Saturday, 29 August 2009
As I walked in, the first piece of the work that I came across gave my heart a lurch. The words “I will never see you AGAIN!!!” written on a mirror with flowers under them struck my subconscious as if to lament someone deceased or perhaps the death of something more metaphorical. To be honest, my first thoughts were of the metaphorical death that happens in a loss of friendship. It’s quite funny how human nature grants us the need to connect disjunctive things in the pursuit of finding commonality. I just lost a good friend who I really loved, and therefore everything I think seems somehow to be connected to her. Yet perhaps this is part of the purpose of modern art at least, to forge meaning without necessary conscious intention. In any case, it soon came clear to me as I walked the rest of the exhibit that the theme more generally spoke of the loss of home, a concept which touched me just as nearly.
The next room, even at first glance, was quite captivating. The things which caught my attention most were the large table in the center of the room and the framed signs on the wall. This room specifically exuded a violent loss of solidity, perhaps best captured in the expression ‘broken home.’ At closer glance the framed signs on the wall could easily be identified as signs of desperation, signs of homeless people in dire situations. Some of them had families to feed and no money. Others simply had no direction. The worst off were starving as they wrote. It was hard for me not to shed some tears as I read these. All I could do was imagine the real people who had written these and where they probably were now. Maybe some of them found work and food, but in all likelihood the majority of them never found home again. Too hard. The table in the center of the room, which had a jagged separation down the center, confirmed the metaphor.
While the next room didn’t captivate me nearly as much at the time, I now think I understand some of its significance. This room was dark and had couches creating a perimeter around what appeared to be a children’s show playing on a small TV. I’m not sure of what language it was in, but the subtitles in English, at one point anyway, seemed to describe a child’s perception of his or her mother’s hypocrisy. Here the mother was conforming to a stereotypical gender role (it showed her on the screen talking to a Muppetish sort of creature stereotypically dressed as a stay-at-home mother) even while the subtitles portrayed her to be a women’s rights activist. I believe the general message was that through betrayal of ideals, however small, one can often loose faith in ones role models, and this, in many senses, is also a loss of home, for the solidity of one’s family is often very much determined by the solidity of one’s trust in the ideals of the family.
The last room I visited struck me just as hard as the first. There was a large broken staircase, books and documents strew around, and a small coffee table in the center with tall seats on either side and a large book in the middle. Under closer inspection it became clear that the book was a photo album of sorts. Each page had one Polaroid picture pasted onto it of something mundane, yet eerily nostalgic. With each turn of the page I felt more and more connected to each subject and place. I can’t say why exactly, it just hit me this way. I think the beauty of this piece came from its sadness. For me there’s always something wrenching in nostalgia for memories past even if they aren’t yours, for they, like innocence and the literal walls of your house, can hardly ever be reclaimed once they are gone. This got me thinking about memory as a physical part of yourself, and how much belonging factors into fondness of the moment, and of the past when you belonged. I’m realizing more and more that the places I miss most, the many places I call home, don’t really exist anymore. They had more to do with how I belonged in the family of people than in the place, and those dynamics, those fleeting collections of social togetherness, will never truly come again.
As I walked out of the exhibit and looked at the mirror one more time, I realized that this was the entrance and exit piece of the work for a reason; in looking at my own reflection and reading the words “I will never see you AGAIN!!!” it became clear that I was loosing images of myself with every moment that passed! Or perhaps I was loosing moments of myself with every image that passed… Either way, that’s definitely not to say that I don’t have moments left to gain. In fact, I would assume that I have the majority of my moments left to gain as I have that much of my life ahead of me. When it comes down to it, we’re all loosing and gaining parts of ourselves with every moment; change is a constant. It’s just that the bigger losses, the losses of the places where we feel we belong, are never truly lost! Because of their emotional importance to us, they act as markers, monuments, and descriptors in the greater portraits of ourselves. And thusly, my many homes are my many selves.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Vernazia: La Biennale
La Biennale was not only an overwhelming amount of art, but also an overwhelming experience, in the best way possible. I really enjoyed the chance to see so much art in such a condensed amount of time, because I was able to closely compare the art from so many different countries and figure out what made the biggest impression on me.
Overall, I enjoyed the Giardini the most. I feel the art there was well rounded and offered something for everyone. I learned more about art from those delightfully packed 5 hours than probably most people learn in a lecture hall. I think the Biennale is an amazingly powerful experience in the way it effects an artist and what an artist can learn from art from around the world.
The exhibition I enjoyed the most was at the Spanish pavilion, ironically the first art I saw. The mixed media pieces, by Miquel Barcelo, stuck with me throughout the entire Biennale experience. The large size and very 3D aspects of his work drew me closer and had me studying each stroke, color, and protruding paint covered pieces of fabric. There was so much thought and care placed into each color and placement of the fabric pieces to create the wave like texture. I was captivated by the artist’s obvious talent to create such a complicated and eye catching piece. Every time I looked through his work there was something else to study and inspect more closely. His art was all done in a harmonious manner that made his art enjoyable, calming, and easy to appreciate for what it is, art.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Outside you are greeted by a sleek black car and a black building with Australia on it but the bottom of the T was a lightning bolt. It got me really excited because i was sure i would see something fast paced and action packed.
When i walked into the black building I was proven wrong. It was a compilation of videos that had been put into slow motion. Due to time restraints and readers possible boredom I will talk about the video I enjoyed the most.
There were five monitors one on top of the other, so it stood about 20 feet. Each monitor contained a different person spinning in slow motion (e.g. a guy on a bike or a girl on stilts) and each video was a different length. The videos created an elegant dance in my mind, with each video starting/stopping and being at different positions at different times. It was very beautiful.
When we as viewers walk into a gallery, we see pieces that are perfectly planned out. We hear audio that is perfectly timed out. Everything is perfect; everything is planned. Sometimes it is hard to fight the feeling of disconnect from the pieces the artists are presenting. What are their processes? What were they feeling? How do they work?
After moving from Pavilion to Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, I was exhausted. Too many videos I didn't understand. Too many pieces that seemed redundant. I left feeling somewhat uneasy with the art I saw. I thought to myself, "Is this really what I'm getting myself into?" This is not to say I didn't enjoy it. There were some artists that struck my eye. There was still a little glimpse of hope that art could still be created by the hands and not fancy computer software. (Mostly, I am just jealous of those capable of using this software).
On the way back to the hotel, we decided to stop at the Icelandic Pavilion, which was outside of the Giardini. Upon entering, I was immediately confused and uncomfortable. I had stepped into what looked like a private artist's studio. Beer bottles, blank canvases, old records, everywhere. There was a man painting a model on the couch. The doors opened up to a beautiful Venetian canal. There were numerous canvases sprawled about the room; some painted, some not. I looked around and saw that all of the paintings had been painted in that same room with that same model. I realized THAT was the art piece! The artist had recreated a studio in the Pavilion and painted everyday for everyone to see. For 6 months!
I was so refreshed. The piece wasn't about perfection---it was about the experience. The piece was about the making of a piece. It was something I, as an artist, could relate to the most. My favorite part about making art is the process and the experiences I have while creating it. I was honored to feel like I had experienced part of this man's process. It didn't feel staged (though to some respect, it was), it felt real. And it was awesome.
Overall, the Biennale was incredible. I really did thoroughly enjoy the entire experience. I am lucky to have seen such a wide variety of artists from all over the world. And what better place than Venice?
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
In the process of creating this blog, I asked the group "What do you guys think a good title would be?" The answer I received was "I dunno, something really cool." And so it was written...
For this first project we were given a very loose set of guidelines (paraphrased from lectures):
1. Use these new 3M projectors we bought
2. Somehow deal with the subject of the famous Sienese Palio
3. Make something cool!
We've got the first two down, and we've struggled with the third one a bit, but I'm thinking the end result is going to be right in line with the title of our blog.
At first we threw around some basic ideas of how we could use this medium to interact with the Sienese people and architecture. Some of our initial ideas were projecting faces onto statues, image distortion with glasses and bottles or possibly a kaleidoscope, a snaking image feedback loop, and projecting onto a flag. After some concentrated evaluation, we decided that a simple and easy, but clever way to go about it would be to create our own flag to parade around the town and project images of intense expressions, flags, and horses that we would collect from the Palio. We even thought it would be cool to sing our own version of the song that each contrada belts out as the march the streets.
Come Palio day we all ventured out into the Piazza di Campo several hours early and set ourselves up to capture the event. I focused mostly on capturing footage of peoples faces, Brian captured flags and the procession, Andrew got some nice footage of the race and images of people, Taylor took some lovely photos as well, and Emilee managed to capture some beautiful audio of the crowd and the songs of the locals.
Our only problem at this point was figuring out how we were going to piece the massive puzzle of media we had collected into a coherent and interesting project. Several of us met Sunday night as we all felt that we did not yet have a solid direction to work towards. Not only that, but we had some dissagreement within the group as to wether or not singing during the performance would offend the locals, and if so whether or not we should do it anyway. We were so uncertain at this point, in fact, that we almost tried to reinvent our project entirely. Some of the ideas we threw around were isolating images of people through desaturation and alphachannels, projecting onto a three-pane surface (Something that was experimented with during our first live performance, the one documented on the main Site Siena page), and keeping the flag stationary. Luckily, the final decision (or most final decision we've come to so far) incorporates the original idea of the flag procession.
As of now we are working on creating a patchwork of images and video of people and their expressions isolated out with blank alphachannels so as to construct our own living crowd from a variety of sources. Brian and I are working on isolating video people, while Andrew and Taylor are working on photos, and Emilee is sketching people based on these images. We intend to walk around the town carrying a flag and projecting onto it as in our first idea, and we will probably use some of the audio that Emilee collected as an audio backdrop to set the mood. I'm really excited to see how it finally all plays out!
With love and a cone of delicious lemon gelato,