Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Steppin' Out

I’m about to take some loaded work to the middle of the country, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Viewers will walk into an energetic video space of interacting channels. Powerful images of protest, dominance, servitude and violence will be offered simultaneously. The piece depicts the dynamics of whiteness, racism and power, using blackface and performance as strategies.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of reactions I will receive. So many stereotypes: a New York artist, radical politics, the pretension of culture on one hand; a cultural desert on the other, with a lot of food.

It all boils down to this the question: Who do I think I’m making art for? A nebulous mass to be “educated”? A small like-minded community of other artists and art enthusiasts? Whoever will look at it, draw from it what they may? Just myself?

I go with the goal of learning a little about how art functions outside the studio. I go with the goal of seeing if I can communicate with folks outside my own world.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Words as Art

My big question is can words be art? There are artists who think so: Kay Rosen, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer. When I understand their work, I'm so thrilled, I accept the possibility. At best, there is a visual image that forms from the formal arrangement and play of letters and words. In these cases, graphic design, meets writing, meets meanings of words, meets conceptual art (Kay Rosen). Sometimes, text-based work is about content and public placement (Jenny Holzer). In these cases, the thrill comes less from what I'm seeing, than from what I'm reading and thinking. It's in the head. But, most often, there is no thrill, because I don't get it.
Can words as art be moving, immediately emotionally stirring. That's my goal in the text-based videos I've been developing. The jury is still out. But, I think the best examples of moving words I've seen are in film, not only in the work of masters lke Jean-Luc Godard, but in tools like intertitles and title sequences. When they work, they can seem like poems.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gimme Pain

I visited "The Constant Possibility of Erasure" at the Dorsky Gallery in Long Island City today. It's a show about how erasure has been used in art to represent passing time and the ephemeral. There were erased drawings, covered photographs, a video of a man painting a portrait with water on rock, and a lot of chalk.

Drawing seemed to be the most visceral means of presenting erasure, and performance seemed best suited for presenting and then disappearing. But, I felt erasure could have also been suggested more explicitly through themes of loss.

Included in this post are some of my curatorial additions.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thinking by doing

Yesterday, I unwrapped the monitors, plugged in all the RCAs, even connected an old tv (analog) to a dvd player (digital), and thereby put a two-channel video I've been working on this week into space. It was a great lesson: you can't imagine it all in your head. You have to move it around and see what comes of moving it around.

What I had envisioned as two monitors forming a corner became a large projection, with a small monitor in front.

Seeing the installation suggested a slew of other work by other artists, including the conceptualist Daniel Buren:

Buren has used stripes to draw attention to what a particular space (usually an institution) is used for. For example, in the above photograph, he has blocked off an exhibition area to draw attention to what the museum permits and does not permit. My piece involves stripes that are reminiscent of the flag. I overlay the stripes with a psychological phrase set in motion. My current vein of thought involves seeing our relationship to our country in psychological terms: abandonment, denial, group psychology. This sounds heady, but, like Buren, when you see it, there's a formal appeal (I hope, I think).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Words Save

I hauled myself over to the studio yesterday in the late afternoon. No plans in mind, which explains the hauling. On my desk I have Bruce Nauman interviews, and I thank him for yesterday's production. These words saved.

"When I think about doing art I think about it as an investigation of the function of the artist, or the function of myself as the artist. Each piece of work is a result of what I do in the studio every day, year by year. I think: ‘How do you spend your life being an artist?’ and I attempt to be honest with myself about that, while having some sort of moral or ethical position and some integrity about being an artist. Individual works point to different directions so when you experience a body of work over a long period of time, you get a little more understanding of what an artist is.”

Then I allowed myself to investigate. To do and redo. To what ends, I am still unclear. But, thank you Bruce Nauman for expressing that this investigation is part of the purpose.

The above Nauman piece, a statement and sign, is myth and truth. I like the freedom behind the idea that art doesn't always have to be certain.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Creative Pace

Yesterday I wrote about magical thinking. Today, Ed Winkleman's blog focuses on the role of confidence in an artist's success. That is, if an artist declares, and actually believes, "I am the best," it helps. The theme seems to be can we control what's going to happen?

I personally think that any sensitive person can't possibly feel confidence without questioning it. This is not to say that self-deprecation is of any value. On the contary.

I went into the studio and puttered. No goal, no finished piece in mind to work on. Something did in fact come out. But it's not a triumphant birth, it's a consequence of simply not deleting. I'll go back today. Work on what I squeezed out yesterday. Can any of this be of any value?

Although I promised (to "you") what yesterday's magical thinking produced, I haven't yet figured out how to upload video.

If there's anyone out there, can you advise?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Who's Afraid of Magical Thinking?

It's widely "acknowledged" by cool-headed psychologists and scientists that magical thinking serves a calming purpose. That is, it soothes us when the chaos or unpredictability of the world bears down too heavily. We can turn to magical thinking when we really want the Mets to win, or when we really want to get into Art Omi, or when we really want the plane not to crash - but when we just can't control these things.

I'm using this space today to posit that magical thinking works.

Today I will go into the studio and break new ground. I will pull myself out of this creative slump, and glide ahead with new video text pieces. And all this because I wrote it down on this post.

Tomorrow I'll post what I came up with.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Getting Started

This blog will be part of my studio practice. The romance of a struggling artist in her studio is only romantic if something finally comes out, gets noticed, and becomes romantic in hindsight. In reality, there's a constant drone, "What do I think I'm doing."

I always imagine this to be part of Bruce Nauman's seminal studio videos.

The intentions of this blog at this starting moment are
1. to get my work out "there" in whatever form I can
2. to gather and hone my thoughts regarding art
3. to use the space as a kind of sketchbook for the development of my video art practice.