17 June 2019

no j
us

t
ice
no po

e
try

12 June 2019

WE

AT
HER:

FOG

AD
VISOR

Y

02 June 2019

08 May 2019

Shouldn't have even jokingly praised the competence of Trump's Secret Service in the previous post.


One could argue that they're competent at violating the United States Constitution, the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations and in so doing jeopardizing the safety of diplomats and citizens the world over, but I'm not even sure that's the case.

15 March 2019

I shall ritualize what has been a latent tendency: when I relish the canvases of someone who decorated the Doge’s Palace I will protest imperialism later in the day. Tomorrow: Tintoretto* and Hands Off Venezuela.

Directions from one to the other:
If you’re Joseph Biden, walk north from the Saudi embassy and take a right at K street.
If you’re Kamala Harris, take a left at New Hampshire and a right at the White House.
If you’re Beto O’Rourke, walk out of the awesome think tank with fresh ideas towards the cool people who have specific views of the zona with Caribbean beaches that’s been politicized.
If you’re Elizabeth Warren, wait at first, certainly don’t arrive early with the military or the Red Cross but perhaps with a humanitarian aid convoy commanded by Elliott Abrams.
If you’re Bernie Sanders, walk back and forth until you get to the DNC, the next day say you are not being held there and if you were it’d be the Russians’ fault.
If you're Amy Klobuchar, have your staff carry you in a sedan chair, barefoot, the long way.
If you’re Donald Trump, John Bolton will try to navigate you across the North Lawn and when you get lost, call the Secret Service.

This one's by Michelangelo: Can you pick the Guaidó supporters out of these white guys?

* (3/16 am) actually forgot - they postponed the opening til the 24th, but I won't let that spoil a blog post..

10 March 2019

What's up for one more day, fair week edition, v. أربعة عشرة



Excerpt From "The Adored Ones" Federico Solmi 2018 from Federico Solmi on Vimeo.

Solmi at the Ronald Feldman booth

I paced the downtown map of the Nada fair (Aaron Gilbert at Lyles & King, below), which locates in galleries this year (pdf) with some temporary shows amid the month long runs, meaning the one day I tunneled in this week I was a weary trekker upon entering Armory as well as being up 24 hours, Spring/ Break which I missed entailing more curators and less walking. Collapsing at Armory would be a misuse of pathos, or at least I retain that part of my upbringing. If you are sleep deprived, so this retention goes, do not upon reflection trifle redundantly in the darknesses you have beheld or imagined in the boom market with its royal scribes, its high line, its shed, its grand stairwell designed by a real Englishman: but who gets out of there scot free? The artists? not even the collectors.. Will you choose ethics or aesthetics? Which is being forced on me? ..and indeed the next night at the job here I met the Medici family ah yes as I am like most folks more removed from them and their care than some and for my part fastidious about content, and the spring air. Which is for sale?

05 March 2019

emper
or nap

o
leon pl
us t

ele
vision

03 March 2019

Mark Hollis 1955-2019

Not an expert on him, but I've always liked this track:


4

after Vaché

1.

in
it

i
at
in

g, dog
ma
t

i
c id

2.

desert
in

g in
to on

es
elf

3.

art is a m
other

fu
cker imp

each
it

4.

but f
or hi

m i c
ould h

ave per
ha
ps ha

ve bee
n a p

oe
or
p

he
us

06 February 2019

What's up for seven more days, v. اون طقوز


I blogged here that in Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s 2002 film Distant “Ceylan represents the different visual experiences of the two protagonists.. something I've never seen done so deliberately and effectively.”  Actually in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box from 1997, co-written by Wang, Jean-Claude Carrière, and Paul Theroux, Ruben Blades plays a photographer working in Hong Kong who facilitates similar Point of View shots.  As I said, much of Distant is the contrast between the two cousins’ POVs, making for a much more effective rendering.  Fifth on the last decade’s list might have been too low, though Distant is a spare, low-key film, while 2014’s Winter Sleep, featuring Cappadocian landscapes, the charisma of lead Haluk Bilginer, and dense subplots lifted from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and Crime and Punishment, had camped out at second on my current decade’s list, behind only that most original script about reproductions by Abbas Kiarostami - Certified Copy - also set in the provinces wherein Jean-Claude Carrière dispenses romantic advice to William Shimmell in a cameo.  Carrière said when he first met Buñuel he told him he made wine, to which Buñuel replied “I can work with you then - you’re a provincial.”  It took me a day or two to decide I liked The Wild Pear Tree (at Film Forum til February 12) better than Winter Sleep, as it proffers less plot development and more introspection. 

The Wild Pear Tree joins that pantheon of films about writers, which I’ve also blogged about - sharing the struggling West Asian scribe saga with the classic literary adaptation The World of Apu, though not working its way into romance.  Films about writers can be placed into categories, in which Tarkovsky (Stalker), Godard (Contempt), Antonioni (La Notte), Welles (The Lady from Shanghai), and Potter (The Singing Detective) project themselves into the writer, the autobiography (Christ Stopped at Eboli), historical depictions of writers (Brecht in The Farewell, Wojazek,  Hans Jæger in Edvard Munch, Sor Juana in I, the Worst of All).  In The Wild Pear Tree, Ceylan got to know the son of a relative, Akın Atsu, who lived in the coastal city of Çanakkale, near ancient Troy, eventually reading his undiscovered short stories and liking especially “The Wild Pear’s Solitude,” and decided to make a movie of his life co-written by Atsu and Ceylan’s wife Ebru, resulting in a script gracefully containing the push and pull between Atsu’s reflections and the Ceylans’ commentary on them.

Ceylan wrote “People who feel different in an intrinsic yet socially unacceptable way see their willpower pushed to its moral limits. Such people struggle to make sense of the contradictions inherent in their alienated existence, and vacillate between the limitations of addressing these contradictions creatively and the impossibility of rejecting them. They perceive their difference as a crime that must be kept secret, as a disease, and carry it like a hump on their back throughout their lives.”  One of the structural differences between the Bildungsroman and the Künstlerroman is the ending, and here there is an alternate ending provided by way of a vision preceding the realist ending.  The symbolism of corporeal imagery attempted in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is more successfully rendered here, including the central image of a baby covered with ants to go with several premonitions of death and the wind blowing a young woman’s hair.


Halldor Laxness’ World Light utilizes an actual provincial poet Magnusson “to isolate the pure artistic impulse in Romanticism and set it into the world below, which Magnusson’s subject matter, life story, and absence of irony befit,” providing a stable anchor for the instability of the narrator, but The Wild Pear Tree is destabilized by the protagonist’s role in writing the script. Variety’s coverage of a Ceylan Q&A in Sarajevo unspecifically cites questions about the “perceived political symbolism of his work.” There are two ostensively political scenes I can recall: one in which he talks on a cell phone to a conscripted soldier who reports his duties suppressing communists, not mentioning Kurds; and begging the frank, receptive mayor for funding.  The second scene may emanate from Ceylan himself, who not only receives funding from Turkey but had this film entered by the government for a foreign language Oscar, for which it was ludicrously denied. The mayor in the film says he has funding for tourist books but not memoirs, echoing a theme from Distant where the photographer eschews landscapes and the hotelier writing the history of Turkish theater in Winter Sleep. Of this Ceylon says “People think that when you get money from the government, you are not free anymore. That’s not true. They give the money, but they don’t say even one word to you about how the film should be. They would have to discuss the film with you, and nobody knows anything about cinema. It doesn’t affect your independence in any way.”  Except that there is no mention of Erdogan and related topics, while the novelist Orhan Pamuk earnestly offers insights into the mindset of the current President’s electoral base.  My speculation here is that Ceylan is depicting the political ambivalence of Atsu, which Atsu signs off on as co-screenwriter, moving from Winter Sleep's realism of Dostoevsky into formalism. Eagleton pins on Flaubert the moment when “history is already an inert object” after 1848, “splintering” realism into Zola’s objective naturalism and subjective formalism, where “man is stripped of his history and has no reality beyond the self; character is dissolved into mental states...”  out of which he attributes to Pierre Macherey the position “a work is tied to ideology not so much by what it says as by what it does not say. It is in the significant silences of a text, in its gaps and absences, that the presence of ideology can be most positively felt."  The contemporary city of Çanakkale displays for tourists the wooden Trojan horse built for the Hollywood movie Troy, a relic from history used in one scene by the protagonist as a hiding place, amidst what reads as a portrait of the perceived futility of the Erdogan generation.

Cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki makes use of helicopters, hilltop POVs, coastal and rural scenery to make for a lively theater projection in which, even if it isn’t quite as picturesque as his shots of Cappadocia in Winter Sleep, the tension between the beauty in nature and the torment of the soul is more raw here.

06 January 2019

t
he two fr
eedo

ms fro
m my sub
junct

ive
in
it
t
ruth

er a
s a p
ejo

rat
ive

What's up for one more day: two Met shows




What I liked most about the Delacroix show, organized by the Louvre but with various works from US collections, is the mixture of prints of Goethe's Faust from the Petit Palais with three or four watercolor versions of the poem's scenes from Harvard's Houghton Library. Americans get some quality time with the Louvre's Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement tho you still have to go to Montpellier for the later version. Picasso was known for brief, infrequent visits to masters' galleries in his early Paris years but as he later openly obsessed over the painting, I believe the curtain and the positions of the womens' heads subconsciously influenced 1907's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.



The occasion prompts me to excerpt from Baudelaire's reflections on Delacroix after his death, from his letter to a newspaper editor:

"'what then is this mysterious, indefinable something that Delacroix, to the great glory of our age, has communicated better than anyone else?' The answer is: the invisible, the impalpable, reverie, the nerves, the soul; and this he did - pray, sir, take good note of this - without any means other than color and contour.."

"..in the crowd that gathered to pay him the last honours, many more writers could be counted than painters. To put it crudely, the truth is that the latter never fully understood him."

"'Nature is but a dictionary' he was fond of saying.. Painters who obey imagination consult their dictionaries in search of elements that fit in with their conceptions; and even then, in arranging them with artistry, they give then a wholly new appearance.  Those who have no imagination copy from the dictionary, from which arises a very great vice, the vice of banality, to which are particularly exposed those painters whose specialty lies nearest to so-called inanimate nature: the landscape artists, for example, who regard it generally as a triumph if they can conceal their personalities. They contemplate so much that in the end the forget to feel and think."

"The 'positivist' says: 'I want to represent things as they are, or as they would be on the assumption that I did not exist.' The universe without man. In the other camp, there are the imaginative ones who say: 'I want to illuminate things with my mind and cast its reflection on other minds.' ..the imaginative man must usually have come to the fore in religious painting and in fantasy, whereas genre paintings, so-called, and landscape must, on the face of it, have offered vast resources to lazy minds not easily stimulated..."

"If ever a man had an 'ivory tower', well defended by bars and bolts, it was Eugene Delacroix.. I believe he would willingly have armed it with canon.. 'The one prudence in life is concentration; the one evil is dissipation'" (Emerson)

"I can confidently say that in matters of money and economy Delacroix entirely shared Stendhal's opinion, which reconciled greatness with prudence. 'The intelligent man,' the latter used to say, 'should apply himself to acquiring what is strictly necessary to avoid his having to depend on anybody (in Stendhal's day, this meant an annual income of 6,000 francs); but if, having achieved that degree of security, he wastes time in increasing his fortune, the man's a scoundrel."

I had low expectations for the Conspiracy show but was immediately sold on the great work of curators Douglas Eklund and Ian Alteveer, who were paid the highest compliment by The Nation and The New York Times, whose Tom Friedman is caricatured by one Sue Williams drawing, both accusing them of abdicating the Metropolitan Museum's duty as a left gatekeeper. The floor of the Breuer includes three works previously mentioned here: Mike Kelley's Educational Complex and his friend Williams' All Roads Lead to Langley and iv. Ronald Reagan & William Casey, joined by a generous sampling of her works that characteristically drew the most ire from those two publications.  Another Kelly friend, Jim Shaw, contributes the large installation The Miracle of Compounded Interest (below). Other standouts are Alfredo Jaar's display on Kissinger and Öyvind Fahlström's "World Map" of human rights abuses and colonial grabs from 1972.