THE SHARING PROJECT in sculptures and videos

JOEL TAUBER’S Installation

at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach

By Joel Tauber

JOEL TAUBER, video still from “Happyville”, one of the videos in “The Sharing Project” installation

JOEL TAUBER, video still from “Happyville”, one of the videos in “The Sharing Project” installation

In 1905, Charles Weintraub and a bunch of his Socialist Russian Jewish friends decided to leave New York City and head South. They pooled their savings, took out some loans, and purchased 2200 acres of land near Montmorenci, South Carolina. They didn’t know how to farm, and the land that they purchased wasn’t conducive to farming anyway. But, those minor practical issues didn’t dissuade them. They were determined to realize their dream of living on a Socialist commune.

It’s amazing what the 50 settlers were able to accomplish in Happyville. They grew crops and raised livestock. They built a dam, a water turbine, a saw mill, and a cotton gin. They worked together as equals, and they shared their resources fully.

They made their utopian dream a reality. But, it didn’t last. Unusually severe weather made it even more difficult to grow crops on the sandy soil. And, for whatever reason, not enough of their neighbors wanted to buy their crops and products. They were in debt, and they were forced to sell their land to appease their creditors. In 1908, it was all over. Happyville had disappeared.

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

It’s hard for me to share my video equipment or to let anyone into my studio. I tell myself that I would face all kinds of problems if anyone damaged my gear, and that I need peace and solitude in order to work effectively. Yet, my rationalizations leave me feeling guilty. I sense that I’m not acting generously enough, and I worry about what my behavior is teaching my kids.

One day, my son Zeke, crying profusely, banged on my door, and demanded to know why I wouldn’t share my space with him. I didn’t have a good answer. Then, Zeke showed me his secret hiding spots and offered to share them with me. He argued that there was plenty of room in his “office” for my tools and that I didn’t need another space for them. 

Zeke’s generosity overwhelmed me, but I wasn’t able to accept his offer. Safeguarding my personal possessions in my own space was too important to me.

As I tried to justify my feelings, I thought about John Locke’s claim that we should have the freedom to acquire our own land and wealth and that it shouldn’t bother anyone – unless we do so excessively, or during times of scarcity.

Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten about Locke’s restrictions, and we’ve created a tremendous amount of inequity in the process. While a few of us enjoy excessive amounts of wealth, far too many of us struggle with scarcely enough – if anything – to eat.

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

The installation features 15 short films plus 21 interviews. The foregrounded video, the one presented on the largest screen, tells the story of Happyville; while the other 14 films operate as a kind of dialogue between Zeke and me about the meaning and challenges of sharing.

Tablet(s) feature 21 experts in different fields offering their thoughts. 

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015

JOEL TAUBER, “The Sharing Project”, Installation at the University Art Museum, Cal State Long Beach, 2015.

Audiences explore the videos interactively. They are invited to share their toys and help arrange them in the gallery / museum. Then, at the end of the show, they are invited to take the toys and give them away to whomever they think will enjoy them.

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

 

 

Flag in the Water

F L A G   I N   T H E   W A T E R

SIMONE FORTI in the Rice River (Northern Minnesota)

July 27, 2015 

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SIMONE FORTI,  Flag in the Water, video 19’46” 2015.  Cinematography Jason Underhill

Courtesy of the artist and  The Box Gallery, Los Angeles
(All the images are stills from the video, kindly provided by Jason Underhill)

N A K E D  F E E T   O N   T H E   G R O U N D

by Rosanna Albertini

Written and printed words had to be dry because water melts the paper. But I would like to write on the   paper when it’s wet and see the words expand like corals or marine anemones for a while until softened, melted, they let go the strength of their meanings. And truths often thrown like stones would have the look of washed out shadows.

My goddess is Simone Forti: the old woman who builds figures of speech, silent, dragging the soaked body of an American flag back to one day of our life, an uneventful day in the brownish water of the Rice River: July 27, 2015. The sky seems to frown, covering the scene with a handful of clouds as the day goes on. In front of the artist, beyond the two banks covered with trees, is the illusory point where the small river hands over his entire body of water to the bigger, Mississippi brother.

Even cut in two parts, the flag is heavy. Simone is a frail woman already carrying eight decades and the strongest figure at the same time: she is a vessel of freedom. For one day, the flag is her personal companion. It floats under the surface like a lover who invites her to lie down on her his its chest and close her eyes, to feel their new and welcomed union. “Myths are the soul of our actions and love.” (Paul Valéry). A soaked flag is much closer to human heaviness, to the liquid chemistry of our brain and blood. As Simone embraces the fabric, holds it underwater maybe sharing with the flag the impression they can both be deaf and blind for a moment, a million of unwritten stories, around that summer day, have vanished in the thin air. The real bodies rocked by the waves as many plankton forms, have been absorbed into the fabric. They were bodies searching for freedom.

 

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Rivers are roads that walk and bring us where we want to go.” (Blaise Pascal) The stars on the flag drive Simone’s eyes to the sky, the stripes drip down like blood. Simone is withdrawn, perhaps moving away from the sharpness of the news, sometimes they sound like bullets. Her body in movement is a fullness of feelings channelled into a slow motion physical language, which does almost savor the quality of each gesture.  A horse appears on the bank, bringing Roland Barthes, the prince of subtleties. Both horse and chevalier stop and look at Simone. “That’s the real pleasure, the moment in which my body will follow its own ideas — for my body has ideas different from my owns.” And puff! he disappears.

Simone doesn’t see the intruders. Completely absorbed as she is into the secret effort of bringing back the symbol of freedom, the national dress of her country to human actions and love. Out of the water, she folds the fabric with care, always keeping the bundle pressed on her breast. Then, for no particular reasons, she picks up a burned stick from the floor and traces a few lines on the double, wet flag.

For memory and art now, in the caves, naked feet on the ground.

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JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE: THE SOWER

from:   Sankofa, 2006

Leiden: John Outterbridge’s installation at Naturalis, The National Museum of Natural History, The Netherlands. 

 

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Photos: Peter Kirby

John Outterbridge’s statement:  Nature in the city, the city in nature: rocks, gnarled roots and tangled twigs, bicycles and plants, dried and desiccated bones, a sailing ship of old, birds and animals, sprouting potato and yams, together beneath a glowing orb (is it moon-ness, the female?)

It is a microcosm of our environment, a fertile garden from which we can harvest ideas and reflect on our history and our present existence, on our connectedness and the spirit that informs it all. It is a metaphor that speaks of change, of fossils in dormancy or in transition, as well as of the organic that germinates and nourishes. All of this together signals the living future.

         

to:   JOHN OUTTERBRIDGEs assemblages and sculptures in RAG MAN at ART + PRACTICE,

Los Angeles 2016,  until February 27.

A FULLNESS OF LIFE      by Rosanna Albertini 

Sankofa was the dream of a sower, il seminatore. I looked at Outterbridge for a week while he was preparing the installation, and the key moment wasn’t the display of bones and animals from the museum’s collection interspersed with tiny bicycles, it was the final throw of white beans all over the floor of his fossilized garden, the accurate positioning of yams and potatoes, some already sprouting. Only then did we sit down, as gardeners do, waiting for the natural growth as an infusion of living into the dryness of history. For the first time we spent a considerable length of time together, letting the talk veil curiosity about one another and the many things art can be. I was writing portraits of women artists then, a bunch of interesting flowers indeed, and John gave me as a present one more flower to discover after, back in Los Angeles: Dominique Moody. “Legally blind, she goes by bicycle” -he said, and laughed remembering that his attempt at being a real dutchman on a bike along with the many swarming through Leiden like mosquitoes, had just ended in a spectacular fall.

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Caged, 2008 Mixed media

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Caged, 2008  Mixed media   Courtesy of the artist and Tilton Gallery, New York    Photo: Peter Kirby

Never is his art separate from the feeling that living things and people could be lost and broken down forever if there isn’t somebody caring for them, presenting them in a personal, surprising way, as if art were an offering to life asking for clemency, or inclusiveness. Universe isn’t an audience, doesn’t listen, cares even less. If it wasn’t for humans, lady earth wouldn’t have a face, the many faces she shows to the sky who still cries tears and storms over their eternal separation.

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Rag and Bag Idiom II, 2012, Mixed media

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Rag and Bag Idiom I, 2012, Mixed media, The Eileen Harris Norton Collection    Photo: Peter Kirby

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Rag and Bag Idiom VI, 2012. Mixed media, 14 " x 12" x 6" The Eileen Harris Norton Collection Photo: Peter Kirby

JOHN OUTTERBRIDGE, Rag and Bag Idiom VI, 2012. Mixed media, The Eileen Harris Norton Collection Photo: Peter Kirby

As an artist making assemblages, John Outterbridge is the sower who picks up, and takes in, debris left on the ground by rush and forgetfulness. Some debris were recently wrapped up in small bags: soft, irregular forms of a self  contained visual idiom.  We don’t  know exactly what they are, sometimes they became pillows, three of them placed on top of  a rag almost a flying leaf that carries bodies bigger than she. If the leaf is a soul, I can see the artist painting the heaviness of the burden with the colors of a fruit salad: yellow, orange and green and a touch of watermelon.

Colors, fabrics, shapes, are the harvest of thousands of years chewing them till they mutate. Art works become dust and dirt despite the efforts of the art conservators. Yet an artist like John doesn’t care, his creatures were born old, they look old, already damaged at birth. Like the Asante Adinkra symbol in Ghana, he is the bird turning his head backwards to take an egg off his back. Sankofa: go back and get it. You don’t forget that a couple of wings are not enough for a machine to fly, they rest in a box almost protected by the lives they had, folded tenderly against their skin. Rags and bags? So are we.

 

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This post is first of all addressed to John Outterbridge, as a token of mine and Peter’s affection. I just received from Dominique Moody two evocative photos: the first is a bicycle made by an African boy, donated to John in South Africa during a trip that followed his visit to Leiden-the city of bicycles; the second is a picture of John Outterbridge and Dominique Moody taken by Tami Outterbridge at the opening of RAG MAN, December 12, 2015.

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John and Dominique

WHEN I WAS A BOY

Los Angeles artist John Eden, his grandfather W.M. Burgess of Gilmore, Oklahoma, and fathers and mothers and children before them and after them.

by Rosanna Albertini

Let’s go backwards, “from the adult to the open-eared attentiveness of the child: expanses, solitude; being led; letting reason grow out of things and into man [and women]; a more universal, more conciliatory, but less precise mode of thought.” (Robert Musil, 1922)

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Johnny on The Porch

As we grow up, the child never disappears although we couldn’t say where it is; inside the body, or looking at us from afar?

JOHN EDEN, "Hell's bells" 2006. Bronze bells on lacquered aluminum 7.5" x 54" x 8"

JOHN EDEN, “Hell’s Bells” 2006   Bronze bells on lacquered aluminum   7.5″ x 54″ x 8″ Courtesy of the artist.

Johnny looks at John Eden working in his studio from a photograph that was shot by grandmother, who is the shadow on the left. He doesn’t seem comfortable, nor is he aware he is looking toward the future. “What are those forms he is making?” – Johnny wonders, “so perfectly shaped and covered with a skin of color that keeps eating images of passers by as if hungry for living. They are reflexions, sure, but how could I know what’s happening inside those forms? Likely, the same as in human bodies, what’s contained by the skin is a surprise, a gush of blood scares me. Is art alive? I want to be sure that John is always Johnny. In a sense, I’m him.”

Johnny’s physical existence blocked in his image won’t ever be replicated: his corpus is what we see and nothing beyond: but his nature guided his limbs and neurons into an adult life, and genealogical history, instead of lingering  near him in fading images printed on paper, migrated into John Eden’s art: forms charged with meaning, quality and feeling: “Embodiment is the central effort in art, the way it gets made, very much something out of nothing. It’s impossible to express a feeling without a form. It couldn’t be said or seen.” Donald Judd 1983. Luminous surfaces are calls for thinking, reflections bring my perception close to the artist’s, become evocations. Some of his sculptures introduce into our time simplified forms of irons, and a washboard on which mothers and grandmothers in the 20’s and 30’s consumed their fingers by hand washing: they are votive objects to honor incommunicable lives erased by history but not in our memory or feelings, temporary as they are.

WillPBurgessTouchedupCroppedW.M. Burgess (John Eden’s grandfather): I was given away just as one would give a dog away. I was taken by the Indians to Talihina [Indian Territory, present day Oklahoma].  They were full-blood Choctaw. We had good feather beds and lived very comfortably. … I was very anxious to learn the white man’s ways and when I got to be 18, I worked for a man and earned $1. With this money, I got all the schooling I ever got. I attended the sessions at Postoak Grove school for 20 days. I learned to read myself.

Oreste Albertini (my own grandfather) did worse: he went to school only one day, and decided he was going to learn to read and write by himself. Which he did, and became a painter.

Rosanna Albertini: I was myself given away at age 10, to blue-blood aristocratic ladies in Milan, who changed the fearless countryside savage I was into a refined young lady. In 1955 the post war conditions of life in Italy were not very far from the American Great Depression for those who were poor and jobless. My bed wasn’t as comfortable as the Indian bed.

William and Annie Burgess, my mother's parents just before he died. Early to mid '30s

John Eden: William and Annie Burgess, my mother’s parents just before he died. Early to mid ’30s.

John Eden: Flora Mae Burgess-Eden, my mother, was born in Eastern Oklahoma, into a sharecropper’s family of seven children. Her father was raised speaking Choctaw and only learned English later as a second language. My mother was just shy of twelve when he died in 1934 from blood poisoning, leaving his widow and their seven kids to fend for themselves during the height of the Great Depression. One year later, FDR’s “New Deal” administration decided that ‘excess’ livestock across the nation should be destroyed for whatever political reason, ‘they came out and shot the cow’ leaving my grandmother’s family without their only source of milk. This was the major contributing factor for their ‘Okie Diaspora’  journey to California.

1934 around the world: The night of long knives in Germany -June 30-  officially began Hitler’s attempt at the massacre of European democracies. In China the Red Army marched for 370 days to rewrite in name of Mao thousands years of history. Several dictators surfaced in South and Central America, Stalin was already dominating in Russia. In the U.S. Albert Einstein visited the White House, Bonny and Clyde were killed in Louisiana, and Cole Porter’s Anything Goes premiered in New York City, November 21. It was the worst year of the Great Depression and the world economy hit rock bottom.

Rosa Maserati Albertini (my grandmother): I was fourteen when they put me on a big boat, all by myself, to cross the Atlantic and go to Pittsburgh to work in my uncle’s drugstore. One year after I was sent back to Italy because business wasn’t good, worked in a factory’s night shift, the four fingers of my right hands were completely cut off in a factory accident.

These are not really ‘facts.’ They form a texture of family mythologies, in a mysterious way circulate in our blood, they are our humus. Why do I still hold my right hand with the left, as if I were covering the missing fingers? If young readers are patient enough to read these stories, they should know they all had positive endings, despite (or because?) of hard beginnings. Our present time, so strongly based on fulfillment, seems to rush away from the personal face of our days.

John Eden’s art will not change the general trend, but gives to us silent bodies so filled with feelings that emotions spill from them and spread in the room, and become matches turning other emotions on, from our own personal stories. Try to see the sculptures for real, images are not them.

JOHN EDEN, Stupa AKA Larry's Bell, 2008-2009 Heavy chromed solid aluminum rod 12" x 12"

JOHN EDEN, Stupa AKA Larry’s Bell, 2008-2009  Heavy chromed solid aluminum rod   12″ x 12″ Courtesy of the artist.

JOHN EDEN, Flora Mae's Magic Circles, 2010-2011 High-polish solid brass 24" x 12.5" x 1.5"

JOHN EDEN, Flora Mae’s Magic Circles, 2010-2011
High-polish solid brass 24″ x 12.5″ x 1.5″ Courtesy of the artist

JAMES AGEE, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1934:

“All that each person is, and experiences, and shall never experience, in body and in mind, all these things are differing expressions of himself and of one root, and are identical: and not one of these things nor one of these persons is ever quite to be duplicated, nor replaced, nor has it even quite had precedent: but each is a new and incommunicable tender life, wounded in every breath, and almost as hardly killed as easily wounded: sustaining for while, without defense, the enormous assault of the universe:

A man and a woman are drawn together upon a bed and there is a child and there are children:

First they are mouths, then they become auxiliary instruments of labor: later they are drawn away, and become the fathers and mothers of children, who shall become the fathers and mothers of children:

This has been happening for a long while: its beginning was before stars:

It will continue for a long while: no one knows when it will end:”

Post scriptum:

Sometimes when a peasant moves with the plough and the oxen
Over the broad surface of the field,
It is as if the vault of the sky might take

Up into itself the peasant, the plough, and the oxen.

Animals lead silence through the world of man.
The cattle: the broad surface of their backs…
It is as if they were carrying silence.

Two cows in a field moving with a man beside them:
It is as if the man were pouring down silence
From the backs of the animals on to the fields.

MAX PICARD, The World of Silence, 1948 (in Annie Dillard Mornings Like This, found poems, 1995).

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1065 foto eseguite da OA

Besano, Italy, in the 30’s – Two photos by Oreste Albertini

Post post scriptum: The text of this post was inspired by the many days spent reading Orham Pamuk’s novel A Strangeness in My Mind, 2015

AMONG GHOSTS AND ART

The Dryland Motel Lobby Lab

Haut-Valais (Switzerland) – Amboy (Mojave desert California)
by ROSANNA ALBERTINI

 

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Head and feet in the dust. Clean air. Only a few clouds draw convergent lines in the sky, the tails of the airplanes. Dust and dryness quickly split the gray matter of my brain disjointing the mind from my physical person: the crust of the earth is salty, whitish. Apparently no other animals around except my husband and me, two bipeds with no wings. In the distance, undulations that are hard to call mountains. We walk on a crackling dry lake where the only shells are blue wrappers of bullets, signs of human presence along with shards of glass, and a glove already fossilized by dust. The earth is here, unfamiliar as the moonscape could be. We walk toward the black mouth of a volcano looking down, more shells, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is not far, unexploded projectiles could be on the ground. Not even a bush of creosote, no phainopeplas nor mockingbirds singing -or speaking?- a small dictionary of bird songs; only a few tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds are angry clouds tangled in branches that Zeus threw down from the sky in a moment of rage. Gods are moody.

 

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I’m stretching a mental feeling of dryness as if we had become ghosts, pointless combinations of minerals and bacteria with no identity and no history.

Emptiness. Things look far but they are not. The road is visible, so is her crossing with the railroad. A long white train arrives, the horizon gets in motion, white dashes run toward the right. Road and railroad become a white acute angle pointed to a small group of houses: Amboy. Are there ghosts there? We are, say the locals, “The Ghost Town That Ain’t Dead Yet.”
The ROY Motel on Route 66 was certainly alive before it died at least twice. The six cabins were empty, open mouths and broken windows, until ghosts from Switzerland arrived, painted them white and filled them with a surprising art project.

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DRYLAND MOTEL LOBBY LAB: MATZA Amboy, open from September 2015 to February 2016
N 34º 33.64’ ― W 115º 44.70’

A group of artists, urbanists and architects from Switzerland’s glaciers, lakes, and rainy valleys brought to Amboy their humid minds inquiring about the desert’s climate, inventing various ways to import real and imaginary springs of water.

GUILLAUME de MORSIER and VALENTIN KUNIK (architects in Lausanne), Bungalow #3 GLACIER Machine condensing water on the surface of cold blades, the water becomes ice in 6 hours: the first glacier in the Mojave desert.

GUILLAUME de MORSIER and VALENTIN KUNIK (architects in Lausanne), Glacier
Machine condensing water on the surface of cold blades, the water becomes ice in 6 hours: the first glacier in the Mojave desert.     Photo: Peter Kirby

JEROME MASSARD, (artist) Bungalow #1 California Water Infokiosk

JEROME MASSARD, (artist)  California Water Infokiosk   Photo: Peter Kirby

JEROME MASSARD, (artist) Bungalow #1 Route 66 Holly Salty Spring

JEROME MASSARD, (artist) Route 66 Holly Salty Spring    Photo: Peter Kirby

SEVERIN GUELPA, Mobile Drinking Water System

SEVERIN GUELPA, Mobile Drinking Water System   Photo: Peter Kirby

ARIANE ARLOTTI, Recycle Me - Recycle You

ARIANE ARLOTTI, Recycle Me – Recycle You  Photo: Peter Kirby

ARIANE ARLOTTI, Recycle Me - Recycle You

ARIANE ARLOTTI, Recycle Me – Recycle You  Photo: Peter Kirby

MARIE VELARDI, Rain Book

MARIE VELARDI, Rain Book    Photo: Peter Kirby

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Participants: Ariane Arlotti – artist, Séverin Guelpa – artist, Valentin Kunik – architect, Jérôme Massard – artist, Guillaume de Morsier – architect, Matthias Solenthaler – urbaniste et Marie Velardi – artist.

MAORI PUNCTUATION : TAWERA TAHURI

HOW NEW ZEALAND OPENED MY MIND

by Rosanna Albertini

My seven stars on the kitchen wall have been carved and cooked. Maybe thinking of the new comet that’s becoming more and more visible in the Christmas sky, and is called Lovejoy, this year I see them as the tale of a comet. They bring me back to New Zealand.

TAWERA TAHURI, Signatures, about 2009, Ceramics Photo: Peter Kirby

TAWERA TAHURI, Signatures, about 2008, Ceramics
Photo: Peter Kirby

At Toihoukura School of Maori Visual Arts, in Gisborne, ten years ago, Steve Gibbs, head of the school, offered me such generous hospitality that I almost forgot money existed. Students’ art was displayed in the entrance hall. I could like the pieces, but my cultural keys were not the right ones to understand them. A good reason for me to rush headlong into a fog of ideas, searching for new springs of perception. I bought three small paintings by Alison Waru as a present for my husband. I met the artist, while a joyful chaos surrounded my purchase.

More surprises: artist Tawera Tahuri brought a pile of crosses to me, and put them in my hands. No explanations. “Ceramics,” she told me. It was a present charging me with Maori stories and meanings that I had to discover by myself. The stars, or diagonal crosses, contain the present and ancestral spirit of New Zealand native tribes. Maori objects are not inert matter. They are human events that art makes palpable. Life instead makes them silent, or covers them up. My odd discovery, during my visits to the Maori New Zealand, was a journey that guided me beyond words, to observe rituals and challenges that helped me to feel my core, as a living thing, no more significant than a bird’s. Except, I couldn’t sing like them, in perfect synchrony with the sun rising.

As a guest of Maori tribes, I became one of the many, one knot in my family’s string of people; was allowed to share for the first time in my life a day of direct democracy: practiced for real, instead of idealized. It was not enough to be there, I had to earn the Maori’s trust at every step. The effect, was a sense of contentment. Effort to be myself? Pointless. Perception of life and death, in every form, like melting in water. It was a change with no return. Tawera told me that her visit to the Colosseum, in Rome, learning about slaves fighting with African lions in the arena, changed her life. She probably lost her illusions about European primacy. I certainly lost my native illusions in Maori land, about individual power sanctified by the Renaissance. I’m quite sure it’s only the winning side of a more complex history. After coming home, I looked for discordant voices in the modern time. My favorite is Robert Musil’s, when he discloses

“a secret rising and ebbing of our being with that of things and other people.”

Tawera’s crosses are the art version of signs put as signatures by the Maori chiefs on the Treaty of Waitangi, the sixth day of February 1840: by that treaty Queen Victoria of England extended to the natives of New Zealand her royal protection and imparted to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects. A non-written civilization received the same rights as the empire of written words. Reality had been bloody and violent, legal agreements were amazingly clean although hard to accept. For more than one hundred years the document was lost, became a flying rumor. But the day came that it was found, and now the Maori tribes are slowly recuperating their territories.

In the meantime the colonial wisdom had destroyed and burned most of the native trees on the mountains around Gisborne, to replace them with European pine trees not compatible with the island’s soil. Tawera and her husband brought home the dead trees, carved them and placed them in front of their house as spiritual guardians.

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As my New Zealand experience became a book, (New Zealand with Italian Accent), I asked Tawera to draw some punctuations for the end of each chapter. Knowing it was going to be a hand made book, sewn by me copy by copy, she conceived images kept together with stitches, free buttons and Maori speech signs in a dialogue with verbal abstractions: stories, not decorations.

On a theme by Hone Taiapa, by Hone Tuwhare*

Tell me poet, what happens to my chips

after I have adzed our ancestors

out of wood?

What happens to your waste-words, poet?

Do they limp to heaven, or go down easy

to Raro-henga**?

And what about my chips, when they’re

down ― and out? If I put them to fire

do I die with them?

Is that my soul’s spark spiralling; lost

to the cold night air? Agh, let me die

another hundred times: eyeball

to eyeball I share bad breath

with the flared nostrils of the night.

For it’s not me I leave behind: not me.

Only the vanities of people;

their pleasure, their wonder and awe

alone remain.

Bite on this hard, poet: and walk careful.

Fragmented, my soul lies there: in

the waste-wood, around.

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubble n.1, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubble n.1, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubble n.2, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubble n.2, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubbles n.3, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubbles n.3, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubbles n.4, 2009

TAWERA TAHURI, Speech Bubbles n.4, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My cells have probably a precise memory of me, better than my mind. I am a dresser opening drawers here and there with no chronological order, with no order at all. And stories come out of my fingers. When they take shape, they are like clouds of miriad passerines, looking black on the page after a long pause on the ground, pecking what’s left of dismantled piles of hay. Stretching their flight higher and wider, looping, and inflating the blue with sudden explosions of wings, birds keep drawing their distance from the ground and yet they need it, somehow like the artists.

 

*Hone Tuwhare’s poem is from Deep River Talk, collected poems, 1993.

Hone Tuwhare was the first Maori poet writing in English.

** Rarohenga, in Maori mythology, is the underworld and realm of the spirits

THANKSGIVING to COREY STEIN and PELLEGRINO ARTUSI

 “The Art of Eating Well”

TUNDRA-VENICE Chapter 4 (Chevac, Alaska — Venice, California)

By Rosanna Albertini

While I crack eggs, and separate the yolks from the whites, hoping my Italian potato cake for Thanksgiving will look better than a panettone, my husband has a hard choice to make for his pumpkin pie: goat milk, soy cream, real cream? Fat, sweet, irresistible butter or vegan buttery spread? Real eggs, children of hens, or a liquid substitute? For this time, November 2015, we pretend history of cooking stopped in 1891, when Pellegrino Artusi published his “Art of Eating Well,” a book in perfect Italian language that helped to unify Italy more than the monarchy or the republic, with recipes for common readers of a country in which most people did not speak Italian.

I learned to cook from that book when I was twelve, and never quit. Only, beware of eggs, one century ago they were much smaller, their number must be cut in a half. And don’t be afraid of simple food! Pellegrino Artusi writes the recipe of the meatloaf as spirited as Corey Stein when she depicts the California Surfertaco.

COREY STEIN, Surfertaco beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Surfertaco
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artis

183 . POLPETTONE (Meatloaf)

Mister meatloaf, don’t hesitate to come forward, as I wish to present you to my readers. I know that you are retiring and shy because you’re conscious of your origins and realize you are more lowly than many others. Take heart and doubt not that a few words in your favor will convince people to try you, and perhaps even smile upon you.”

Corey Stein’s siblings in Alaska would be the perfect eaters of Artusi’s GENOESE PUDDING featuring a mixture of milk-fed veal, chicken breast, prosciutto, butter, grated Parmisan and eggs. The pudding must be completed, on the top, with chopped liver cooked in meat sauce. He recommends to serve it hot, “if it was made well, I guarantee your guests will remark on its delicacy.” It could be an alternative source of calories for lovers of Carnation evaporated milk. Unfortunately, also among the icebergs, butter is replaced by all-vegetable shortening. Adding mashed potatoes, sugar and salmonberries, good health is assured.

COREY STEIN, Crisco beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Crisco
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Carnation milk beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Carnation milk
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

In California, instead, cows could cry in their stable: soy milk is ‘silky,’ who ever would call silky the creamy, good smelling cow milk? They call it FAT. Yes, nourishing food has been banned from our lives, but we shouldn’t ignore that rich food of the past, like the Macaroni pie, were prepared and offered rarely, meat was on the table only once a week or less, bread and tomatoes were a whole meal.

COREY STEIN, Silk beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Silk
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

201. PASTICCIO DI MACCHERONI (Macaroni pie)

The cooks of Emilia-Romagna are usually very good at making this difficult and expensive dish, which is excellent when it is well made―a thing that’s easier said than done. Macaroni pie is a Carnevale [Mardi Gras] dish, and during that period of the year, there isn’t a luncheon or dinner in Romagna that doesn’t begin with it.

I once met a Romagnan of legendary appetite who arrived unexpected at a party as the guests were sitting down in front of a magnificent pie fit for a dozen. “What!” he said. “Just that pie I could eat all by myself for all of you?” “If you can eat it, we’ll pay for it,” they replied. The good man didn’t wait to be asked twice, and did. “He is going to croak by morning,” the astounded spectators said to each other after the performance. Luckily, the man’s condition wasn’t serious, though his belly did swell until the skin was as tight as a drum and he groaned, writhed, and cried out as if he was in labor. A man armed with a rolling pin hurried to his aid and, kneading his stomach as if it were dough, cleared the way for who knows how many other pies.

Gluttons and parasites of this type are rarer in our time than they used to be, for two reasons, I think. First, the human constitution has become frailer, and second, spiritual pleasures, a benefit of civilization, have eclipsed the pleasures of the flesh.”

 

The Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) is a translation of La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene. Translated from Italian by Kyle M. Phillips III, Published by Random House, New York, in 1996. Out of print, but probably it can still be found as used copy, if the search is well done.

VENICE BIENNALE 2015

 UNOFFICIAL REPORT, AS CLOSE TO LIFE AS IT CAN BE

By Rosanna Albertini

Shaken by wind and rain, Venice, the lady who never undressed after the party, is splashed by the waves. And it’s only September. New monsters navigate between Giudecca and San Marco, before they turn right leaving through the lagoon. Each of them is a five, even eight deck high cruise ship, taller than any building in the city. They came into my dreams at the end of the night, bringing shivers in my spine. Years ago the wooden dock on which one waits for the boat in San Marco was cut into two parts like a piece of butter by the 2 deck boat that goes to Lido. The boat was ridiculously small compared with these ships. No one was angry, white wine is a local gold, a drunk captain can be forgiven; we jumped onto the shore without missing a second of the funny, unbelievable performance.

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2015-09-26_165450623_00FB4_iOS

As for now, I wouldn’t like to watch a cruise ship cutting the city in slices. The population is angry. And the Biennale brought art from all over the word into a theatrical scene more and more used and abused by foreign intruders (Costa, the shipowner who built the port in Venice is from Genoa, already an insult to the Venetian dignity). Working in a cafe near the Arsenale is an ordeal that transforms a pretty waitress, at the end of the day, into an almost unrecognizable wreck of a woman. The Biennale has temples at the Arsenale and Giardini, but the fusion with the city did not happen. Many national pavilions scattered in the meandered body of Venice had already disappeared in September. Some exhibitions seemed made to fill pages in the press, or to adorn empty palaces.

Not the Iranians though. They were given the most ruined, modest and spooky space in Cannareggio. There, the exhibition was shining, thoughtful about the present as much as rooted in an ancient civilization.

The press office of the Biennale let us writers know that information about the entire Biennale will be available online. Confident in the future, I feel allowed to skip details. I only hope this project won’t have the same destiny as the Monument to the Partigiana, a bronze by Augusto Murer, installed by Carlo Scarpa in front of the Giardini entrance of the Biennale in 1964. Soon damaged by the waves, the site restoration was completed in 2009. Time, in Venice, is a flexible entity that Albert Einstein couldn’t theorize.

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Once more, no verdict about the art. I loved and learned. I will go back. But this Biennale left a melancholy taste in my mouth. I’m not able to separate the Biennale from Venice. The world is changing, Venice is sinking.

HERE IS A VISUAL STORY OF PERSONAL, HEARTFELT WAYS TO PRESENT THE SPIRIT OF OUR TIME

Artists: Joan Jonas, Katharina Grosse, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, Melvin Edwards, Huma Mulsi, Babak Kazemi, Farideh Lashai, Georg Baselitz, Irina Nakhova

nature and art have no borders

revolutions

they come to us without a word

what road do I take?

the way it is

the camel is embalmed

trees move on their own

humans

still walking on their heads

don’t fall from the wall

while a man

flew into space from his apartment

KATHARINA GROSSE, Installation at Venice Biennale 20115, "All the World's Futures."

KATHARINA GROSSE, Installation at Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures.”Photo: Peter Kirby

 

CELESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT, rêvolutions, a project for the French Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Courtesy of the artist and of Xippas, Paris; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Galerie Mario Mazzoli, Berlin. © Laurent Lecat.

CELESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT, rêvolutions, a project for the French Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.  Photo: R.A

 

joan jonas, "they come to us without a word," 2015 production still, Courtesy of the artist

joan jonas, “they come to us without a word,” 2015, American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015
production still, Courtesy of the artist

 

MELVIN EDWARDS, The Way It Is, 1992 Welded steel, 18.25 h x 21 w x 16.5 d inches

MELVIN EDWARDS, The Way It Is, 1992 
Welded steel, 18.25 h x 21 w x 16.5 d inches Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures”

 

BABAK KAZEMI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015

BABAK KAZEMI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

HUMA MULSI, Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015

HUMA MULSI, Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

FARIDEH LASHAI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015

FARIDEH LASHAI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

GEORG BASELITZ, Doesn't Fall from the Wall, 2015 Venice Biennale 2015, "All the World's Futures"

GEORG BASELITZ, Doesn’t Fall from the Wall, 2015
Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures” Photo: R.A.

 

IRINA NAKHOVA, Russian Pavilion, (The Green Pavilion) at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: Rosanna Albertini

IRINA NAKHOVA, Russian Pavilion, (The Green Pavilion) at Venice Biennale 2015   Photo: R.A.

 

THE LAST VENICE BIENNALE I VISITED, IN 2009

There will be no verdict in this report from the Venice Biennale 2009. A “quiet” venue? It’s the general verdict. Yet, what’s the difference between a lagoon and swamp? They are both quiet. If nonsense weren’t good for the brain I would throw the word “quiet” into a canal, but so many told it, or felt that way, a common sentiment must be treated with consideration. Quietly, seventy seven countries from all over the world sent their artists to Venice, to refill the historical pavilions as well as empty basements on the Canal Grande, empty churches, dismissed convents, the abandoned ship factory of the Arsenale, other modest or rich spaces, private foundations. And many artists, instead of magnifying the aura around their ego or their objects, brought to Venice scenes of human experience of the kind shared wherever humans live.

Venice is an expensive shell waiting for artists every two years to bring back international gossip, art comedies, and provocative gestures, as if the ballrooms were still open, and bridges and narrow streets could still embrace and hide love games and illicit exchanges, monkeys, bears, prostitutes, commerce of exotic goods, knives and fists in return for someone’s insult. “Quiet,” sounds like “nianca na strasa de comedia sto ano,” venician language for “not even a rag of a comedy this year,” in a play by Carlo Goldoni, the local glory in the Eighteen century, a sort of Venetian Woody Allen.

Not my impression this year, frankly, maybe because in a previous life I have been a Venetian, and I love the city insanely. Today Venice has the charm of a lady who for centuries never undressed after the party; even threatened by financial straits, she is a majestic old lady. And this Biennale turns out to be an interesting, silent merging of international art into the normal flow of the city life, so that the art spaces are next to the pharmacy, the bakery, clothes and fruit vendors; at times signs for national pavilions or side events (forty four) compete with street markets, flocks of tourists, and spots of chairs for tired legs in front of small cafes. Some exhibits are so hidden in meanders that to find them is an adventure. No complaints: when the art is good, visitors are even more rewarded.

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.”