Thursday, May 30, 2013

One of My Oldest Lists: Places to Visit

I have a woven box inherited a couple decades ago that holds money from different countries I have visited. I do not open it too often as I am not in the habit of traveling overseas regularly (malheureusement). Last week, upon depositing some korunas, forints, and zlotys, I was reacquainted with one of my oldest lists.

My friend, Anabel Lopez, and I made this while sitting in a park in Galicia, Spain in August 1995. Some of the entries were hers and some were mine. Remarkably we shared many of the same desires in places where we wanted to travel. The following year, I managed to visit Europe again and marked off some of the countries. I have never felt compelled to check them off after that (and part of me wished I had not started).

I studied this list for awhile, noting how the ink faded, wondering if I had accomplished much in the last 18 years of travel. Interestingly, I lived in some of the places and indirectly created a series, From Venice Beach to the Venice Bienale, from a couple of the entries.

Of course, I had to update the list - the new one is far more descriptive and rather than shrinking, it has grown. Perhaps I will give myself permission to cross the countries off or scrawl new ones underneath. Now the old one exists as a record in a box of old change. I will probably hang onto it until it's illegible, contemplate photographing it, then finally admit that it is yet another object marking the passage of time (and place and the endless search for something, somewhere else).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bobby Doherty: Studio Photography

Last March I encountered Bobby Doherty's photographs via the Jealous Curator. As I am always thinking of new ways to incorporate the studio into my practice (specifically within the series Autobiography), these are inspirational with their use of color, repetition, and activating a blank background where it comments on the object in the foreground.

All images are from Bobby's tumblr account which is remarkable in its breadth and subject matter.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Haven't Expressed Studio Envy in Awhile

TateShots: Ed Ruscha 

Text is "almost like elevator music."

"Mountain tops suggest glory or beauty... they almost ..have their own orchestration." They reference something that is "not making any noise at all."

A couple highlights in a short documentary film full of quotes I could repeat here (but instead, press PLAY).

The Circle is Completed: Chris Toalson Responds to My Postcard Prompts

In January 2012, I completed Chris Toalson's prompts from a Postcard Collective entry he sent in November 2011.

The results were published here.  I replied with the following which Chris printed on note cards to carry around in his wallet for several months.

During the Society for Photographic Education conference in Chicago, Chris gave me this book which was not only a huge surprise but one of the greatest artist's books anyone has ever given me. What follows are three of my favorite pages or answers to the questions above.

When I receive postcards that ask me to do something, I am compelled to follow through. Sometimes it takes a very long time (still working on the mini wallpaper from Jeremy Jams) but eventually it happens. Chris' response was the most gratifying experience in solicited collaboration.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sophie Calle's "Address Book"

From Sophie Calle's introduction:

"Paris, End of June 1983
I found an address book on the Rue des Martyrs.
I decided to photocopy the contents before sending it back anonymously to its owner, whose address is inscribed on the endpaper. I will contact the people whose names are noted down. I will tell them, 'I found an address book on the street by chance. Your number was in it. I'd like to meet you.' I'll ask them to tell me about the owner of the address book, whose name I'll only reveal in person, if they agree to meet me.
Thus, I will get to know this man through his friends and acquaintances. I will try to discover who he is without ever meeting him, and I will try to produce a portrait of him over an undetermined length of time that will depend on the willingness of his friends to talk about him - and on the turns taken by the events...."

The subject (Pierre D.) recently died, enabling Sophie Calle to publish The Address Book. I talk about this work frequently in my classes and as an inspiration for the ongoing "artist stalking" series so it was a must own book for my collection.

Immediately noticeable is the form - it refers to the original address book in terms of scale, the black cord that holds the pages together and the color. In the first entry, Calle lists the facts (of course this would appeal to my organizational nature and the desire to know how things are represented numerically):

The book addresses Calle's "fear of the first contact" and how she selected who to approach. Given the year this action took place (1983 = long before the Internet invaded everyone's privacy), many of the people are more than happy to talk to Calle about Pierre D. There are some who flat out refuse (thankfully Pierre does have some friends within all those contacts).

What is so interesting is how obsolete a physical address book is these days. It is much easier to find out information about someone than it was in the early 1980s and an action like this most likely would not take place in this manner today.

My favorite part of the book (which I was not aware of before reading the publication) is that Calle visits his domicile. Calle's learned through his contacts that Pierre was working out of town for a few weeks in the Lapland and she seized the opportunity to learn where he lived.

"Here is the main door, the entryway to the building. There is no concierge, just a panel with the names of the tenants. Next to 'Pierre D. Building A. 5th floor, Right,' there is another name: 'V." and no first name. I enter the courtyard. Building A is on the left. It has a narrow stairway. The paint is peeling off, the ceiling crumbling.... On his door, Pierre has thumb-tacked an honor roll with his name on it. There is a white doorbell button. What if he has postponed or cancelled his departure? His neighbor on the same floor opens his door a crack and peers at me."

Like so many of her projects, as soon as Calle is done with the series, her interest wanes and she moves on to something else.

In terms of the "Artist Stalking" series, I thought it was far more humorous to only have photographs of male artists' homes. I would only add one woman if I found out her address and that is Sophie Calle. Wonder of all wonders, I learned about a month ago where Sophie lives. Perhaps my next trip to Europe will feature a photograph of her house.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Claes Oldenburg's "Mouse Museum"

I hope someday to see this Oldenburg installation and am truly sad I missed it at MOMA in March. Here is a review of the show by Valery Oisteanu from The Brooklyn Rail.

Some photographs from the vast collection of jpegs used for school acquired once upon a time from a source long ago.

Ending with my favorite section - the fake desserts.

More from the NYC Field Trip (Belated April Post)

JR's attempt at street art in Chelsea.

Matthew Benedict, Silent Still Life, 2002-2012 at Alexander Bonin Gallery, NYC

Thomas Ruff's glorious new work at David Zwirner Gallery (photograms and ma.r.s.)

The ma.r.s. photographs required 3-D glasses for viewing. Hannah and I happened to see Thomas Ruff in David Zwirner's office and were star struck the rest of the day.

Hannah sniffing Virginia Overton's installation at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery

Later we learned that this fantastic building in Chelsea might be the new Whitney Museum. I will find out next time!

Installing Claes Oldenberg's Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Annex at MOMA. Oh how I wish I could have seen this! This Oldenberg classic is a big inspiration for the wunderkammer.

Individual articles from the Mouse Museum before installation (clearly this arrived from Germany).

Photographing blue dresses at the Met #1 (Ingres).

Photographing blue dresses at the Met #2.

Photographing a red tapestry at the Met in the manner of the blue dress above.

JR with Ed Ruscha Books and Co. sign at Gagosian Gallery (image courtesy of Nicole Pancini).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cat Scrapbook In Progress

In April, I tried to complete the cat scrapbook before attending the Photolucida portfolio reviews. Assembling 3770 cats was a task greater than the time I had allotted and I only finished 1/3 after many 2-3 AM nights up late gluing. My goal is to finish it before the end of June.

The paper for the cover arrived yesterday. I noticed that my version of Arline Conradt's cat scrapbook will have far less pages. Why? I tend to go for quantity of cats rather than including many pages with 1-2 big cats.

However, this did not apply when my brother and sister-in-law gave me a belated joke Christmas present while I was in Oregon: a cat book larger than my suitcase. I spent two days cutting it up, cropping the bigger images to the size of my 13x19" portfolio. Part of me wished I purposefully left all the cat cut-outs in the box when I met with the reviewers just to see their faces.

Looking at how other people have referenced the scale of Alice Buckman's Cats on Amazon is amusing.

Here are some individual pages that are complete. Like Arline, I have divided mine into sections but have plans to depart from her process considerably at the end.This page is from the post-its and note cards "chapter" and is one of my favorites (in addition to nearly every reviewer at Photolucida).

There are several pages devoted to cartoons from The New Yorker.

Stickers and small cats cut nearly the size of stickers.

Blue paper as background and postcard section.

From my childhood stationery that I rediscovered before this event two years ago. 

More postcards including a $7 one purchased at the ICP a year ago strictly for this book on the top right (it moves!).

This page marks the departure from Arline's sections into something that is more "me." I found two images of Marilyn Monroe with cats and wrote a small paragraph wondering what David C. Nolan would have said about these two images if they were in his collection.

More to come as I reassess all the feedback from Photolucida and wrap this up (at long last).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Walking, Dropping, Digging

There are two things I encountered in the last 36 hours that have led me to believe that I am not doing enough with my life and my art (those are intrinsically tied so I really mean my life).

Andrew Forsthoefel, “I’ve been travelin’, travelin’…(harmonica).” Bo Diddley (not shown), Pascagoula, Mississippi (image via)

Andrew Forsthoefel's story on This American Life is one. Traveling is what I love most and there's nothing greater than the road trip. I have spent extensive time making artwork while traveling but with the exception of a couple instances, I cannot say that what I made was meaningful to anyone else other than myself. There is so much to appreciate about this: Forsthoefel's fear of the unknown and reconciling this through two simple acts - walking and listening, his eventual success eleven months later, his reception from his family and those that he met along the road once reaching the Pacific Ocean, and what that he learned along the way specifically in relationship to age (and ultimately death).

The long version, Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man, is well worth the listen.

Ai WeiWei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995/2009 (image via)

Yesterday, I ventured to the Indianapolis Art Museum to see Ai WeiWei: According to What? It is billed as a retrospective (though it feels incomplete). Needless to say, it is the biggest exhibition to come to Indianapolis since I have moved to the Crossroads of America and it was well worth the visit (despite my unwillingness to set foot into the museum due to its recent problems).

Why did Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn affect me more than any other work? It operates in the same sphere as this - it's a big old "fuck you" to the institution, the government, the culture - yet it is more subtle. It is also about taking a chance and not revering the past. If there is regret in WeiWei's triptych, it is not shown here. Three succinct images - a document of an action (was it ever repeated?) - that I can learn from in many respects.

 ***    ***    ***

Barry Lopez's Apologia is an essay that I am reminded of more than any other read in the last decade. Every time I see road kill (which is too often), I think of Lopez stopping to bury dead animals for one year during his drives across the country. It's not this particular action that I am drawn to but the dedication.

Maybe that is what this blog post is about... the search for a meaningful experience to dedicate oneself to. Digging in a little deeper and finding a way to transform that action into a form that someone else can relate to as much as I was affected by the three works above... my challenge for the summer, the year, the rest of my life.