Monday, August 31, 2015

Irony: situational or cosmic?

+/- 1933-1939:  Until Nazi Germany started World War II in 1939, antisemitic legislation in Germany served to "encourage" and ultimately to force a mass emigration of German Jews. The government did all it could to induce the Jews to leave Germany. In addition to making life miserable, the German authorities reduced bureaucratic hurdles so those who wanted to leave could do so more easily. source   (not that the German Jewry could take their belonging or were easily given asylum in other countries...) By September 1939, approximately 282,000 Jews had left Germany and 117,000 from annexed Austria. source

 2015: The German government had earlier forecast that 450,000 asylum seekers could arrive in 2015, but is now set to increase that to 650,000 or higher. source

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dead and Buried

Waking up to NPR's Morning Edition yesterday, I came to find out that Omar Sharif had died and was buried in an out of the way cemetery in Cairo (listen to story by clicking on link in previous sentence).  Although the only film of his I saw was Dr Zhivago (the plot of which I don’t remember, but then I rarely remember movie plots), I felt my heartstrings tightening for reasons that will become self-evident shortly.

Yesterday afternoon I logged onto the Morning Edition site in order to leave a comment and noticed that someone had left a feminist (sounding) one complaining about the reporter’s attention to the attire worn by one of the actresses attending the funeral.  I responded to the comment in defense of the reporter as I don’t think her description of the actress’ “pencil skirt” was in any way demeaning to women...  I copy hereunder the comments, mine included, on NPR’s reporting of the burial of Omar Sharif:

·         What's the journalistic point of mentioning what the Lebanese actress wore to the funeral? If an explicit point isn't made, then the only thing its inclusion does is reinforce that women are constantly being judged for what they're wearing.

I don’t think the reporter was being “anti-feminist” by reporting on the actress’ attire; she was just using it as a device to paint a picture of the cosmopolitan glamour of Cairo represented by the movies of Omar Sharif and, by extension, of Sharif himself...

...To me the story awoke personal history, or more precisely, family lore and nostalgia for a now mythical place I only know through my father’s descriptions of it. A city from a world that has not only changed historically but fundamentally, for what the person commenting on the multi-ethnic nature of Cairo at the time of Omar Sharif's rise in the cinema failed to mention is that the multi-ethnicity of “that great city” included a large population of Jews (from the 70,000 residing in Egypt before 1957). In fact, Omar Sharif lived on the same floor and next door to my Jewish Egyptian parents in the apartment building they resided in the neighborhood of Heliopolis at the time. This before my father was “questioned on a daily basis” by the Egyptian police because his first and last name coincided with the first and last name of a well-known Zionist; and this before all their goods were confiscated by the Nasser regime and they decided it was safer to emigrate. Yep, definitely a bygone era.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

a Real Somebody who feels the same way I do

The other day I was wading through the ads in... it was either this month's Artforum or this month's Art in America .... I was looking for the articles when I saw and ad for one more Louise Bourgeois show featuring a picture of one of her over-exposed tired old Spiders; and I said to myself, "I just hate this shit." 

I have never understood why the Art World has always made such a big deal of her stuff.  And I've finally accepted that maybe I just do not have my "viscera" sufficiently in tune with hers in order to get it.  I've seen a documentary about her and like her even less; but then, who am I....

While leafing through the paper magazines, I was also surfing the net to compliment my reading when I ran into an interview with Rosalind Krauss. I got angry at Krauss for saying that even as an artist comes into his/her own through repetition, she hates printmaking (the embodiment of repetition and my medium of choice); but imagine my delight when I read the sentence that follows!

I hate installation art, and my hatred energizes me in relation to the book I’m now writing on the medium. I just hate it. I think it’s pandering, like belly dancers shaking their stuff and trying to seduce the viewer. I find it utterly meretricious. I especially hate the installations of Louise Bourgeois, a not very interesting artist who has been hyped up partly because she’s an old lady. 

I feel less alone!  Though, in truth, I believe the Art World likes Bourgeois because she made penises while also being old.  I think it was her french "je ne sais quoi" in openly talking about sex while also being old that attracts the Art World.  A world of people who believe themselves to be the coolest thing since sliced bread, but who, as a whole, strike me as being totally repressed.  But again, who am I....

...and mind you, I don't necessarily mean the artists are repressed, they're just "the labor"...


As to repetition and printmaking, I understand why Krauss says what she does; but I disagree that the medium is at fault. 

The way that an artist secures the nature of his support as a medium is to continue to work at it, repeating it. The repetition is very important.....Yet, I have to say I hate the medium of printmaking.

A topic for a future blog.....  maybe.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Time travel is possible, and not in a good way...

Ted Cruz announces he is running for president.   Listening to him spout off in newscasts has already made the day seem interminable....  Time will positively come to a standstill as "more of them" join the fray.

Good god, it's gonna be a loooong 19 months...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundbreaking, I tell you!

Years ago I bought a tiny little book by James Elkins called What Happened to Art Criticism?  For some reason I never read it then, but did the other day.  It's a fun and insightful read, but more than that, it has me contextualizing everything I read in a different way. 

A lot of art writing these days seem to be just blurbs written more as advertising to get people to go see some show or artist's work than anything else. Most of it is devoid of imagination and seemingly written by people who don't even have access to a thesaurus. Today I was browsing the Contemporary Art Daily site and ran into the following piece o writing; take a gander:

Arnolfini presents the first UK solo gallery exhibition of groundbreaking Dutch artist Willem de Rooij this autumn. The show will feature a politically-charged photographic work and a new installation that explores themes of individuality and how single objects can carry multiple layers of meaning.

"Groundbreaking", seriously?  I started reading the blurb because the images of the installation did intrigue me.

Willem de Rooij at Arnolfini

And when that happens, I do read the advertising blurbs after the images on the site in hopes of getting a little more insight about the work, since Contemporary Art Daily does not bother with such incidentals as medium and size: things that would help one visualize the work in a physical universe.   Unfortunately, I rarely glean any insights from doing so.   

... "groundbreaking", really?! ...  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Best Thing About Teaching...

...Is having ex-students send you an email in the middle of the night with the subject of "Hey" and an attachment of a half selfie (of them) next to my name!  I truly love the students I had during the years I taught; they made all the educationaleeze and dealing with the bullshit power structure worth it.  

the wonderful Sara Garner

...Ah yeah, one more blog entry that ensures I'll never again get hired for a teaching job.....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Particle Cathedrals

In a world that is coming to an end (though it might not be, but certainly feels that way; and in fact, upon close examination, and depending on one’s definition of “world”, many worlds are indeed coming to their ends) my husband (the Ranting Economist who no longer rants, since what’s the point) and I watched a new NOVA episode yesterday on the CERN Large Hadron Collider; or what I learned everyone calls the LHC (hmmm).  We watched as the program described the experimental data and teams that “confirmed” the existence of the Higgs Boson. 

We then we watched the LHC close down for improvements that will eventually allow protons to be accelerated to four times the speed used to tease out the Higgs from the particle soup that emerges momentarily when protons are collided at the speeds possible when the event was filmed (in 2012).  The "new and improved” collider will reopen in 2015 (this year); and apparently “we” will now be looking for particles that might prove something called Supersymmetry, which might explain (or illuminate if you will) the invisible “dark matter” (tuhn tuhn tuhn!) in the visible universe; which to this artist made sense only when I thought of it as some kind of parallel universe we can’t see, but hey, I’m just an artist, and these days most everything sounds like some kind of parallel universe I can’t see....   

Anyway, it was interesting to see how NOVA used cute little graphics to take us through a process we could not see and most mortals do not understand.  And it was nice to see a bunch of physicists get really excited; and to empathize with Higgs, as tears came to his eyes when the existence of a particle proving his theory of a mass field necessary for the formation of the universe was announced at CERN, where, ironically, his first paper about all this was rejected.   Irony I understand.

At the end of the show, when the LHC was being closed down for improvements, The Ranting Economist mused, “That’s it (?)  They spend all that money, find the Higgs and now they shut down....”   The Ranting Economist feeling deflated after a program about physics was surprising to me, since at heart he is a physicist (and a photographer and a guitar player).  His comment prompted me to do a cursory search on the cost of the LHC and I found out that it cost 13.5 billion dollars (or $13.500,000,000) to “find the Higgs” (though if Higgs is correct, and current experiments seem to confirm that he is, the Higgs was always here “in plain sight” in the form of the visible universe...).

Well, in the Middle Ages we built cathedrals; now we build particle accelerators.   People just seem to have to believe in something....