Sunday, August 23, 2009


How do artists make a living?
Besides the selected few who actually make a living from their work, how can an artist afford to be an artist?
The bottom line is: should art pay for itself? Should it be efficient in an economic sense?
Most practicing artists either have money from their day jobs, or from their families.
The funny thing is: the first group seem heroic, and the second - fakes.
Why? Why is there so much resentment towards people who decide to spend the money they have on doing something they love?
Is it because we, as the public, feel betrayed, as if they stopped playing the game with their audience? After all, if they don't care about (our, or government - which comes out to the same) money, aren't we left aside?
(What's wrong with being left aside? Hm. Of course, this modernist idea can come in handy. But I've been writing about it elsewhere.)
Come think of it - would we feel it wrong for a rich person to buy an expensive car? A big house? So why do we want him to feel guilty for spending the money into something we might actually appreciate? It turns art into a hobby, you say? So what?

Below, completely unrelated (at least not that I know), is the work of Paulo Ventura.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Transparent games continued

Now that there is no essence, we ask: how is it to see through you? What sort of filter are you?
Now that there is no common subject, no us, we say: what is this sum of subject and object?
Now that the body is not enough, and that it stops us as ridiculously as ever, we say: what is so common about this object? What is it about it that is so transparent, and what does this absence, this oppressive absence, taste like when accepted?

The paintings are by Johan Schaefer, the photos - Khristian Mendoza.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

After the Party

The duporet bujany (translating as something like "ass-rocker") was found at poor design. Poor is the author of several clever designs, the most known being the "peg" pendrive. The design is funny, unfortunately as the owner of one such peg I am less enthusiastic about its practicality.
I prefer when he creates poor objects in all honesty - like this "uncovering lamp".
Plexiglas object which gives no light but at least it does not shut off light either. Additionally, it can serve as a stand for a classical lamp with a clamp changing it in a traditional bedside lamp.

Or take this spike:
Perfect for hangovers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Keeping up the party spirit

  • the paintings are by Jeff Soto.
  • the chair for partying till you drop is by Sebastian Brajkovic.
  • and the look-what-I-found-upon-returning-to-the-hotel-room photo was taken by the great Cormac Hanley (an interview with him is here, although I must add that his admiration for Michael Mann goes strongly against my conclusions after seeing his last film)


You know I don't usually do this. But this party - Like the Virgins, at Chłodna25 - was a work of art in its own right.
Imagine a Madonna-tribute event gone haywire. Gone insane. Gone absolutely wild, illogical, ending up deep into the night somewhere between Abba, death metal and improvised Polish hip-hop. With a stage that is only a stage as far as you want it to be one, with musicians changing all the time, most singers not knowing most of the lyrics, but making it somehow seem perfectly logical, and blasting our way into the night. Imagine a stage progressively invaded by members of the audience, imagine not being sure if you're still part of the audience, or the fact that you're singing your guts out with one foot on the stage and one of the several microphones extended towards you every once in a while make you part of the band already. Oh, that's right: we're all part of the band. And surprizingly enough (not so much if you realize how amazing were the musicians involved), it was the best thing that could ever have happened to the concept of tributes.
The pics were stolen from here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Public Art, just not for the public

From Chicago's pride, the Millenium Park, comes a cruel, yet fascinating, story of public art gone wrong.
BOTH of the public sculptures it opened recently, one by the Van Berkel atelier, and the other by Zaha Hadid, got damaged by the all-too-loving public.
Looks quite nice from above, doesn't it? If you go to ground level, it's even more inspiring. Here's a look at Hadid's work:

The entire structure, made of aluminum, is covered with cloth. Now let's take a look inside this spaceship.

Get the picture?
Not so difficult to imagine people stepping on the cloth.
One of the key statements of the manifesto of a group of artists presenting the exhibition Unusually Rare Events is that the artist does not need to think about the spectator when creating the work. Agreed. However, when creating a public work of art (mind you, to some extent any work of art is public), he might want to consider that his work will possibly not only be appreciated like this:

but also like this:

And those, of course, are the "nice" visitors.
The question arises: should we stay with "public-proof" solutions? Hire teams of guards to keep the aura going? Or maybe consider every mark and hole as part of the (pardon the pun) holistic concept of the work of art?

Now I wonder how these marvellously designed shoes by Zaha Hadid feel:
Not to mention the London Aquatics Centre, to be one of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Funnily enough

Life is Everywhere (2004)

En Epoch of Clemency (2007?)

Hedgehog in a Fog (2004)

Talent Can't Be Boozed Away (2004)

From Sindbad and International Terrorism (10 Heroic Deeds) (2006)

From Sindbad and International Terrorism (10 Heroic Deeds) (2006)

From Fucking Fascism (1998)

All works by the Russian collective Blue Noses (most known for the 2007 scandal one of their works provoked).

(Thanks Liz!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sensing discourse

"- What is the role of the artist?
- To not get tired of running all his life."

The Critical Run initiative, by Thierry Geoffroy, at first glance, appears exciting. Lighthearted and simple, yet livening. Take a group of people and make them discuss serious issues - while jogging.
Let's run and talk. Let's have fun and share. Let's move. See what happens - to us, to the surroundings, to the topic.
It reminds me of some of the Lone Twin works, and of other, more discursive, initatives.
But then you see the videos.

- and you realize why this is a copyrighted format. Actually, it's not about the conversation at all. It's about the hilarious situation of displacing discourse into a territory that is not its own. It's about creating a mess with a mass. And hoping (?) for a miracle of super-discourse through a discourse-smashing environment. As we all know from films, the most profound ideas arise on boxing rings.
But wait! It gets better!

Oh, Canada!
Think! Exchange! Travel far! As long as you can fit it on a headband...

But let's be honest. Discourse is a problem for the work of art, if it stays within the aesthetic experience. It either gets chewn up by the experience or we move out (last movement?) of the aesthetic experience and into the realm of plays-on-ideas. Which is also a tough blow.
Then we have to face the perspective of functioning as anyone else who thinks. And running with them. And quite possibly getting completely lost, syncopated, out-of-breathed, shafted, as my teenage years would put it (notice the momentum of the word). No wonder one can feel the need to go back and, well, try to, well, do, well, something about the loss. Someone like John Baldessari*, witty enough to both play the artsy world and keep his eyes on the ball:

And, to get a fuller picture, how else, a remix of the remix:

Is the relief you feel when being able to read accompanied by a feeling of the loss of Baldessari's purity? Could it be there is not enough movement? But then again, isn't it nice to feel that a words translates into a thought?
One of the videos of the Critical Runs is entitled "Does the artist has any impact on society?" (sic!)
There is one comment underneath: "Not in bad English you don't. Does anyone have..."

* For a succint intro to John Baldessari, see the stylishly designed FLYP magazine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


There comes a time when sophistication just won't do it.

Photo by Grzegorz Klatka, found here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wooster Group's Hamlet (aftermath)

This is not a review. And it will probably remain incomprehensible if you don't at least read what the Wooster Group show is about. So you might want to start off with a positive review and/or a negative one.
(And, possibly, move to an insight into how they prepared it. And an insightful interview about the group. And an interview with Kate Valk.)

I had been waiting to see this for a long time. This is the group I always talk about during workshops and I have never seen act live. This particular show, well, could be an experimentum crucis of my (wavering) faith in theater as a live form of live art. I leave you with
my transcribed raw notes from the show, and below, a couple of ideas.

Theater as reproduction
- of what?
of our reality
=> cinema (is our reality)

other way: reality reproduces art
body is our basic reality

body as choreography

BUT it's first and foremost a SHOW

spaces of absence

The dance of the impotent body

to perform = to enact



conventionality of movement

performance as video art or rather as
echo of image
=> afterimage


The action lies between the acts


Playing on the players like on instruments
The players accompany a great
Is that bad?

"They killed theater" (audience member, calmly)
(So many deaths of theater before)
Good Heavens,
if that be so,
if this is the thing,
I humbly thank you.

Musical work - when works.

Women (Cate Valk, really) have more problems with show formula- because of
more emotional roles?

2nd part much better - uses the new convention.
(but also ends up more conventional)
Hamlet - actor - manipulates the actors - logical gesture.
search for an
aesthetic experience
(e.g. songs)

Warping time/space

But then it becomes simply multimedia entertainment.

+ + +

A man crosses the stage, says Peter Brook, and you have theater.
Pathos. That's what you get when a man crosses the stage. Anthropocentrism. The idea that it's all about us, really. The sin of vanity in all its splendor.

Who are we, really (on stage)?
How do we conduct our paths (on stage)?
What can we see if we introduce breaks into the surface of our behavior (on stage)?

The body becomes heavy.
It becomes an accessory. An object more than a tool. An instrument that cannot be played in a clean way is more of itself. It is less melody, and more instrument.
This body that struggles to fit into the image that will always outsmart it.

Their "on/off" stage presence (in the middle of a scene: "Let's skip this dialogue") is not shocking, it is part of the language of contemporary performance. It is part of our thinking, feeling of the frame/work of art as ambiguously present, intermittently present. Nice: it's when it turns us on, not the other way around. Hence the decadent flirt, hence the false opening, hence the play outside of a play outside of a play.


What do you want out of this? Out of this experience? What do you want out of a play?

Try this: Say: This is silly. Say: Theater is the essence of the misconception that it is all about the human. It is the place of the old-fashioned, stubborn faith in 1) the communion of the believers, and 2) the hierarchy of presentation. It is a stage which seems so enchanted with the universal human condition, it forgets the subtle yet profound changes of the aesthetic, the sensible, the eye of the beholder. It is a place whose very existence in these times is so out of joint, it is funny.

But what if we accepted this as part of the game? What if we played this game, using this as a platform to inquire into what conditions we are in, as the humans that have no choice but to, at one point or another, remain anthropocentric? What if we surrendered to the collision of times, this our present time of, say, having to read this text one line at a time, and the time of too many lines behind, and the time of too many lines besides, after, above? What sort of figures are we once we let go of our need for the unique now? Entirely?

Sensation> This our too too solid flesh is extremely flexible. And it goes along with the lines of tension, it follows the cracks and bounces off whatever is left as the aftermath.
Abstract? No, this is not abstract. It means: somehow, miraculously, we deal with change, since we live through it. And yet, we do not melt, we do not resolve ourselves into a dew. If we manage to tune in - we dance. Every step, stumble, vibration becomes a choreography of ourselves.

Sensation> We are not enough. The body fights to correspond to the twitches of the images, yet it lags behind. The eyes go back to the screen. We have no way of knowing how correct we are, yet the need of knowledge unveils our total, complete inadequacy. We are but thinking puppets, we are but repeating Plato, we are but warming up the stage for the image that comes behind. Whatever surrounds us is more powerful, and yet -

Sensation> The eye of the beholder might make a difference. The beholder as object, the beholder as a weaker alter ego. The beholder as the one who submits to the role of a prop, and whose tragedy, a subject realizing he is an object, becomes the juiciest work, the perfect crack in the façade of the perfect spectacle.

Oh, and don't pay attention to the ending. Don't pay attention to the illusion that the slave has become the master, that the technology is, after all, a tool, that we can use the past, control the present, cope with the future, that things are what we want them to be. Don't fall in the trap of theater, which numbs us into believing it's okay, images end, we are here, devising our entries and winning our exits.
There is a stage behind that one. But on it - well, take a peak.


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