Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How to Understand Modern Art (Part 3)

This post looks at the second half of Grayson Perry's book Playing to the Gallery. If the first part dealt with understanding modern art, the second half is a little more directed to the artist, or aspiring artist, covering problems like the quest for originality, becoming an artist, and has a lot of reassuring content for those of us who are sometimes tempted to throw the towel in.

Grayson Perry, from Playing to the Gallery
Is art still capable of shocking us or have we seen it all before?

The mainstream media's idea of avant-garde art usually uses words such as revolutionary, game-changing, cutting-edge, radical, mould-breaking, and refers to artists as new paradigms. Germano Celant remarked that 'art has to be dealing with some kind of crisis or sustained battle to be truly cutting edge' - think about the art surrounding the AIDs crisis, freedom of speech, and equality. What was avant-garde 20, 30 years ago, the things that were seen as subversive and dangerous, are now seen as a part of normal life. Tattoos and piercings, for example are widely accepted and increasingly normal. A part of cutting-edge nowadays could be, for example, 'tweaking ongoing trends'.
The dream of an artist may well be to be original, but nowadays outrage has become somewhat domesticated, and on top of that, there aren't many things that haven't already been done. Sadly, many artists have to google their bright ideas to see if it hasn't been made before (and most often, they have).

Before you feel too unhappy about it all, remember this: that 'you can do anything now in the art world, and if you do it in the right way, and you're good at it, you will find a place for yourself.' 

The truth is, that 'art history never was this smooth succession of -isms' and that hasn't changed today, either. 'The idea that art moved cleanly on and there was only ever one way to be a contemporary artists seems to be the specialism of a few, mainly male, certainty freaks,' Perry writes. In fact 'the movements of modernism overlapped for decades'. For example, have a look at these paintings which hang in the Tate:

A Favourite Custom,  Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (c.1909)
Woman Washing her Hair, and La Hollandaise, Walter Richard Sickert (both c.1906)
Just looking at the work from Alma-Tadema and those by Sickert you can notice a huge difference in style and technique. Which works were made first? Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the High Victorian painting by Alma-Tadema and rather the lower two paintings by Sickert, which were painted three years earlier. Art "-isms" have overlapped over and over throughout time.

What is most important to an artist is not, as the media puts it, being avant-garde and on the edge of culture, but rather integrity, sincerity and authenticity.


One of the things that happens with avant-garde, or any kind of art at all, really, is that it inevitably (and not purposefully!) leads to gentrification. 'Developers should pay artists to live somewhere for ten years rent-free. We are a very precious commodity', Grayson writes. And it's true. There are countless examples of groups of artists starting work in an area with low rents (think East London, the bohemian areas in New York etc.) and slowly getting priced out of a living as the area is developed as an "up-and-coming" or "trendy" area. Check out this article of 10 of the best gentrification cartoons.
Grayson Perry, from Playing to the Gallery

Inhotim is a creation of Bernardo Paz, a wealthy mining magnate, and an example of "jungle gentrification". Inhotim is a 5,000 acre sculpture park in Brazil with hotels, so the tourists can walk around the complex to look at the large sculptures. The website advertises the space as,
a new model far removed from that of the urban museums. The Inhotim experience mainly involves a spatial relationship between art and nature that allows the artists to create and show their works in unique conditions. The spectator is invited to stroll through gardens, forest landscapes and rural settings, roaming among lakes, trails, mountains and valleys, actively experiencing the space.
Is this an innovative idea, or just gentrification on steroids?
Another problem of gentrification is a re-privatisation of the art world - this can be a huge problem in censoring artists in fear of offending the sponsor. This was seen in 1984 when Mobil oil (a Tate sponsor) threatened the Tate with court action because of a Hans Haacke exhibition which took a citical view of the company's corporate policies. Nam June Paik, an artist, said that 'every artist should bite the hand that feeds him... but not too hard.'

Cutting-edge in technology

The role of artist as a leader of technology has changed greatly over the years. In 1841, the artist was a real innovator in technology, with the invention of the paint tube, allowing artists to paint in the fresh air, and have the ability to buy pre-mixed paints, instead of labouriously mixing the shades themselves. Nowadays, we tend to be using technologies invented by other people... art is now following technology rather than leading it; art is struggling to keep up.' And using technology in art can be incredibly dating... 'nothing dates like the future!' And with the advent of the internet, perhaps we have entered a time of the end of art as we know it...

But it isn't all doom and gloom; these new innovative products can be helpful to artists and designers, improving all sorts of elements of production and sharing. Perhaps the 21st century is 'the age of pluralism', or commercialism, or globalism, or nepotism. And think, 'if Michaelangelo was around today, he wouldn't be painting ceilings. He'd be making CGI movies or developing 3D printing.'

How do you become a contemporary artist?

There is often a view of artists as  'mythological creatures that spring fully formed from the womb, genetically gifted and filled with an urge that's there from birth.' This isn't the case at all! Grayson writes that anyone can be an artist - these mythological creatures are indeed myth! However, saying that, it is also true that 'most artists could cite a crux event in their past, a central motif of some time in their early life, which they can self-mythologize about why they became an artist.' Raymond Tallis, a clinical neuroscientist, writes that 'art is expressing one's universal wound - the wound of living a finite life in complete meaning.' - and that is the goal of the artist - to make meaning.

Saying that anyone can make and enjoy, however, does not mean that everyone is built to become an artist. This is not to discourage people from making art - here Grayson is addressing those with the desire to become a modern artist. The term 'artist' that we are talking about here is a person who chooses to define themselves as thus in the standpoint of a career. 'The need to express oneself runs very, very deep'.

A very important step in becoming an artist is to go to attend art school. It is incredibly difficult to get anywhere in the art world without it. There are a few "outsider" artists (those who have no art education and probably very little knowledge about the art world in general). Choosing to attend art school can be for multiple reasons, and often include one, or some, or all of the following:

  • uncertainty about who you are
  • uncertainty about what you want
  • the desire to know what to do
  • desire for freedom
  • the need to find yourself
Art college is 'a place to experiment, a place of unique freedom. Often that freedom is the freedom to get it wrong... a large part of creativity is making mistakes and then noticing what's good about them. Art critic Martin Gayford writes,
Mistakes are as big a part of art as scholarship or truth. The Renaissance, for example, was based on a creative misunderstanding of classical antiquity. A great deal of nineteenth-century art derived from an incorrect assessment of the Middle Ages (and the Renaissance). 
 Art history is filled with mistakes, but don't let that stop you. 'The best artists can take quite a while to find their voice. An art career, after all, is a marathon, not a sprint.'

from Playing to the Gallery
So, Grayson's final tips to aspiring artists?

  • Take every opportunity, whether it be a small exhibition or a part in a group show - this is how you are most likely to get recognised as an artist.
  • Be committed to being an artist. Be hardworking, be punctual. And when people ask you what you do, don't be afraid to tell them you're an artist! 'Artists are doers! They don't want to be artists, they want to make art!'
  • Nurture your creativity. 'All artists carry within themselves, in their own way, an indistinct glowing ball of creative energy that they have to nurse through the assault course of becoming an artist.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

How to Understand Modern Art (Part 2): 5 cutting-edge artists

Throughout Grayson Perry's book Playing to the Gallery there are numerous examples of groundbreaking, tongue-in-cheek, and downright weird art. In this post I will go through five of the most interesting, shocking, and strange artists and exhibitions mentioned in the book.

5. Zhu Yu - Eating People (2000)

In 2000, the Chinese artist Zhu Yu, known for his shocking art, filled the pages of newspapers over the world after a performance art video of Yu apparently eating a 6-month-old fetus in his kitchen was to be shown as part of the Fuck Off exhibition of avant-garde Chinese artists. The photographs have even been circulated in emails as a part of anti-Chinese propaganda, and the documentary Beijing Swings,which interviewed avant-garde Chinese artists and was broadcast on Channel 4 in 2003, received over 60 complaints both before and after the show aired. Many websites have claimed that the "fetus" was in fact probably a duck's body attached to a doll's head, although it has also been reported that the fetus was stolen from a medical school.

[Video: Zhu Yu: Eating People, extract from a Channel 4 documentary. WARNING FOR GRAPHIC IMAGES]

Yu came to fame for his extreme art; indeed they are 'as much an assault on society's morals as they are an assault on the human senses... Titillating for their shock value, the viewer simultaneously desires to look whilst undergoing a feeling of bodily revulsion.' [x] Previous art included him grafting skin from his abdomen onto a piece of pork. Waldemar Yanuszczak, the presenter of the film, stated that,
"It is worth trying to understand why China is producing the most outrageous, the darkest art, of anywhere in the world... I personally find him deluded in what he has done... But I found him to be really honest about it all, and very keen to present his worldview... His worldview is, in the end, we are all meat." [x]

Further reading:
Zhu Yu Wikipedia
Zhu Yu - China's Baby-Eating Shock Artist Goes Hyperreal
Baby-eating art show sparks upset (BBC)

4. Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz - Hole in Space (1980)

Hole in Space, 1980
Hole in Space was a "public communication sculpture"; an unannounced event of two larger-than-life screens showing a satellite feed between the street outside the Lincoln Center in New York and the Century City shopping centre in Los Angeles. 'No signs, sponsor logos, or credits were posted -- no explanation at all was offered' [x] and Grayson Perry writes that the general public's event was 'ecstatic and spontaneous' - something a bit like 'the grandmother of Skype!'

Hole in Space, 1980
If you have ever had the opportunity to see what the award winning video documentation captured then you would have laughed and cried at the amazing human drama and events that were played out over the evolution of the three evenings. Hole-In-Space suddenly severed the distance between both cities and created an outrageous pedestrian intersection. There was the evening of discovery, followed by the evening of intentional word-of-mouth rendezvous, followed by a mass migration of families and trans-continental loved ones, some of which had not seen each other for over twenty years. [x]
Hole in Space (1980) 30 min. 

Further Reading:

3. Robert Rauschenberg - This is a Portrait of Iris Clert If I Say So (1961)

In 1961 Rauschenberg was asked to paint a portrait of Iris Clert, a gallerist. Instead of painting the portrait, he replied to the request with a telegram, which read: "THIS IS A PORTRAIT OF IRIS CLERT IF I SAY SO"

This is a Portrait of Iris Clert if I Say So, 1961
Further Reading:
Iris Clert Wikipedia
Robert Rauschenberg Wikipedia

2. Christian Marclay - The Clock (2010)

The Clock (2010)
A scene from The Clock

Christian Marclay's The Clock is a
'staggering moving-image installation The Clock, a 24-hour montage of thousands of film and television clips with glimpses of clocks, watches, and snatches of people saying what time it is. This incredible installation is set up so that whatever time is shown is, in fact, the correct time as of that instant. So as well as providing food for thought about the nature of time in the cinema, and indeed in life itself, the whole thing itself functions as a gigantic and gloriously impractical clock.' [x]
The project was a three-year labour of love in which Marclay and six assistants watched hundreds and hundreds of films and copied scenes containing clocks or time. He was given a $100,000 budget to create his work after proposing the idea to the White Cube Gallery in London. Using a spreadsheet, Marclay and his assistants inputted the information before editing the scenes together. Around 12,000 clips were used altogether. In total, Marclay produced 6 editions and 2 artists proofs, and each copy sold for over $400,000, five designated to galleries, and one bought privately. The Guardian named the film 'a masterpiece of our times' [x] and Zadie Smith wrote in her review of The Clock that it was 'neither bad nor good, but sublime, maybe the greatest film you have ever seen' [x]. Segments of the film are available on Youtube and the installation is still being shown in galleries around the world. 'It will run and run with out needing to be wound.' [x]

The Clock featured on BBC's 'The Culture Show' in 2010

Further resources:
Wikipedia page
Christian Marclay's The Clock: a masterpiece of our times - Guardian article

1. The Leeds 13 - Going Places (1998)

The Leeds 13's exhibition has to be my favourite example of innovative art in Perry's book. Back in 1998 a group of students at a Leeds university (now known as the Leeds 13) were given £1,000 to put on their end of year show. At the opening, instead of paintings or performance art, the audience were taken to the airport, to watch the group entering the arrivals lounge, and later greeted by photographs of the students bathing on the Costa del Sol, flight tickets, and some souveniers. The newspapers picked up the story, labelling it a complete scandal.

The group makes it into the papers

But what was most incredible was that in fact, the whole thing was a coup. The photos on the beach were in fact taken on a beach in Skegness, the souveniers from charity shops, and the plane tickets faked. Over the period of their "holiday", the students had hired a sunbed and used it in their house to build up a tan, kept lights off in their rooms at night, didn't answer the phone or the door, and wore balaclavas whenever they went out into town to avoid being recognised. They didn't attend any lectures and even sent a postcard to their lecturer to explain they were on holiday. The students, unsurprisingly, received a first.

Some of the photographic "evidence" of the trip

Some of the photographic "evidence" of the trip
Further resources:
Leeds 13 wiki (includes files and images of the exhibition as well as press cuttings)
Leeds 13 on John Crossley's site (a member of Leeds 13)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

How to Understand Modern Art (Part 1)

One of my favourite artists of all time is the english transvestite potter Grayson Perry. He won the Turner Prize in 2003 for his work and often steps out for social occasions as his alter ego, Clare. He has made a couple of programmes for UK television, including Grayson Perry: Who Are You?All in the Best Possible Taste, and most recently, All Man, all of which I would really recommend, but particularly the first.

His book, Playing to the Gallery: Helping contemporary art in its struggle to be understood, was a real eye-opener for me. It is a short book (about 130 pages in total) and is a recommended read for anyone interested in art. He writes,
It's easy to feel insecure around art and its appreciation, as though we cannot enjoy certain artworks if we don't have a lot of academic and historical knowledge. But if there's one message that I want you to take away it's that anybody can enjoy art and anybody can have a life in the arts - even me! For even I, an Essex transvestite potter, have been let in by the art-world mafia.
The book itself is divided into 4 sections:

  • What is quality, how might we judge it, whose opinion counts, and does it even matter any more?
  • What counts as art? Although we live in an era when anything can be art, not everything qualifies.
  • Is art still capable of shocking us, or have we seen it all before?
  • How do you become a contemporary artist?
He covers a huge range of topics with his usual cheekiness, from curators to consumerism to IAE (International Art English) to canned faeces. Filled with examples of innovative artists across the world, the book aims to tackle the inpenetrability of modern art, and helps us to enjoy it more. 

Brillo Soap Pad Box (1964) Andy Warhol, and Artist's Shit (1961) Piero Manzoni


This is a question that is asked often by many people. Who gets to say what is good art and what isn't? Why do curators or critics seem to have more say than the general public? Has quality changed over time? And what is International Art English?

'If the public chose the artwork that was in art galleries, would it be the same?'
Komar and Melamid, two russian artists, conducted professional surveys asking the public of several countries what they wanted most in art. In nearly every country, the results were the same:

  • landscape
  • a few figures
  • animals in the foreground
  • mostly blue in colour
The artists remarked that 'in looking for freedom [they] found slavery.'

Most Wanted, (a selection) Komar and Melamid (USA, Turkey, France, Iceland, Denmark, Finland)

Empirical explanations
Over time, many people have tried to find an empirical explanation of good quality art, including:
  • the Golden Ratio 
    the golden ratio
  • The Venetian Secret - Benjamin West in the Royal Academy around 1796.
      "In 1796 Benjamin West, the American-born president of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, fell victim to a remarkable fraud. A shadowy figure, Thomas Provis, and his artist daughter, Ann Jemima Provis, persuaded West that they possessed a copy of an old manuscript purporting to contain descriptions of materials and techniques used by the Venetian painters of the High Renaissance, including Titian, to achieve the famously luminous effects of color that had long been thought lost, forgotten, or shrouded in secrecy. West experimented with these materials and techniques and used them to execute a history painting entitled Cicero Discovering the Tomb of Archimedes (1796–97). In fact, the manuscript was fake and the story an absurd invention, but West believed it, and through him the Provises managed to dupe a number of other key artists of the Academy. " (x)
    the line of beauty
  • the Serpentine Line of Beauty - an "S" shape visible in the artwork that the eye is drawn to.
Size matters?
In commerical art galleries, pieces are often priced by size - the smaller worth less, and the largest worth more. Grayson comments that 'in my experience an artist's biggest work is very rarely their best'. At an auction, on the other hand, 'the "good painting" will always get the highest price even if it is a tiny little one.'

The artists of the past were locked into their time in history. Now we are in a time of post-historical art, anything can be art but not everything is art. In an age without boundaries, I am more fascinated than ever by their possibility.
The second chapter of Perry's book is perhaps the most practical. It gives some tongue-in-cheek pointers to us discerning readers as to how we should approach art, and particularly modern art. The classic definition of art is something of a visual medium, usually something 'made by the artist's hand, which is a pleasure to make, look at and to show others.' Today, the boundaries of art have perhaps shifted a little - socialogical, tribal, philosophical.... maybe even financial.

Would you consider the following examples as art?

So how can we know what counts as art nowadays? Grayson gives 8 pointers to help us understand the ever-changing and expanding art world:

  1. Is it in a gallery or an art context?
    This is a good place to start, generally, although it doesn't automatically make a work of art good. It can give an artwork "borrowed importance".
    Examples: Duchamp's urinal, Keith Tyson's use of 'magical activation' (instead of bringing in objects to his show, he renamed already existing objects in the room using magical activation, such as "the light bulb of awareness" and "the Apocalyptic switch")
    Duchamp's urinal
  2. Is it a boring version of something else?
    Sometimes it seems as though art can be super serious and takes the fun out of things. Tolstoy once remarked that 'in order to define art, it is necessary first of all to cease to consider it as a means of pleasure'. Was he talking about the benches in the video art rooms?!
  3. Is it made by an artist?
    Can it be art if it is done by someone who doesn't acknowledge themselves as an artist?
    Examples: aboriginal art (originally maps and spiritual guides - not always meant as art), 'The Maybe' (1995) by Cornelia Parker - this featured Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box. Swinton decided to do it again in 2013. She was the artwork in 1995, but was she in 2013?
    The Maybe, (1994) Cornelia Parker
  4. Photography
    How can you tell if a photograph is art?
       - 'if they're smiling, it's probably not art'
       - size - the larger it is, the bigger the probability it's art!
       - is there a lot of meaning emanating from this image?
    Examples: Andreas Gursky produces huge photographs, sometimes as large as 4 metres x 2 metres. His photo of the Rhine sold for $4.5 million - this is the highest price of any photograph ever!
    Rhein ii, Andreas Gursky
  5. The Limited Edition test
    The reason that Gusrky's photo sold for so much was because it was the only one left on the private market - there were 6 and the other 5 had been purchased for museums (the Tate owns the 5th).
    Having endless editions of a print is giving away part of its qualification as art.
  6. The Handbag-and-Hipster testAre there hipsters with beards and cool sunglasses and women with expensive handbags at the exhibition? Are there queues to go in? Then it's probably art.
    A question to consider: if an artwork falls over in a forest, if nobody sees it, does it exist and is it an artwork?
       "People want an outrageous and exciting experience from art and then they want to slightly puzzle over what it's about."
    Examples: Tino Sebgal set up unsettling human interactions as part of his exhibitions, such as children talking art speak, gallery attendants trying to engage with you in philosophical  debate, and performers provoking the audience to talk about them. He also prohibits photography or any kind of video recording at his exhibitions.
  7. The Rubbish Dump test
    1. Place the artwork in a rubbish dump.
    2. It qualifies as art if a passer-by spotted it and wondered why an artwork had been thrown away.
    'But of course many good artworks would fail this test because the rubbish dump itself might be the artwork.'
    Examples: Jean Tinguely, 'Homage to New York' (1960) - a self-destructing mechanical object. A lot of artworks involve (self) destruction. 
  8. The Computer-art testHow do I know that I'm looking at art and not just an interesting website?
    Charlie Gere, Professor of Media Theory and History: 'You know it might be art rather than just an interesting website when it has the grip of porn without the possibility of consummation or a happy ending' - or in other words, '...to detain and suspend us in a state of frustration and ambivalence, and to make us pause and think rather than simply react.' 



Wednesday, 22 June 2016

spotlight: malmöhus

Thanks to the wonderfully cheap sommarkort which offers unlimited travel around Skåne, I'll be doing my own konstrundan, trying to visit as many galleries as possible over the summer. This is one of the most remarkable things about Sweden - every town and city will typically have at least one state-funded (and free entry) art museum, with regular exhibition changes from artists in Sweden and further afield.

First up, Malmöhus.

Glasswork by Mona Moralse Schildt (1958-60) - my image
textile, glasswork, and fashion (my image)

textile and glasswork (my image)

 Malmöhus' konstmuseum opened "OOMPH" at the beginning of the month. The exhibition charts the women who "satte färg på Sverige" (literally translated, 'put colour in sweden'), and includes glasswork, textiles, furniture, as well as vintage and present day video installations.

Den feministiska visionen (2016) - Image not my own
My favourite piece was "The Feminist Vision" (2016) by Helena Olsson. It was a short film installation of a collective house in Äppelviken, near Stockhom called Elfvinggården, which was built in the 1940s by two sisters for single working women. At the time, it was difficult for single women to rent accommodation, and this building, with nearly 300 apartments, a restaurant, workshop amongst other things, worked successfully. It is still in operation today, and the film focused on a reading group who discussed the merits of living at Elfvinggården, the changes between life there in the 1940s and today, and its similarities to the 1915 book´"Herland" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which depicts a utopian feminist island where only women live.

Elfvinggården (images from Elfvinggården website)


Sandra Freij is a photographer from Borås, Sweden, who is now based in London. As part of an exhibition on fahsion photography at Malmöhus, a collection of some of her work was displayed.
Sandra’s pictures have a cinematic quality both in terms of their lighting and their forms of expression, an approach that creates a visceral sense of excitement. She is known for her romantic and feminine pictures that are marked by subtle sensuality and often an underlying darkness. With her extensive knowledge of imagery she is highly skilled at balancing ambiguous and imaginative work with both openness and accessibility.

Randigt, rutigt, prickigt

Last, but certainly not least, is the exhibition "Randigt, rutigt, prickigt"(striped, plaid, spotted), which shows a collection of patterned clothes and homewares over history. The end of the exibition featured a room with designs from Malmö fashion students, using only recycled materials. It included this piece, designed and made by Karolina Falk and Martina Nilsson, made from 25,100 hama beads.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

straight into exile: continued journal extracts

wednesday 6 april
feel a sort of glum despair over the loss and irreplaceable nature of Mr Ryder. I summoned all of my energies to keep moving - sitting in the library and Reading about homoeroticism in Brideshead.

Letters (unposted) are starting to pile up on my tale. Books and bits of paper and receipts and hair pins litter all available space - chairs, cupboards, shelves...

thursday 7 april
Wrote to Lucy. Feel something close to loneliness.

I grow cold, I grow cold,
I wear the bottom of my leggings rolled

"when you're young, I think it's harder to know what you want, how much of others you're willing to take in... I was always reinventing who I was... I used to roam around the streets in the late afternoon, stopping for a coffee here and there."
- Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
friday 8 april
"Stockholm is too divine, darling. You'd love it. I'm starting to forget what you look like, and what you sound like, it's rather horrid."
1.8.2011 (23.16)
saturday 9 april
met M for coffee. We talked well into the three-hour mark, on art, literature, life... touched on the subject of Donald Trump with the barista, leafed through a copy of Private Eye to read about George Osborne imploding (v. amusing), critiqued the art on the walls of crying children ("that one is Paul Merton", "that one is watching us eat his chocolate") and sea captains ("he's looking at us like he's on The Office", "he's experienced great sadness and lives alone on an island, but surrounds himself with beautiful things", "that one isn't even a sea captain; he lives in the city and wears the outfit to make people thing he is one"). We even discussed my future life as a '20s socialite with absurd scenarios including champagne breakfasts, furs, and visiting Claridges and animal sanctuaries.
Dried off a Little (from a sudden downpour) in the library, Reading most of my facebook correspondence with Mr. Ryder. It was a desperate situation, really. Half-shame (of my complete lack of social grace and articulation, compared to Charles's) and half grief. It is like I have lost someone almost as in death. Now Sebastian has gotten somewhere inside of my soul, I don't know how I will be able to enjoy (or, endure) the impending summer without Charles. I have skipped the Prologue, Et in Arcadia Ego, and moved straight to exile.

wednesday 27 april
my life is a real culmination of the LORD's sense of humour.
saturday 30 april
 "it was sad to see his tall figure receding in the dark as we drove away, just like the other figures in New York and New Orleans: they stand uncertainly underneath immense skies, and everything about them is drowned. Where go? What do? What for?"
- On the Road

I want... total oblivion... until I am not quite here - not quite anywhere - somewhere where I'm not sitting with cold fingers and a throbbing heart and a brain in the middle of an infinite field of dry yellowed grass, starched stiff and withered by the sun. The only rain in sight is the salt water that wells & drips from my eyes and down my cheeks and colours my face grey.
monday 2 may
"'What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?' She didn't know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell. It was all over. She was eighteen and most lovely, and lost."
- On the Road
it was a fine day; a perfect day. I went down to the park and sketched and read and Sal Paradise's prose became suffused with it all, it became a dream. The warm sun, fresh green grass and dark dirt filling my nostrils with its scent, birdsong, the sound of the fountain, murmur of voices, footsteps. And then time was up and I raised myself from that good place and cycled through the cobbled streets, bouncing over the stones, my head filled with Mexico and Dean Moriarty and the pubs had opened their balconies and people spilled out of them sprawled on the chairs, old men sat talking on white benches. Tulips and daffodils sung out in their brilliance, a white-bright colour of red and yellow in the grass. The rows of cherry trees lined the pathway and that scent of spring, that indeterminable fragrance, a bouquet of the freshest flowers, the curl of sap on the tree, a drop of dew, just lifted up and carried past me as I lifted up my head and tried to find more if it, the blossoms & branches throwing shade on my body as I cycled through that enchanted garden ~

Thursday, 14 April 2016

eftermiddagen på stadsbiblioteket

"Perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, I don’t know; but they have scarcely seen their garden before they see the flaming sword. Then, perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. Either, or: it takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madman who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare."
- James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room
vad betyder detta för dig?
ofta man identifierar med en charakter, eller en typ av person, i en roman. men varför? jag trodde att James Baldwin hade en intressanta bild av det här process; alla av oss väljer någon, är det därför vi vill minnas, eller därför vi vill glömma?
Reading: Giovanni's Room - James Baldwin (among others)
Listening to: Pixx - A Way to Say Goodbye
Last watched: The Summer of Sangaile

Sunday, 10 April 2016

"an enclosed and enchanted garden"

Sebastian... said, 'I must go to the Botanical Gardens.'
'To see the ivy.'
It seemed a good enough reason and I went with him. He took my arm as we walked under the walls of Merton.
'I've never been to the Botanical Gardens,' I said.
'Oh, Charles, what a lot you have to learn! There's a beautiful arch there and more different kinds of ivy than I knew existed. I don't know where I should be without the Botanical Gardens.'
When at length I returned to my rooms and found them exactly as I had left them that morning, I detected a jejune air that had not irked me before. What was wrong? Nothing except the golden daffodils seemed to be real.
- Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited