KIM ABELES: she knows how to dream in prose

(thank you Fernando Pessoa))


KIM ABELES  6 Self-Portraits with Files  1995
  Los Angeles

 

The interior life is often stupid. Its egotism blinds it and deafens it; its imagination spins out ignorant tales, fascinated. … A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world — if only from time to time. (Annie Dillard)

( oxen )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

trying to GRAB the ACTUAL WORLD

by Rosanna Albertini

Leaves do not fall on the floor for a reason, a reason we can’t read or measure —secret dance of nature —and the eyes look about the yellow ripples searching for an order that isn’t there, it is only within us, mostly lost in a life we don’t understand and moderately control. Birth and death the ultimate truth. 

I bring back these self-portraits by Kim Abeles today for a special reason: they depict a woman in action, but they are stills. The woman engages all the energy of her body holding, pulling, birthing a package of files that are nothing but life, but once more truly still: documents, memories, flat monuments of some living things. 

The photographs are not about her SELF, they translate into paper images our stubborn conflict within a reality threatening us every day like the big mouth of a crocodile. Oh the teeth! They seem able to crumble every trace of humanity and especially like to chew the remains of freedom. Eventually the crocodile will go back to the swamp. It happened many times in the past. In the meantime our brain is scoured by the news. They are the semblance of life. They wrap themselves around the hours scanning time more than the old clock. See? all of this paragraph is a mental thing, as any thing else which is written.  

Kim, the artist, opens a different chapter: her body deals with the flattened life as another body. We see the weight of saving pieces of life on paper, heavy phantoms of the living, if phantoms can be heavy. 

( pulley I )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulley 2 )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

( pulleygut )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 Courtesy of the artist

And we perceive her permanent struggle in preserving movement, the physical connection to something that was living and now is flat and black and white and  packaged. Each photograph is condemned to the same destiny. So you as an artist, Kim, you become a figure on the pile, maybe trying to stop flatness from growing, maybe adding your own?  

“Multiple emotions. Not just one life in one isolated body; make your soul the host of several bodies. Feel it vibrate to the emotions of others as well as to your own and it will forget its own griefs when it ceases to think only of itself. The outer life is not violent enough; more poignant tremors result from inner surges of rapture.” André Gide, The White Notebook

( birthing )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995 , Courtesy of the artist

Online dictionary: e-motion: a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others… moving from, mid 16th century. 

The artist’s actions are literally e-motions. Her soul, invisible, is the engine of her actions, silencing her mind.  

Levitation: reality, the pile of files, looks pregnant with her.

Birthing: she gives birth to the pile of files, just a physical need. 

André Gide again: “I was then a child. I did not understand that the mind is nothing and passes away while the soul still remains after death. … What is the soul?

The soul is our will to love.”

 levitation )

KIM ABELES, Self-Portrait with Files, 1995, Courtesy of the artist

 

JOEL TAUBER : the BORDER BALL begins

The Tree is gone!!! Replaced by concrete

The Tree is gone!!! Replaced by concrete. And, I’m beyond devastated.

At the same time, I’m trying to focus on all of the Tree Babies that are thriving.

So, I went to visit the USC Tree Baby to try to cheer up.

Many thanks to all the Tree Baby parents!

I will always love The Tree, and I will always miss The Tree. Sick-Amour.

And, now I must move forward; because tomorrow, I start Border-Ball: a 40-Day pilgrimage along the U.S. – Mexico border

TOMORROW, OCTOBER 29, the pilgrimage begins. This blog will follow and publish Joel Tauber’s journey every time he will send  documents and stories.  The editor, RA

 

JEROME ROTHENBERG and CHARLIE MORROW: BREATHING

BREATHING …. our perennial COMEDY OF MISTAKES

with JEROME ROTHENBERG and CHARLIE MORROW, ROSANNA ALBERTINI and CHARLES-LOUIS de MONTESQUIEU

 

RA    missing eternity and perfection, we rely on counting, measuring and forgetting

JR    There are worlds here / hidden from sight / whose ends are like / their beginnings

RA    and yet we move on changing confident that time will do the right job and memory will be a safe

JR    that farce replaces tragedy / obscene even to think it / & yet to come into another age / & find it proven true

MONTESQUIEU    I’m not a poet, but I know it, the becoming is universal soul, almost a wind, a  life-giving breathing: a “principle” produced by an infinite chain of causes interwoven through centuries, until they tune the spirit of one age.  Once the tone is given, it is the only governing force, it dominates until the total destruction. If the tone is corrupt, humans can only forget themselves.

 RA    I’m not good at counting. Please Jerry, tell me it is not true we must be reminded of a vanishing earth

JR    some will proclaim the word / against all odds / others can only wait / & wonder  

 

 Rothenberg’s house, Saturday, August 24 — Videos by Peter Kirby 

Charlie Morrow playing various instruments, Jerry Rothenberg reading

       

Jerome Rothenberg, NEVER DONE COUNTING, 2019

Enclosed by matter /all my thoughts / scream for prophecy. / When I wake up on Mondays / the night is still hanging / above me galaxies / shedding their images /fading unknown / in the half light / a light that confounds me. / Nothing we know is unreal / & nothing is real. / There is only the face / of a woman / blind in the sun / & a voice that cries out / in a language like French. / When she raises her arms / they look distant and lame, / something there / that won’t work but falls flat / against me. I will follow her / up to the moon, will watch her / paint herself red / with no sense / of the distances still to be traveled, / no plot to adjust to / but numbers / that show me / the little i know,  /  the way one / vanishing universe /  shrinks till it swallows / another. / There are worlds here hidden from sight / whose ends are like / their beginnings,  / the world in daylight / turns dark / the blaze of noon / caught in their mirrors, / as the sun slips / through our fingers / never done counting / where the globe / has dropped / out of sight.*

Jerome Rothenberg, THE POEM AS LANDSCAPE, 2019   

the definition of place / is more than / what was seen / or what was / felt before / when dreaming / of the dead / the way / a conflagration / wrapped itself / around his world / leaving in his mind / a trace of dunes / the fallout from / a ring of mountains / reminders / of a vanished earth / the landscape / marked with rising tufts / the hardness of / clay tiles / that press against  / our feet like bricks / the soil concealed / beneath its coverings / through which  a weave / of twisted wires / crisscross the empty / fields as markers / to commemorate / the hapless dead / the ones who fly / around like ghosts / bereft of either / home or tomb / in what would once / have been their world / the count fades out / beyond 10,000 / leaves them to be swept / down endless ages / fused together / or else apart / lost nomads / on the road / to desolation / a field on mars / they wait to share / with others / dead at last**

 

The mystery is all contained in speaking

then the little silences

surround my words like poetry

I breathe them in & out***

 

Whiteness grows around Charlie Morrow’s images and words, around which we should imagine a space expanding, with no edges.  Each verbal suggestion is the core of a sound event. Our mind can hear.

 

CHARLIE MORROW

1 

 B o o k  of  B r e a t h

2

3

 

Life birth                                                                               breathing in

                                                    two hearts two years early on

4

Breath Chant

5

Kaddish Tibetan

6

Breeze

vegetable breezes

7

Whisteling in and out

8

Breath and Bells

9

Wind Song

10

Birth of the Eagle Voice

11

Remembering Breaths

12

Breath of Love

13

la petite mort

14

Death                                                                                 breathing out

                                                                            On the assent of the fragile

 

As for me, I hold my breath.

I hold my breath trying to keep it in me as long as I can, facing the last edge. That’s the way my life moved, from an edge to another, suddenly immersed in spaces where everything was new: faces, language, smells, temperature, colors. I was I because my dog recognized me? Not even that. My dog had been killed by cigarette smugglers near the house of my birth. I was moved to the city. My dialect, the freshness of leaves in the wind, and the small white, soft flowers climbing the bushes, careless of spines, were replaced by the odor of soup mixed with vapors of bleach at the entrance of my apartment building. The fog sucked me in, licking my adolescence out of me. Later the lagoon cuddled me every day on my way to work on the boat, the bus, the train, the boat again, shaking my more mature energy out of my body. Life was breathing, not me. And I was not more than one of the many particles she digests, like the ogre of fairy tales. One story after another, waves of living pealed the years off, bringing me in front of the unknown, one more time. What’s after the last breath? I am so curious I can’t express it. I am so happy. The desert where I am now erases all fears: it’s a blooming of nothingness, for the nothing we are. 

Now I see what my grandfather painted when he placed me sitting on the edge of a landscape, looking at the void. The painting was made in his studio, a fantasy about my future, probably. He also placed himself in the scene. He is the tree behind me, as I felt him all my life long. We are wrapped in light, and mad with love for this life that annihilates us.  

Rosanna Albertini

ORESTE ALBERTINI, Title and year unknown, about 1950

Bibliography:

*Jerome Rothenberg, The President of Desolation & Other Poems, Further Autovariations Reminders of a Vanished Earth, Arrangement and edition © 2019 Black Widow Press

**Jerome Rothenberg, The President of Desolation & Other Poems, 2019, Further Autovariations Reminders of a Vanished Earth, Arrangement and Edition © 2019 Black Widow Press

***Jerome Rothenberg, from The Mystery of False Attachments, Word Palace Press, @ 2019 

Charles-Louis de Montesquieu, Storia vera, with translation and postface  by Rosanna Albertini, Palermo, Sellerio Editore, 1983

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : CASTLES IN THE AIR

Alberto Albertini :  CASTLES IN THE AIR

August-September 2019  Alberto is ninety two

from Milan (Italy)- DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS by Alberto Albertini

 

 

Note of the editor and translator, Rosanna Albertini

Alberto’s father was my grandfather, the painter Oreste. The family gave us a common humus in the same village and a pull of genes, but this blog is the place of our reciprocal discovery, challenge and collaboration. To be part of the same family is a coincidence, whereas to think and write together is a double journey, the way to question our attachment to the arts through the knotted branches of our lives. 

Each time Alberto sends me a new piece, I know that this project makes sense. The whole blog, not only the single chapters. Why? Fernando Pessoa already wrote it better than I could: 

“The simplest —but really the simplest— things, which nothing can make semisimple, become complex when we live them.” 

A sort of “shame of existing” most of the time shuts my voice off in public situations, as if having to speak out loud implied audacity. The blog doesn’t make any noise. Through the blog Alberto and myself listen to each other’s secret voice. I truly feel at home, if he also does I don’t know. I hope so. 

“The /constant/ analysis of our sensations creates a new way of feeling that seems artificial to anyone who analyzes it with his intelligence instead of with his own sensation.” (Pessoa) 

That’s why I open this post with a few lines Alberto wrote about infinity. They interestingly connect to Kuitca’s sensation of painting, in the post that precedes this one. And they perfectly fit in my vision.

The surface.

The canvas in tension immaculate.

A provocative portion of infinity, the infinite power to represent ideas on canvas. In front of the surface the dismay of tracing an essential sign that could express by itself not ideas, rather the act of opposing infinity, a sign containing every thing.

Fontana, with a slashing cut, hits this power that the surface gives off.

The surface is still there, and is not. The slash broke infinity as well as its power. It tells us the gesture, the extreme attempt at expressing by only one sign another infinity, unfathomable, of the artist.

Alberto’s canvas is his life slashed by the war, and lightened by simple things, like the castles. 

CASTLES IN THE AIR

by Alberto Albertini

I was nine years old when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, in 1937. I believe it was the first time I saw a castle. It grew bold in the sky, arousing my fantasy, in the movie it didn’t have to be rooted on the ground. Despite the boring songs and the shaky images, a sort of hitch, the movie revealed a dreamworld that could be extended afterwards. My brain started to produce its fancies, and I tried to draw more beautiful castles, more daring.

Having the right conditions, maybe I would also have built a castle as Ludwig II did in Neuschwanstein. I only dreamed of castles by making drawings. But drawing is a privileged activity: while you do it, it allows you to travel beyond the drawing, fancying romantic stories of young women in the clearing of the enchanted wood. That’s why maybe I couldn’t learn poems by heart; they were not fantasies produced by me! In the end, to stimulate fantasy is the true meaning of reality. Why should we stop reality in one click?  To preserve the starting image of a journey. 

Castles, castles, castles…

Castles in the air, as when I dreamed of having a camera I couldn’t buy and drew it in a project, taken by the illusion I could build it; or a little later, in 1945, I was struck down by the ERMANOX, Salomon’s fotocamera from the twenties, it was already vintage. In order to buy it I wanted to make an amplifier and sell it to have the necessary money. The amplifier was made but not sold: it ended being rented by the improvised after war ‘balera,’ an unpretentious dance hall nearby. 

Heart-wrenching mazurcas, tangos and waltzes, sounds reaching us from afar as she and I leaned out of the window of our room trying to absorb the pleasure of that sadness. Desire and imagination are also good for building and inventing as I eventually did: dreams in a drawer from which sometimes one takes something out. Because an intense activity of imagination requires time, if one doesn’t have enough time, it happens that his brain follows two directions at the same time: taking care of the job with the mind away from it, thus running the risk of losing the job. It happened to me just when I was beginning to go back up.

My conversion, nevertheless, was never complete. The business trips were a perfect opportunity: I could quickly abandon my contact person to get the train to the airport, glad when I saw from the window a profusion of broom flowers. I could breathe! And what about brooms near Lake Trasimeno?

Such alternative work can be also practiced quite late in life, but it’s less satisfying of course, one can’t throw himself too far and eventually makes do with sensations, atmospheres. Not memories! I detest memories. What are they for, to be stirred by happiness again? Certainly not. Facts existed, there they stay. Atmospheres are something else: a smell of wood’s sawdust instantly evokes the sawmills of the alpine valleys, the pinewoods. For a moment one feels there. Or the smell of the sea…

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Roofs in Corso Garibaldi, from his window.

I take my time reading the newspaper, then I stop and start looking at the objects around me: bookcases, books, photographs, memories piled in containers that I will not open; boxes, playthings scattered on the shelves blocking the access to books I don’t care of looking for, or on hold to be shelved. It will not happen. My big screen PC contains a life, my life taking photographs: I have in mind to select them by subject, to make virtual albums. I will certainly do it. There are also the paintings but I don’t see them, on the side walls. Their presence is enough to keep my mind at rest. The sun makes a square of light on the wooden floor that reverberates heat in the room, the window open, the morning air still pleasant. 

Twenty, twenty-two years in such an intimate island so much inside the city, almost unreal, to go down and communicate, to go up and meditate. How much more time? Not so much, it can’t be, yet I take it in wanting to exalt sensations that age is wearing out. What can be done in order to have such a long life? a lady asked me while waiting for her number: to have a project, a destination, a purpose! still I have some projects, if I don’t hurry I can keep them to prolong my life. 

I know I’m not eternal, I’ve started to feel my years a while ago and yet I also feel I’m eternal, who knows. Who knows who I really was, some remorse resurfaces, is it possible to live with nothing to regret? I can stand the stains spread on my consciousness.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Outline of the nocturnal city, from his window

Late in the night, from the window I see the street, it’s almost empty. Somebody comes by. A few windows are lit: didn’t they go on vacation? What are they doing still on, at that time? 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Looking out the rear windows of his building

Bibliography

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet, composed by Bernardo Soares, assistant bookkeeper in the city of Lisbon. Translated by Alfred Mac Adam, Exact Change, Boston, 1998

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA – THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

About GUILLERMO KUITCA  

  exhibition  Guillermo Kuitca 18 May – 11 August 2019  Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro Colón) 2018-2019, Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm. 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches. 
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

 

THEATERS LITTLE BRAINS

by Rosanna Albertini

 paintings are self obscuring bodies of historyJohn Cage

Crazy effort is ours to make sense

because we use words and they seem to exist for that job

although making sense or giving up with it are much bigger activities than writing or speaking words.

Kuitca makes paintings and “attacks” them from inside

since 2005 he realized he can barely introduce humans in the painted scenes

often they are replaced by numbers and geometrical signs for seats

he doesn’t have inspiring urgency to make art 

A mí no me sucede -he says.

No tengo necesidad de expresarme.

Cuando estoy trabajando, es como si la obra me fuera dictando lo que tengo que hacer.

Me aterra que la obra tienda a organizarse aun cuando yo trate de producir cambios importantes. 

En el intento de ruptura, muchas veces lo único que se consigue es una estructura tan organizada como la que se quería romper.

Reconozco que ese movimiento … es en parte el deseo de ruptura que nunca se cumplió.”

Desire of breaking off that never kept its promise.

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Staples Center) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper, 29 x 42 cm  11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

I admire the philosopher in these miniature theaters, the man walking around in his studio perhaps in search of his mind, as much as the paintings. Kuitca is right, boundaries and infinity share the same space, in paintings they join their power. The artist answers to their secret call and finds himself facing a sort of physical resistance in the paper or canvas as the composition takes form. 

As this happens, he needs to attack the image from inside. There is a circular movement in the pictorial process -as Kuitca describes it-  as if the “obra,” the art piece, had her own way to assemble images and colors, and the artist was listening to the silent forms coming from him or escaping from him? “If the obra unfolds herself, -he says- she makes it chaining, not breaking.” “Despite the effort of producing big changes…what I obtain is a structure as well organized as the one that I would like to break.”

I only can imagine stopping painting when my pictorial project accomplishes itself.”  “As if something ended and I stayed out of it.”

Real theaters and stadiums are large, well organized monuments of architectural order.

Numbers, prices, performances swirl in the artist’s mind as he performs as a painter. He doesn’t go beyond the map in these small theaters’ making.  He builds his own configuration no bigger than a hand, and the very idea of structure is forced to deal with the human nature of the hand that draws, paints and glues. While the architectural forms spring back into colors, their painted new life starts fighting against the order. As if it wasn’t enough, the artist floods the area over the orchestra, opens cracks in the stability of the building. The edges crumble, the center is shaken by lines that seem to activate an electric storm. The rows become black and pink feathers.

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled ( Oslo Opera House) 2018-1019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (David Geffen Hall) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

   

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Metropolitan Opera House) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth.  Photo: Jeff Mclane

                                               

The artist, contemporary Diogenes. Instead of holding a candle in the face of the other humans, looking for the honest one, Guillermo Kuitca places and holds in front of our eyes miniature portraits of our brains. Is he challenging our own virtue? They are also pealed open heads, stripped of the usual overdressed makeup. They might be many single heads, or one, rather, disguised through different modes. It’s our inner chaos that flickers in front of us. 

Don’t mistake me. We are not impenetrable safes. We are sponges breathing in and out infinite vibrations. Life of others enters our bodies like a bunch of needles, whether we want it or not.

Only literally these are theaters. They are theaters for sure, places that underwent a radical clean up from velvet, posters and decoration, as well as heads not only stripped from bones, hair and lipstick, also deprived of intellectual pride, that cloud of purity we honor, some times, to forget we are guests of a supreme intelligence which is our body, the magnificent container of growth and decay, under the will of time.

Each theater replicates the map of an existing theater, but the title of the painting  is UNTITLED. 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Teatro alla Scala) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

Cynical like Diogenes, I like to drink in the cup of my hands. My eyes absorb the painted images in the same, simple way. It’s a new experience in front of each piece. I see numbered seats mutate into entangled neurons, loosening like pieces of thread cut into the seam. My own neurons curl up, still hurt by the pain I encountered on the sidewalk this morning, waiting for the bus. A man asked me for money for the fare. His eyes met mine only once, for an instant. Here it is, I told him, and tried to talk with him. He kept his face down until tears dropped, heavy like lead. A few words from him revealed he had just lost wife and two children, all dead. The only remains of his life were in his gray, double suitcase. His tragedy has become mine. Inner life is life of others. We obey life as this painter who is very dear to me obeys the obra, the work he does. A new world comes out of it. Pain is not hidden. Which creates disruption, uncertainty, and a lot of unknown.  

The space we share, in front of his paintings and every day, on the road. 

Everyone probably experiences something different. 

WITTGENSTEIN with one alteration: “painting” instead of “proposition”

A  painting … does not actually contain its sense, but does contain the possibility of expressing it. …

A painting contains the form, but not the content, of its sense.  (Tractatus, 3.15)

Only facts can express a sense, a set of names cannot. (Tractatus, 3.142)

 

GUILLERMO KUITCA, Untitled (Bayreuth Festspielhaus) 2018-2019 Mixed media on paper 29 x 42 cm 11 3/8 x 16 1/2 inches.
© Guillermo Kuitca, Courtesy of the artist and Houser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff Mclane

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kuitca’s words are all from his conversation with Graciela Speranza in GUILLERMO KUITCA OBRAS 1982-1998, © Graciela Speranza and Guillermo Kuitca, Editorial Norma S.A., 1998 Santafe´de Bogotá

GUILLERMO KUITCA, THEATRE COLLAGES, © 2005 Guillermo Kuitca, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London, Stephen Barlow, Karen Wright. Scalo Verlag AG, Zürich, Switzerland

John Cage, A YEAR FROM MONDAY, Weslayan University Press, Middletown, Connecticut, 1963

Ludwig Wittgenstein, TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS, Translation by D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961

 

 

ALBERTO ALBERTINI : DISASTERS

DISASTERS 

 by Alberto Albertini  

(Father and Son – Oreste and Alberto n.2)

DRAWINGS ALBERTO ALBERTINI MADE AS A CHILD

About the drawing of a falling airplane. Since Alberto was born in 1927, the following events started when he was about ten years old, more or less in 1937, and continued. Besano, Lombardia

The beauty of a disaster is fascinating, upsetting and attractive. Certainly not for the victims, but for us it’s incomparable. Attraction comes from breaking the usual routine, brightening up the attention by a sharply different happening. And something more is there —I believe— something dug up from unconscious or previous mental habits: hidden desires of revenge, failed achievements…

I was fascinated by disasters from my early years, they were in the air. At school we received fascist and military culture: we had to learn about muskets, grenades, anti gas masks and the complete military rank from simple soldier to general! I was never been able to learn it, but in the meantime the subtle pleasure of disaster was crawling in me. 

With Giorgio, who had a lot of toys and a great electric train on which he used to keep apples to dry, we used to produce railroad disasters: they were his trains. Had they been mine — I desired them so much — I don’t think I would have treated them that way. I made up for my deprivation by drawing more innocuous scenes. Giorgio and I also loved to take pictures of tanks hit by cannons. Tanks were the prevailing toys, but I was attracted by the caterpillar tracks, that gave the possibility to go everywhere, even off road. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward, I transformed an old little game my father had played with me into a complete military construction. Father used to put a match into a small tube, then using another match’s flame he heated the tube’s bottom and pfff, the first match was shot out of the small tube! Thanks to my inclination toward building, I moved to using bigger brass tubes and made a carriage with rubber wheels from other toys: a miniature cannon that I could drag. Such evolution involved the problem of the explosive substance that I fabricated following the instructions in the Sonzogno handbook. Actually it was a handbook for pyrotechnic work that I had bought in order to prepare the black gun powder: 75-15-10 saltpeter-carbon-sulphur. I understood from this that pyrotechnics could be more interesting, which I successfully undertook showing the blaze to the girls, more than sending rockets into space. I paid special attention to Micky Mouse’s whaling ship that I reproduced in wood in miniature, but this too had a small cannon with a harpoon. 

Recently, in a short autobiography in third person, Alberto wrote:

We consider superfluous to talk of the early years, our childhood because, although embryos of the future are already there, (at age five he conceived and made a net of trenches to gather chestnuts without bending his back) we believe that this is what normally happens in everyone’s childhood.  Only the stubborn time of adolescence brings the steady intention to proceed with a project. Which one? He, at that age, loved to say that he was a renaissance man four or five centuries late. And for that reason it would have been impossible for him to embrace all the arts and sciences that were possible in the renaissance, provided one had a special desire and a lot of brain. 

I hope you get the irony. My uncle Alberto is 92 and lives and works in Milano, Italy.

ADIA MILLETT : The Gold of Silence

ADIA MILLETT : THE GOLD OF SILENCE 

  Adia Millett : Breaking Patterns

California African American Museum Los Angeles — February-August 2019

 

ADIA MILLETT, Section 8 2016, Fabric/textile 140″ x 120″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

Be broken into a million pieces.

Only then will your heart no longer be confined

by the precious delusion of your own identity.

And perhaps you will stop being a house

with a few windows for the light to pour in.

Instead you will be the ground and the sky.

You will be the echo of your mother’s cry 

and the imprint of your father’s feet.

You… will be everything!

ADIA MILLETT

Edmond Jabès:

ECRIRE, C’EST RENDRE LE SOMMEIL AUX MOTS. LA PAGE EST LE DORTOIR; ALORS LE REVE PREND LES RENES ET TU PEUX BOIRE A L’ETAPE.

TO WRITE IS TO GIVE THE WORDS THEIR SLEEP. THE PAGE IS THE ROOM FOR SLEEPING; WHICH IS WHEN DREAMS HOLD THE REINS AND YOU CAN DRINK BEHIND THE LINES.

 

THE GOLD OF SILENCE

by Rosanna Albertini

Neither words nor images are easy. They only expand in a visual body moments in which the writer, in our case she’s also the artist, has lost memory, explanations, even the measure of time, and holds her breath in hope that a new world will appear on each page, in every art piece. And I would like to wrench more from Adia Millett about fabric and deconstruction, her pacing and undoing to the point of forgetting the heaviness of the house, both object and word. But, more words would pass through the intersection between her life and mine. I stay with the silence of her art as I see what she drew from history or natural events and remade, maybe skipping lightly and quickly, from afar, the ‘precious delusion’ of her own identity.

Daydreaming is the secret. A golden needle was held by Millett’s neurons, escaped her brain, became the vessel of a thread: a thread of breeze or light, and yet strong and farsighted. My, our daydreaming can only be different from hers when we look at her quilts, but we breath the air between the 8 sections of the house, whose door is there? Does the house wrap the artist around her body or live inside her, recombining layers of fabric with untold stories by many steps preceding words?

ADIA MILLETT, Medicine Wheel 2018, Fabric/textile 120″ diameter Courtesy of the artist Photo RA

Ancestors’ spread a monumental asymmetrical wisdom from a temple with one white window at the center. Fabric adds softness to the timeless speech. Adia Millet brought here, now, the ancestors’ voice gripped in stitches, for our eyes’ soul. She went through the magic of a natural environment: the grass sleeps in the green, birds rest among the clouds, the sky sleeps in the blue, the sun blows insomnia from an orange eye, time sleeps in the wheel. Perhaps humans didn’t really step in. 

ADIA MILLETT, Ancestors 2017, Fabric/textile  65″ x 73″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

Darkness is the not seen, an unknown fable obnubilated by lack of light. A wound was necessary, red like a horizon. A golden rain falls down from the wound, it’s the fable crying gold.

ADIA MILLETT, Golden Shower 2016, Fabric/textile 104″ x 92″
Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

Then tiny houses scattered on tables. Millett doesn’t stop making houses, gloves for explosions of feelings that ask for shape, protection maybe. Metaphors materialized in illuminated small inner spaces from which, once more, what emanates is silence.

The white, luminous center — one or many minuscule lamps —  regulates shadows and meanings, the infinite meanings each of us can imagine. If we are not delusional, we may feel the same in front of a closed door of a neighboring house. Beyond the door museum rooms with no labels, cabinets of daily wonder. We can only guess, make up stories. 

ADIA MILLETT, Blind premonition (flowers) 2009  Mixed media assemblage, 12 x 13 x 14″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

ADIA MILLETT, Capital Gain 2011 Mixed media assemblage 12 x 9.5 x 26.5″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

ADIA MILLETT, Rolando’s Ancestors 2011 Mixed media assemblage 22 x 12.5 x 9″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

When a long history of human traffic and money is included in a tunnel ending with a vanishing point, with ships sealing the void and money growing on trees instead of apples and pears, I saw the power of tales, the more absurd, the more revealing. A popular Italian story brings up the belief that trees with coins instead of leaves would grow when planting a coin in the ground. Poor Pinocchio, blinded by the beliefs of the poor who dreamed of a new life. Capital Gain is a clever, shameless piece. So are the other miniature spaces. Erasing time, including feelings in a niche, the artist invites us to open heart surgeries. Bleeding becomes gold, if you let your heart explode into a million pieces.  

ADIA MILLETT, When I Was a Little Boy 2011 Mixed media assemblage 9 x 13 x 18.5″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

ADIA MILLETT, When I Was a Little Boy 2011 Mixed media assemblage 9 x 13 x 18.5″ Courtesy of the artist, Photo RA

Bibliography

Edmond Jabès, Le Livre de Yukel, Paris, Gallimard, 1964