Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Song Is You

It might seem innocent.
Yes, this is innocence. It is the purity of what happens when the postmodernisms and the camps and the sooavantgardes have made their statements and played their anti-tunes, and yet, we are still there, trying to listen in to that something special.

Call us romantic. Call us Those Who Couldn't Stand The Progress And Stepped Back.Retrograded, taking the easy way out, exploring the (music's, world's, history's) feedback.

Yet feedback is not the sound that comes back to its source. It is not the echo. It is the echo used as an input.
Thus, what you call feedback is the mere beginning, the source material of the process of creation. As the world comes back crumbling to the imperfection of our ever-childish senses, our feeble gestures, breaking through our inherited self-irony, make things possible. Better, they give us back the light.

Too light? Too naive?
Would you prefer this?

The Gospel was right: The meek shall inherit the Earth. Actually, they've inherited it already. Along with the self-irony, they took what was most precious, and what many deemed lost - the damn aura. Yes, the damn aura still shining and glowing through all the mechanical reproductions. We still want their bloody flesh, we still want to know this is where it's at, right here, between the stage and you, between the song and you.

x x x
All this crossed my mind when watching the brilliant The Song Is You festival at Powiększenie in Warsaw recently.
The song that stayed with me the most was simple.
Here it is:

Do you get it? Beyond the gorgeous lyrics, can you feel how it was, listening to it in the club basement, with the grand piano behind Momus, the lights, the weekend dying away? Or can you imagine it? How different is the song you hear from mine?
More on the festival here. Don't miss tonight (12.03), the last part of the festival, with Kyst and AU.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Past Present

Take a look at the pictures by Roger Cremers. The series, which won an award at the 2009 World Press Photo, is called Preserving Memory: Visitors at the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, 30 April-4 May.

No, I will not be writing about how the ever-present cameras turn us into monsters. Or about consumerism versus culture.
What interests me here, to start with, is how we position ourselves in relation to the past.
What is given to us is not merely a luggage - a heritage that is like an object. It is an ever-eroding landscape. And each person has her own map she may or may not use to rebuild it, or rather, to build herself into it.
Watch these bodies. These figures. Watch how they open a dialogue they are not aware of. Watch how they become, that's it, a sign.
Maybe the most dramatic is the last one, the young man lying on the ground, his hands close to his face. Forget his camera. Now, what do you see?
Or maybe the most dramatic is the first, black figure, that is watching birds through binoculars, or a plane, or he could almost be shouting a friendly greeting to someone standing on the roof... were it not the seemingly anonymous bricks behind him. Were it not our maps. And now, with your map, what do you see? Who is hitting him? Shooting?
Or rather, what is he, what are they protecting themselves against?

What makes a sign a sign?
When does it signify, lead to the signified? How does the arrow gain its shape? How is it born?
How much of these vectors is rooted in us so deeply, we spell it out with every word, unknowingly?

Take this much less spectacular project by William Boling, called Never Gone. Boling took photographs of the places in Atlanta where the Battle of Atlanta occurred in July 1864.

So what makes a sign a sign?
When does it signify, lead to the signified? How does the arrow gain its shape? How is it born?
How much of these vectors is rooted in us so deeply, we spell it out with every word, unknowingly?

How To Win An Art Contest In One Easy Step

Make one.
Tom Polo created the 2009 B.E.S.T. Contemporary Art Prize for Painting contest. The criteria were typical of the art contests we know. Except for one small point, which stated:
eligible entrants are artists born on the 1st February, 1985 and named as 'Tommaso Polo' on their birth certificates.
The exhibition of the finalists (guess who?) is taking place at the MOP gallery in Sydney.
The winning work, by - you guessed it - Tom Polo, is called Continuous One Liners (Young People Today).Possibly many of my dear readers are thinking, we've had similar ideas, but they were too childish to execute. Maybe the most seductive part of tricksters is that by putting to life the silliness we only imagine (or think we imagined), they at once make it more serious and much more ridiculous.
You can find an interview with the artist at The Art Life.
Why B.E.S.T.? Because Everybody Still Tries.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Anonymous. 3 works by Armin Rohr

I can't get these pictures out of my head.
Especially the last one is mesmerizing. Is it peaceful? Mysterious? Haunting? Creepy? Brutal?
The mass in the first two paintings that makes up a threatening, or at least disquieting block, is here replaced by three distinct figures. The space is neither claustrophobic, as in the first one, nor agoraphobic, as could be claimed about the second (notice the ceiling moving up above the horizontal line that "closes" the picture). In the third picture, the space is abstract. It is the water we often feel is the closest to the sky. So what's the matter? Maybe it's the skyish space combined with the strokes, the juicy, dripping pinks that get feverish in the center? Maybe it's the unfaceness of these faces? The ghost should be ephemeral, translucid. Yet here, the ghosts are opaque. They are thick with body. And moving in.

All works are by Armin Rohr, found on his blog.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

If You Want To Cry

...cry to this.

My Mother, My Son by Mary Frey

And another one, less obvious, but no less gorgeous - Bathroom Landscape:

Every once in a while the question comes back lurking: are there things that are not to be shown? Or rather: not to be worked at? Do you imagine this - a woman standing in the room with a camera, waiting for the right moment so she can take a picture of her son carrying her mother? Hold her up just a bit honey... Just a little more...
And yet, this is one of the most touching pictures I have seen in quite a while.



From the crazy guys at Koerner Union comes the most original dog portrait of 2008:

...and the most unappealing digital album of 2007 - Ready Made. Which is also an accomplishment of sorts.


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