Friday, July 5, 2013

Janfamily: Plans for Other Days

I wish I had discovered this book on the London based art collective, the Janfamily, years ago. It's part how-to and part instruction manual. Words often used to describe their activities: "they create alternatives to everyday routines." It's humorous and ingenious. It's Miranda July meets Fischli and Weiss. It's flat out awesome. Thanks interlibrary loan. Wish I had the $$ to buy my own copy.

From the introduction: "We are Janfamily. Each of us and all of us are called Jan. We are related but come from different places. We speak in individual voices, together, we speak up. This is how much we know. What we are made of and what makes us. We are making sense. Sit down where it feels comfortable. Sit down where it doesn’t feel comfortable. Do the book.”

Who could resist a book with four place markers (AKA cat toys) with the names of the chapters sewn onto the ribbon?

The back cover and all my post-its marking nearly every page that I found worthy enough to show future students in my Conceptual Art class or with a Performance and Its Relationship to Photography assignment.

Chosil Jan Kil, How not to do what you did yesterday

Oona Jan Culley & Nina Jan Beier, How to be in two places at the same time

Marie Jan Lund, How to build a fortress (December, Pemba)

Ingrid Jan Hora, How to give your full attention

In addition to photographs, text plays a central part in the publication. It may have a direct relationship to the image underneath or it might not as in the case above. I firmly believe that artists can create a humorous photograph by doing something unusual with their head (case in point seen here and below). The text that accompanies Ingrid Jan Hora's photograph reads: "Sometimes I like to lean on the wall of my flat. I like to listen to the sound of the pipes: it's very calming. Even better if I hear voices. But sometimes I think I just imagine them, because I really want to hear something."

Marie Jan Lund & Nina Jan Beier, How to grow together (January, London)
"We are trying to find out which grows faster, hair or trees." 

Daniel Jan Mair & Nina Jan Beier, How to hold hands in the dark

Marie Jan Lund & Nina Jan Beier, How to make an instant shelter

Nina Jan Beier, How to make two minuses into a plus

Oona Jan Culley, How to make your mark (April 2002, Reading)
"I wanted a way to remember the room where I used to work, before I moved away to London." 

Daniel Jan Mair, How to push it just far enough

Makin Jan Ma & Maria Jan Lund, How to soften a challenge

Marie Jan Lund, How to stop time (February, London)
"Several months later, spring was in the air and I went for a walk. A few of the leaves and bits of tape were still hanging on the tree."

Despite the fact that it was published in 2005, the text and photography are surprisingly relevant today. The Janfamily serves as inspiration for reevaluating daily life and the simple gesture as an art form.

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