Saturday, March 23, 2013

During My Life

Peanut Butter 
 Eileen Myles
I am always hungry
& wanting to have
sex. This is a fact.
If you get right
down to it the new
unprocessed peanut
butter is no damn
good & you should
buy it in a jar as
always in the
largest supermarket
you know. And
I am an enemy
of change, as
you know. All
the things I
embrace as new
are in
fact old things,
re-released: swimming,
the sensation of
being dirty in
body and mind
summer as a
time to do
nothing and make
no money. Prayer
as a last re-
sort. Pleasure
as a means,
and then a
means again
with no ends
in sight. I am
absolutely in opposition
to all kinds of
goals. I have
no desire to know           
where this, anything
is getting me.
When the water
boils I get
a cup of tea.
Accidentally I
read all the
works of Proust.
It was summer
I was there
so was he. I
write because
I would like
to be used for
years after
my death. Not
only my body
will be compost
but the thoughts
I left during
my life. During
my life I was
a woman with
hazel eyes. Out
the window
is a crooked
silo. Parts
of your
body I think
of as stripes
which I have
learned to
love along. We
swim naked
in ponds &
I write be-
hind your
back. My thoughts
about you are
not exactly
forbidden, but
exalted because
they are useless,
not intended
to get you
because I have
you & you love
me. It’s more
like a playground
where I play
with my reflection
of you until
you come back
and into the
real you I
get to sink
my teeth. With
you I know how
to relax. &
so I work
behind your
back. Which
is lovely.
is out of control
you tell me &
that’s what’s so
good about
it. I’m immoderately
in love with you,
knocked out by
all your new
white hair
why shouldn’t
I have always
known be the
very best there
is. I love
you from my
starting back
there when
one day was
just like the
rest, random
growth and
breezes, constant
love, a sand-
wich in the
middle of
a tiny step
in the vastly
path of
the Sun. I
squint. I
wink. I
take the
Eileen Myles, “Peanut Butter” from Not Me, published by Semiotext(e). Copyright © 1991 by Eileen Myles.

Friday, March 22, 2013

morning hour with painting, Richter, and Mad Men

Still from Gerhard Richter Painting, film by Corinna Belz, 2011

"It's not working." 

It is uttered by Richter after the moment pictured in the film still.  After minutes of pondering the painting in question, the filmmaker Belz asked him if it is because of the blue- to which he replies yes.  

Richter is not alone in uttering this.  It is a deep but chronic sigh that is emitted from time to time in the studio of every painter.  These sighs are the painter's announcements that he or she is recognizing a sizable formal or conceptual conflict internal and external to a given painting.  Presuming that these conflicts are upon which the painting's ability to hold itself together depends on -and perhaps  conflicts for which the painting was undertaken - sighs are the decisive moments that are either followed by the painting's (or even the painter's) continuation, undoing or end.  

Fortunately, since it is a chronic utterance, time eventually allows painters to develop strategies on how to deal with these interruptions to their practice.  From my painting mentors/professors I learned to appreciate that when face-to-face with such a moment, I can consider to: A) just keep on painting; B) try another medium so your expectations are suspended; C) go back to that breakthrough moment. 

It is this morning that I'm pondering the third one, C -going back to that breakthrough moment.

It's not because it is the most effective strategy, but because of its romance.  And it's not just because painting is already tied to notions of the Romantic, but because just the word "breakthrough" evokes energy -an overt, heroic and outward energy: the energy to grow, advance and discover. At the same time it also evokes a more subtle inward energy: the energy at the beginning of something, of one's origins.  

My last reason is because the idea of "breakthrough" was just confirmed in this attached TV episode of Mad Men. I was watching it together with the Richter Painting film this morning.  In this episode, model-turned-housewife in the 60's Betty Draper instills to her 8-year-old daughter a lesson on the virtues and consequences of the first kiss.  

Betty (to Sally): "…The first kiss is very special… It's where you go from being a stranger to knowing someone.  And every kiss after that will be a shadow of that kiss."

As much as it made poetic sense in the dialogue in the TV episode, it seemed to also do the same to the painting practice.  All I needed to do was make the word substitutions appropriate to this discussion in painting:

first = crucial
kiss = brushstroke
stranger = unsure
someone = painting

With the substitutions applied, Betty's lines would be:

"...The crucial brushstroke is very special… It's where you go from being unsure to knowing painting.  And every brushstroke after that will be a shadow of that brushstroke."

First kiss, breakthroughs, brushstrokes, that blue that's keeping Richter's painting from "working," and perhaps many more applicable scenarios -Betty's few lines -plus substitutions- could fit all.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lobster Lover's Dream

Some bits from a really spot-on essay by Anton Vidokle.
Art without Market, Art without Education: Political Economy of Art

"It seems to me that MFA programs have become a tool of indoctrination that has had an unprecedented homogenizing effect on artistic practices worldwide, an effect that is now being replicated with curatorial and critical writing programs."

"Being a professional [artist] should not be the only acceptable way for us to maintain our households, particularly when most interesting artists are perfectly capable of functioning in at least two or three fields that are, unlike art, respected by society in terms of compensation and general usefulness. I feel that we have cornered ourselves by denying the full range of possibilities for developing our economies."

"Unless hard-pressed by circumstances, we still think that the proper thing to do is to wait for a sponsor or a patron to solve our household problems and to legitimize our work. In fact, we don’t need their legitimacy. We are perfectly capable of being  our own sponsors, which in most cases we already are when we do other kinds of work to support our art-work. This is something that should not be disavowed, but acknowledged openly."