EILEEN COWIN: MAD LOVE n.2

OUT OF PLACE

Los Angeles, mad love for life   – by Rosanna Albertini

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the Mad Love series, 2014,   5.5″ x 8.2″”
Courtesy of the artist

If I had a place I think I’ve lost it one day. It was the first day I could call of summer in Los Angeles. Windy, with the smell of the ocean mixed with stinky rotten jacaranda flowers. If I were Paco Ignatio Taibo II I would invent at least a picturesque name, but there is no need. Life on the bus is made with give a place to, take the place of, go places, keep somebody in his place until the common destiny of being humans goes all over the place and I pretend I was somebody else. Or I was for real, can’t be precise about it. Tags in my brain got confused: it started at the museum. Mark Bradford paintings were an intimate place where his own skin, his organs mutate into moments of natural expansion of spots and branches, and unnamed maps. A loud docent looking fifteen, his assurance tells he is older, pontificates in front of twenty African-American teens showing them one painting, the first in the exhibition. “Can we see the rest of the show?” asks a boy. Desire in his voice. “No, there is no time, go to the other galleries.” Click, push, go, follow directions, you are only an occasional machine. Can’t choose on your own. Art, art, what am I thinking? Walking through a not far away time of my life I follow the directions in the same museum that spells: Telephone, Restrooms. If that’s the spirit I better obey. No problem with the restrooms, but the public phone was real only in my memory; an empty niche in a wall whispered, “I miss it.” A janitor passing by must have found me pathetic. I was staring at the hole. The young docent’s voice, implacable, bumped my eardrums along the staircase to the very exit. He had become an expert on AIDS percentages in the U.S.. Jeez, why does art scare him so much? He’s made of himself a perfect machine, maybe the system might fix his engines if he goes wrong, as they do with aircraft. My place is out of there although it is not clear how it happens that drivers waiting for the green light keep their metal wrapping still instead of killing us all in our little shoes on our feet. A cloud of fear materializes around me. I can be surprised, still love the wind caressing my neck. I jump on the n.1, drop my body on the closest seat half covered by the smooth, half naked black thigh of a handsome big guy with black glasses John Belushi style. “Aren’t you scared sitting next to somebody like me?” He was the least of my concerns that day, and yet instead I didn’t want to offend him. He was a soft, large presence. By eye, I would say half my age. “Why, because you are a big guy?” Idiot, I told myself, this is after the killing for racial hatred of nine people in Charleston, history is being rewritten taking the confederate flag out of the roof, he is black, I’m white. Or, my Southern Italian blood, who knows, could have drops of black blood. As he could have drops of white blood in his veins. “I’m not dressed properly” he said. Things are confusing. He is clean and smells good, no perfume. “Where do you live?” I asked needing to place him somewhere out of Santa Monica Boulevard. “In the Palisades.” Pause. “Why do you ask?” he replied. His voice, low and pleasant, awakes the spark of a question about my … intentions? “I don’t know,” I answered with a tiny, undetectable shudder of my shoulders. I was amused. “Maybe you could be scared of me.” I said it and felt the terrifying old woman that I am, the three horizontal wrinkles on my forehead almost pricking my face.

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from Mad Love, 2014,  Courtesy of the artist

EILEEN COWIN, Untitled from the Mad Love series, 2014,  5.5″ x 8.2″
Courtesy of the artist

PS    Mad Love is an ongoing project by Eileen Cowin. These are two of the many images from the project.

CHRISTOPHER WILDE – NO IDEAS BUT IN IMAGES

…THE POWER OF ‘THEY’ …

By Rosanna Albertini

Damn repetition. Damn mental habits implanted in a middle class dream of happiness: an artificial place for every thing that was created wild, leashes for animals, and security belts for humans. Don’t expect an artist to adapt. Christopher reads words very fast, but he writes with images. Most of them floating on paper, on screens, industrially fabricated: the skin of a human landscape in which images are trusted more than words. The money makers’ business. What better way to jump in this crazy flatness than to grasp a pair of scissors and cut images out like peeling an apple, or chopping parsley and onions. This Wilde guy did it with money. Currency from all over the world reduced to linguine or tagliatelle so thin that what remains is paper grain. Then, from the primordial chaos of fragments, he rebuilds his own world shaped by feelings and prodigious fingers.

I won’t call it collage. It’s a place. Local statement where dreams and nightmares take free rides through the map. Their freedom explodes in the ride itself, and the horse blooms with flowers and leaves as if a piece of tapestry had woken up in a horse shape. Didn’t need a direction. Go!

C.K.WILDE, The Dreaming Horse

C.K.WILDE, Equina Antigua, 2010   Collage on paper, 6.5″ x 8.7″ Courtesy of the artist

He had just arrived to Los Angeles from New York City a few years ago. I was bumping my head against the wall refusing to look for a publisher. Though I had published several books, I had just written my first book free from academic rules. Christopher Wilde looked at me with surprise: “Make it yourself” he said, “use your fingers.” “The whole book as a hand made object? More than one hundred pages…” “I can teach you to bind it with no glue, only needle and thread.”

My mother’s and grandmother’s hands, both seamstresses, tickled my brain. My master was a maker of books as artworks. He showed me how to work through knots in the thread, and cope with the thickness of eleven signatures. Practice, practice! To my surprise, the physical ordeal was not merely technical. Giving the thread the right tension to keep the pages in only one body was no different than writing; there is a personal tension that keeps words and stories together. Every day brings a new tension. That’s why I refuse to lock this artist in his technique. Stories he represents are much more interesting.

Christopher’s studio was then in Alhambra, a cute small building lost among gas stations and car mechanics. But inside, it could have been an Italian bottega with a master proud of his tools. It was the place from which his first Los Angeles artwork came out, welcomed by Rosamund Felsen. Still not completely his place, not in a hospitable part of the city. And family stories filled the working space as a sort of necessity. I was adjusting to my new American life as Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, the artist’s favorite aunt, was searching for her new life’s meaning in her husband’s small Italian town.Moving to Italy made place a vast body that I had to reenter in all its difference.The same happened to me moving to Los Angeles. Wallis and I had followed the men we loved. Wallis wrote a wonderful book about her experience, I did not. Her book became the beginning of deep friendship between the artist, myself and our partners, based on our sense of place. William Carlos Williams said thatPlace is the true core of the universal.”

I borrow from aunt Wallis the body of the next and last paragraph. Her thinking is quite close to Christopher’s visual ideas. Literature and visual stories hold hands without knowing, one could never tell if they think or imagine to be thinking.

I hide, you hide, we hide, they hide. I conjugate the verb and wonder at it. I do it again. It is hypnotizing. I must address the I hiding, the you, the we. They. It’s powerful and empty. They has always been a false position. I can’t speak about a they.”

Christopher shows their hands.

C.K.WILDE, Leopold II. 2015 Collage of paper ephemera on museum board, nailed rubber frame 45 1/4 x 33

C.K.WILDE, Leopold II. 2015
Collage of paper ephemera on museum board, nailed rubber frame  45 1/4 x 33″  Photo: Grant Mudford
Courtesy of the artist and Rosamund Felsen Gallery

C.K.WILDE, Patrice Lumumba. 2015 Collage of paper ephemera on museum board, nailed rubber frame 45 3/8 x 32 1/2

C.K.WILDE, Patrice Lumumba. 2015
Collage of paper ephemera on museum board, nailed rubber frame 45 3/8 x 32 1/2″ Photo: Grant Mudford
Courtesy of the artist and Rosamund Felsen Gallery

“Patrice Lumumba was an African leader and the first democratically elected President of the Congo. He was a member of the Tetela ethnic group and was born with name Elias Okit’ Asombo. His original surname means “heir of the cursed.” Lumumba’s presidency was brief, as he was assassinated. His body was dismembered, set on fire, and dissolved with acid. The assassination was orchestrated by a coterie of international corporations, sovereign nations, and local political rivals. His death was part of the post-colonial struggle of African nations against the control of foreign parties.  Leopold II of Belgium was the colonizer of Congo in the 18oo’s. He set up a corporation with all the European leaders who had stakes in the division of Africa for colonies. Over twenty  years this corporation, disguised as a state, enslaved and killed 2-15 million Congolese for ivory and rubber. The punishment for trying to escape the plantation system was to have a hand or arm cut off. Hence the use of the images of hands to make up the body of Leopold II representing the rapacious lust of the European for African resources and the hands of the slaves cut off in pursuit of those resources. Behind Leopol are torn maps of the Congo in different eras, symbolizing the control of the land by naming and mapping it.  The portrait of Lumumba is made of maps of Africa, with the background made of hands in a halo around his head. Lumumba, the Pan-Africanist, appears here having been made out of the continent he loved, surrounded by the grasping hands of the world trying to get into his head. The Belgians, the USA, the USSR, and Great Britain all meddled in the life and career of Lumumba, eventually killing him rather than see his vision of a unified Africa come into being. The two portraits are framed in black rubber, in a final surreal gesture.”

HOW DO WE FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH TO SHARE?

— The Sharing Project  —

4. HOW DO WE FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH TO SHARE?

By Joel Tauber

There are so many different kinds of sharing that it makes me wonder why our language lumps them all together.

We share time, energy, space, information, stories, and feelings. We also share food, money, tools, cars, and toys. We share with immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and strangers.

Sometimes we share our personal possessions via loans, gifts, or charity. Other times, we decide that certain things belong to all of us (or at least some of us), and we share them in communistic ways.

Alison and I tell our son Zeke that everything in the family room belongs to our family collectively. Zeke can keep his special tools in his bedroom and moving box boat; but he can’t hide any books, blocks, or train tracks in his secret compartments, because they belong to everyone.

Before his brother Ozzie started crawling, Zeke had full control of almost all the toys. He shared them on his terms. He loaned them to Ozzie with the understanding that he would get them back; and, if he was feeling particularly generous, he offered certain toys to Ozzie as gifts.

When Ozzie started asserting his right to use the communal toys, Zeke realized that he didn’t own as much as he had previously thought. He had been taxed significantly, and he wondered why he should share his remaining prized possessions.

If I wanted to scare Zeke, I could have told him about Thomas Hobbes. He paints a picture of brutish, short, and miserable lives for those who don’t act altruistically. If Zeke is perceived as selfish, then Ozzie and others are less likely to embrace him; and he might be left to fend for himself in a competitive, harsh world.

I don’t want to motivate Zeke through fear, so I tell him that sharing his special tools will make him happy. In fact, sharing will make him happier than almost anything else. After all, that’s what John Stuart Mill suggests when he describes the particularly wonderful kind of pleasure that we experience when we act ethically.

Sometimes that line of thinking resonates with Zeke, and sometimes it doesn’t. Zeke recognizes that it’s sometimes quite hard to share, and sometimes it even makes him sad.

So, I turn to Plato and his claim that if we exercise our reason and act justly, we become more perfect human beings. I tell Zeke that he becomes a better boy when he shares. He becomes Super Zeke when he acts generously.

Zeke loves that idea, especially because he has a super hero costume with the letter Z on it.

There may be certain problems with Plato’s approach, just as there may be limitations to every other philosophical argument for altruism. Yet, ultimately, I don’t think it matters. There are plenty of reasons to embrace the value of sharing, even if it’s difficult to lump all of those reasons together into one philosophical framework.

Christian Miller believes that we probably haven’t embraced the value of sharing – or charity – enough. He points out that many of the philosophical models that so many of us believe in ask more of us than we seem to realize. The Bible commands us to love thy neighbor as yourself, Kant tells us to treat everyone as ends, and Utilitarianism mandates that we maximize happiness in the world. None of those ethical systems imply that we have the right to share or give charity only when we feel like it.

In fact, at least according to Peter Singer’s vision of Utilitarianism, we may be required to give our money and food to those who are starving up until the point that we are in danger of starving ourselves.

I feel chastened when I think about Peter Singer and my conversation with Christian Miller. I believe in the value of sharing, and I aspire to be a generous person. Yet, the ideal that Singer describes seems much too difficult to achieve.

Should I feel guilty about enjoying certain material comforts? Should I feel bad that I hope that Alison, Zeke, and Ozzie will live easy and even luxurious lives?

I was taught in my religious Jewish high school that we are acting selfishly if we don’t offer ten percent of our income to charity, but we are acting too selflessly if we give away more than twenty percent.

These guidelines sometimes feel completely arbitrary, but I’ve tried to follow them, nonetheless. They remind me to share at least some of my possessions, and they alleviate some of the guilt that I feel when I notice how many people are suffering.

Yet, I wonder if I’m blindly following convention. I contemplate sharing our 2800 square foot house with as many homeless people as possible. I consider giving away almost all of our possessions and living in a tent. The thoughts appeal to me momentarily, but then they pass. I continue living my comfortable life, and I pray that I share enough to be a good role model for Zeke.

 

Joel Tauber, “SHARE” (photo direction: Joel Tauber, shot by Kristi Chan) from the art installation and movie, “The Sharing Project”

JOEL TAUBER, “SHARE” (photo direction: Joel Tauber, shot by Kristi Chan) from the art installation and movie, “The Sharing Project”

Joel Tauber is an artist and filmmaker who teaches experimental film and orchestrates the video art program at Wake Forest University. His current undertaking – “The Sharing Project” – is both a sculptural video installation and a feature film.

http://thesharingproject.net

 

IN PRAISE OF DELICACY

ART, THREE WOMEN, AND A BRAID: Corazon Del Sol, Eugenia Perpetua Butler, Eugenia Butler

by Rosanna Albertini

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015  braided hair
Courtesy of the artist

(This art piece by Corazon Del Sol has been made for The Kite)

“My mother was…” Corazon Del Sol sorts out threads of memories that wind through her feelings, “she was a great artist entirely devoted to fragility and vulnerability.” Her mother was Eugenia Perpetua Butler. While she unfolds page by page of her mother’s 14 by 17 black notebook, drawings, as well as dreams pinned down in words, are lit by her voice, they take off. Silently, my own mother’s stories evaporate from my brain at the same time. Corazon and her mother often slept in the same bed, often sharing only one room, in Central America or California. I never slept in my mother’s bed. I’m only saying that to work with an artist is very different from scientific observation. As new stories come into play, they instantly pinch the threads of my own stories, distant and incongruous experiences merge into a new integration almost by themselves. Perhaps we only imagine ourselves, Corazon and I, as if we knew something.

“There is something universal here; not just something personal.” Ludwig Wittgenstein would say, On Certainty, 440.

The only thing we know for sure is that our mothers are in our body: in the same way Eugenia Butler the gallerist was in Eugenia Perpetua’s body. The month after she passed away my mother was so strongly in my body that I had to ask her to leave, even the mirror showed her more than me.

But re-turning to our mothers we can feel in touch, if not really knowing, with our instinctual identity. Conflicts keep it crispy. “? Who is the stranger in myself” – E. Perpetua’s question, and struggle: “The idea is that you force yourself to execute an almost impossible task under unlikely circumstances.” “Art is not a will which is intellect but being and intent.” “Like many of my generation we found ourselves caught inside a historical envelope that we never understood…we seldom know each other and can only guess, guess at the lives that…” Yes Eugenia Perpetua, I could say the same. I was born two years earlier. I hope you don’t mind if I skip details of your life and of your mother’s life. Things didn’t turn out well, you told me. Yet you had a daughter, and I remember, uttering her name your eyes did smile. I’m avoiding local circumstances, art history episodes. Simply I call you back as an artist, the secret artist you entrusted to your black notebooks, and I’m trying to give back to you the same token of ‘amorous and civilized’ signs you left in your secret books: the art of delicacy. Somebody* told that delicacy is the artistic form of compassion, ‘it touches lightly.‘

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties
Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

Among your cut papers I found a small report which is like everything else, impossible to classify as a fact, or to detect how reliable it is. Let’s keep it in the black box of your feelings, with the meaning it had for you:

An IBM scientist and his colleagues have

discovered a way to make an object

disintegrate in one place and reappear intact

in another.

It seems to me you are reappearing in your daughter’s art. Through you, also her grandmother the gallerist reappears. Let me paraphrase Roland Barthes’s glorification of love: Love has no specific place, neither in our spoken words or written arguments. Love is the ultimate escapist we can talk about only if we consider it a beyond evaluation treasure we put aside for when we are lost. Every kind of discourse about love is always addressed to somebody. “A person whom one addresses, though this person may have shifted to the condition of a phantom or a creature still to come. No one wants to speak of love unless it is FOR someone.”

As in the braid, there’s no beginning or ending in this post, no separation between images, art, documents and lives. There is, feelings.

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January  22, 1970. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January 22, 1970.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

The letter is now at The Getty Research Institute, Special collection. I received detailed information about it from Francesca Guicciardi  and Giuseppina Panza, daughter in law and daughter of Giuseppe Panza. They both take care of the Panza Collection. In January 1970 Giuseppe Panza wrote to Eugenia Butler searching for artworks by conceptual artists. This is the first answer, another followed in February offering more pieces. Photographs of the pieces were included.

In May 1970 Panza bought from  Eugenia Butler four artworks by Douglas Huebler: Duration Piece 14, Salisbury, New Hampshire, October 1968 and Location Piece #9, New England, March 1969. Location Piece #1, New York – Los Angeles, February 1969 and Duration Piece #12, Venice California – Plum Island, (Newburyport) Massachusetts, May 1969. – Between end of May and end of July he will purchase also an artwork and a drawing on paper by Joseph Kosuth: Twenty-Five Works in a Context as one Work (Special Investigation), July 1969, (on stickers); Project for Seven Square Grey Painting on Canvas with Words as Art, 1966, (drawing).

* Roland Barthes, Fragments d’un discours amoureux, 1977,  A Lover’s Discourse – Fragments, 1978, Translated by  Richard Howard.

Mineo Mizuno: WATER DREAMS: FLOWERS

THE SKIN OF A WHITE HOLE by Rosanna Albertini

They all dream of water: the clay, the flowers to be, and the artist who knows too well how life, the fluid substance of life, is more consistent and powerful than ideas. He has made ceramic objects and sculptures long enough to feel the voice of the clay in his fingers. It’s the empirical knowledge of the maker, but Mineo is Japanese despite his many years in Los Angeles, and his sculptural effort doesn’t go against the unstoppable change of every form which is alive. His agreement with reality makes him able to wrap his mind round the growth of leaves and branches, to merge his forms into the passage of seasons. If he must move, his art moves along with him.

He must create his unreal world out of what is real.” (Wallace Stevens)

Who told you matter is inert? I can see the cows who gave their bones to English factories to improve the whiteness and translucency of traditional porcelain; magma from earth’s belly thrown up by volcanos, crystals solidified in rocks, chemical weddings of mineral and animal bodies, and the china clay out of Kao-Ling’s crystals, called Kaolin from a Chinese hill mined for centuries so that Chinese porcelain could be made, and the European as well after a French Jesuit brought to Europe samples of Kaolin in the eighteenth century. There is a long story of migrations, of natural splashing, spitting and dealing with the atmosphere. Humans are part of it. Built up and eroded by space and time, our physical presence is so fragile that we seek protection in our thoughts, as if they weren’t part of the chemistry … and artists pour water on the dryness of words.

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 017, 2015.  Porcelain 13.5 x 21.75 x 13.5in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 017,  2015,  Porcelain  3.5 x 21.75 x 13.5in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, Mineo Mizuno, FMR series 018, 2015. Porcelain  7 x 20.5 x 7in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO,  FMR series 018, 2015, Porcelain 7 x 20.5 x 7in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, Mineo Mizuno, FMR series 004, 2015. Porcelain  7 x 15 x 7in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 004, 2015, Porcelain 7 x 15 x 7in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO,   FMR series 010, 2015. Porcelain 10 x 20.5 x 10in. Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

MINEO MIZUNO, FMR series 010, 2015, Porcelain 10 x 20.5 x 10in.
Courtesy of the artist and Samuel Freeman Gallery

Porcelain time for Mineo. Bone China must bloom. Cow bones almost disappeared in contemporary clay. The newborn forms by Mineo will show their happiness with being free from industrial shapes and patterns of cups, plates, vases and  teapots spread everywhere by the liquid connection between continents, from the Etruscan to the British and Portuguese ages. The new forms are so irregular, their skin so thin and personal that I can’t avoid seeing them as bodies. “Don’t touch me, I can’t be used, I’m already a flower.” Yes? “But I’m credible, my maker made me so, maybe he is also credible, as poets are, don’t you know? A white hole keeps us clear, for mystery is far from us and you can see your flops of faith in each of us, we will never serve you. But pour your dreams in us, they will fly.”

“What the whole world could not contain, did Mary contain.” [A medieval saying] “There is more real sex in that one sentence than in all the so-called erotic literature ever penned. And it is exactly about the principle of matter, whose activity is fully and willingly to receive.” (in Dirt-The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, by William Bryant Logan, 1995)