March 26, 2010

9 Notes from Pompidou

Back in December, instead of going home for Christmas, I took a trip to Europe, during which I spent a surprising amount of time looking at art. Here are some of the things I paid attention to at Pompidou, the big modern art museum in Paris.

1. This meat dress was made by Jana Sterbak. She went to Kits for high school and then UBC, which was strange to learn, because famous people aren't supposed to be from your home. Following the theme of women's work, I went from this sculpture to some photos.

2. Lisette Model: "As long as I have the feeling of 'that's me,' I will be able to photograph people." (Tant que j'aurai le sentiment que c'est moi, je pourrai photographier les gens.) *Peter, I wrote this down because I thought of you.

3. Diane Arbus: “What is ceremonial and curious and commonplace will be legendary.” 

4. Isabelle Waternaux had a series of these super obscured portraits. Awesome.

5. Maria Abramovic: video, “Freeing the Body." She covers her head and dances naked. 

More research yields incredible stuff. In one performance, she took a drug for catatonia, leaving her immobilized but lucid. Ten minutes after it wore off, she took a drug prescribed for aggressive and depressed people, which took her mentally out of the room. In another performance, she lay on a table with 72 objects that people in the museum could use on her, as explained by a sign. The objects included scissors, a knife, a whip, and a gun with a single bullet. What she said after:

“The experience I learned was that…if you leave decision to the public, you can be killed.” ... “I felt really violated: they cut my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the public. Everyone ran away, escaping an actual confrontation.”

6. “Heartbeat," a slideshow by Nan Goldin. Forty-four photos of couples in bed, in the bath, getting ready for work, and Bjork singing in the background. I liked it, though it wasn't exactly happy.

7. I discover someone’s already filmed herself doing everything in an abaya. Shit, swimming and sunbathing included. "Ghazel."

8. Massive “Ecriture Rose” by Simon Hantaï. 

He spent every day of 1958 copying written texts -- poems, philosophical works, treatises on art -- onto a 11 X 14 foot canvas. Massed together in tiny script, the words took on shape. Nice. As for the artist himself, he was reclusive, in part because people started giving him commissions and asking him to paint public places. "Society seemed to be preparing to paint my work for me. I could have obeyed; many, perhaps most, painters do. The prospect did not coincide with my desire.” Apparently he traveled Italy on foot, too, which makes him doubly interesting.

9. C’est ce que je fais qui m’apprend ce que cherche. It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for. –Pierre Soulauges. Didn't care for his black canvases, but I quite like the quotation.

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