Saturday, July 26, 2008
Have you ever witnessed something so beautiful it makes you angry? Something that makes you angry because it blows your entire scale, because it makes your delicate struggles for harmony ridiculous, petty, insignificant? This beauty that should elevate you, that should lift you up and carry you through the night, the beauty that is the inspiration and the core, is its exact opposite: smashing, unbearable, hard and cruel. It is a sunset that is just too magical, stars that shine too bright, or an event that seemed like the best of all performances. But what I mean is not perfection, it is beauty. It is not unnerving because it doesn't allow you to access it, like the perfection of the stone. It is unnerving because it takes away your ability to judge it, or what's worse, it's a type of beauty that takes away your ability to include it into your appreciation of beauty. It makes it silly to think of art, to create, to go to galleries and museums, to scan art blogs and dwelve into poetry. It leaves you lonely, ridiculously hanging on to an outdated scale or desperately trying to adapt it to something that corresponds more to what Kant calls the sublime - although the problem is, it is not sublime, it is exactly what beauty could have been, had you not already developed a different scale altogether.
I'm lucky: I forget. The taste fades quite quickly from my mouth, the text evaporates from my head, and so does the view of the sea after the storm. It all starts again for me, and what is left is like a bookmark, a sign that says "this was good" and maybe, maybe manages to reproduce some sort of a sensation of a sensation I had when it happened.
And then, sometimes, if one focuses on this memory, the memory starts growing a new head, one that is nothing like the previous one. One that does not compete in these subjective beauty contests, one that is at once much more raw and more constructed, that uses your imagination but somehow fits it together with whatever surrounds you, adapting the memory into an idea, transforming it into this weird creature that still has the body of a horse, but instead of the head has grown a thick, black cloud. Of balloons.
Thank you Andrea Galvani.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
While I'm at it, I must also admit that the moment of becoming a little less ignorant, this moment of moving from a state of nothingness to the sudden illumination by something of this caliber is something delightful.
Last Supper (2003)
Porcelain Carpet (2002)
from the Hygiene series (1995)
from the Hygiene series (1995)
from the Eroticism series (2005)
from the Scatology series (1993)
It does not necessarily make sense. It does not necessarily say something, as in, a thing, as in, a message. It prefers to wink at us, like someone sitting in a waiting room winks at us, right after we finally managed to get our eyes of a gorgeous neighbor. Is that the "I know how you feel" wink? Or is it showing you he knows something both of you know he shouldn't and yet both of you know he certainly does? Is this something you share? A common interest? A common feeling of guilt? A feeling of risk, maybe? This winking, the one I feel when seeing Cecuła's works (not touching them, unfortunately, although that seems a perverse desire), is one of recognition, but also one of daring sensitivity, if not always sensuality. Touching is key? No, come to think of it, the not-touching, here, is what drives the senses right to the matter.
More on Marek Cecuła at his site.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Once again, Peter Fuss (remember his "For the Laugh of God"?) manages to poke the finger in the right spot.
His most recent work, exhibited at the Out Of Sth exhibition in Wrocław (Poland) (which also has blu's animation on display) plays on our sense of reality.
What I like most about this work is something I didn't notice at first. The first reading, to me, was simple: knowing the fate of the liberal Americans who came to positions of power, it is difficult not to think of the risk Obama is facing. This also might be seen as a cool and lucid way of looking at politics. Can any ideal manage to survive? Isn't Obama, the Obama we know as fighting for "change", somewhat dead, already? Who killed him?
But what I really like about this work is not this seemingly political message. It is the way it portraits us and our own patterns of looking at reality.
The problem is not that Obama may get killed. The problem is our thinking of it as a fact. It is not Fuss's work that is cynical. We are.
Seeing the work on a billboard makes it even more obvious: we take it for granted that things are the way they are, and even if they aren't, too bad for the facts. The billboard is there, so Obama is dead. Who killed him? Guess who.
update/ps: A couple of months ago an Israeli designer created a shirt with a similar text. I think the differences between the two projects prove my point. Having/seeing this on a T-shirt and seeing it on a billboard are two completely different experiences. (Not to mention the completely different level of design). And that's what sets apart a good artpiece from a, well, another one. (Also notice the context - one is set in NY, the other- in Wrocław). Suffice it to say that already a few days after the opening of the exhibition two French tourists entered the gallery (you can see the entrance to the right on the second picture) saying they haven't had the chance to follow the news and they were quite terrified. Now, just to add another level of artsy-fartsy commenting, the person attending them answered they weren't to worry because it was "just an art installation". Ouch, now that's not what I would call effective art guidance. Or what she being ironic?