Objects of a dysfunctional time: PETER SHIRE’s TEAPOTS

At MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles

 

MUSICAL, WHISPERING VOICES

 by Rosanna Albertini

Photos: Hannah Kirby

One can look at them naked, or encrusted with the shells of futurism, art deco, Milanese design, post modernism, California surrealism, like the door of a lobster cage. I would prefer to put all the verbal definitions into a fishnet and throw them deep into the ocean. The abandonment of the teapots to themselves “is an act of generosity,” as Mario Merz would say, “deciphering is the will to die.”

They are sirens these teapots singing the music of colors and forms: an endless, nostalgic song longing for water. Their nose too big, too long for their body, and the body shrunk like a musical instrument, or borrowing heaviness from a building, or eternalizing a fruit that tries to preserve the beauty of a flower and misses the branch moved by the wind. The teapots know there is no use for them. They are sculptures, born from an artist who likes to lie on the void, trying to forget rules and all the rational roads to understanding. Search for beauty is a source of anxiety.

“to orient
not to compel
to orient
in architecture
as in sculpture
like in a drawing of oriental vocal sensibilities
that is to say musical”
— Mario Merz

“All value depends upon somebody else’s opinion. For it is the essence of this philosophy that things have no independent existence, but live only in the eye of other people. It is a looking-glass world, this, to which we climb slowly; and its prizes are all reflexions. That may amount for our baffled feelings as we shuffle, and shuffle vainly, among those urban pages for something hard to lay our hands upon. Hardness is the last thing we shall find.”
— Virginia Woolf

That’s why there is no futurISM in these teapots, no celebration of civil and warlike mechanical machineries expected to pierce the present with energy, violent breaks, and, at least verbally, to introduce hardness. Instead, the teapots are a whispering voice, like the French and Italian words avenir, l’avvenire. From the late Latin ad-venire.

I find their softness and I don’t know what it is that touches me, unless what I like is just the uncertainty about what they are. They are displaced and useless, but searching for their face to face with us. The human side which is in them, the artist’s making, meets other humans in a present which is constantly coming to be, fleeting and incapable of standing as an accomplished future. Displacement is everywhere: between words and things, dreams and reality, thinking and making. What a dysfunctional time!

And yet, I miss stroking them, giving them a caress. I can only send them a philosophical caress, the most beautiful I found.

“The caress doesn’t know what she looks for. Such ‘not knowing’ such fundamental incongruence, is essential.” “The caress is waiting for a pure time to come, time without a content. She is made with growing hunger, and more and more enticing promises, which brings new perspectives on the things we cannot grasp.”
— Emmanuel Lévinas

Mario Merz, Lo spazio e curvo e diritto, Firenze, Hopeful Monster Editore, 1990

Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, London, The Hogarth Press, 1935

Emmanuel Lévinas, Le temps et l’autre, @Fata Morgana, 1979. First edition February 1983, PUF, Paris.

 

ROMA and FONO ROMA 2 – early 1950s again

by ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Milano 2016

The Lollobrigida case, how dubbing in Italy changed forever, and how Alberto reacted to a not very exciting job with inventive resources, becoming an inventor within the film industry.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Coordinare - Coordinating

Alberto Albertini, COORDINARE – COORDINATING

Dubbing was introduced by the American film industry wanting to sell  movies abroad. The FONO ROMA had a fortuitous birth: an American producer meeting a former singer, I believe Mister Persichetti, to open dubbing studios in Italy.

Dubbing consists of repeating in Italian the foreign actors’ voice and combining the new voice with the other film sounds and music. Italian movies did not need dubbing because actors were recorded live during filming.

But, lack of money after the war and the use of non-professional actors led to the practice of dubbing the Italian movies as well, either because the live recording was expensive or because the actors were not able to speak a correct Italian. Later live recording was imposed by law, in order to protect the workers in the audio department, but the employment of non-professional actors continued. Hence the practice of audio recording to be used only as a guide for the dubbers in the final editing. Sound recording, when it is GOOD, brings additional costs not only for people and tools, but also for control of surrounding conditions such as silence in the room. Also the audio recording had to be good. Now direct recording is easier, having cheaper, and technologically more advanced devices.

O R G A N I Z Z A R E – O R G A N I Z I N G

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What I’m saying is that, before I became a mixer, I happened to record dubbing sessions for both, Italian and foreign movies.

Allora?  Three fundamental episodes came out of all that:

The job was boring. Between the testing of a loop and the recording I often fell asleep, especially during the summer at two in the afternoon. There was a day in which somebody from the recording room (I was in the mixing booth) asked me: is it OK? Yes. OK or not? You don’t sound very convinced. I got it, the answer was important. Since then I always answered Yes!!! an experience that became precious later on.

Some of the actresses refused to be dubbed and required us to let them dub themselves: The Gina Lollobrigida case. Beyond the poor quality of her acting, she had an awful voice ending in a dead sound at the end of each word. I used to raise all the final syllables to make her words comprehensible. The point is that Guglielmo Morandi, the dubbing director, wanted to extract blood from a turnip and she, at a certain moment, wasn’t able to give what the director wanted. We were stuck. From the mixing booth using the intercom I said: let’s stop for a little while, so she can rest and then we restart… Furious, Morandi shouted at me: how did I dare to interfere with the director etcetera, etcetera. The fight was long enough to allow her a rest as I had suggested and the dubbing continued. The poor girl never knew what a favor I did for her!

(She is alive, same age as I. Although I did not appreciate her as an actress, I can say she was very pretty.) Talking of which, director Luigi Zampa, while we were dubbing La Romana, told me that la Lollo was incredibly greedy: she used to remake herself the soles of her shoes to save money! That I could appreciate)

Most dubbing was operated by the CDC movie dubbers cooperative: dubbers of various origins: opera singers, former actors or deceived actors who had not had a big success or simply found this work profitable and safe. The CDC dubbers, differently from other small cooperatives of the time, had a large range of voices. It was easy to distinguish one actor from the other. Their acting though was just standard, and quite often affected by an unbearable birignao (sing song voice). It happened that the producers of of some dubbing companies (Commander De Leonardis,* as many others coming from the Navy) decided to stop the routine and gave precise instructions to the dubbing director (Giulio Panicali, who was also a dubber). Putting on the first reel of “Ne touches pas aux grisby,” Panicali spent a whole hour in the studio explaining the new requirements, and asking them to rehearse the roles, bringing the acting back to the essence of what the context implied. It means that actors did speak as if the scene were humanly true. Dubbing, since then, changed forever.

*The main helper and director of photography of De Leonardis was Mario Bernardo, former chief partisan in Friuli.

 

I N V E N T A R E – I N V E N T I N G

015 – moviola – editing table –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A dubbing editor had asked me to build it. It allowed him to vary the film speed according to the dialogue translator’s advice. The significant innovation was a solid state amplifier (transistor) in which the cell sensitive to light, able to read the sound track, was a transistor without varnish. That is to say the semiconductors are light sensitive and I had eliminated the varnish to change them into photodiodes. The results was a sound never heard before in the editing tables.

016 – registratore – recorder –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prototype to demonstrate a new style of mechanical design. One can see the difference of style in the recorder that follows.

018  018bis – Registrazione copie – reproducing recorder –

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Stereophonic cinemascope did not have an optical sound track that could be printed along with images. It had instead four magnetic sound columns; we had to align the magnetic tracks for each copy and record them. Recording was done at FONO ROMA two copies as a time as one can see in the picture. The small screen was useful to verify the synch between sound and images because sometimes the negative image was cut, but not the magnetic sound master.

019 – Containers

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Containers for cinemascope films.

020 021 022 – Surround Sound Patent –

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Working on the reproducing recorder, the one presented above, gave me the sparkle of an idea. While I was seeing the image on the small screen, I was listening to the sounds from speakers hung on the walls. I thought it could be very exciting if also in a movie theater one could listen to a shot, for instance, coming from off screen. Cinemascope had already made a provision for sounds in the theater, but diffused ambient sounds. I had in mind dialogue, shots, specific noises of events out of the visual field. I thought of utilizing half of the optical sound track (the only space that remained on the film itself) to move an off screen sound to the left or the right, or even to use in parallel all the speakers on the left , separately from those on the right, to obtain a bigger sound intensity.
Image 020 shows a cinemascope film with marks for space for the command track (50% column in the photo); 021 shows the relationships between tracks and speakers behind the screen.

023 – It’s a candy, a fragment of TODD AO film. Which is a scene of Oklahoma on 70 mm. film and six sound tracks. Because Mike Todd, one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands, died in an airplane accident, everything died there.

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PER FRANCESCO E DIEGO

Il doppiaggio nacque dall’esigenza dell’industria americana di vendere all’astero la produzione cinematografica diventata sonora. La FONO ROMA nacque fortunosamente dall’incontro della produzione americana con un ex cantante (mi pare) tale Persichetti.La produzione cercava la combinazione per aprire gli studi di doppiaggio in Italia.

Il doppiaggio consiste nel ripetere in italiano la recitazione degli attori stranieri e sovrapporre la nuova recitazione agli altri suoni del film, musica, rumori. Per i film italiani non serviva doppiaggio perché gli attori recitavano in italiano ed erano ripresi audio e video direttamente: in presa diretta.

Le carenze di mezzi a causa della guerra e l’uso di attori non professionisti determinarono la consuetudine di doppiare anche i film italiani, sia perché non c’erano soldi per la presa diretta, sia perché gli attori non sapevano recitare o parlare correttamente. Successivamente la legge impose la presa diretta per tutelare il lavoro del settore audio ma, il procrastinarsi dell’uso di attori non esattamente professionisti suggeri di registrare l’audio da utilizzare semplicemente come guida nella lavorazione di editing finale, cioè come guida per i doppiatori. La presa diretta del suono, BUONA, comporta costi additivi, non solo di persone e mezzi ma anche accorgimenti collaterali, il silenzio in teatro o i disturbi in esterni e una maggiore cura nella ripresa perché essa doveva essere buona anche come audio. Ora siamo tornati alla presa diretta buona anche perché i mezzi di registrazione sono più economici e tecnologicamente avanzati.

Tutto questo per dire che, prima di passare al mixaggio, io mi trovavo a registrare sia i doppiaggi di film stranieri che italiani.
Allora? Allora ne escono tre episodi pilastro:

1       Il lavoro era noioso e tra la prova di un anello e la registrazione spesso dormivo, specialmente d’estate alle 14. Successe che una volta, di là, in sala (ero in regia) mi chiesero: va bene? si. Va bene o no? Mi sembra in si poco convinto! No no, va bene. Capii l’importanza della risposta, Risposi sempre: SI!!! Esperienza di cui feci tesori anche in seguito.
2       Qualche attrice non intendeva essere doppiata e imponeva di doppiarsi da se medesima. Il caso Lollobrigida. Oltre a non saper recitare aveva ( ha ) una pessima voce sfiatata con le finali morte. Io alzavo tutte le finali altrimenti non si sarebbe capito niente. Il punto è che il direttore di doppiaggio, tale Guglielmo Morandi, voleva estrarre il sangue dalla rapa e a un certo punto lei non riusciva a dare quello che il regista voleva e la cosa si stava arenando. Io dalla regia (con l’interfonico) dissi: facciamo una piccola pausa, così si riposa e poi riprendiamo… il Morandi furibondo inveì contro di me: come mi permetto di interferire col direttore ecc, ecc. La lite durò abbastanza per consentire il riposo che avevo suggerito e il doppiaggio proseguì! La tapina non saprà mai il lavoro che le ho fatto! (è viva a ha la mia età e per quanto l’avessi disprezzata come attrice, posso dire che era molto carina). Ah, Luigi Zampa (regista) durante il doppiaggio de “La romana” mi disse che la Lollo era una tirchia terribile: si risuolava le scarpe da sola per risparmiare! (Però, che brava!)

3      La maggior parte del doppiaggio era cosa della CDC cooperativa doppiatori cinematografici, doppiatori di varia origine, cantanti d’opera, ex attori o attori che non avevano sfondato o semplicemente che trovavano questo lavoro redditizio e sicuro. A differenza di altre piccole cooperative di allora, i doppiatori CDC avevano voci assai differenziate che consentivano di identificare gli attori con facilità, per contro avevano una recitazione standard e in diversi casi con insopportabile birignao. Accadde che un gestore della produzione di alcune case ( il comandante De Leonardis,* provenivano tutti dalla marina) decise di dare un taglio alla routine e diede precise istruzione al direttore del doppiaggio (certo Giulio Panicali che era anche doppiatore). Il Panicali, una volta in studio fece girare il primo anello del film “ne touchez pas aux grisby” per un’ora, spiegando e facendo provare le parti in modo da ricondurre la recitazione alla pura essenza del significato necessario al contesto. Cioè gli attori parlavano come se la scena fosse umanamente vera. Da allora il doppiaggio non fu più lo stesso.

*L’aiutante e e direttore della fotografia delle produzioni di De Leonardis era Mario Bernardo, ex capo partigiano in Friuli.

INVENZIONI

015 moviola. La moviola mi era stata commissionata da un editore di doppiaggi e consentiva di variare la velocità di scorrimento del film a giudizio del traduttore dei dialoghi. La grossa innovazione era un amplificatore allo stato solido (transistor) in cui anche la cellula sensibile alla luce per la lettura della colonna sonora era un transistor sverniciato. I semiconduttori sono sensibili alla luce e io avevo tolto la vernice per farlo diventare un fotodiodo, il suono era come mai sentito nelle moviole.

016 registratore. Prototipo per dimostrare nuovo stile nel design meccanico. Se lo confronti con le macchine in 018 ingrandimento, puoi notare la differenza di stile.

018 registrazione copie. Il cinemascope stereofonico non usava la colonna sonora ottica, stampabile insieme all’immagine, ma quattro colonne sonore magnetiche. Quindi su ogni copia bisognava stendere le piste magnetiche e registrarle. La registrazione era fatta in FONO ROMA a due copie per volta come risulta dalla foto. Il piccolo schermo tipo moviola, serviva per verificare che il suono fosse sempre in sincrono con l’immagine perché qualche volta tagliavano il negativo immagine ma non il master magnetico del suono.

019 contenitori pellicole cinemascope.

020 021 022. brevetto surround. Il lavoro che facevo sulle macchine 018 mi fece scattare la scintilla. Io vedevo l’immagine sul piccolo schermo ma udivo il suono su altoparlanti che stavano alle pareti: idea, se anche al cinema si potesse udire, per esempio uno sparo, fuori dallo schermo, sarebbe molto emozionante. Già il cinemascope prevedeva suoni in sala ma suoni di ambiente diffusi, io pensavo a dialoghi, spari, rumori precisi di eventi fuori campo. L’idea era di utilizzare metà della colonna sonora ottica (unico spazio rimasto sulla pellicola) per comandare la commutazione di un suono fuori campo a sinistra o a destra o addirittura mettere in parallelo tutti gli altoparlanti di sinistra e separatamente quelli di destra per ottenere una potenza di suono maggiore. La 020 mostra una pellicola cinemascope con le indicazioni anche dello spazio per la traccia di comando ( 50% colonna fot. ).la 021 relazione tra le piste e gli altoparlanti dietro lo schermo.

023 è una chicca, un pezzo di pellicola TODD AO. Ovvero una scena di Oklahoma su film di 70mm e sei piste sonore. Il Todd, uno dei mariti della Taylor, morì in un incidente aereo e la cosa fini lì.

FROM THE SWISS ALPS TO THE CALIFORNIA DESERT

   MATZA AMBOY – DRYLAND LAB

2016: UNDERGROUNDS : Art, Land Use and Democracy

From July 5, 2016 to an unknown day, at the mercy of nature and other unexpected events.

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It’s hard to tell if there is or there was Amboy, in the middle of the Mohave Desert (CA). It was an expanded station for travelers journeying on Route 66 by horse, by car or by train since the late nineteenth century. They called it a town because it had a train station, a post office, followed by a motel, a gas station, a church and a few houses. For awhile also a school, that died in 1999. Never more than eighty people were brave enough to spend their life in Amboy over a hundred and a few more years. The local monument is a volcanic cinder cone, bare as a Richard Serra sculpture cooked in the earth’s  belly, overlooking the driest land one can imagine. The whole town has been bought and sold as only one urban body more than once, maybe by charming the newcomers with a faded, modernist look.

“With the opening of the DRYLANDS LAB in 2015, Matza Amboy dedicates its program to the question of water and its distribution.”

ONCE A YEAR FOR FOUR WEEKS it “brings together a selection of artists but also researchers in social sciences, engineers (solar energy, water) and architects.”

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This is the exhibition I saw in Amboy, a population of art pieces shrunk by heat, covered with dust, transformed by the place. Maybe it also happened to the artist this year, more connected to the sense of loss and abandonment inspired by empty distances around the town, a space devouring the meaning of any direction except maybe imaginary lines between Amboy and constellations, planets, moons and meteorites so similar to the surface of this empty land that, at a distance, shines with salt.

There is no water on the moon”, writes Katharine in a beautiful text pinned on the wall. She describes the desolate rooms of the Amboy School, left as they were at the end of a normal morning, books on the tables and drawings and something written on the blackboard, as if a sudden disaster had forced everybody out, out in the sun, out of the inner spaces in which breath and perspiration were spread and absorbed by the skin, escaping the cruelty of being dispersed in open air. I should see Katharine’s textile banner twisted by the wind; it’s not there. School books, drawings and cyanotypes on display aren’t safe neither, the sliding back of the display cabinet is open: some papers move around on the floor. Peter and I felt entitled to put them back, definitely captivated by open doors, and lack of edges, while the heat sucked our brains out of the skull. Not completely though, we could still enjoy the ideas behind the desiccated or altered bodies of the art pieces. Our and their nostalgia hung to almost nothing, just enough to click on our cultural sensitivity.

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The six white rooms of a defunct motel open their door to the art of visionary strangers with a warm heart. Concepts turn into feelings, giving form to physical awareness of common challenges for all humans: the suffocating protection against global warming in a room; white curtains flying through the windows in another room, the white room that breaths and invites us to look beyond the walls. There is the Post Office in front of the cabins, on the other side of the road. An artist, Delphine, paints a white crosswalk. Illegal! For sure she didn’t know it. Now her white stripes have been covered with black paint. They remained stripes, not very precise on the sides, as if painted with a broom.

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Five weeks of solitude after the artists left, and the nails of democracy brought by Séverin have probably given to the locals the wish to be actively part of the installation, for better or worse. Although the Rain Book was stolen, somebody partially replaced it with two pages for a new rain book: writing about a day of rain near Amboy, and adding two photographs from her backyard. I can’t tell for sure, but I believe it was a girl. It’s great when the art expands beyond the initial, limited object, expanding the idea in other minds, through other fingers.

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Half of the art pieces are outdoors, not easy to identify because some local sibling keep them company. Dear friends from Switzerland, you have followers!
Maybe they didn’t grab the beauty of the Ghost Drops and even stole the water jar from the excavated hole, it doesn’t matter. The order you brought into the desert doesn’t belong there. That’s why it is striking to touch it, with long fingers from the eyes. The pyramid in small size, the windmill, the hole, the bridge are as basic as the wheel, one would believe that time has vanished, you remade in the American desert symbols of a culture exposed to failure, silence, misunderstanding. Maybe without wanting you all approached Allan Kaprow’s idea of un-art, almost becoming un-artists, “the offsprings of high art who have left home.”

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Jardin å la Française, the only piece the goes directly from the mind of the artist to the visitor’s mind, is a revelation in the landscape, not less than the vision in front of a French castle’s over designed garden. There was a moment, after driving guided by your instructions, when I almost screamed “stop!” “It’s here!”
Maybe I was wrong au pied de la lettre, yet I was sure the whole dryland, the bushes and the far away mountains had assumed a sense of order, an imperfect geometrical perspective around an unpaved road whose end could only be imagined. Yes! A sense of enthusiasm made me almost forget the 110 degrees of the air, wind and dust. Not for long. A grumbling noise from the road woke me up. Twelve Harley Davidson’s with their riders covered in black leather stopped in front of the white little cabins, perfectly lined up. Language was French. Laughing, my midwestern husband exclaimed: “order is only cultural.”  Maybe art is not, not completely, and it is for the best.

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ARTISTS OF MATZA AMBOY 2016

Marie Velardi, Frederick Choffat, Katharina Hohmann, Thierry Maeder, Delphine Renault, Severin Guelpa, Delphine Renault, Thierry Maeder, Maxime Bondu, Daniel Zamarbide, Leopold Bianchini, Laurence Piaget-Dubious

http://www.matza.net/matza_amboy_2016.

Photographs: PETER KIRBY

PHILIP GUSTON’s touch on MY BLINDNESS

Something happened in New York City, May 21

By Rosanna Albertini

This is a piece on the physical status of painting and the dominant illusion that intelligence is not physical: rather an immaterial spark of infinity that makes humans different from monkeys… If such a deceiving idea has a comfortable room in your mind, listen to the story. Maybe you will stop recalling theoretical or historical stereotypes when you look at a painting. You might feel like a bird, perched on the artist’s shoulder, rolling your eyes into the display of wet colors.

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled, 1967 Brush ans ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 23 1/8 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled, 1967 Brush and ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 23 1/8 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

For most of my life as an art writer I have not been able to respond to Guston’s paintings. It was like having a locked door in front of me. There was no reason why. His paintings, those with figures, were flooding me with sadness, a fog in my brain. Reading essays and books did not rift my clouds. I couldn’t understand what was really going on, if it was me or Guston’s manner of operation, raising a barrier.

“It is writing of course it is the human mind and there is no relation between human nature and the human mind no no of course not. … oh yes the flatter the land the more yes the more it has may have to do with the human mind.” Gertrude Stein

Also Gertrude’s ‘of course’ was to me a matter of doubt. But her writing and thinking have something  of the painting’s flatness, they do not do not climb geometrical logics. On May 21, in New York City, my stubborn brain had to give up: I had to admit she was completely right: Guston’s paintings as probably any other great paintings for that matter don’t have much to share with human mind. I realized it after my head, on May 21, was seriously knocked down by a biker who hit my body like a balloon. I was crossing the street. For weeks each step has been painful, I’m still not my usual walking self. The day before the accident, I had seen Philip Guston’s exhibition of abstract paintings and drawings (1957-1967)  at Hauser and Wirth.

PHILIP GUSTON, Accord i, 1962 Oil on canvas 68 1/8 x 78 1/2 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Accord I 1962,  Oil on canvas 68 1/8 x 78 1/2 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Prisoner of a bed for hours, days, I started to revisit his paintings, those that are called abstractions, with new sympathy. They were inside my body along with bruises and changing colors around my left eye; they kept me in a state of questioning, about the human sites Guston had laid down carefully, layer by layer, but he didn’t clean them, nor idealized them; they are painted as messy  as they are: until a state of painted harmony is reached between strokes and colors.

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled 1958 Oil on canvas 64 1/8 x 75 1/4 inches @ The Estate of Phiip Guston - Courtesy of Houser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Untitled 1958,  Oil on canvas 64 1/8 x 75 1/4 inches
@ The Estate of Phiip Guston – Courtesy of Houser and Wirth

As still lives do, these paintings block in a configuration that is not allowed to change the most undefinable nuances of a daily conversation: bodies and sounds and gushes of wind in their invisible, constant mutations. Guston could feel them, he paints his own sensations through the moment and place he is in. His feeling of existence.

He wrote in 1960: “I think a painter has two choices: he paints the world or himself. And I think the best painting that’s done here is when he paints himself, and by himself I mean him and his environment, in this total situation.”

Give a look to The Year, 1964: it has two empty pupils, black. Each of them is beginning and ending. Hadn’t the tormented fury of time crossed their holes already, they wouldn’t be  looking at us announcing a quiet end of the day after all; actions or changes continue not to be compatible, and yet The Year keeps all the chopped stories together, floating in the same gray light. White and pink still peep out gently, they are not foreground.

“I don’t know why the loss of faith in the known image and symbol in our time should be celebrated as a freedom. It is a loss from which we suffer, and this pathos motivates modern paintings and poetry at its heart.

PHILIP GUSTON, Group II 1964, Oil on canvas 65 1/8 x 79 1/8 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Group II 1964, Oil on canvas 65 1/8 x 79 1/8 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, The Year 1964, Oil on canvas 78 x 107 1/2 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, The Year 1964, Oil on canvas  78 x 107 1/2 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

At work in his studio, Philip Guston looks like a fisherman. Aquatic density in his compositions, floating of perceptions maintaining their chaotic and movable quality. Never twice the same. Never rigid, either. Known images and symbols are gone. What remains, then? The physical status of painting.

Finally, now that my body has been wounded, and my mind absorbed by pain, I see how great is Philip Guston’s art. I needed the loss of faith in the image of myself I had met most of my life: positive, invulnerable, independent. I became one of the many anonymous black holes Guston repeated  and repeated inside the bundle of matter, the formless nest of our daily situation. His paintings of the sixties are not images of anything one recognizes, nor portraits of ideas. He looks down. The narcissus he sees is a black spot on the asphalt where I bumped my head.

He does nothing to fill the blackness, his own or others’. And if sameness is everybody’s destiny what can he do? Paintings will carry it; vertical objects lifting an horizontal scene, so the angle is changed. There are not forms, not hierarchies, only a common ground.

PHILIP GUSTON, Painter III 1963 Oil on canvas 66 x 79 inches @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

PHILIP GUSTON, Painter III 1963,  Oil on canvas  66 x 79 inches
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

The extremely simple drawings assembled on the same wall brought tears to my eyes: the line is not Paul Klee’s vein reproducing nature’s growing energy, memory and identity are not in these marks on paper.   Each sign says ‘I’m here, now. I am unique, not sure what I’m doing here, and yet don’t be mistaken: I am the language the Guston artist practices to tell himself he is alive, the marks of his human nature, looking hesitant as well as strong.’ Existential beauty, no need to explain.

Philip Guston in his studio, New York, 1957 Photo: Arthur Swoger @ The Estate of Philip Guston - Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

Philip Guston in his studio, New York, 1957
Photo: Arthur Swoger
@ The Estate of Philip Guston – Courtesy Hauser and Wirth

THIS IS MY ITALY: A RADIANT, ABANDONED GREEN LAND

by Edgar Honetschläger and Rosanna Albertini

Conversation between an Austrian wanderer from Vienna and an Italian native who lives in Los Angeles

PHOTOS OF ITALY by Edgar Honetschläger

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EH      This is my Italy. You might see it like a dream world, but this is the Italy my eyes see. Japan was dreamland too for me: Tokyo, or the breathtaking countryside, never appeared real to me. Ghosts and spirits everywhere, and people who believed in them. I guess the two cultures are strong enough to allow it.

The beauty I encountered was almost unfathomable: the intact landscape, the colors. Flowers blooming all over, butterflies, birds everywhere. At Bolsena lake the water played all the blues of the scale, then the rain came and the isola Bisentina vanished within minutes. For a while the lake looked like the sea, with no end to it.

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RA      Not the usual images of Italy. They are thick and secret, a texture of vegetable history intertwined with ruins, fountains, grottos that are for ghosts, figments of our mind. Impenetrable walls of plants: one can play with them in a reversed metamorphosis: unraveling our body through branches and leaves that are as hungry as the three-headed dog the Romans called Cerberus. Lost in Central Italy’s greenness, I was never able to separate mythological images, or the Etruscan smile, from valleys looking as if time hadn’t passed and ancient eyes could look at me from open caves pierced into the mountains.
But, it’s real landscape, not a dream.

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EH      To me it is a dreamland: I’ve always seen Italy exactly as in these photos since 1999; I went down to Italy regularly. I guess I make it that way as I do not like reality. I am simply not willing to live in a purely empiric, rational, only driven-by-science world. That’s my privilege as an artist. I embrace all things that cannot be seen: the birds that twitter their hearts out, the spirits in trees, the ANIMA, the animistic that is only to be felt, the alchemia of a seemingly untouched landscape that mankind has formed over milleniums with respect for all creatures so desperately needed to keep a natural equilibrum.

People I met there are outstanding individuals, the landscapes pure and virgin like churches and medieval houses positioned as if Leonardo da Vinci was looking at them, no change.  People more courteous than in most European countries: for me Italy is the last refuge in Europe, Italians are simply more humane.
Therefore your reaction shows me that one only gets to see and experience what one wants to see…

RA      I’m so distant from you: old stones and medieval churches are paradoxical sites to me: elegant, calm and harmonious, often shiny with gold and painted decorations. I’m only grateful that the rain of time washed away all the blood spread by centuries of violence. Italy has been invaded more than any country in the world. Clearly, I try to justify our misfortunes. That’s why we are kind, but with sparkles under the ashes. Your images, therefore, are true to the place more than you believe. They are the wild, secret face of Italy. My Italy for sure.
My dear friend, this is morning rumbling of my brain. Tell me please: how do you think in German language? Is it visual thinking?
See, when I think in Italian, Americans say it’s poetic language, and I laugh, for I do know we think and speak in a strange Italian way: animistic, metaphors are instinctive, idiomatic. It’s a primitive manner to feel like an ant among ants, a tree among trees, human animals among all the animals of the world. Think of Francesco’s Cantico delle creature, sister moon and the stars, brother wind and the air. And, if you can, follow me through idiomatic expressions in which I see the deep irony of an agricultural country forgotten and abandoned in these days. Yet, it is stuck in our words and sculpted in our minds.

Piove sul bagnato
Ha mangiato la foglia!
Che cosa aspetta / Forse di candire?
Ci resto di sasso
Ammazzo il tempo
Cercando il pelo nell’uovo

It rains on the wet
She ate the leaf!
What is she waiting for / To dry up like a candy?
I react like a stone
And I kill time
Looking for a hair in the egg

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EH      Oh, German is a philosophical language and a very political one. No other language I know can pin down a fact so well.
Japanese is fuzzy, it is like the food. There is no center in Asian food many small dishes, no climax, like their stories: you have space to think and make up your mind.
German language is not very visual.
There is quite a difference whether you grew up with HÄNSCHEN KLEIN or HUMPTY DUMPTY, the surreal element is missing. I grew up with the latter.
For German speakers Italy is the land of dreams: Goethe [Johann Wolfgang von Goethe] gave us something to look for: while doing research in Sicily for my movie Il mare e la torta, [The Sea and the Cake] I realized that Goethe had visited Taormina and had painted the Greek theater in a watercolor (the same theater is in one of Woody Allen’s movies). Looking into tourism catalogues from the German speaking world, it’s impossible not to notice that the photos taken are exactly the same angle —more or less replicas of Goethe.
In other cultures, promotion about Taormina looks different. Leoluca Orlando [ Mayor of Palermo] once told me: “Goethe did good and bad for us at the same time; he brings us tourists still today, but they come with a preconception.”

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RA      But Goethe*, humane as he was, understood the modern world in its early beginnings and still enlarges our perception of it. Look at this, he could have joined John Cage: (please forgive my lack of chronological faith, I learned it in the eighteenth century.)
“We find that in observing objects our attention takes on a definite direction, that scattered data can be learned and retained more easily by comparison, and that in art we can in the end rival nature only when we have learned, at least in part, her method of procedure in the creation of her works.”
John Cage used to call it “her manner of operation.” And his own manner was not far at all from some of Goethe’s wishes:
“Everything is subject to constant change, and when things cannot coexist, they thrust each other aside. The same goes for knowledge, for practical training, for modes of representation and for precepts. Man’s objectives always remain very much the same; men still wish, as they always did, to be good artists and good poets. But the means by which these objectives are to be attained are not apparent at all, and there is no denying that nothing could be more agreeable than achieving something important without really trying.”
Isn’t it what you did with your photos?

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Introduction to the Propyläen, 1798 in Goethe on Art, edited by John Gage, University of California Press, 1980

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THE OLD MAN AND THE PAST

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : the beginning of an adult life

INTRODUCTION
by Rosanna Albertini

Photos and drawing by Alberto Albertini

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Alberto’s stories restart after the end of the war; the treasures of his adolescent ‘expanded life’ put to a very hard test by the frenzy of despair and enthusiasm that was stirring everyone’s life.
     Missing regular school training, and following his father’s path in teaching himself what he needed to learn (Oreste Albertini never went to school – his sisters told me) he built his own way through life and now revisits the past almost curious, rediscovering a figure of himself he had lived in, at times unaware, other times building a brilliant career almost against his wishes.

To recuperate the lost time is a complex desire: it runs after fantasy images hoping that some of them could improve the wish of an expanded existence.” AA

Dreams had cracked up, sinking in the snow. Chance and necessity blowing cold wind on his neck, reluctant and rebel by nature, the only things he never gave up were his family, his passion for photography and his spirit as an inventor, call it smart tinkering if you want, something that, despite himself, always worked.

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School training having been irregular and incomplete, Alberto looked into his level of ‘incompetence’ as realistically as possible, and filled the holes studying by himself everything that was connected to filmmaking: chemistry, photography, radio technique, physics and mechanics, often supported by friends.

1946: an attempt at going to a film school in Milan – a poor school in a basement – did not fulfill his desire of exploring camera work, scenography, costumes making.

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1947-48: Alberto had a job in a company for film development and printing: FILMSERVICE. His naive enthusiasm for free political speech after fascism had just turned around the corner put him in serious trouble. Reported and fired when his very young companion, who will be his wife for seventy years, had symptoms of pregnancy. “The darker time of my life – says Alberto – from which I got out for the simple reason that it was pointless to stay in it.”

Maybe searching for light, he rushed headlong into making his version of fluorescent lamps (a novelty after the war), and patented them, only to discover that commercial development was not in his range. Here’s a drawing:

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History of his adult life is also the history of film sound technologies in Italy after the war. Alberto was also involved in film making as a popular service, in some ways like the agitprop train set up by Dziga Vertov in 1917, when Vertov was twenty two. Equipped for a complete film process, from acting to editing and projecting films, the train had the mission to encourage soldiers and simple people during the Bolshevik Revolution. The Italian experiment instead happened in time of peace. It was called CINESERVICEFILM: a trailer completely equipped for film making and projection was pulled by a Jeep. The little caravan: a trailer, a car and a Lambretta went through the Northern regions of Italy for two years (1949-50) filming peoples’ lives and projecting the film at the end of the day for the ‘actors’ to see. It was a celebration of life and joy after many dark times. Like Dziga, Alberto was in his early twenties. 

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CINESERVICEFILM and the flying song of a nightingale

By ALBERTO ALBERTINI

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Between 1949 and 1950 Mr Vallerga, about whom I only knew he had been a fascist, had a pre-realityTV intuition: a vagrant film studio shooting people’s lives and projecting the shots the day after, in the same location. The person supplying me with chemical products pointed out this operation to me, and I introduced myself offering my initial services for free. A good way to take part in the birth of those things. A trailer equipped with tools for developing and printing 16mm films was pulled by a Jeep, one of the war left overs. Operative issues weren’t less interesting than the technological adventure. At the beginning we were three: Mr Vallerga, a driver and myself. Vallerga and myself used to spend the day walking through the village or town where the show was supposed to happen, shooting places and first of all the local humans! I developed the shots during the night and after editing directly the negative, printed and developed the positive. In the meantime Vallerga was placing a 16mm projector in the local movie theater and, using a tape recorder, was adding a musical background. In the small towns the success was remarkable: everybody came to the theater to see themselves or the others. The general mood was joyful.

To make me independent from the trailer and the car used by Vallerga, I was given a Lambretta. Between moving from one place to another, developing and printing, there was no time to sleep. The sheet metal wrapping the lab was an oven fed by the sun, to more or less 40 degrees centigrade. To avoid laziness, I added a photographic service taking pictures of cafes and customers. The pictures, always developed and printed by me, were given away as presents. More workers were added later, and I tried to organize a fair anti-stress division of labor, but costs weren’t catching up with benefits.

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How did it all start? Vallerga was a seller of Fumeo 16mm projectors to the parishes. It was probably in a parish that he met the Luciani family, owners of Dreher and Pedavena beer factories and of Pizzolotto liquor. He had convinced them to finance his project as a brilliant idea to promote their products. The only advertisement, in reality, was the announcement that the show was offered by the Pedavena or Dreher beer, and maybe something was written on the trailer. We had scoured through almost all Northern Italy when the news arrived, near Ravenna, that the party had ended: the Lucianis had stopped investing money in us!
Montebelluna, Treviso, Pedavena, Bassano, Romano Lombardo Trevalcore, Bondeno, Trecate, Borgomanero, Varese Rho, Marostica
and so many other small and bigger urban centers, some provinces. A world on its way to waking up, to restart moving, but still structurally intact, especially in agricultural areas. We had shot a factory for weaving cotton, it was terrible: an enormous shed with weaving looms, an unbearable hubbub… and women at work… We found a spring of mineral water where bottles were filled by a tube, and bubbles were created by gas; the prosecco producers, the carnival in Pedavena sponsored by the beer cellar. Many memories? Not at all, there was not time to breath: in Treviso, a night spent fighting mosquitoes, and in Verona, never seen such a hot weather! At noon in Bondeno one could hear the knife chopping tagliatelle at every, every day.

In Bassano del Grappa, late night, I had finished installing the projector at the movie theater for the following day; it was two, three in the morning? I walked out on the small balcony. Through the deep silence of a space made infinite by darkness, I heard the flying song of a nightingale. It was powerful, solitary, and limpid. Distant reverberations nailed me into my own solitude. Magic moments happen in this way. For him, maybe, it was already wake up time!

And I can only conclude with two images from Wikipedia: the agitprop train for Bolshevik Propaganda in 1917-19, and Vladimir Mayakovsky’s poster WANT IT? JOIN.

Dziga Vertov produced weekly film series and the first newsreel series in Russia for the Moscow Cinema Committee (Kino-Nedelya). He had on the train actors for live performances, and equipment to shoot, develop, edit, and project films.  “The trains went to battlefronts on agitation propaganda missions intended primarily to bolster the morale of the troops.” (Wikipedia)

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Between The Lines : AIMEE GARCIA

CUBA – AIMEE GARCIA’s SUPREMATIST SPEECH – LOS ANGELES

 Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

cuerdas, lectura, alas – strings, reading, wings

By Rosanna Albertini

Put the title in your mouth. Strings, reading, wings : a bird screeching, in anger or pain. The wind is stronger, faster than his flight. The bird doesn’t stop, resting doesn’t fit his American temper. Try the Spanish mouth. Cuerdas, lectura, alas. Words that bring a feeling of  whiteness, calm. A large page with no resistance waits for history to be forgotten.

Aimee, the artist’s name, melts the two sounds into one. In my Italian mouth, Aimee is a silent moan that doesn’t slip into the throat. It doesn’t need voice.

In her Cuban isolation, Aimee Garcia has transformed in art flowers of intelligence, never complaining. I could see myself in her collages, or any of the humans living on earth. We are all shredded by the same storm. Really the past could teach? As languages, politics, internet, financial games, advertisements tie our lives into the same bundle of voices fighting for primacy, believing takes the place of the dirty window we look through. We don’t know what we really know.

So I thank Aimee for her suprematist speech which is a portrait of us all like flies tangled in the news’ spiderweb. But her images also are, strongly and gracefully, the portrait of a possible flight out, a non-objective getting away from the written reality toward secret, inner transformations. Between the lines, the artist. Very much like Simone Forti who reads the news only noticing and remembering them as they slip into emotions, digging ponds in her heart.
(See Flag in The Water, https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/flag-in-the-water/)

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 31″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

Aimee’s speech is made with colors and embroidered into the paper. She is threading herself, and looking at us from behind the cuerdas : her hand works like a cursor: ploughing into words, while sowing that “primacy of pure feelings” that Kasimir Malevich called SUPREMATISM about one hundred years ago. “The visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling; as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” (KM) When she reads, Aimee visits her own mental field that is not necessarily the same as Cubans’ or, as far as I don’t know, a simple acceptance of a theory married to Russian revolution as if both, ideas and political upheavals, were a block sculpted by time instead of myriads of crumbs and broken steps.

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, laminated collaged newspapers, threads Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, Laminated collaged newspapers, thread 15″ x 12″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

And yet, I believe that Aimee recalling the old suprematist credo right now, the old regime facing the last days, finds a personal way of telling that a past life is in her hair, her skin, her face and in her mind. Up to us to read the change, to try her wings.

Life doesn’t disappear mutating in nothing. Automation devours objects, suits, furnitures, the wife and the fear of war.
If the very complex life of many goes away and we are not conscious it is gone, then it’s like if it had never existed.
Here we are, in order to bring back the meaning of life, to “feel” the objects, to see that a stone is stony, we have what we call ART. … a way to feel how the object becomes something else. The already done doesn’t matter.
VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY*

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 28" Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2009, oil on canvas, 24″ x 28″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

This is a flower painted by Aimee Garcia : Resistencia I, 2009. It is the last moment of beauty before the petals wither. Natural beings are lucky, they fall apart, molecules. Ever heard of a ghost flower? History takes a longer time to disappear, but in the end it does, ghost and monuments, forever. Art is for now.
If the object survives, the same doesn’t happen to its meanings : meanings are parasites of the living.

…just this way just this one time. Incidentally, we human beings also belong in part to this class of unique events.
ROBERT MUSIL**

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

*Viktor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose, 1929, English translation 1990 by Benjamin Sher. Dalkey Archive Press, Illinois State University, 1991.

** Robert Musil, Precision and  Soul, originally in Gesammelte Werke edited by Adolph Frisé, 1978. Edited and translated by by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, The University of Chicago Press, 1990.