hitching to miranda july's star, and others.

recently, there have been this and that new inspiration that is leaking into other parts of my thinking. someone will be talking to me and i will drift sideways or offer an obvious error of fact in the conversation. it is probably because i am considering these and other works of art that are opening me wide as i am in preparation for new exhibitions (one at Aisle in November, another at U.turn in February). these are also a kind of relief while i try to save up for travels this fall/winter. Money is tight right now, so i recognized an affinity for the Suze Orman sketch on last night's SNL Weekend Update where she offered elaborate tips to stage your own vacation cruise. These little bits have broadened my scope while i feel a little confined to my current location.

Leslie Scalapino is probably my favorite poet. Of course E. E. Cummings, of course Ann Lauterbach and Gertrude Stein. And influence from Lyn Hejinian or Lynn Tillman's prose comes up with suprising frequency. But Scalapino is at once chillingly incisive with her abstract, often detached relationship to language and parts of speech, while also beaming with a luminous, Eastern sensibility. Simple mantras, Steinian repetition in all the right places. But hers is a poetry that I have also felt vibrated just outside of my verbal/aural intelligence. What do these poems sound like in the mouth of the one who wrote them? I am finally offered a still, solid answer in the form of an audio recording I just discovered that Scalapino made a year or so back.

'Can't' is 'Night' and other poems.
I am listening to this as addictively as saccharine pop music. Her voice is soft and fragile, like a stone in a brook or a shell near an ocean. a couple of times her steps falter in her words. there is a police siren outside the window of wherever this was recorded that comes in and out in one place. the spaces and air in her poems translate as jolts and skims in the way she reads them. but she is always measured; i sense her character in the reading as low and centered. the packaging, including an installation shot of friend of the poet and idol-in-my-youth petah coyne's exhibition White Snow makes for elegant counterpart to the text being offered.

i've had an ongoing relationship with Miranda July's work. years back, when i was a freshman in college (and this was long before Learning to Love You More's fame or her hollywood film), Kaira Simmons and I listened to audio works by her that gave us the heeby jeebies. They were really brill and aggressive, like old radio dramas with her acting out various emo-dada characters that veered towards identity crisis and genital mutilation. she was obviously a force and i kept her in mind.

and then of course Harrell Fletcher and Me and You and Everyone We Know.

i am deeply devoted to these projects and still reserve some skepticism about the process, about the artist behind the scenes. i think my deepest love for July came with her collection of short stories No One Belongs Here More Than You. Are you catching on? She is a banner for the unboxables like me that will never be easily a painter or a writer or a queer or a or a or a or a.
and she seems to get "love and loss and all that stuff" (how i, and no doubt many others, described by art at some point in the past). these short stories are tender and shocking, emotionally raw framed with elegant diction. the narrators are shapeshifters that are obviously different- sometimes an elderly man, sometimes a teenage runaway working in a peepshow- but her mask-play of Miranda July as different roles is a demonstration of a collective subconscious, a shared togetherness that all of her heroes and all of the readers and all of us are involved with.

and then she went to venice and created her newest project Eleven Heavy Things. Interview magazine (one of the greatest publications you can buy off of newsstands these days) did a big thing about this work in their newest issue with January Jones (who plays the neurotic, fey housewife to opposite Donald Draper's lead in Mad Men) on the cover.

these new works could kill me with a look.

these sculptures, displayed in a garden in Venice, play upon tropes we take for granted. boards through which people may be photographed are oftentimes set up with whimsical situations across the front of them and used at fairs and festivals. These objects have always dealt with roleplay, longing, something a little sticky and vicarious.
In July's hands, they are whitewashed and the 'situations' viwers may place themselves are mostly text based confessions or pronouncements. Almost all are humble. All carry the same tenderness, elegance and frank tone of July's short stories.

they also get me started on a train of thought between july's project and works recently on display in Baltimore by Franz West. For me, interactive sculpture starts at West. Not because he is the first or the most sophisticated, but because his works are decidedly psychoanalytical; a viewer can learn about themselves through the choices and manner in which they come into contact with his hand-held plaster and metal objects. In particular, in the exhibition in Baltimore, two couches were set up facing each other. On one wall, text ran "We die a little." I don't know why that didn't slap me with the kind of Relational Aesthetics for which July is known. She's usually credited as the movement's 'it girl.'

These play into my year-long research into public sculpture (that can be reached from my writer's page on Aeqai), how we engage with it, how it functions outside of traditional (or even traditionally contemporary) exhibition spaces. Most notably, I feel that these objects all make a certain kind of allowance for the viewer. Without instructions that I can see from images and descriptions of the exhibition, nor the artist shoving people through constructed spaces or preset rituals (these are some of my own anxieties about interactive art), these pieces infer there interactivity from form itself. Because of some social conditioning most of us possess, visitors seemed to intuitively take the places that the sculptures leave open for occupation.
It is not that these works complete themselves per say when they engage with a person, but it is such a simple, sweet, relational momemt in visual art. The viewer need not worry about accessibility issues in the work, because it is all right there, ready to be accessed. Lovely and I can't wait to implement some of the breakthroughs in its thinking towards my own creative process.

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