Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Artist is Present: An Appropriatly Exhaustive Account of Staring at Marina Abromovic

When I learned that Marina Abromovic was doing a performance piece at MoMA, I knew I had to go see it - to go participate if at all possible.  Abromovic is one of the few performance artists whose work I've bothered to know and respect.  When I first learned about her in art school, I was particularly arrested by this image,  from Rhythm 0, a piece where she provided a table of various implements, then stood totally passive for six hours, allowing the audience to decorate, pose, and abuse her:

For her current piece at MoMA, Abromovic sits in a chair, and museum-goers take turns sitting across from her.  The edict is to be silent and still, simply gazing at one another, until the museum-goer decides to leave and the next takes their place.  Abromovic stays seated in this way from open to close, every day for months. Here's a link to where you can see a live feed of Marina Abromovic's performance, whenever MoMA is open.

I arrived on site (in the atrium on the second floor) at about 10:35AM - five minutes after MoMA opened. There was a line, but not a long one - about fifteen people.  However, with a piece like this, length means very little.  Rumors moved up and down the line of a previous visitor who had sat for seven hours.  How quickly the line would advance was going to depended upon how long visitors sat, and how many people dropped out after it became clear that this was not a speedy endeavor. 

Detailed account of the experience after the page break:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Painting Progress

I've done some more work on this painting.  It didn't feel like it had been that long since I'd worked on it, but it is a bad sign when you need to dust your pallete off before use.

Here's the current status:

I have always loved cropped details of my paintings. The way that the colors and textures interact always feels surprising to me - like something I didn't intend, but just happened upon when I wasn't paying attention. Here's a detail from my recent efforts:

I tend to feel like details like this make really nice abstract compositions, and yet I very rarely paint abstractly, and when I do, the results lack interest for me.  Abstract painting in general lacks interest for me.  As with poetry, where I love a good turn of phrase or pairing of words, but cannot get into work that is all about the aesthetics of words without any larger story or image involved, I love the abstract details of interacting paint, but need it to be couched in a discernible narrative, image, or idea.

For a as long as I've been painting, that larger image has almost always involved the human figure, but in this painting so far, and in my last one, I actually ended up paying much more attention to the background. As if the figure was an excuse for painting bushes and wallpaper.  It makes me wonder if I should try doing some work that is not abstract, but not figurative.  Work where I abandon the figure altogether, and focus on what I've been putting behind them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Turquoise Esprit Shirt with a Little Pink Fur

I just returned a shirt to Esprit that cost under $20.  As I was on my way there I started to wonder if I would actually raise more suspicion returning such a cheap clothing item.  I was never one to return clothing before doing this project, so I still don't really understand the culture of it in a normal situation.  When the clerk at the register asks "why are you returning this?", I'm never sure what seems like a strange answer... "It didn't fit"... "I changed my mind"?  I have come up with much more intricate stories, like "I got it as a present for a friend, but then we had a falling out, so now I don't want to give it to her".  It is probably a good thing that I am generally compelled to brevity by nerves.

Here's the Esprit shirt, before returning, after alteration, right-side-out:

The turquoise shade guided my purchase.  I thought it would go really well the pink fake fur that I like to use.  I sewed little tufts of fur into the seams.  I wanted to give the feeling that it was sprouting from the interior of the shirt, like something organic spreading.  Here's an inside-out shot:

Just little bits of fur, tucked into places that the clerk wouldn't see when I returned it, even if they had to look into the shirt's neck a little to find the tag.  Here's a detail shot:

I had considered also adding some little branching forms, the sort that I would cut out of the little sheet paintings I've made with palette scraping and acrylic gel medium:

But once I'd sewn in the fur, I felt like there was a nice simplicity, an almost parasitic feel to it that I an additional element might disrupt, so I returned it with only the pink tufts inserted.  What do you think?  Should I have added more?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You Are Not a Market

Even favoritism aside, this video by musician Scott Alexander provides a critique of branding and marketing that dovetails nicely with some of the shopdropping work I do.