

'A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it.'

Marcel Proust

* 'There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept.' (Ansel Adams)