Saturday, January 23, 2010

A little writing about the show.

Brigid's post about her work for An American Orifice was a good idea. Here is some writing I shared with the folks at Arttransponder with regard to my piece in the show.

One of the things I address in my work, which links to the grotesque, is the aesthetics of unfinished things, particularly architecture. (Unfinished things are open-ended and somewhat borderless, like the grotesque body) The way we inhabit buildings, which can be unfinished, repurposed, decaying, etc. is of interested to me, as are the formal properties of "low" materials such as construction materials. In my work, I try to place these materials in a state of "becoming" where they are neither raw material, nor are they fully assimilated into the structure of something larger. I find this mirrors the way we relate to large forms, like buildings, anyway: as an assemblage of parts and a conceptual whole at the same time.

In blocking the doorway at Arttransponder, I was interested in setting up a situation that is simultaneously inviting and frustrating. Inviting, I hope, because of the softness of the watercolor painting and tracing on the walls, the delicate, regular strips of wood, the desire to go and see the other side. Frustrating, on the other hand, because it is an obstacle, both to sight and to movement in the space. Things that are more conventionally grotesque operate in a similar way, both inviting and repelling us.

Finally, the word "grotesque" has its roots in the Italian for "grotto" and can be a synonym for what we usually call "Baroque," i.e. something that is heavily and fancifully ornamented. I find that decoration and ornamentation are often thought as secondary to form, and that the visual pleasure they afford is frequently criticized as frivolous. I believe, however, that changing the surface of something, decorating it, is an act of individual agency on a crucial everyday level. The power to change how one's world looks is important.

Friday, January 22, 2010

About my piece in the Arttransponder exhibit...

Over the course of preparing for the show, our group met many times to discuss the topics relevant to our course, and how our projects were developing in relation to those topics. As you know, the name of the class is: "Points of Penetration: The Grotesque Body & Humor in Art". Obviously, many different kinds of physical penetration were discussed.

I thought it would be worthy to investigate the penetration of the body by light, or by a spirit. I have always been inspired by Hildegard of Bingen, and thought it would be interesting to engage with that immaterial inspiration in a bodily way, in which something material was produced; ie; An illumination by Hildegard through me, documenting the event in which she penetrated my body/soul/mind, and produced a vision. The drawing and the supporting ephemera are the physical records of that moment of penetration, and I think of my piece for the show as a kind of grotesque body.

Also, I'd like to think that the work is not without humor, in the way that it may be extremely presumptuous to assume that this could even occur, and that it would happen in America---as I am American, and she is German.

Nonetheless, I was truly feeling inspired in the making, and enjoyed the process immensely.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What we can learn from a quick google search.

Raj mentioned that a google search for "an american orifice" yields a lot of fun stuff (depending on how you like your fun; I enjoy irony) on airport security. This makes sense, as I got a fairly joyless but extremely intimate pat-down at Tegel Airport before returning to the US from Berlin. Raj mentions similar brouhaha in Paris.

But the point is, my search didn't come up with as much hair raising stuff. Arttransponder tops the list, thank goodness. But most of the results are either engineering or heart-surgery related, both disciplines involving a lot of valves, I guess. Ever on the lookout for weird data, I clicked the "related searches" button. Gold mine. Here we go:

an united states orifice

an english orifice
an southwest orifice
an usa orifice
an delta orifice
an american venturi
an american weir
an american nozzle
an american office
an american flow
an american orifice straight
an american orifice they
an american orifice long
an american orifice major
an american orifice should
a us orifice
an continental orifice
an northwest orifice
a canadian orifice
an alaska orifice

My favorites are "an continental orifice" and "an american nozzle."

Niet Normaal: Difference on Display

Birgit Dieker, Bad Mummy, 2005

Marc Quinn, Stuart Penn, 2000

Thomas Hirschhorn, Mannequins avec Outgrowths,Le Creux de l'Enfer, Thiers, 2006

Friday, January 15, 2010

An American Orifice Press in Der Tagesspiegel

So they make me a man in this short write up . They also make Raph's love story in East Berlin between a man and a woman! Should we respond to the inaccuracies and write the author? Adrian Piper did this with great bravado.;art2811,3000272

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Only in an emergency...

A nice safety tip involving the asshole. I just read Moby Dick so this seems like practical advice to me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Das Berliner Medizinhistorische Museum

Today I went to the Berliner Medizinhistorische Museum, in the spirit of the grotesque. My timing was good because there is a show about the history of German dentistry, with lots of alarming antique dentures and pliers. I also checked out the Pathological Museum, a collection within the main museum, of anatomical specimens. There was also an exhibit both from a patient's and a medical point of view, explaining the hospital treatments of various patients over the centuries of Charité Hospital's existence, from a pregnant woman giving birth (she was a prostitute, and the hospital was originally for the poor and for soldiers, and care was provided by doctors in training to be military surgeons), to a 20th century man who received a liver transplant.

As is usually the case with me, I was most absorbed not by the actual bodies before my eyes, and there were many, whole and partial, in the pathology exhibition, but by the medical furniture and accoutrements, which tend to give a hint about the value, and possibly the aura, that these equipment and procedures held for doctors and patients. The birthing chair, a giant rough wooden throne with a half circle notch in the seat and two stones, presumably to rest feet on, on the floor below was pretty amazing, as were the delicate silver handles on antique toothbrushes and the velvet-lined cases of dental instruments.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In Berlin at last!

After a long journey, three of us have made our arrivals in Berlin and are getting things moving for Friday's opening at Arttransponder. In the meantime, I keep thinking about buildings, incomplete buildings, buildings that are falling apart. Plenty of buildings here in Prenzlauer Berg are pleasantly worn down and it's easy to see how old they are. But I've also come into a bunch of old photos from home that show the house I grew up in, at stages before the shingles, what can be compared to the skin, even went on. In the pictures, the house looks flayed, but it is actually being born. We had moved in before the outside was finished, and the inside was never finished in places. Here they are, including one with me inexplicably throttling myself for the camera.

Rosa Luxemburg's Body