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Feral Fieldnotes

Feral Fieldnotes

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Featured, fieldnotes |

This was the month of reading The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit. I have read a few of her books, and always start them with enthusiasm (I’m interested in the same stuff she is!) and gradually feel distracted and deflated. I figured out what it was this time, pointed to by a line in the book: “Like a lot of visual artists, she mostly plunged into the difficult books through which you hack your way slowly.” That line describes my taste in books, but I had always attributed it to my mild dyslexia (if it’s going to take me months to get through a book I want it to be worth the time). Solnit’s connection feels right, though. I read for texture and flavor and bits of ideas far more than for plot or characters, and I enjoy feeling lost in a sea of words that are inviting me to connect into a whole. And that way of absorbing art makes more sense for encountering and absorbing visual art more often than it does reading a book. Solnit’s books are documents of her thought process going through the world, reading meaning into things she finds along the way, and making connections. For me, the joy of reading a book is making those links, so reading her books feels a bit like opening the in-flight magazine to find the crossword already filled in. I can learn from the insights, but the fun and work of discovering them has already been done. As I was finishing the book this morning, I closed it to find the white cover set off by a fan of pink sticky notes marking bits of text that crystalized a thought. Her words are always lovely, and the time she spends with these ideas leads to a clarity that I rarely achieve in my own muddled ideas. One of those stickies marked this passage: Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone. Or rather writing is saying to the no one who may eventually be the reader those things one has on someone to whom to...

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On Politics and the Personal

On Politics and the Personal

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Featured, fieldnotes |

I’ve started reading art books. I have a nice (smallish but growing rapidly) library of art books which I use for inspiration and reference when I’m working on projects. I flip through the pages, scanning the images, looking for something that catches my imagination with a connection to my aims for a project. But now I’ve started reading them too. And by reading I mean actually paying attention to the words on the page and not just the pretty pretty pictures in these beautiful books. It turns out there’s lots of great stuff buried in those words. Showing how an artist developed, putting little weird/random illustrations/photographs in context, explaining how pieces came to be. Below are a couple of books that I’ve spent time with this month, with the text that got pinned with a pink sticky note. William Kentridge Five Themes Andrew was writing about political art recently on twitter asking whether it was possible to create (I believe he said) “quiet” political art. This struck a chord: p.64 Kentridge’s work in inherently political, for it intimately reflects the conditions of his locale: Johannesburg, the South African state, and Africa in general. The son of a politically minded family, Kentridge was raised on the political ideals of earlier utopian societies. Yet, though his work engages with that of past artists who were deeply involved with political themes, he has moved beyond what is traditionally considered political art. His is an art that does not seek to present (or re-present) tragedies or express outrage, as was the case with Picasso’s Guernica (1937). Rather, he introduces he perspective of the perceiver-ego. In effect, he is said that the macrocosm offers only unspeakable horror, whereas the microcosm—the individual—offers possibilities for art. and this: p.115 “This ‘responsible’ attempt to keep certainty at bay implies a negative dialectic, and also a suspicion of the possibility of a direct, positive communication of meaning. For the philosopher Theodor Adorno, that which is immediately (and unmediatedly) understandable is essentially false, and the truth of artworks lies in their ability to avoid it: ‘The truth of discursive knowledge is enshrouded, and thus discursive knowledge does not have...

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Feral Fieldnotes

Feral Fieldnotes

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014 in Featured, fieldnotes |

Feral Fieldnotes is a new series on FRC, a bid to document our ideas in progress and highlight work worth seeing. For these posts, each of your editors will take turns rounding up their recent thoughts in light of work they’ve recently encountered. Check back periodically for more! —– “The People I loved were celebrities, surrounded by rumor and fanfare; the places I sat with them, movie lots and monuments. No doubt, all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.” – Michael Chabon, Mysteries of Pittsburgh We expect many things of our creatives and our celebrities, to push the envelope, to show us the possibilities and ultimately to crash spectacularly. This is more complicated than mere schadenfreude, it is a ritual of reenforcement and demarkation: an establishment of what is “normal” and what is “extra normal” with the emphasis on consequence so that while some of us are allowed to fly, it is only for so high and so long. When something awful happens the narrative searches for a reason, for hints of transgression so that the crash can be deserved. Celebrities and “creatives” are the anointed canaries: the court jesters that act out cultural fantasies so we can observe and record the results. This exercise presumes a standard narrative which, as artists and agents of the feral, we look to disassemble, a work which is increasingly necessary as the internet provides us with our own moments of fame both welcome and unwelcome. We are looking for new rules, new ethics and I think ultimately seeking something old: kindness and empathy. This work is deeply necessary but rarely welcomed, thus as Dave Hickey writes on Mapplethorpe in The Invisible Dragon, the best and worst thing he ever did was make transgressive queer sex beautiful. It’s worth considering as we mourn the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose personal life was, unsurprisingly, as complexed and nuanced as the roles he filled in life and the characters he portrayed on stage and screen. If in someone’s public death you can say there is a goodness,...

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