Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Farmacopea, 2013. from suelta suelta on Vimeo.
Nancy Spero’s War Series at 528 w26th til June 17 was not shown together during the period she created them, the late 60s and early 70s, in NYC until a small gallery hung them in 1983. The works collected here involve war as a corporeal experience but emphasizes the mechanized attack on the body in Vietnam with drawings of bombs and helicopters, which she tried to depict from the perspective of the victims, likely influenced by Artaud’s premonition of drone warfare in To Have Done With the Judgment of God “..Huge armies of tanks, airplanes, battleships/ that served as their shield..” as the series preceded the Artaud paintings and Codex Artaud. Included is Female Bomb, allegorizing female encouragement of war, and a large scale installation of the Maypole which revisited the series during the Iraq War. Also a month before Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on its political status, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz presents two paintings by Elizam Escobar, jailed in the US for alleged bomb threats on behalf of independence with her videos (not the one above) including one of a woman’s Voudou dance casting a spell for the “total and absolute destruction of the machinery of war,” Taíno objects and an early Ana Mendieta film at the Museo del Barrio til May 15.
|Kiefer, watercolor, 2013|
|Loos' plan for his grave|
the Rubin is devoted to selections from Henri Cartier-Bresson's India pix til Sept 4. Of the partition the three famous shots of the Kurukshetra refugee camp are here (I, II, III) but not as I recall footage of the Punjabi refugees in transit. Also absent is the group shot at the table of “Kashmir. Srinagar. July 1948. Sheik ABDULLAH, Prime minister of Kashmir since the Maharajah ceded the territory to India, puts improvement of the lot of the poor Kashmir natives above religious differences. Although he is a Moslem, he stands for friendship with Nehru's India. Here (in sheepskin hat) he talks to members of the UN Commission sent to investigate the position in Kashmir,” who officiated the marriage of Alys and Faiz Ahmed Faiz in 1941. They feel the need to qualify the deifying exuberance of Henri's note “While Sri Ramana Maharshi is dying in his last incarnation, and thus becoming a god, his favorite peacock (the gift of a rajah) strolls the ground of his last earthly home" and separate the shot from another of his mourners, but you can't make everyone happy, and there are plenty of original prints of viewers' favorites here like the dawn prayer in Srinigar, the Jaipuri carpet maker "telling the children in a chant what colors to use," "Great care of all sarts of diseases," and the various 1966 classics from Ahmedabad (above right). Y. G. Srimati sang bhajans by Gandhi's side as a teenager and her contemporary takes on Hindu tantric iconography are at the Met til June 18. Jyoti Bhatt is also well known for photographs of rural Indian life, but it's his paintings and prints that highlight DAG Modern's selections from the Group 1890 (41 e57th 7th fl. til May 31), which didn't stay together long, including a late 1970s print that seems to be both a parody and encouragement of cultural pilgrimage to India:
|Jyoti Bhatt, Beginning of the Journey, Etching, 1978|
Last but not least, Acquavella has reunited all but one of the twenty-three Constellations of Miró (18 e 79th, til May 26, one owner backed out at the last minute) and seeing the originals in a group is essential by all meanings of the word, including that this is one of art history’s supreme attempts to represent essence, “the floodgates from which spurt, all one bound, love and liberty.” (Breton) Speculation on why Miró went to Fascist-controlled Mallorca in 1940 with ten gouaches for reference that he could have left with his dealer and a stack of paper mirrors the writer: the family man says he went for the family (so say the curators); the cynic (like Paul Hammond, in an exceptional essay introducing his translations), the Romantic, the nature lover, the mystic, the Catalan nationalist, the accusatory Marxist/ anarchist, etc. all recite their respective explanations. As is often the case, I find Tàpies most persuasive: “Against a universe created and controlled by God, Miró offered us the continuous, changing, and infinite flux of nature. Against immutable laws, he offered us the spontaneous rhythm and ebb-and-flow of the waves of the living world. Against all that was closed and filled with taboos, he offered us clear open spaces. Against the monstrous pride of the powerful, he showed that we are all equal because we are all made of the same flames of stars. To the dispossessed he showed that the whole richness of the universe was in them. For things to grow and get better he told us that love ought to impregnate all. What we had been sold as sin, perversions, and weakness of the flesh, he told us was often something beautiful, as great and powerful as the forces that rule the pull of constellations. He told us that we had to return to the search for purity and innocence of the first day; that we had to find again the unpolluted source if we were not to lose ourselves within a pretentious, spurious, and mendacious society; that life was struggle and above all renewal; that, under the axis of the Mediterranean sun, self-assured good sense had to be balanced with a healthy and irrational pagan exaltation...
“Joan Brossa.. said back then.. ‘Let’s step out of the corners! If this curtain falls again, nothing in art will receive any light and everything will darken at the high level of art, amid boulders.. NOW we sense Miró’s triumph. He has fully awoken to the highest reality..’”
This would have been a much better show if André Breton’s poems were included, to replicate the historic presentation of both at Galerie Berggruen, Paris in 1959. I tried to pretend that there was something to be said for the works to stand alone, but the second time I saw the show I was torturing myself trying to remember lines from the poems. Guston managed to get Clark Coolidge’s poems into the Morgan by putting them in the drawings (pdf), but in this case Breton’s poems were written 17 years after the paintings were finished. I will limit myself to two of Hammond's translations:
It says to the shepherd: "Come closer. It is I who used to draw you as a child to those deep caves where the receding sea docks the eggs of storms that the wreck, with its myriad lowered eyelids, polishes. In the unique oblique light, as the hand is laid on the superb fossils lying by the road that seeks itself in the dynamited mountain, you burned to see spurt up the rib of a coffer of ancient handiwork that might contain (it's no problem to force it) all that is blinding in the world and that streams forth. I give it to you because it's you just as each day is so that your furrows warble and that, more flattered than all the rest, your companion might smile when finding you once more."
The benches of the outer boulevards cave in with time under the embrace of lianas softly lit up with lovely eyes and lips. While to us they appear free and easy those ardent flowers continue to flutter around and melt into each other. They traduce in concrete terms the adage of the mythographers that gravitational attraction is a characteristic of space and carnal attraction the daughter of this characteristic but which altogether omits to mention that it is up to the daughter to dress the mother for the ball. One breath is all it takes to liberate those myriad egrets bearing achenes. Between their flying up and coming back down along the endless curve of desire all the signs encompassed by the celestial score are written down.