IN PRAISE OF DELICACY

ART, THREE WOMEN, AND A BRAID: Corazon Del Sol, Eugenia Perpetua Butler, Eugenia Butler

by Rosanna Albertini

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015 Courtesy of the artist

CORAZON DEL SOL, three lives in one braid, 2015  braided hair
Courtesy of the artist

(This art piece by Corazon Del Sol has been made for The Kite)

“My mother was…” Corazon Del Sol sorts out threads of memories that wind through her feelings, “she was a great artist entirely devoted to fragility and vulnerability.” Her mother was Eugenia Perpetua Butler. While she unfolds page by page of her mother’s 14 by 17 black notebook, drawings, as well as dreams pinned down in words, are lit by her voice, they take off. Silently, my own mother’s stories evaporate from my brain at the same time. Corazon and her mother often slept in the same bed, often sharing only one room, in Central America or California. I never slept in my mother’s bed. I’m only saying that to work with an artist is very different from scientific observation. As new stories come into play, they instantly pinch the threads of my own stories, distant and incongruous experiences merge into a new integration almost by themselves. Perhaps we only imagine ourselves, Corazon and I, as if we knew something.

“There is something universal here; not just something personal.” Ludwig Wittgenstein would say, On Certainty, 440.

The only thing we know for sure is that our mothers are in our body: in the same way Eugenia Butler the gallerist was in Eugenia Perpetua’s body. The month after she passed away my mother was so strongly in my body that I had to ask her to leave, even the mirror showed her more than me.

But re-turning to our mothers we can feel in touch, if not really knowing, with our instinctual identity. Conflicts keep it crispy. “? Who is the stranger in myself” – E. Perpetua’s question, and struggle: “The idea is that you force yourself to execute an almost impossible task under unlikely circumstances.” “Art is not a will which is intellect but being and intent.” “Like many of my generation we found ourselves caught inside a historical envelope that we never understood…we seldom know each other and can only guess, guess at the lives that…” Yes Eugenia Perpetua, I could say the same. I was born two years earlier. I hope you don’t mind if I skip details of your life and of your mother’s life. Things didn’t turn out well, you told me. Yet you had a daughter, and I remember, uttering her name your eyes did smile. I’m avoiding local circumstances, art history episodes. Simply I call you back as an artist, the secret artist you entrusted to your black notebooks, and I’m trying to give back to you the same token of ‘amorous and civilized’ signs you left in your secret books: the art of delicacy. Somebody* told that delicacy is the artistic form of compassion, ‘it touches lightly.‘

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

EUGENIA P. BUTLER, A page from her notebook about the nineties
Courtesy of Corazon del Sol

Among your cut papers I found a small report which is like everything else, impossible to classify as a fact, or to detect how reliable it is. Let’s keep it in the black box of your feelings, with the meaning it had for you:

An IBM scientist and his colleagues have

discovered a way to make an object

disintegrate in one place and reappear intact

in another.

It seems to me you are reappearing in your daughter’s art. Through you, also her grandmother the gallerist reappears. Let me paraphrase Roland Barthes’s glorification of love: Love has no specific place, neither in our spoken words or written arguments. Love is the ultimate escapist we can talk about only if we consider it a beyond evaluation treasure we put aside for when we are lost. Every kind of discourse about love is always addressed to somebody. “A person whom one addresses, though this person may have shifted to the condition of a phantom or a creature still to come. No one wants to speak of love unless it is FOR someone.”

As in the braid, there’s no beginning or ending in this post, no separation between images, art, documents and lives. There is, feelings.

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January  22, 1970. Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

EUGENIA BUTLER (Corazon Del Sol grandmother) Letter to Giuseppe Panza, January 22, 1970.
Courtesy of Corazon Del Sol

The letter is now at The Getty Research Institute, Special collection. I received detailed information about it from Francesca Guicciardi  and Giuseppina Panza, daughter in law and daughter of Giuseppe Panza. They both take care of the Panza Collection. In January 1970 Giuseppe Panza wrote to Eugenia Butler searching for artworks by conceptual artists. This is the first answer, another followed in February offering more pieces. Photographs of the pieces were included.

In May 1970 Panza bought from  Eugenia Butler four artworks by Douglas Huebler: Duration Piece 14, Salisbury, New Hampshire, October 1968 and Location Piece #9, New England, March 1969. Location Piece #1, New York – Los Angeles, February 1969 and Duration Piece #12, Venice California – Plum Island, (Newburyport) Massachusetts, May 1969. – Between end of May and end of July he will purchase also an artwork and a drawing on paper by Joseph Kosuth: Twenty-Five Works in a Context as one Work (Special Investigation), July 1969, (on stickers); Project for Seven Square Grey Painting on Canvas with Words as Art, 1966, (drawing).

* Roland Barthes, Fragments d’un discours amoureux, 1977,  A Lover’s Discourse – Fragments, 1978, Translated by  Richard Howard.

SPACE OF HOPE

ROSANNA ALBERTINI about HILJA KEADING

 “Well, daily life little by little becomes a thing in which there is space for hope.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

 

 

© HILJA KEADING

 Amazing Grace, Single Channel Video, 1978, Length 6:03 

 

A twelve year old Hilja, legs already long for her age, swings her new little radio on a chain. Music fills her body down the gravel road. The radio is red. “Feelin’ groovy,” she sings, “ Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, / All is groovy.” The night of her 50th birthday, as she turns the radio on in the kitchen, Simon and Garfunkel’s voices unexpectedly sing in the room: “Slow down, you move too fast.” How many lives did Hilja Keading expand into, after that walk on the gravel, is hard to say.

At least a hundred lives. All the lives an artist needs to grow out, they are leaves of the same bush. Art picks you, one of her teachers told Hilja. It doesn’t work by decision. Then, would art be a matter of persistence? Stripping life from illusion. Filling art with truth. Keading became a maker of stories. Made with time and sounds, they don’t last. That’s the secret, maybe. Her stories don’t have to last, don’t have to be revealed. They tell us they exist behind silence or noise, behind the image of a smiling ten years old girl who lost her front teeth, still like a statue except for the fluttering of the collar near her neck.

Experience comes first, facts are erased along with their noisy flags announcing evidence, rather than truth. Keading pushes us to feel her invisible, intangible and distinctive truth, and to give up with easy explanations. There are none. Sounds and images touching us for opposite reasons, bring a phantom within, a cloud of wonder which is the major claim for every human being. Myth or soul, maybe they are the same thing: fleeting, ungraspable unless one image calls for them:

HONEY IN THE HANDS-CUP DRIPS THROUGH THE FINGERS, WITH DEAD FLIES TRAPPED INTO THE SWEETNESS

                                                                                                           fingers trying to brush something away from the collar bones, something prisoner in the chest

A NAKED WOMAN CROUCHED ON HER KNEES PICKS UP HANDFULS OF BROKEN GLASS FROM THE FLOOR

naked fingers hold a dead bird,

then they drop it, and start shaking like

feathers while a piercing bird voice

speaks a very loud mocking song.                                                                                                                        

AMAZING GRACE

 

 “Experience is all-absorbing, subordinating observed fact, drowning even truth itself, if truth is conceived of as something apart from impulse and instinct and from the will.” (W.B. Yeats)