Why such an unreasonable demand? Only the premiere of a four hour screening of performances of women “repeatedly submerging and scrubbing the fabric they wear…effusive liquid emerging between their legs…” Never mind, you are free to come and go throughout. Still not persuaded?
Well. Surely you can spare a click or two to at least contemplate Amanda Coogan’s impressive body of work. How We Live Now tells me Coogan is a national treasure on the isle, and the website makes it easy to believe. Here, the Madonna performances, with the blunt offering of unglamorous breast. There, We Shall Glorify, Coogan lip synching while white powder is manually poured over her, eventually forming a conical pile on her head. Everywhere, shiny, colourful formalwear.
Coogan’s main thing is durational performance, brought nearly mainstream recently by Marina Abramovic. But she seems to believe that these performances can communicate after the fact, through pixels, as she’s invested her site with plentiful documentation: pictures, videos, writings.
I concur. We haven’t seen any of this live yet, and have juuuust missed the Yellow premiere. But I will be thinking about explaining the sea to an uneaten potatoe for a while (above, thanks kDamo).
Introducing Like You Care About My Wonder, in which I share some recent search results, along with the most interesting image result from searching the amalgamated phrases.
The serendipity was divine. In a long stretch of overwork, with almost no time for any of my leisure habits, I was in front of a television with a couple of hours to spare at the very moment Beginners was about to air. I’d looked forward to this movie’s release, but it had become another item on this year’s long list of missed.
I’d looked forward to it for many reasons: had connected with author Mike Mills’ previous work and interviews, will always love Captain Von Trapp, had enjoyed all of Ewen McGregor’s performances I’d seen, interested to see the story of a 75 year old coming out to his son after his wife’s death, and fabulously, A TALKING DOG.
I was not immediately disappointed. In fact, I had such high hopes that I held off disappointment until the credits, when I had to face the reality that no further redeeming content was coming. To be fair, it is these same high hopes that cause me to scribble about “disappointment” referring to a well-made picture I enjoyed. I just thought it might be a favorite, a multiple screener, a special features watcher.
The funny thing is that my beleaguered brain had forgotten that it is a Mike Mills joint, and as the end came and my impression – of superficial self-absorption spoiling things a bit – became clearer, his title card appeared and with it my eureka. My eureka looked like this:
That’s Miranda July and Spike Jonze, two artists whose work, like Mills’, I enjoy and respect but, like Mills’, leaves me a little cold. I think what happens is this:
I relate to the perspective. Those are my people, or it is the point of view of my people at least. I feel like so little of the mass culture we’ve lived with has been written for us or by us that it’s kind of thrilling when I encounter culture that has been. I proceed through the encounter, eager to be told stories from that perspective, to contemplate themes and ideas informed by that point of view.
But I find, again and again, that the perspective is the story. The point of view, itself, is the idea.
This is an exaggeration of course. These books and movies and performances convey ideas about the human condition, alienation, communication, growing up. But in terms of content by volume, there is a lot of space given to pure demonstrations of the point of view and not much else. Call it quirky-cool, call it hipster – it may be pointless to try to categorize, actually – but the extended and detailed display of the tastes, idiosyncracies and hobbies of the heroes suggests, necessarily, that these tastes, idiosyncracies and hobbies are significant and to be noted. So you mark it down, okay, and then….they aren’t actually germane. All of the things which happen to the hero or are learned by him would also have happened or been learned if he was into jogging rather than roller skating, or if he worked in an administrative office of the municipal government rather than in the arts. The importance of telling your own stories, of working from a personal pov? Sure, but how come the bureaucrat joggers don’t position the jogging as a central part of the story? Answer: how absurd! Joggers are everywhere and have been for decades. The majority of the population either does it or has done it. It would be like making a movie featuring the toasting of bread. (Which, ironically, would be quirky.) So. What we are really talking about is difference. Mainstream versus marginal. And the tendency for several decades now, to elevate difference, in and of itself, to something significant. It is the foundation of the culture of “cool”. Why do we care so much about tastes, preferences, idiosyncracies? Because relative wealth has enabled the extensive contemplation of the self. And of course commercial interests have enthusiastically cultivated and exploited that trend.
This, I guess, is the exception I take to the portraiture of quirk and cool that I see artists like Mills and July (married, as you may or may not know) draw out. It fortifies the narcissistic chains we keep ourselves in. I want my mind blown, I want my life changed, I want to lose sleep over books and films and performances, and I want to believe that this work can come from artists whose perspectives I relate to, like July and Mills. There’s no reason not to believe this – both surely have loads of work ahead of them. Beginners wasn’t it, that’s all.
Two is too few to call it a Canuck jag, so hold your horses.
Troy Lovegates/Other (Derek Mehaffey) belongs in here so much I can’t believe we haven’t posted him before. Lovegates does trains and he does galleries (despite finding indoors work “a bit pretentious and limited to an audience that is already interested in art hidden behind some walls out of reach.”) Also there is a book, thanks to what is surely the last era of the Canada Council funding this sort of thing for a while, until the electoral system is overhauled or more voters realize they care about this sort of thing or more of those who care about it start to vote dammit.
He’s been at it since 1988, in so many locations that he may not even count towards a Canuck jag (I joke). This “rainbow shoeshine box cover” is the only painting among Lovegates’ recent sales funding his travel from Europe to his first NYC opening this fall. It is painted on found wood. The rest of the marvelous offering comprised drawings and a limited edition linoleum print. He sold these direct out of his flickr without even a Tiny Showcase or 20×20 or Little Paper Planes, at prices nearly anyone could afford. In other words, one of life’s cynicism antidotes.
Today I spent some time looking at this, and thinking about playing cards, and my parents, and patterns, and paranoia. My parents recently introduced me to a board game that involves playing cards, but not in the way I was used to. Instead of trying to make patterns with the cards you are dealt, you try to make patterns on the board using the cards you are dealt. Believe it or not, this absence of any requirement to make patterns of the cards themselves struck me as daft at first.
~Hopefully I haven’t made you think of the phrase “outside the box”, like I just made myself think, and then made myself think of another phrase I instantly wished I hadn’t, the threadbare “throw up in my mouth a little”. ~
Anyway, I’d reminisced, during the game, about my childhood experience of “face” cards as quietly beguiling, with their intricate, colourful, expressive illustrations of archetypal characters. I encountered Fernando Chamarelli’s work in Flickr a few days after my playing card meditation, and I saw it as I’d seen face cards when I was a child. This launched one of my loops of wondering about connection, pattern, significance, absurdity, insanity, vanity, haste, frivolity, reality and pointlessness.
Never mind all of that. Fernando Chamarelli! Young Brazilian painter, illustrator, and graphic designer, showing internationally and producing for names like Rolling Stone and Umbro. Still maintaining a Flickr account. Still unassuming in interviews.
I love this project, in concept and in execution. I had been thinking that I could browse it endlessly, when a funny thing happened. My typically hyperbolic thought became reality, and the series went on without end. The device I first saw it on did not display a complete thumbnail gallery, so I had no idea how many photos were in the series. I just knew that I had been viewing them for some time, then I knew that I’d had that thought repeatedly, then I hypothesized that the website somehow triggers new photos (how it would locate such amazing events was obviously the x to solve for), then I considered throwing in the towel but was still too entertained to do so, then I became sleepy but aware that I could not stop viewing, then I thought of Bunuel’s Exterminating Angel, then I sought sanity and considered my unfortunate dance ignorance and determined to end that, then I found myself back at the beginning of the thought cycle (certainly not the photo cycle) realizing that I was again noticing how long I’d been viewing.
As we battle to post here (all manner of obstacles, thanks), tiny encouragements whisper and wave. Here’s one now. This online comic presented itself somewhere in our online browsing, and we were charmed. Then we noticed the frequency of her posts, and the charm was joined by a sense of camaraderie – we fancied an errant poster club for a moment.
The blog wields charms other than Anulan, including references to One Hundred Years of Solitude and Aguirre The Wrath of God. And goatwomen. Go see. I would tell you more about Carroll, but my searching turned up little more than Scott McCloud bemoaning a similarly fruitless search. Turning up in McCloud and Meathaus suggests that the searching will get easier, so watch for that…