Friday, November 30, 2012

Seeing Friends, Seeing Art

I'm back in PA after an excursion to Boston!  Saw a bunch of people and places and things, including the awesome exhibition "This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s" at the ICA through March 3, 2013.  Many of my favorite things were there.  There was wall text about Judith Butler!  I got to take Adrian Piper's calling cards home with me!  Inspiring things I'd never seen before included Mary Kelly's Interim Part I, Corpus, Appeal and Lorraine O'Grady's Art Is....  Familiar-looking text from Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger text/image combinations also screamed at me from unexpected points on the walls (Kruger's were near the ceiling, and Holzer's inhabited the sides of a free-standing wall).  I wanted to buy the book, but it was $50, and I needed that money for food and bus fare...onto the Amazon Wishlist it goes!

I stopped over at the New Museum on my journey home to see "Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989," which closes on December 30.  It's a small exhibition of materials from the museum's Bowery Artist Tribute archive and Marc H. Miller's, not quite as packed full of favorites as I'd been expecting, but still worth the visit.  The show's archive-inspired nature was evidenced by the resource room, which had various relevant books and magazines, as well as computers to access online archives themselves.  The upper back wall of that room displayed the Bowery timeline and a few Christy Rupp rats scurried around the baseboard.  In the gallery, Adrian Piper was representing again (an example from her Hypothesis Series, which I cannot find represented on the Internet...), as was my buddy Keith Harring (his studio door was in the middle of the room, and there was evidence of a project for which he left snippets of paintings all around the city).  Inspiring things I'd never seen before included Paul Tschinkel's video piece Hannah's Haircut (also nowhere to be found on the Internet...), in which a topless Hannah Wilke gives Claes Oldenberg a haircut.  Completely bizarre and captivating--he looks so fucking uncomfortable the whole time and she kisses his ear at one point.  Hannah Wilke is forever a favorite of mine--I remember seeing Through the Large Glass at MoMA some years ago and experiencing the same inability to look away (I feel my weird feelings about a normatively attractive woman objectifying her own body for an audience that might not intellectually jump the hurtle of ogling her tits, and then I get over them because she is so in control and knows exactly what the fuck she's doing and I love her for it).  Also, video footage of Charles Simonds' Dwellings, for which he carved out spaces for imaginary tiny people in the walls of crumbling buildings.  

I have to get my ass back to New York to continue my 80s-obsessed jaunt with "Times Square Show Revisited" at the Hunter College Art Galllery (til December 8) and I also need to see "Materializing "Six Years": Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art" at the Brooklyn Museum through February 17 (plus, you know, buy that book...)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flashback to February 2012: Anagram- and Marked- Relevant Drawings!

Right now, I'm in the process of turning my mom's attic into a space where I can work.  Today, while I was moving things around and going through stuff, I came upon this series of drawings that I did before I made the Marked photos.

For some of them, I taped the original dating manual images, which I'd kissed, onto sketch book pages.  But I also used words from my dream archive to make phrases that kind of corresponded to that imagery (the palette was influenced by the imagery as well).  I wrote out certain dreams (in marker, pen, or pencil, on black, white, or brown paper), tore up the words, then taped the words in their new configurations onto the background paper (black photo backdrop paper stretched over pieces of cardboard, tracing paper stained with red acrylic, glued onto pieces of cardboard, white sketchbook pages). 

I presented them in class like this:

The comment that most stood out was someone likening the aesthetic to ransom notes (which I liked).

Here they all are, in no particular order:

DON'T SIT IN AWKWARD POSITIONS--and never look bored, even if you are.  Be alert, and if you must chew gum (not advised), do it silently, mouth closed

 none who had appeared ready were

 should I go/ obviously/ go Finish being

 His eyes/ manipulating still/ despite reluctant hands

 smiling disgust/ she sips her own drink

 again Is staring/ truth Follows her/ Finally Enters deep

 it rolls over You Quickly/ I Continue to help silently

 "So have it"/ it was in her mouth

 she wants more

 somehow/ you see now/ and I feel good

 just admit it/ drift

 DON'T BE FAMILIAR with the headwaiter talking about the fun you had with someone else another time.  Men deserve, desire your entire attention

 sorry! fucking her is profoundly better

 pressing pathetically/ crying involuntarily/ face twisted in/ between

 nodding at the swirls of weirdness

 a moment of pretending to shake/ From blood or expression

 should I still fuck him/ he considers me sadly/ attempting to believe/ resist the urge/ go do Nothing instead

 guess what/ teeth/ eager gesture

 his supposed planning folds/ punching urgently

 in Gazing scenarios/ we/ loses to/ him against her/ They stared at them/ a plastic attention don't/ of wonders

 You have people/ I'm resignedly disappointed

 "Do you want me/ what a question/ no/ just no

 CARELESS WOMEN never appeal to gentlemen.  Don't talk while dancing, for when a man dances he wants to dance Page 30

 their dream fell to me/ I kept working

 my notion of you included the idea of us

 the observer looked on/ examining/ trying to understand

 capable of jealousy and panic

 at least broken/ you wanted to fix me

 next stop/ progress

let go of my sense of me

 respect the strength and power behind my position

 forget about his gaze/ we all gaze together

 trying to get disoriented listening to wet little phrases

 to think of me As a delicate tender vulnerable young thing Is to be wrong

 I whispered intensely/ my sheer ferocity ignored once noticed

 evil objects/ too crazy and confused to attract us

 system crash

 intruder with his urgent because

ourselves within we

he hated himself/ so I loved him.

I drove away the one I coveted.

 I wasn't really thinking too hard about what I was doing when I made these, but what feels significant about them now, in relation to the Anagram things is the fact that I was technically using my own words, rather than someone else's, as the starting point for the phrases.  Granted, they were words taken out of context and reconfigured into a new context.  I've been feeling a little insecure about the possibility that starting with a pre-created phrase might be some kind of crutch.  But I guess it doesn't have to be...I mean, I am turning someone else's words into my own words, and the whole deconstructing/ rebuilding process is a large part of what the Anagram things are about right now anyway.  I guess mainly what's important/ what made me want to post these is the fact that this interest in words isn't actually so new, and these phrases that I made months ago have a similar voice behind them, which is...good, I think?  I suppose only time will tell...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sweet Affinity (Ariana Reines)

There's a line from the movie The History Boys that goes "The best moments in reading are when you come across something-- a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out and taken yours."  A great line because that is the best thing about, well, more than just reading.  Palpable tremors of affinity that occur during the course of reading (or song-listening, or art-experiencing, or conversation-having) are best in general because of the enormous relief of feeling understood (an agonizingly rare sensation). 

I mention this because today, I read Couer De Lion by Ariana Reines and every single sentence felt like a secret handshake.

I read the first page and immediately had to text my friend Matt, provider of the library-borrowed copy I was holding:

"Oh my god I think I'm in love with Ariana Rienes...she *knows*...
"It's like she wrote this *for me* to read.  Every single thing is the most validating truth I've ever read.  I'm like, laughing out loud on the train at how much it feels like she's read my mind"

I read the whole book on the train, laughing and nodding and shaking my head in awe.  I also texted my friend Anna who is a poet and lives in Minneapolis:

"I'm reading a book of poems by Ariana Reines right now on the train: "Coeur De Lion." It's SO GOOD, you HAVE to read it!!  They're so simple and honest and true, they make me feel like my truth could matter
"I intend to write you a whole letter about it when I get home!"

I was gonna pull some choice excerpts for this post, but I can't because the whole thing is choice excerpts.  I just have to buy my own copy and go through it and underline all of the things and write frantic notes and feel the bestness again forever.

But here's a video of Ariana reading excerpts of her dreams (!!) and excerpts from Coeur De Lion at Stain Bar in Brooklyn in 2008 anyway:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Anagram Update

So, after screwing around in photoshop for a bit, I decided these things look way better on a black background--the letters pop more.  I also determined that they'd function well as booklets, so that all of the reconfigurations could be held together under the original phrase.  Oh, and I changed the rules for myself slightly--instead of just using an infinite number of the letters in each phrase to come up with the new phrases, I'm limiting myself to only use the amount of each letter given in the initial phrase, per page. 

So I made a booklet with black pages, using the phrase "curves so comely and sinister," which is a lyric from the Neko Case song "Pretty Girls".  Which means that I had two 'c's, one 'u', two 'r's, one 'v', three 'e's, four 's'es, two 'o's, one 'm', one 'l', one 'y', one 'a', two 'n's, one 'd', and one 't' to work with for each new page.  I arranged the letters on the pages in different ways, so that if you were holding the booklet, you'd have to turn it around in different directions to read it (I want it to be playful).  There's a flow to the phrases throughout the booklet, kind of like a narrative, or a stream of consciousness, which felt appropriate.  I haven't made a cover for it, but I did bind the pages before I added the text.  Scanning the pages doesn't really do it justice, but nevertheless, here they are:

curves so comely and sinister  |  love me!!

 i scream intensely  |  i'm very intenssse

love me; never say it; run.  |  love is your scam

you love me  |  you scorn me

you use me. i care not.  |  you drive me sane

 you created me  |  i created my soul

 visions scare me  |  you listen so i can see

 restless dreams  |  restless void

eternal moodiness  |  rusty doom

 it cures sensory denial  |  it invades rooms

it curtails my  |  very senses

my cunt is nicer  |  inside me so truly

 are you inside me?  |  come on in, i say!

enter me  |  discover...

coy voices amid tresses  |  rustle over mossy dens

muscles strain over coy dins  |  truss

strain over me  |  over you

i'm over you!  |  scram!!

no...stay...  |  sorry...

i'm nervous...  |  i've scorned so many, it's cruel

my clit needs  |  some service

render it  |  nicely

man o  |  r lady

or not  |  i don't assume

my selves: ins or outs  |  clear? no

alive? yes  |  a mess

i love me  |  i love me not

i love me  |  rebeccah ulm 2012

I might try to make an animation of the process for the next one, or possibly mess with the colors of the paper/letters, or test out different fonts.  I like the scale of this one--it's 3" x 4.5", so it's pretty small, but that makes for a nice, hand-held, intimate experience I think.  Maybe I'll experiment with larger pages eventually, but this works for now.