Archive for December, 2010

Back to work

Just starting to get a blogging head of steam up and writing a great essay expanding on my twecon photography presentation when….

A letter comes that our lease on this house won’t be renewed next year, as owner of the hosue has “other plans” for it. Panic stations to find a new house to rent in Mosgiel. Hence blogging may be intermittent.


Hey – if anyone wants to invest, properties are cheap here and we are great tenants!

Also wondering if these guys are available to help me shift. My kids are smaller!

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I was sent a link to this wonderful interview with Jorge Luis Borges and thought I’d share it.

“…the task of art is the transform what is continually happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory.”

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Some more about #Twecon here and here. My thanks again to organiser Matthew Dentith.

Artist, Matthew Couper and the sacred spleen – springing in part, from a Facebook conversation about me wanting an ex-voto for neurotic suburban housewife (who me?) . I am a bit of a fan of Matthew’s work.

Every weekend our family troops down to the school pool and I read while the rest swim. Yep, I am the mum in the stands with the fogged up glasses reading Proust. Anyway it reminds me of Helen Holm in John Irving’s “The World According to Garp”. Helen was the wrestling coach’s daughter and often sat in the stands reading while her father coached Garp. Helen told Garp she will only ever marry a writer (silly girl) and so Garp decides he will become one. Like me, Helen wore glasses which fogged up while she read. Helen was a key figure to me in the 80s. She made it ok to be A READER.

A bit of a pointless story, but I’ve been reading a lot about memory (hence Proust) and echoes from the past. Today (at the pools) I found this:

it is fantasmatic, deriving from a kind of second sight which seems to bear me forward to a utopian time, or to carry me back  to somewhere in myself” Roland Barthes,  Camera Lucida  Chapter 16

It seemed so applicable as more and more often I come across passages in writing, and visual art that has this effect. I think this might be the key to why I especially like some art.

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Today I participated in #Twecon on twitter. The rules were quite strict but it was a lot of fun. At some point soon I will write a blog post elaborating on my presentation with proper references etc.

All presentations can be found here (prefaced by the rules) Mine was as follows:

The Inherent Melancholy of the Photograph: A Ghost in the Machine?
A brief exploration of emotional response to photography.

1. The Inherent Melancholy of the Photograph: A Ghost in the Machine? A brief exploration of emotional response to photography. #twecon

2. Barthes wrote of ‘the melancholy of photography itself’. Photos have an innate aura of absence, a moment past. #twecon

3 This aura is present in all photos. Some provoke it with technique & content http://tinyurl.com/2a62mkl http://tinyurl.com/2b2lau7 #twecon

4 Modern technologies invite us to imbue images with nostalgia http://tinyurl.com/ydj575g like the earlier use of faux sepia tones #twecon

5 But I propose it is the unnatural stillness of the image that triggers an atavistic part of the brain, suggesting rigour of death #twecon

6 From momento mori http://tinyurl.com/lxxa93 to the family snap there’s a ghost waiting in the machine. http://tinyurl.com/2a4drha #twecon

EDIT: Here is a great post about today’s #twecon

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Writing about art

A few people have asked why I haven’t been blogging. Sadly it’s not because I am working on some major project. There have been two main causes. For a start I suddenly got VERY VERY tired and so I’ve been having a break and mainly hanging out at home and being domestic. Also, not long after the Jeffrey Harris catalogue came out, Jeffrey wrote this on Facebook:

Lets not talk process. I’m not very good at it. I like the fact that fb seems primarily image based and dispenses with a lot of the tangled verbal morass, that seems to exist out there in the official art world.”

and it got me thinking…why on earth do we write about visual art? Shouldn’t it inherently speak for itself? My stance has been that all those little blurbs you find in public galleries and the essays and art history texts provide context. And importantly, as the Christchurch Art Gallery (I am guessing Justin Paton) said on Twitter’s Ask a Curator Day in regard to a curator’s role “It’s about making sure there’s no static on the line connecting art and audience”.

But in the last while, I have read some abysmal art writing, not badly written so much, but actually obfuscating the art experience. I don’t see the value in this at all. It’s like reviews that are simple “good art/bad art” ones. Someone recently told me they thought a good review, whether it was positive or negative, should inspire the reader to go see for themselves. I quite liked this piece from the Kea and Cattle Blog recently (not that I agree with all of it) and I think the following words apply to any writing about the visuals arts.  

What we need, in the end, is to completely rethink the way we are approaching exhibitions and works of art. We come as critics, not as teachers. We are not here to give a grade or to show off how clever we are. We must write with less ego, taking on the task of illuminating the works, of providing an exploration of how a work’s aesthetics connects to that which is not directly material.”

All of which has provided much food for thought. And I am still pondering it all…..

*Thanks to Jeffrey for permission to re-post his comment. He did say “Everything on fb is available for all. For better or worse, that is where things seem to be heading. For me, I think the benefits far out way the negative aspects.”

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