rebeccaharrisseptember

Writing, thinking, shifting, spacing. Aporia, absences and the inbetween. Art and other things.

27th November 2015

Giselle is eight months old

‘A Place in the Collection?’

Museum Boijmans Von Beuningen, Rotterdam

“Every object given a place in an existing art collection behaves like a newcomer to the family. It shakes the collection up, surprises it, holds a mirror up to it and finds its place. This is undeniably true of Reine Magritte’s enigmatic painting ‘Le miroir vivant’ (The Living Mirror).

Museum Boijmans Von Beuningen wold like to purchase this work – it is a superb fit in our collection of Surrealist art and a key work In Magritte’s oeuvre. The painting is shown here alongside a broad selection of works in the museum’s comllection – from Dada to Pop Art and from Minimal to conceptual art.

For this occasion curator Francesco Stocchi collaborated with artist Alex Da Corte, imagining ‘Le miroir vivant’ as a starting point from which all kinds of tales can be spun. The objects in this exhibit tell a story that was not thought up by Magritte, but will be different for every visitor. Surrounded by the collection, ‘Le miroir vivant’ comes to life, and the mystery and magic of the work are free to roam.”

Key words: newcomer, surprise, living mirror, tales, mystery.

 Ideas: Not associating text to current personal state. Attempting to resist self-reflexivity but enjoying the language used in this scenario nevertheless. I’ve come to Rotterdam with my friend artist Ruth Legg to meet Deirdre Donoghue from web platform m/other voices. I’m now alone with Giselle as I walk around the exhibitions in the museum.

26th November 2015

Giselle is eight months old

Christian Nyampeta, How to Live Together: Sequentia at the Prix de Rome, Visual Arts 2015

De Appel, Amsterdam

“The word idios, ‘private’ or ‘one’s own’, usually means in Aristotle’s corpus simply what is not common, public, or relative to the regime.

Aristotle’s conception of the private includes both the household and the meaning of idios but it goes beyond both; for the private is constituted of activities that cultivate virtue and discount common opinion.

It is not that Aristotle never characterises places as private; rather, in his estimation what defines a site as private are the activities that ordinarily go on within it. If the activities promote virtue uncompromised by prevailing morality, then the place is private. Similarly, the number of persons involved in an activity does not in itself determine whether it is public or private.”

(I lean later that this is a quotation taken from: The Ethics of Homelessness: Philosophical Perspectives by G. John M. Abbarno)

Key words: idios, one’s own, cultivate virtue, public and private.

Further research: the role of rhythm in shaping our life; collective and individual rhythms used to develop better harmony between people; communities and localities.

“Following the ideas of French literary critic Roland Barthes who insists that there is a relation between rhythm and power, and that oppression is a rhythmic medium, Sepquentia speaks to the need for subjective and collective adaptions of our understanding of harmony.” (taken from press release)

14th June 2015

Giselle three months old

Corin Sworn, Silent Sticks, 2015, Film, Sound, Mixed Media

At the Whitechapel Gallery, London

“The new work of Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn is a direct result of a research-led approach to scenographic installation. Centre stage is given to the tale of a 16th century imposter, a famous tale and court case that epitomised shifting notions of the self in the rapidly changing society of Renaissance Europe.”

Key words: Centre stage, shifting notions of the self.

Ideas: Artist engaging and referencing a broader history of creative and cultural practice to create multi-faceted artwork. Thinking in terms of performativity in the public space. Audience performing as they move around the space of imagined performance. My performing with Giselle who is happy in this artwork.

 

 

Reading Wall Texts

Since having my daughter Giselle just over a year ago, I have come to see aspects in my thinking and experience of art theory and my engagement with art altered.

My interest in the spaces of rupture between art history and art practice remain: that being the activity of making and thinking, as opposed to the engagement witn art through learned experience. I have also come to realise that the continuing concern regarding the activity of writing around art and the space of the universal as opposed to the specific has again adjusted. The experience of being one and then two, suddenly but then not so, given the period leading up to birth; to being a carer, an educator and protector to this new human being, has impacted on my personal responses to the world around me.

While I continue to consider the position of different forms literature , often moving away from traditional art historical and theoretical text to think about the encounter with the artwork, at this moment –when motherhood has been an overriding activity in my daily life – I have come to notice a shift in my concerns and the way I read, think and move to follow a train of thought in response to art and beyond.

I don’t know how long this interest will remain, or whether it will have a lasting impression on my research, but for archiving /thinking purposes, I have been collecting the wall texts that run alongside the artworks that have been of my most interest in the past year or so. These texts have impacted on my experience for several reasons: they have acted as a response to my previous research, and in some/most cases held aspects that relate back to something elsewhere. I write ‘something’ for it might be an element of a novel, an academic or a philosophical text, an article, or indeed another artwork. Some aspect of my reading or a response to a method of thinking that seems pertinent.

And then, there is something else: ideas or thinking that have invaded these spaces.

The choices have often related back to an engagement with literature that has been a source of support this past year – both intellectually and otherwise. This new engagement with art and cultural theory and most interestingly to me, aspects of philosophy and literary theory that I had previously engaged with, has provided something anew. I’m reminded of Hélène Cixous’s essay “Savoir” when she speaks of a loss when writing of her recovered sight after a lifetime of myopia.

 

So my intention is to begin posting these wall texts and some of my responses –often written very quickly in moments between one thing happening and another. But mostly this is just texts with key words that somehow run together. In the background to this I have been attempting to write a longer text, which constantly changes depending on my mood and again, what I’m reading and not reading. I find presenting my writing rather terrifying and so am constantly working through and with this sense of exposing and not exposing. And in fact, theory is my cover-up.

the idea of a line

rebeccaharrisseptember

To think of a line of thought one at first might think of how we use language in order to position one’s own ideas or thoughts. To construct an understanding of an idea for oneself and for others that identifies a beginning, a middle and an end. Although this is the basic format for any piece of writing, it is also an approach taken to create an order or to justify our thinking, to make sense of it. In everyday instances the key element is the finale of such a process, so we might consider the line of thought as associated to the preparatory moments. Although we might assume that these moments are based in language, there is a space where the visual is determined by the nonvisual, the moments where a memory is linked to another, when conversation or experience play with our thinking. When approaching a work of…

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the idea of a line

To think of a line of thought one at first might think of how we use language in order to position one’s own ideas or thoughts. To construct an understanding of an idea for oneself and for others that identifies a beginning, a middle and an end. Although this is the basic format for any piece of writing, it is also an approach taken to create an order or to justify our thinking, to make sense of it. In everyday instances the key element is the finale of such a process, so we might consider the line of thought as associated to the preparatory moments. Although we might assume that these moments are based in language, there is a space where the visual is determined by the nonvisual, the moments where a memory is linked to another, when conversation or experience play with our thinking. When approaching a work of art, the line of thought culminates in the final work of art, while the process of making informs our response to it. The line of thought might instead be the gestural action of art-making, the link between the subject to the body of the artist to the surface of the canvas for example.

I)

In literature, language is framed in quotation marks, while the book frames a use of language in subjects and ideas determined by accepted linguistic forms that have been accepted into the cannon of that discipline. The nature of literarure allows for a certain amount of deviation within the structure. So the frame is rather like the line acting as a continuous conceptual guide that creates a method by which to read and within the space we might sort to gain the specifics of a theory or rather suspend belief as we enter an imaginative landscape of fiction. Philosophy might be considered as a form of liberation, having a conceptual intensity that liberates us from the ”extended world of material texts, contexts, historicity and style.” Claire Colebrook makes the claim that this liberation might mean that we are able to read certain theoretical text for a “concept of time”, to allow us to “re-structure the very nature of thinking and subjectivity.” (1) This act of framing is not so far removed from the frame around a painting, or the lines that form a sculpture, to which the eye can adjust its perspective to see something else. We might use such expectations of the liberated text in our approach to free art from the discourse of a thematic art history. I might claim that the use of a seemingly simple subject, the line, only highlights the layers of expectations we have as a viewer, and it is by considering these layers of expectations that might reveal a more complex reading of art……….

Here is an extract from an essay I wrote last year that takes the exhibition Line of Thought presented at Parasol Unit in London as a starting point. I was told I could pretty much write anything I wanted for this, which was very nice of the people at Site95. This essay relates  to several aspects of my research and this essay acted as a testing ground for placing some of my reading with something more actual, so to speak. There are certainly elements of this in my thesis, but it also relates to many broader concerns I  hope to continue to work with later.

Anyway, here is a link to the article and the Site95 site:

Click to access site95_Journal-01_06e.pdf

http://www.site95.org/about-2/

All images, “Lines of Thought” Parasol unit, London, February 28 – May 13, 2012
Courtesy Adrian Esparza, photo credit: Stephen White.  Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art.

some other writing

I’m going to post a few links to exhibitions, and to essays and articles that I have written about. However, this won’t be presented in any particular order, as that won’t really reflect on my writing practice if that’s what you want to call it.

When it comes to writing I do need structure and find I get lost without it. I think and write tangentially, which can get me into terrible muddles, but I find the process of researching and then writing these shorter essays for specific purpose helpful as a method for engaging with the visual world and also aspects of the non-visual world that we attempt to think and engage with in concrete terms. Writing can be a way of pushing the possibilities of language to describe, but it also reveals its limits over and over again, which is fascinating. I like to find ideas, to consider where I found them and to research other ideas that perhaps shouldn’t really relate. Writing about artworks (and other creative practice… to come later) that don’t relate to my independent research means that I can extrapolate these ideas based on the different contexts I find myself in.  It’s a way of engaging with contemporary practice and thinking through technique, concept and context that shift out into the margins of what I think I should be writing about I suppose.

The Isolation Room is a space within a space; a small removed, yet integrated environment, detached from the living environment yet part of it through the engagement of the space as a sculptural project, a kit to build. The space, although small, is consuming through its presence as something to enter, not so dissimilar to the religious associations in the children’s book, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The smallness and structure of the space enhances the sense of the strictness of the cube, as well as being removed from the movement of the space outside. But it also, perhaps tellingly, evokes child’s play of building camp, exploration and the imagining of another world- it is an isolated environment that we entered to find something other than what is outside. The Isolation Room provides a space for contemplation, clinically isolated within another almost public space like a hospital, or maybe like a place of worship, it being part of and apart from the world.

Some time ago I wrote a couple of essays for Isolation Room, a project started up by St Louis residents Dana Turkovic and Daniel McGrath in their living room. I wrote something for the exhibition of Johannes Wohnseifer ‘s Thin Commandments ( http://www.wohnseifer.com/). You can see the press release here: http://www.isolationroom-gallerykit.com/pastexhibitions/johanneswohnseifer.html.

Here is a link to the essay: http://www.isolationroom-gallerykit.com/images/Wohnseifer.HarrisEssay.pdf.

The second show I wrote on presented works by Gunther Herbst: http://isolationroom-gallerykit.com/pastexhibitions/guntherherbst.html. See: http://isolationroom-gallerykit.com/images/GuntherHerbst.pdf.

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Here is a link to Dana and Daniel’s latest project: http://www.duetstl.com/home.html

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation, c.1440-41, Fresco, Monastery of San Marco, cell 3.

“Such is the new term that must be introduced, to distinguish the ‘visible’ (elements of representation, in the classic sense of the word) from the ‘invisible’ (elements of abstraction). Angelico’s white self-evidently belongs to the mimetic economy of his fresco: it provides, a philosopher would say, an accidental attribute of this represented inner courtyard, here white, and which elsewhere or later could be polychrome without losing its definition as inner courtyard. In this respect, it indeed belongs to the world of representation. But it intensifies it beyond its limits, it deploys something else, it reaches its spectator by other paths. Sometimes it even suggests to seekers-after-representation that there’s ‘nothing there’ – despite its representing a wall, although a wall so close to the real wall, which is painted the same white, that it seems merely to present its whiteness. Then again, it is by no means abstract; on the contrary, it offers itself as an almost tangible blow, as a visual face-off. We ought to call it what it is, in all rigor, on this fresco: a concrete ‘whack’* of white. (* A colloquial meaning of pan , which can also mean ‘section’ (of a wall), ‘panel’ (in tailoring), ‘patch’ (of blue sky – or of a painting).)”

Georges Didi-Huberman, ‘History of Art, Practice’, in Confronting Images: Questioning the End of A Certain History of Art. Translated by John C. Goodman, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004.

Textuality, art-making and identifications of practices, of objecthood and the personal

Hi, so I have finally yielded to the world of websites and blogging. It’s a bit of a scary thing, which I appreciate that everyone knows, although most people seem to have been doing this for years and I’m sort of hoping that I might become lost in the mass of blogs, which I guess is not really the point…so I’m going to try not to be to open, to use this as a space of the confessional but allow that  strange liberating feeling take over a bit. Here I can escape the requirements that many people writing will appreciate; the constant self-editing, re-writing and then the feedback and then the need to shift those spaces of one’s writing, of thinking for the audience, to not be too much or too little of something, to appeal to mass audiences when actually why can’t I just writing for what matters and that maybe is relevant to others, and yet unspoken out of context or in one context as opposed to another…… one of my main interests is in the negotiation with the visual or rather I attempt to ask, what is the visual? Contemporary art and a discussion of the spaces of the art practice, the parts that constitute the art -making as opposed to the finished object are key to how I will present ideas here, for objecthood in contemporary art practice is a strange and dislocated idea but perhaps by thinking of this in the here and now, we might return and rethink our engagement to past works that have continued to be positioned within specific discourse of art history. This means that I hope to write about and engage with thinking about art that might challenge assumptions and associations, but I also want to show you some other stuff. I want to reflect on some of those things that I want to think and write about but never have time, or that I can’t quite consider in a broader notion of my place in the art world and beyond. So this is a testing space – a place where things will not always make sense and that might lead me elsewhere and not hold me down. To stop trying to determine.

So I hope that this is enough for now. I might just start adding some images and add some taglines. And please, join in, share things.

 

By the way, I found this photograph from Self Service magazine’s website (http://selfservicemagazine.com/#//) I like that the tagline for this handbag, which is on the ‘Daily Obsessions’ page reads: “Shades of white by Missoni.” I want to add something on colour and non-colour as it is something that has moved in and out of my writing on art and our relationship to experiences of art. More on this later.

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