FIONA CONNOR : THE BRICK

Heavy! With thoughts? ― A BRICK

by Rosanna Albertini

Los Angeles, UCLA School of Architecture and Design, Room 1020 B Perloff Hall

An art exhibit in a classroom confirming that art is a strange ritual sometimes involving understanding and feelings, but not necessarily. The story features:

FIONA CONNOR, the artist, SIMONE FORTI, artist and friend, ROSANNA ALBERTINI, friend and writer, ALLAN KAPROW, the father of lifelike art

The three of us met the first time sitting on the grass of the Barnsdall Park with a few artists of Made in LA 2012 who were curious to know each other. Fiona was there, stretched out on her belly, handling a tape recorder.
She had in mind an alternative catalogue, and the conversation was a good starting moment, and was printed as it happened as a flux of words voiced by nameless people.

Simone felt easily part of that book out of order, more a bottle of water than a collection of statements. Words were kept in motion, escaping from their temporary blockage in meanings. When she performs, Simone’s body in movement is a fullness of feelings channelled into a slow motion physical language, almost savoring the quality of each gesture.

“I held a large grasshopper in my open hand. It swayed from side to side as we gazed into each other’s eyes. We sustained this alignment of sight through an exact correspondence in our movements, which created a certain resonance between us. We danced together like this for many minutes. I had just saved his life and we were very curious about each other.” (Simone Forti, Handbook in Motion, 1974)

Kaprow “When you do life consciously, life becomes pretty strange … so … a new art/life genre came about, reflecting equally the artificial aspects of everyday life and the lifelike qualities of created art. For example, it was clear to me how formal and culturally learned the act of shaking hands is; just try to pump a hand five or six times instead of two and you’ll cause instant anxiety. I also became aware that artworks of any kind could be autobiographical and prophetic. You could read paintings like handwriting, and over a period of time chart the painter’s abiding fantasies, just as you might chart writers’ thoughts from collections of personal letters or diaries. Happenings, and later activities, being less specialized than paintings, poems, and the other traditional arts, readily lent themselves to such psychological insight.” (Allan Kaprow, “Performing Life,” 1979)

The brick should be allowed to raise his protagonist voice in the room. No way. Kaprow hasn’t be around for a while. He never died for me. He might be happy to see a sort of happening resurgent in a school room in 2016. The brick, the English name doesn’t help to describe it. Italian is more direct: il mattone. Tongue and palate must stick to one another before the weight falls on the tip of the tongue and the lips shape an oval for the second o, that receives the accent. Sure heaviness, a compact thing. Like two teenagers dancing very close for the first time: il ballo del mattone, the mattone dance we used to call it. Brick, instead, is a Teutonic and French hybrid name: a broken thing, and the form of a loaf. Therefore, a baked form of clay. Architects of that day mainly saw the practical usage, the stillness of facts.

Our brick, along with 74 brick friends, lies in a corner of the room. On the walls, some bulletin boards replicate the originals at the Pacific Clay factory. Some bricks are wrapped with a printed sheet about the history of  bricks of the UCLA buildings. The building itself, and most of the other buildings on the campus, speak unmistakably brick language. But to hold only one, naked, unfinished, is handling a rough unit, a number asking to be a body, a body that would like to be something else: “I want to be an arch,” the brick told Louis Khan. The architect accepted the challenge. But here, in the school room, the only challenge is “doing life consciously” and feel a solid piece of clay transformed into a book.

Maybe Fiona looked at the brick like Simone at the grasshopper, were they very curious about each other? Clay is the opposite of an inert material. Minerals trap water into their molecules. And, in this Happening at the end of day, because of all the elements orchestrated around the little heavy red rough block, the mind goes through walls and buildings, the mind can feel what happens: the brick is a catalyst like any book, a substance that increases chemical reactions in our brain without changing her own composition. Water is trapped in our brain’s chemistry.

Suddenly The UCLA buildings appear melted back to the original condition of the clay, which was entirely dug from a site near Lake Elsinore. Let’s pretend it’s a virtual reality experience: bricks meet from ancient China, India, Egypt, and Northern Italy of course, they shake hands with their California siblings and go back to their functions in the walls, buildings reappear intact. It wouldn’t be history without hands and tools of their makers at the factory, without the people who provide the loafs, architects designing the forms, others teaching how to build, and inevitably taking the bricks for granted, as we do with our legs and arms. Fiona Connor gave to the brick a day of glory knowing it wouldn’t last. “Life,” also “conscious life” absorbs everything: geology, fantasies. The brick, a human idea.

bibliography: 

ALLAN KAPROW, Essays on The Blurring of Art and Life, edited by Jeff Kelley, University of California Press, 1993

SIMONE FORTI, Handbook in Motion, An account of an ongoing personal discourse and its manifestations in dance.  Contact Edition, Northampton MA, 1974

Commentary by Charlie Morrow:  

bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi
mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS
bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi
mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS
bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi
mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS
bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi
mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS mAttONi bRickS

 

Between The Lines : AIMEE GARCIA

CUBA – AIMEE GARCIA’s SUPREMATIST SPEECH – LOS ANGELES

 Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Cuerdas, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

cuerdas, lectura, alas – strings, reading, wings

By Rosanna Albertini

Put the title in your mouth. Strings, reading, wings : a bird screeching, in anger or pain. The wind is stronger, faster than his flight. The bird doesn’t stop, resting doesn’t fit his American temper. Try the Spanish mouth. Cuerdas, lectura, alas. Words that bring a feeling of  whiteness, calm. A large page with no resistance waits for history to be forgotten.

Aimee, the artist’s name, melts the two sounds into one. In my Italian mouth, Aimee is a silent moan that doesn’t slip into the throat. It doesn’t need voice.

In her Cuban isolation, Aimee Garcia has transformed in art flowers of intelligence, never complaining. I could see myself in her collages, or any of the humans living on earth. We are all shredded by the same storm. Really the past could teach? As languages, politics, internet, financial games, advertisements tie our lives into the same bundle of voices fighting for primacy, believing takes the place of the dirty window we look through. We don’t know what we really know.

So I thank Aimee for her suprematist speech which is a portrait of us all like flies tangled in the news’ spiderweb. But her images also are, strongly and gracefully, the portrait of a possible flight out, a non-objective getting away from the written reality toward secret, inner transformations. Between the lines, the artist. Very much like Simone Forti who reads the news only noticing and remembering them as they slip into emotions, digging ponds in her heart.
(See Flag in The Water, https://albertini2014.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/flag-in-the-water/)

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Lectura, 2016, Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 31″ x 24″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

Aimee’s speech is made with colors and embroidered into the paper. She is threading herself, and looking at us from behind the cuerdas : her hand works like a cursor: ploughing into words, while sowing that “primacy of pure feelings” that Kasimir Malevich called SUPREMATISM about one hundred years ago. “The visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling; as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.” (KM) When she reads, Aimee visits her own mental field that is not necessarily the same as Cubans’ or, as far as I don’t know, a simple acceptance of a theory married to Russian revolution as if both, ideas and political upheavals, were a block sculpted by time instead of myriads of crumbs and broken steps.

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, laminated collaged newspapers, threads Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Suprematist Speech, 2015, Laminated collaged newspapers, thread 15″ x 12″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

And yet, I believe that Aimee recalling the old suprematist credo right now, the old regime facing the last days, finds a personal way of telling that a past life is in her hair, her skin, her face and in her mind. Up to us to read the change, to try her wings.

Life doesn’t disappear mutating in nothing. Automation devours objects, suits, furnitures, the wife and the fear of war.
If the very complex life of many goes away and we are not conscious it is gone, then it’s like if it had never existed.
Here we are, in order to bring back the meaning of life, to “feel” the objects, to see that a stone is stony, we have what we call ART. … a way to feel how the object becomes something else. The already done doesn’t matter.
VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY*

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 28" Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Resistencia I, 2009, oil on canvas, 24″ x 28″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

This is a flower painted by Aimee Garcia : Resistencia I, 2009. It is the last moment of beauty before the petals wither. Natural beings are lucky, they fall apart, molecules. Ever heard of a ghost flower? History takes a longer time to disappear, but in the end it does, ghost and monuments, forever. Art is for now.
If the object survives, the same doesn’t happen to its meanings : meanings are parasites of the living.

…just this way just this one time. Incidentally, we human beings also belong in part to this class of unique events.
ROBERT MUSIL**

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

AIMEE GARCIA, Alas, 2015 Inkjet print, newspaper, thread on canvas, 22″ x 33″
Courtesy of the artist and Couturier Gallery

*Viktor Shklovsky, Theory of Prose, 1929, English translation 1990 by Benjamin Sher. Dalkey Archive Press, Illinois State University, 1991.

** Robert Musil, Precision and  Soul, originally in Gesammelte Werke edited by Adolph Frisé, 1978. Edited and translated by by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

 

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 

Simone Forti_Midway Minneapolis_July 27 2015_Still_150
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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