LEADEN WITH SLEEP

Los Angeles, Brian BressRIDLEY TREE SLEEPER #2 (Nick and Brian), 2012

“Being conscious of the unconsciousness of life is the most ancient tax on intelligence”  Ferdinando Pessoa

BRIAN BRESS, Redley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012 Courtesy of the artist

BRIAN BRESS, Ridley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012
Image Courtesy of the Artist and Cherry and Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

Rosanna Albertini about Sleeper.            

The head was dozing not afraid to fall forwards she did not even have a body. She felt free without knowing from what, no expressions nor identity. Ten years, twenty minutes? Easy to pass over the words images do not care of time. The hand supporting the chin is completely unknown. Please don’t tickle I’m falling asleep.

It was a nobody’s face, quite heavy and very different from other hand-made faces of artworks in the artist’s studio, those covered by leftovers from stories they will not tell me. An orange peel, a bunch of feathers, a sort of tail modifying a nose, a piece of leather, they transform each face. Useless to try to recognize who’s underneath: maybe each face is a garden of wishes: as they materialize, grow, multiply, expand beyond the skin between two ears and a field of hair, their natural appearance gets lost, impossible to eat it and speak it out. Well for a time the inner life was resisting like a mule the artist’s hands trying to pull her out … she filled his fingers, instead, with flowers, legs of grasshopper, printed images all broken in pieces and myriads of cut outs. There was a moment he disappeared under their invasive attack, wore them as overalls.

Instead of excreting thoughts, the mask had expelled a crown of little heads, all alike, each with thick black hair and a flat face. He, she, it, who knows? There’s no natural air around her everything is painted canvas, the arms are human painted as well. Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, along with many others of the same age provided colors and impressions. (The Santa Barbara Museum of Art wanted a piece of our present for the gallery of Impressionists.) And lady Earth offered the clay for the head. Art is made of donors.

BRIAN BRESS, Ridley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012 Courtesy of the artist

BRIAN BRESS, Ridley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012
Image Courtesy of the Artist and Cherry and Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

“We like looking into the future because we should like, by wishing, to draw what is still fluid and shapeless in it towards us here to our advantage.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

The artist handled all the presents he received from future and past and in the end was so tired he could only become a head lost in the fullness of time, looking at one image in his memory: an old lady sitting on the floor of his parents shop, dozing and falling asleep in not more than five minutes. “Grandmother, anima mia, don’t move, let me join you.” I’m quite sure she wouldn’t have seen her grandson’s dilemma as an artist, this time not wanting to perform his own score the diagram was lost and finally he let the artwork make him, and devouring him until he became a bunch of numbers: all in all, a high definition sleeper.

BRIAN BRESS, Ridley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012 Courtesy of the artist

BRIAN BRESS, Ridley Tree Sleeper #2, 2012
Image Courtesy of the Artist and Cherry and Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

“Nothing so characterizes a man as what he finds ridiculous. We laugh when the elements of a moral discrepancy are brought home to our senses in a harmless way.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Italy 1943, food from the convent

 ALBERTO ALBERTINI from Milan: LA CERTOSA DI PAVIA

A young man (16 years old) looking at the world

During the war we used to go quite often to La Certosa for food supplies, sometimes I went by myself. Two things produced a strong impression on me: the room I was given to spend the night in and the orchard.

The room was austere, with no decoration at all: a bed, a chest of drawers. Windows were small, the room relatively large. White. A sense of fear was induced by that space, along with an intimate well being. For a solitary like me, a secret pleasure.

The orchard. The orchard was like the other face of the moon. I did not know it was there because the convent was split in two parts: on one side the monks, with their own life and all their privileges, and on the other side the agricultural workers’ practical activities: using the mill, preparing supplies. I became aware of it from my room; a window looking at the interior, the monks zone, I suppose it was the cloister. And I saw the orchard in the moonlight, it was almost unreal. I discovered later the proper description in Romeo and Juliette: oh moon spreading silver on the top of the orchards … more or less, I don’t remember the sentence perfectly but I do remember the orchard, it was that.

Alberto Albertini, L'aia della certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L’aia della Certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L'aia della certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L’aia della Certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L'aia della certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L’aia della Certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L'aia della Certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L’aia della Certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L'aia della Cetosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, L’aia della Certosa, 1943

Durante la guerra ci andavamo spesso per fare rifornimento viveri, qualche volta ci andavo da solo. Mi sono rimaste vivamente impresse due cose:la stanza che mi assegnavano per dormire e il frutteto.

La stanza era austera, disadorna, un letto, un comò. Le finestre piccole, le dimensioni del locale relativamente grandi. Bianca. Incuteva rispetto e insieme il senso di star bene con se stessi. Per un solitario, un piacere intimo.

Il frutteto. Il frutteto era come l’altra faccia della luna, ne ignoravo l’esistenza perché la certosa era divisa in due: da una parte i monaci con la loro vita e i loro privilegi, dall’altra i villici che gestivano le cose materiali, il mulino, le scorte. Ne ho preso conoscenza appunto dalla camera, una finestra dava sull’interno, la zona monaci, suppongo il chiostro. Il frutteto lo vidi in una notte di luna e fu quasi irreale. Una definizione idonea la scoprii piu tardi in Romeo e Giulietta: oh luna che tingi d’argento la cima dei frutteti … circa credo, non ricordo perfettamente la frase ma il frutteto sì, ed era così.

Alberto Albertini, Il cavallo della certosa, 1943

Alberto Albertini, Il cavallo della Certosa, 1943

THE OTHER SIDE OF TIME

 Rosanna Albertini about KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAIs installation

Letters to Chantri #1: The lady at the door/The gift that keeps on giving

At THE MISTAKE ROOM, 2014

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 U-topia? Non-space? Not at all. Korakrit is from Bangkok, now he lives in New York. He is as young as a heron, he found the way to survive and make art in the marsh, the unsteady ground stamped by the hallmark of our uncharitable lack of moral strength or hope for a future. The price he pays, is a “peculiar sense of contingency” and a fragile sense of beauty threatened from every side, first of all from the visitors’ frequent, almost inevitable misunderstandings: “What a wonderful experience!” “That’s a simple metaphor, a ritual of purification.” No blame on anybody, for these are reasonable reactions of humans attached to reasonable expectations.

The strength of this art piece is emotional and symbolic. My heart bumped when I entered the first time and again when I reentered the Mistake Room space. A pleasure fed by fear. It was like standing on a tree pulled up by the roots, no ground, no sky. A fountain, hands offering a bar of soap, transparent, translucent. A collection of hybrids: mirrors that are changeable paintings, a passage between two groups of mannequins all alike: a patrol of white statues, and projections that are reflections of a personal journey from confusion-isolation to clarity to social smile and applause. The mare of the night was galloping in my ears.

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Disquieting space. Darkness is the poetic touch. We all become shadows to one another as we look at our backs, because we all turn when instructions are given and still we see the back silhouettes of those who are walking out. The only magic light is on hands offering the soap. Yes, it sounds banal. Who’s afraid of banality? Watching TV, reading papers, phones, screens, we multiply illusionary thoughts: seeing is not understanding. History we live in is invisible. The past is out of reach. Therefore we really see nothing. I’m sure the artist found in himself some winding existential feelings to build his goal of cleaning his own soul as a message for other humans.

Is there the “white elephant” behind his obsession with white? In Thailand white elephants, chang phueak, are sacred animals, they can’t be used for work, they are also called chang samkhan, “auspicious elephants.”

So he replaced the arrogance of tradition and intellectual foundations with “the open-eared attentiveness of the child: expanses; solitude; being led; letting reason grow out of things and into man; a more universal, more conciliatory, but less precise mode of thought in place of ethical-activist brusqueness.”*

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 KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAI (feat. boychild)

Letters to Chantri #1The lady at the door/The gift that keeps on giving

The Mistake Room, Los Angeles, CA 2014

Photos: Peter Kirby

The moment we enter his territory we can’t avoid cringing. With the best intentions, Korakrit has made his message as messages are made today by the long hand of the market: formally perfect images of eternal youth. Apparently they correspond so perfectly to the rules and meanings that different societies, in the east and the west, have already accepted and digested, that one doesn’t even feel the need to think about them. They are a ‘natural representation’ good for everyone. Except, they are exactly what the mercantile wisdom has discovered and spread beyond control. Here the artist walks on a shaky bridge: he embraces the aesthetic of “a special form of violence shockingly flexible, highly developed, and creative in many respects,”** the aesthetic of capitalism. But he also offers the gift that keeps on giving, to expand his desire of simple, clean human connections.

It might be the other side of time, a chapel maybe, or a raft in the ocean. I like better to think of Korakrit riding a white elephant, while adjusting the glasses on his nose. On this side of time, I would be grateful for his auspices.

*and ** ROBERT MUSIL, Essays, 1918-1933

Death of a School

NICOLE MILLER from Los Angeles: “Death of a School (Requiem)” 2014

Single Channel video 8’ 7”

“The last day in the school my mother thought in for 20 years before the building was shut down forever.” N.M.

 

 

 © Nicole Miller

 

LETTER TO NICOLE

As far as I know, images don’t commit videocide, they aren’t leaves. Not seasonal. Especially video images of these days that are anchored in numbers, highly defined, forced to compete for the best reproduction of real life. I’m trying to cool down the surge of emotions your art brought up in my senses and I’m not succeeding. Why should I? I’m not an image. Someone wrote that Romanticism represents the interior truth of human nature. I stay with him.

Robert Schumann’s music tricks me. Piano, forte, chiaro, scuro, adagio, fortissimo. Musical language is almost naturally Italian. You made it Nicole, I don’t want to know how technically you made it, the visual poem is so well modulated that it sounds soft, pervaded by untold questions, sensual pleasure along with an undefined sense of loss of reality, so that feet can fly and bodies appear weightless. The opposite of Bill Viola’s slow motion, asking for attention and resolution. It’s driven by hidden motions of your soul, it’s your own take of that day.

Among ups and downs of light and sounds, in focus, blurred, all the people of that memorable day burn their videotime in mid-air, they dance their goodbye. People and places look real and they are not. Fleeting and ungraspable like the mood, hands with nothing to hold on to.

I’m extremely grateful and happy that you made this artwork for The Kite. Up to you to compare your video art to the early times of this young tree. I went back to clarify my impressions, this is what I found:

 

 Nam June Paik, 1976

ONCE ON VIDEOTAPE, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DIE … IN A SENSE

Much confusion about today’s video art comes from the lack of categories to distinguish “good and boring art” from “bad and boring art.” Boredom itself is far from being a negative quality. It is rather a sign of aristocracy in Asia. And again this confusion stems from the confusion about input-time and out-put time.

Willoughby Sharp 1976

I use video as a knife to cut to the heart of the matter and the matter is me.

Joan Jonas 1972-76

I think of the work in term of imagist poetry; disparate elements juxtaposed … alchemy.

Shigeko Kubota 1976

Video is Vengeance of Vagina / Video is Victory of Vagina /  Video is Venereal Disease of Intellectuals / Video is Vacant Apartment / Video is Vacation of Art / Viva Video …

Ed Emshwiller 1975

For me video is like painting, immediate.

For me video is like film, a collaborative art.

For me video is like dance, a sensual pleasure.

For me video is a series of questions.

For me video is a process of discovery.

For me video is the most exciting medium I know.

Tom Dewitt 1976

Can light be codified in some equivalent to musical theory? … As I navigate this flood I realize that dada has given way to data, that video art is the other side of the keyhole cut in the wall of art history by the black canvas and the exploding sculpture.

Juan Dawney 1976

Video, more clearly than any other art material or procedure brought my aesthetic endeavors closer to political and social issues.

The unconscious of a person contains the memories of many.

Miss You Tooooooooth

JUDY DARRAGH and her tooooooooth from New Zealand

Her words:      A thought I have been having lately is to remove the word ‘contemporary’ from contemporary art … If we liberate the word, art becomes more about the now, the present. There is a need to locate art in some frame of time. I make things mainly from materials sourced from the heap our lives throw up.

To have success you need to have failure … failure is never planned and it comes with no trace of cynicism. I find I work best in a less thinking state that allows these mishaps and chances to happen – when looking for materials I let the objects find me. We are schooled not to make errors. We judge failure in amounts: too bright, too illustrative, too messy. The excessive is the preferred judgement of failure.*

 

JUDY DARRAGH, Miss You Tooooooooth, 2014 Photo: Sam Hartnett Courtesy of the Artist

JUDY DARRAGH, Miss You Tooooooooth, 2014
Photo: Sam Hartnett    Courtesy of the Artist

 

My words:       It’s a still life, and a relic or the way art mixes natural with cultural history. When life is painted, a symbolic form wraps ideas that surge from inexplicable needs, even Picasso throwing up colors that had filled his body to the top. But here, with Judy Darragh, the tooth is real. Ivory and enamel, root and shape like a bloody new born: separated from us, body parts look messy. As a part of Judy’s body, the tooth can only be missed and loved like the tube in the snowman longing for the stove, it was a story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Art changes with us as we live. “Visible reality, the facts of the world and of the human body, are much more full of subtle nuances, and are much more poetic than what imagination discovers.” (Garcia Lorca)

Yet, it’s imagination that gives them meaning. This artist is from New Zealand and lives in Auckland. She has a talent for making fun of the veneer of grandeur that still covers the real story of a dead empire:  British colonialism in a Maori island. Indirectly, she is contaminated by the Maori spirit. And I can’t pull out of my mind the idea that her tooth — such a belligerant tool mashing veggies and meat to help the stomach — placed like an alien on an anonymous island, is a relic of a history she has absorbed to the very bones, and is now in front of her, personal and impersonal. To bite the apple, Adam and Eve’s teeth drove them out of the paradise.

Judy Darragh, and her he and her it, are a factory of sweet punches and kisses on lips bursting out of the deadliest object one can imagine: plastic leaves, fake roses, synthetic stones. But a new life explodes from each piece, even a heart made out of fake stones can bleed, and a tooth dried up of her pulp and nerves replaces The Crown without masks. As it is.

JUDY DARRAGH, Visible Woman 1988 plastic (flowers, embryo), wooden heart, electric bulb on plastic torso Courtesy of the artist

JUDY DARRAGH, Visible Woman 1988
plastic (flowers, embryo), wooden heart, electric bulb on plastic torso
Courtesy of the artist

 

JUDY DARRAGH, Art can make you  2002  (video stills)  VHS video

JUDY DARRAGH, Art can make you 2002 (video stills) VHS video – Courtesy of the artist

 

*From an interview with Tessa Laird 2013