ALONE IN THE SKY

NICK AUSTIN in Los Angeles, 2015

Federico Garcia Lorca in New York, 1929-30

Nick Austin arrived in Los Angeles early December 2015 from Dunedin, New Zealand. Once  his drawings were hung at Laurel Doody Gallery, he spent his time walking through Los Angeles for hours and hours, from Griffith Park to Cloverdale Avenue. Nick, like me, doesn’t drive. He didn’t know that Griffith Park is the biggest park in North America: Rancho Los Feliz in 1882 with an ostrich farm for feathers on the ladies’ hats, then Aerodrome for pioneers of flight that became a zoo, and a detention camp for prisoners of war after WWII. Nick felt he was flying on his feet. Feeling hot, he threw his shirt in the air; his passport fall out of it and slumbered, hidden in the grass. But his naked torso was happy. He got lost. At the end of the day, exhausted, Nick appeared tall and skinny like a winter tree on the steps before my door, a bunch of organic carrots in his hands. An artist is not a conventional traveler. 

NICK AUSTIN, Where Sugar Lives, 2015, color pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Where Sugar Lives, 2015, color pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

I cannot complain / if all that I wanted eludes me. / In the sapless world of the stone and the void of the insect / I shall not envision a duel of sun with the creatures of festering flesh.

I go into genesis’ landscape / of rumblings, collisions, and waters / that drench all the newly-born, / and shun all the surfaces, / to understand rightly my target-convergence in joy / when passion is mingled with dust and I rise upon air.

(From: Heaven Alive, by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, The Town Wristwatch, 2014, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, The Town Wristwatch, 2014, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

To see how all passes, / the void and the vesture together, / give me your gauntlet of moonlight, / and that other glove, lost in the grass, / O my love!

A stir in the air can pluck out the snail / dead in the elephant’s lung, /  and puff up the frost stiffened worm / in the calyx of apples and light.

The indifferent faces float off / in the failing clamor of grass / and from the toad’s little breast, in the corners, / a chaos of heart-beat and mandolins.

(From: Nocturne of the Void, by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, Many Happy Returns, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Many Happy Returns, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

There fell a leaf / and two / and three. / And a fish swam into the moon. / The water slumber an hour / and the white sea, a hundred. / A lady  / lay dead in the branches. Still / the nun / in the grapefruit sang on. / The little girl / passed out of pine into cone. / And the pine /tried a feather-fine trill. / But the nightingale / wept in his circle of wounds, / as I / for the fall of a leaf / and two / and three.    …

The sky will stand firm to the wind / like a wall, / and the ruining branches / dance off. / One and by one / ringing the moon, / two and by two / ringing the sun, / three and by three / till the ivories’ slumber is sound.

(From: Waltz in the Branches by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA)

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Apples delicately bruised / by a supple blade’s silver, / clouds broken by fistblows of coral / that carry a fiery cocoon on their backs, / the arsenical fish, like a shark, / the shark, like a tear-drop, blinding a multitude, / the rose, drawing blood, / and the needle-point finding the blood vessel, / the enemy worlds and the worm-eaten passions, / will cave in on you.

(From: Cry to Rome by FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA. This poem, as the others poems quoted above, are published in POET IN NEW YORK, by Federico Garcia Lorca, Translation by Ben Belitt, New York, Grove Press, 1955)

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody

NICK AUSTIN, Secondary Submarine Studies, diptych, 2015, colored pencil on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Doody  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY – SILENT BRICKS

A FICTIONAL LEGEND

by Rosanna Albertini

“There is a big difference between using a rock and making a rock.” (Kate Newby) 

Let’s imagine things and people never were, so we could

breath such emptiness in and out

and feel murmurs of silence

subject and names are gone

a field remains of impersonal vibrations

the simple fact of an existing energy field

as impersonal as ‘it rains’ ‘it’s cold’ ‘it’s foggy’

names can’t tell about it, verbs maybe can

no offense to time and space they don’t count

compared with human energy

incurable daughter of fate

no one nothing will change her

what kind of art now?

(Emmanuel Levinas, Le temps et l’autre, 1979. Translation from French RA)

One of the many answers could be:  Kate Newby’s Two aspirins a vitamin c tablet and some baking soda – 2015  In Los Angeles, at Laurel Doody.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail.
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Let’s imagine a beginning without time, the artist looking for a space to visit, landing on its flatness like an alien presence bringing presents in a quiet and friendly manner, so quiet that visitors, or recipients, if they exist, could easily ignore them. John Cage’s prepared piano’s distinct notes would trace the spirit of this presence better than words: liquid sounds, ponds of feelings for a landscape that only exists if some body’s expectations go astray, heading towards a field of sensations that float and fly, light feet on the floor.

I can hear you

making small holes

in the silence

rain

(Hone Tuwhare, Rain, in Deep River Talk, 1993)

In that landscape Kate’s art makes sense if we forget all the strings we attach to the word ‘meaning.’ An impersonal field of energy offers tactile surprises to the eyes: a small island of wax on a wooden skin, coins melted in clay, a couple of glass stones at the edge of the window sill, as if they were two feet waiting to fly rather than jump. And even more surprising, four irregular metal cilinders with a point that worked holes and lines and angles in the clay, helping the artist’s fingers. Her magic fingers, not merely tools. Strangely, they make me think of Mahuika in the Maori mythology, the image of the goddess grandmother who hides fire in her body, and gives it to the living humans pulling out her fingernails one by one, her fingers bursting into flame. Although Kate Newby is from New Zealand, this is only a fantasy of mine.

She carved small and big holes in each brick, made the bricks one by one preparing them for the kiln, pierced the silence of the matter introducing scratches, cavities, scars produced by pieces of metal or glass. Wounds of the same kind, in a place run by history, would be normal accidents happening over time. As I told before, time is gone. This is reverse archeology: a fictional legend.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Kate Newby,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

It’s a cluster of unnamed,  brand new objects: never used, human hands made them all, they might not be useful or noticeable. The artist brought them into a friendly room, aware of their novelty which is first of all a lack of experience: who ever looked at them? In their primordial, perhaps pre-historical surface they wear without knowing, why are they sprinkled with something white looking like bird shit (what’s a bird?), or with colored pebbles and small shells (where do colors come from?), can they stand to be under scrutiny? Scrutiny is an architecture of thoughts as cold as a laser beam. The whole energy field could be destroyed.

A window, a thick expansion of green outside, emptiness in a room. I don’t know if Kate Newby still feels like a pile of leaves, this time she has aspirin, a tablet of vitamin c and baking soda in her mind’s pocket. Is she able to shut down her self and bring up only her (and our) alterations? Being impersonal like rain and dry like the destiny?

When she looks from afar at the scattered sculptures released by her hands,  she sees them together in her mind as they cannot be seen in the physical space where they are installed. Suspended from a branch outside the window, the musical fingers can perhaps visually connect to the glass feet, not to the bricks inside the room. They are dispersed family members, that only a mental vision would bring together. Distance and displacement don’t reduce her attachment. The conversation she had in mind in the making of the art has been slowly decanted into the objects’ physical quality, so as not to disturb the sediment, that is different for each material. A physical conversation between wind, leaves and silver fingers, and between the sky and the glass blocks, takes place outdoors; while the iron, that makes the clay red inside the room, reverberates the iron in her blood and viceversa: human and inhuman temperament of the metal share the same nature. A wish of infinity, in the blue pebbles?  The raw matter that is in her is also in the body of her art: an “incredible feeling” arouses her vision. She will never say it in words, nor should I. It’s a feeling of certainty, though, joined to the pleasure of giving.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

EACH DAY ONE VOICE

each day one voice  —  Rosanna Albertini

About KEATON MACON and his installation at Laurel Doody, Los Angeles

Nonintention (the acceptance of silence) leading to nature; renunciation of control; let sounds to be sounds. Fluent, pregnant, related, obscure (nature of sound)

JOHN CAGE — Composition in Retrospect, 1982

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery  2013-2015, Custom furniture, tape player, 366 cassette tapes

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery 2013-2015, Custom furniture, tape player, 366 cassette tapes  Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, detail

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, detail

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, detail

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, detail





KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, back of the room

KEATON MACON, Data Recovery, back of the room

The day I was born, December 28, even the time of my birth, with the winter light getting dim at four in the afternoon, are visible in a painting my grandfather Oreste made outdoors in the field, while waiting for me. But I miss the voice of that day: the dry grass crackling under the soles? the rumbling stove in the kitchen? For all its importance, the event shrunk in one word, ‘birth,’ cleans that day from the physical echoes of people walking up and down the stairs, shutting doors, running water, and the concert of words around their mouths. Of course I was there, but I don’t remember them.

Keaton Macon reminded me of the fluent, pregnant, related, obscure nature of sounds with an art piece in which the sound, one continuous hour of sound from each day of the year in the artist’s life, is a ghost vessel kept at bay in tapes. Days lurk in a white box, as vertical as books, holding the name of the day on their back: NOV 30, DEC 06, JAN 14. The year isn’t written, the date is incomplete. One of the many loose ends of this piece that make it magic. The obsessive, archival cleanness of its presentation corresponds to the artificial, manufactured life of the calendar. The natural life of a living day flows out of it asking for acceptance.

Open the box, put the tape in the small recorder, and the fluid mass of John Cage’s silence erupts in the room, the calendar blows up. If a tape gets lost or is stolen, Keaton will wait for the same day of the following year to record an hour of sound. HORIZONTAL THINKING. The same days in different years seem to share more than a name: they have a place in a natural order that is not under human control. Loose end again.

What’s important, really, what does become a date? The artist wondered at the beginning of the project if places where historical dramas happened, like the Bob Kennedy’s assassination at the Ambassador Hotel, or a robbery with hostages in a bank, might be particularly significant. What prevailed is his attachment to the daily marvel, unique and impossible to repeat. The best way to be in touch with the piece is to sit on the floor. To slow down and wonder if any peak of ‘importance’ is ever necessary. Every part of the installation, shelves and drawings on the walls under a diffused light from the ceiling, start floating among the recorded sounds and the rain hitting the window. Humans, images and sounds, physical bodies sharing a space.

Except the drawings are rebellious, and give a visual form to the daily sounds as they unfold, what the artist sees through his fingertips moving the pencil on paper. Tim Hawkinson, about two decades ago, sculpted his favorite musics in large aluminum foil records, letting his fingers react to the sounds. In Macon’s drawings, one for each day, the tape becomes a ribbon, happy to unfold not having anything to fasten, mixing the recorded mood with the artist’s state of mind  unfolding in his chest at that very moment. A loose end in his heart.     

KEATON MACON, March 6, detail

KEATON MACON, March 6, detail   Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KEATON MACON, March 6, detail

KEATON MACON, March 6, detail Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KEATON MACON, March 06, 2015 Charcoal and graphite on paper, framing device

KEATON MACON, March 6, 2015 Charcoal and graphite on paper, framing device Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KEATON MACON, March 6, 2015, Charcoal and graphite on paper, framing device

KEATON MACON, March 6, 2015, Charcoal and graphite on paper, framing device Photo: Fredrick Nilsen