FIONA CONNOR’S PORTRAITS AND REPETITION

Fiona Connor

FATHER DIGESTING THE NEWSPAPER    ―   New Zealand, January 2016

“One of the things that is very interesting thing to know is how you are feeling inside you to the images that are coming out to be outside of you.” (Gertrude Stein with one alteration: images instead of ‘words’)

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Courtesy of the artist – Photos: Peter Kirby

Gertrude Stein’s portrait writing (from “Portraits and Repetition”)

“We in this period have not lived in remembering, we have living in moving being necessarily so intense that existing is indeed something, is indeed that thing that we are doing. And what does it really matter what anybody does. The newspapers are full of what anybody does and anybody knows what anybody does but the thing that is important is the intensity of anybody’s existence. Once more I remind you of Dillinger. It was not what he did that was exciting but the excitement of what he was as being exciting that was exciting. There is a world of difference and in it there is essentially no remembering.

And so I’m trying to tell you what doing portraits meant to me, I had to find out what it was inside any one, … and I had to find out not by what they said not by what they did not by how much or how little they resembled any other one but I had to find it out by the intensity of movement that there was inside in any one of them. … I must find out what is moving inside them that makes them them, and I must find out how I by the the thing moving excitedly inside in me can make a portrait of them.”

“Portraits and Repetition” is one of the five lectures Gertrude Stein wrote in 1934.
They were originally published in a book called Lectures in America, New York, Random House, 1935.

COLLECTIVE VOICE

From FIONA CONNOR and MICHALA PALUDAN

Newspaper Reading Club, New York – Poster Project 2014

“Connor and Paludan ask participants to read from newspapers and periodicals of their choice, as they normally would, but to verbalize the process of skimming, commenting and personal editorializing that naturally occurs. A recording is made of the participants as they read through articles and make accompanying comments. These recordings are later transcribed to produce texts which become personalized documents of wider political trends, and which make visible the structures by which information is transmitted and absorbed. Through this process each edition of the Newspaper Reading Club comes to speak to the location in which it is held and the particular events present on the day of the reading.” 

To this official presentation I add that names of the readers are NOT given to the public. Posters merge into the texture of anonymous words hung and painted all around the passers by. Silent, unappealingly black and white, they are “a space of detachment,” as if they had given up having a body. Large pages, expanded leaves, they are not supposed to last. Marginal thoughts of unofficial readers. Their form is made with random and temporary reactions to the news daily printed. But THE READING MAKES THEM: which happens with no rules, each person cuts and runs on the pages following a sort of visual instinct, often masking the text with a texture of secret, unclear patterns. And words become crazy machines dispersing printed and uttered thoughts, a collective voice brought back to a fluid current, impersonal, fleeting. If the posters’ readers have questions, they become part of the flowing, of a FLUXUS perhaps? (R.A.)

 

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Aside

Sunday morning

SUNDAY MORNING

It’s Sunday morning, a hazy day in my mind and around. Hazy enough to project on a white, modest egret on the seashore questions we keep secret because we don’t know the answers. The bird’s perfect modulation of lines is softened by feathers. A living porcelain jumps on the skinniest legs. In front of the white egret equally elegant in all her movements I felt I was seeing music.

No interpretation, no accurate description can have the same impact as the REAL THING. George Steiner: “In humane letters, ‘theory’ is nothing but intuition grown impatient. … But art and poetry will always give to universals ‘a local habitation and a name.’” (Errata)

Language is scared by life as logic is terrified by death. If the brain is not eternal and the human mind is not god, and computers are mainly dynamic containers with no paper, dust or silverfish, we might stop mistaking our head for a hat full of data.

It’s scary to see the nineteenth century phantoms of geometrical and mechanical control – early imperialism and capitalism outcomes – as inhabitants of our time disguised in operative systems, or apparently rational evaluation systems, every time human intelligence is treated like an impersonal engine. RA

This is the way Cuban artist Alexis Lago shows his own way out, drawing the very thin thread of our awareness:

 

ALEXIS LAGO, Asimetria del saber (Asymmetrical Knowledge), 2013, watercolor on paper, 15" x 11" Courtesy Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

ALEXIS LAGO, Asimetria del saber (Asymmetrical Knowledge), 2013, watercolor on paper, 15″ x 11″
Courtesy Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

ALEXIS LAGO, Sunday Morning, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15" x 10" Courtesy Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

ALEXIS LAGO, Sunday Morning, 2012, watercolor on paper, 15″ x 10″
Courtesy Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

 

“To believe that mankind can find a goal outside itself, and one not projected by itself, would be sheer folly and chasing after one’s shadow. Man’s [and Women’s] progress is only within itself, and hasn’t the victorious significance you think.” André Gide, Reflections

 

 

A studio-house on wheels with birds in the star lamp. (Temporarily stationed under construction at the Zorthian Ranch, Altadena, CA)

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A STUDIO-HOUSE ON WHEELS with BIRDS in the star lamp.(Temporarily stationed under construction at the Zorthian Ranch, Altadena, CA)

Dominique Moody is different from a tree only because she can carry roots in her body, and roll them up in her mind, and pull them out to complete her art. She moved 45 times. From now on, she will be on the road all the time, a nomad.

One morning, at the insurance company: “I would like to insure my truck.” “Who is the driver?” “I don’t drive; actually, I am legally blind.” “But, are you the owner?” “Yes, I am.” “Who will be driving?” “My brother.” “Where does he lives?” “Upstate New York.”

Dominique had bought a 1950 F 5 Ford truck, thinking of adding to the truck a trailer supporting a 20’ by 8’ custom made little house. And she asked for two plates: NOMAD 45 and NOMAD 46, the names of her art piece in motion: the studio-house NOMAD. Nomad is the the work of a woman who holds on to the idea of a home as if it was a hat threatened by a windy day. The house, as the hat, will follow her no matter where. She has made her own shell. As the travel will start, in a few months, she will leave behind the works she produces, marking the fact that she has passed by. The shell on wheels is meant to be an open laboratory. Art and life in motion with old and new friends she might encounter, to receive and give back the feeling that each single life makes sense as the sound of a melody, for the most part dispersed.

Around Easter, one of the lamps recently installed in the porch of the NOMAD showed dry weeds and threads sticking out of the metal star. The inside of the lamp had become a nest. Mother bird determined to join her songs and her kids’ voice to the human noise during the construction. Here they are.

Link to Dominique’s blog: http://thenomad45.tumblr.com

 

 

4 STORIES … ART … SOMETHING HUMAN

"Night Storm" 2013 Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

“Night Storm” 2013
Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery

The first story is from Interview, April 2014, p.112. Robert Longo interviewed by actor Keanu Reeves: “….This art historian, Maria Lind, said that art is a form of understanding – like philosophy and science and mathematics are understanding – but the difference is that art has the capacity to hold all these different things. It is the form of understanding that is best suited for the contemporary time that we live in. In that sense, I think this pursuit of trying to understand things is really a critical issue. I see the issue of life and death in everything I do. I’m trying to find answers. It can be quite frustrating, but at the same time, I’m never quite satisfied with what I’m doing, so I’m always looking for the next thing. The ebb and flow as an artist is a bizarre experience, for sure.”

The second comes from Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm, 1977: “Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split.”

The third story was in The New York Times 3 days ago. A twelve year old girl from Guatemala was let behind to live in the village with grandparents by mother and father who started a new life in the U.S. After twelve years her parents decided she should join them, and cross borders and countries guided by sharks smuggling human birds as they can. After a journey of five weeks, a man and the girl were arrested in Ciudad Juarez, near the border. The girl, terrified, cried all the tears she had at the police station. They put her in a house for found children. The day after she was hung in the bathroom, the shower curtain around her neck.

The fourth story is a painting, once more by Sharon Ellis. She defies time. Today the painting is my husk, invisibly containing this girl and all the victims of poverty. I need this painting, because the air in it cries drops of blood. The painting understands.