Monday, September 24, 2012

Library Books

Libraries are the best.  Not in a throwback nostalgia potluck sort of way but in a ‘wow, free books are the best’ sort of way.  Knowledge is power ya’ll.  I was a late bloomer to getting a library card in New York, I’ve only had one since May 2011, and it was obtained the laziest way possible via my friend who works for the Brooklyn Public Library setting up my account, mailing me my card and even giving me a pin number.  I’m a princess.  Well since then, I have been checking out books in spurts and the statement, “I will never buy another book again,” is pretty close to the truth (except for the hard to find ones and the ‘crap I’m stuck in the airport’ situations [borrowing books also makes up 30-50% of the books I read as well]).  Reading, language and the devices that literature, non-fictions, and all the variations in between is the base for my thought processes and understanding of all the jumble and amazingness that is human feeling, thought and accomplishment.

Currently there is this familiar, yet still annoying, desire for nostalgia that is rampant in the culture as a whole.  It is nauseating to the degree it is latched onto everything but there is an honesty in that impulse.  Reading books alone is antithetical to the communized alterna-states of sharing, expressing, acknowledgement and faux nihilism (to degrees).  Reading a book versus online snips and clips via computer screen has far more impact in my ability to retain information.  I know that this will and must inevitably shift to more mediated ways of accessing and consuming information and ideas but until then, I declare myself as a book in bed type of gal.   Reading is an antidote to all the clickety eye roving that consists of 80% of my eyeball powers a day and it helps the brain to exercise other muscles and to create new pathways that makes this knowledge hunt more fertile and regenerative.

Below is the full list of books that I have taken out or have on hold from May 23, 2011 till today.

Magritte and Photography, Roegiers, Patrick; translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti. New York, NY: Ludion : D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, 2005. Call # 759.9493 MAGRITTE R

Magritte / Siedfried, Gohr, Siegfried.  San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ; New York, N.Y. : Distributed by Harry N. Abrams, c2000. Call # 759.9493 G

Macbeth , Shakespeare, William, edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom ; volume editor, Janyce Marson.  New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, c2008. Call # 822.33 S52 T6 B

Good Morning, Midnight, Rhys, Jean. New York: W.W. Norton, [1986]. Call # FIC RHYS

A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, Ernest, the restored edition; foreword by Patrick Hemingway ; edited with an introduction by Seán Hemingway,. New York: Scribner, 2009.  Call # B HEMINGWAY M

Macbeth, Shakespeare, William, edited by Roma Gill. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. Call # 822.33 S52 T5 G

Lives of the Artists, Tomkins, Calvin. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2008. Call # 700.92 T

Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald, F.Scott. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995. Call # FIC FITZGERALD

Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys, Jean.  Norton, 1966.  Call # FIC RHYS

Pale Fire, Nabokov, Vladimir.  New York: Vintage Internation, 1989. Call # PIC NABOKOV

Macbeth, Shakespeare, William; edited by David Bevington and David Scott Kastan. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2005.  Call # 822.33 S52T5 B

A Dance with Dragons, Martin, George R.R. New York: Bantam Books, c2011, Call # FIC MARTIN

1Q84, Murakami, Haruki; translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Call # FIC MURAKAMI

The House of Mirth, Wharton, Edith.  New York: Knopf, c1991, Call # FIC WHARTON

A Room of One's Own, Woolf, Virginia; foreword by Mary Gordon. San Diego :Harcourt Brace, 1989, Call # 824 W

Color of Darkness, Purdy, James, 1957, Call # FIC

Simulations, Baudrillard, Jean; translated by Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman. New York, NY: Semiotext(e), Inc. c1983.  Call # 194 B

Despair, Nabokov, Vladimir.  New York: Vintage Books, 1989.  Call # FIC NABOKOV

Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West, McCarthy, Cormac. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.  Call # FIC MCCARTHY

The Eye of the World, Jordan, Robert.  New York: T. Dorherty Associates, 1990.  Call # FIC JORDAN

Duchamp : A Biography, Tomkins, Calvin.  New York: H. Holt, 1996. Call # B DUCHAMP T


The Medium is the Message, McLuhan, Marshall [and] Quentin Fiore. Co-ordinated by Jerome Agel. Random House c1967, Call # 301.243 M166 M2

The Comedians, Greene, Graham; introduction by Paul Theroux. New York: Penguin Books. Call # FIC GREENE

The Creative Mind, Bergson, Henri; translated by Mabelle L. Andison. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 [c1946].  Call # 194 B94 CR

The Age of Anxiety, A Baroque Eclogue, Auden, W.H. (Wystan Hugh), Random House [c1947].  Call # 821 A89 AG

New Collected Poems, Oppen, George ; edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Davidson ; preface by Eliot Weinberger. New York: New Directions, c2008.  Call # 811 O

The Great Hunt, Jordan, Robert.  New York: Tor Books, c1991.  Call # FIC JORDAN

Monday, September 17, 2012

Food, Food, Food (revisited)

I wrote the below a few months ago, when a friend and I were planning to do a little zine of sorts but never managed to get it together enough.  This happens sometimes, an effort is put in with enthusiasm and intent and then it fizzles or fades as life and time stretch you thin in the corresponding days.  These unrealized goals are not failures but more like exercises in possibilities.  Yes, the act of completion in some manifest form is desirable in most pursuits but once in a while, the unfinished cutaways are what make new things possible or old things remembered.   This idea of reassessing past ventures, ideas and those participating in them (most vividly remembering one’s own self in these situations), is a nice tool to re-anchor yourself when things feel so vast in the sea of life and the what to dos. 

I hope you enjoy the below, re-reading it made me breath a little lighter in the face of all this input/output/push-pull that has wound me tight and then deflated me like a beach ball of late.  Relax, eat, sleep near someone you care for and make time for friends, new and old.

(Written in mid January, 2012)

Food, food, food.  It’s been a part of the arts since the beginning.  Those animals in the cave paintings were hunted for a reason and painters and artisans throughout cultures and time have been depicting gods, goddesses, last suppers, sins, status, and wealth through symbols and icons of food. This fixation has of course continued into art’s modern, postmodern, minimal, conceptual and whatever other movements along the way from the twentieth century until today. 

Why is this?  Who knows, maybe it’s just the desire to be utterly human, even with all the baggage of our contemporized selves.  Maybe it’s the need to equalize art (which some argue is unnecessary) to one of the most necessary things of all, eating.  Some of the trends, and projects, of the ‘food in art’ trend are bland to my taste and I want to spice things up by showing that this interest in food has a long history and some fascinating recipes and characters. In the end, food will be an everlasting subject that artists will use, or disuse to their liking.

The below are a few recipes and food suggestions for the special night in with family, friends, and art lovers. Bon appetite!


Aerofood (A signature Futurist dish) - Pieces of olive, fennel, and kumquat are eaten with the right hand while the left hand caresses various swatches of sandpaper, velvet, and silk. At the same time, the diner is blasted with a giant fan (preferable an airplane propeller) and nimble waiters spray him with the scent of carnation, all to the strains of a Wagner opera.  - Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

Soups/ Stews

Temperamental Pumpkin Soup - Pumpkins (roasted and pureed), Onions, Vegetable Stock, Garlic, Coconut milk, Chipotle peppers (in adobe sauce), Curry powder (Indian), Cinnamon, Sea salt, Honey, Mint (fresh) ~ In a big stock pot sauté onions til caramelized/ Add curry powder/ Blend chipotle peppers and garlic/ Add to onion mixture/ Add vegetable stock/ Bring to a boil/ Add coconut milk/ Add pureed pumpkin and cinnamon/ Season with salt and a bit of honey to taste/ Reduce heat and let soup simmer till flavors are well integrated/ Garnish with fresh chopped mint.  - Rirkrit Tiravanija

Gumbo – Make a “very dark” roux, chicken, andouille sausage, okre, celery, garlic, whole peeled tomatoes, bay leaves, hot sauce, salt, pepper.  -inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark

Garlic Soup - Grate one clove of garlic into one pint of sweet milk/ Add two tablespoonfuls of blanched raw peanuts, finely ground/ Let it stand for one-half hour or more/ Strain it thru a sieve and pour upon flaked corn/ Season with a pinch of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper or curry.  - The early Bauhaus kitchen is said to have prepared food according to Mazdaznan doctrines.  Recipe from Mazdaznan Encyclopedia Of Dietetics And Home Cook Book


On a loaf of bread - Dark chocolate, sausage, gelatin, margarine, and butter, press firmly and drizzle with honey and gold flecks - inspired by Joseph Beuys

Czechoslovak-style hamburger stuffed with diced onion, sprinkled with parsley, and always on white bread.  Served with a 7-Up on ice. - Gerard Malanga recounts work lunches with Andy Warhol made by Andy’s mother Julia


John Cage Cookies - 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup ground oats, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup almond oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup pure fruit jam ~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees / Mix together the dry ingredients, then mix together the wet ingredients/ Fold all together/ Roll into small balls and place on a cookie sheet/ Make a well in the center of each with thumb, then add a small dollop of pure fruit jam/ Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown, turning the cookie sheet back to front halfway through. - John Cage

Hashish Fudge - 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 tsp coriander. These should all be pulverized in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of Cannabis sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient. - Alice B. Toklas / Brion Gysin

Cool and Sweet Dessert - Gather all your favorite fruits of the season.
Make a fruit soup out of them. Freeze it in the freezer for the night, until it becomes icecubes. Cut the ice cubes and serve it with maple syrup and cinnamon. Make sure to chant an affirmation that this sweet desert will bring peace and love to the lives of all who eat it.  My love is with you, too. yoko - Yoko Ono

Volcano Flambé - Dark chocolate ice cream with almond sponge cake and banana mousse covered in Swiss meringue. Surround it with dark chocolate crumbs and topped with spun sugar, then set it on fire with dark rum. - Marina Ambromovic


Water - Terence Koh’s favorite food


Bread, dishes, flatware, ashtray, wrappers, cloth napkins, cigarette butts, match, plastic plant, wood – [Can be variations of other leftovers of another’s meal]  - inspired by Daniel Spoerri

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Survive Art Openings: A Quick Guide

The fall art season has commenced and it is both exciting and exhausting to think about.  I’m not an opening reception junky but the shows that usher in the season in the first weeks of September are more then just making-face-time, it is about getting back into the swing of things and to see what is to come during the rest of the season.  Going to openings is a social affair.  It is less about the art, because really, you will barely see much of anything, but more about the collective presence of being a part of the community of artists and the scene that is NYC’s art world.  Below is a quick guide and tips on how to survive this fall madness of art so that hopefully by the end of it you don’t just want to stab your eyes out and say, “I don’t ever want to see another piece of art in my life!”  Just remember, art is the best thing ever.  Say this as a mantra as you go through the crowds and brouhaha.

Wear Comfortable Shoes – Ladies, this is directed pointedly at you but this is true for the fancy guys as well.  Wear comfy shoes.  Walking around Chelsea, the Lower East Side, wherever, will kill your little feet in swift form.   You will also be standing the whole time and no one likes to be thinking more about their uncomfortable shoes then chatting up with new friends and old. 

Wear Comfortable But Interesting Outfit – Openings are about seeing and being seen.  NYC people are generally more aware of their fashion then most but it doesn’t hurt to put a bit more effort in while you pounce around town.  Not too much though.  Trying too hard is the least sexy thing in the world.  Wear something between going on a date and going to a dinner party with interesting people you want to impress.  If you happen to be known for your outrageous fashion flare, keep it up but make sure you don’t wear anything that bumps into things. 

Eat A Snack – I often fail to do this but eating a small snack before heading out to openings can be a saving grace.  Drinking beer after beer, wine after wine at each show you pop into can make you a lush head in an hour flat.  No one wants to be that girl/guy.

Go With 1 Person Only, 2 Max – Gaggles of people are just the worst.  Bopping around lots of openings is confusing and clustered and near impossible to do with a group of people.  Go with 1 person only if possible, if you must go with 2, make sure you have a general agenda before going out or know their character enough to know if they will slow you down or hurry you up.

Go See Art With Art Enthusiasts – You don’t have to be an art insider to enjoy going to openings.  They are like speed dates for high culture.  Art savvy or not, as long as the person you are with is curious, interested and happy to be there it will make the evening fun no matter what.  Going with a grump/jaded/insecure person is just a waste of everyone’s time.

What To Do When You Know The Artist(s) in the Exhibition– So many artists friends so little time.  Making face at friend’s shows is a basic good human thing to do.  It means a lot to them, even if you only chat for a second or two.  Make sure they see you, just a quick congrats will suffice.  This small gesture comes back in fold in all the best ways.

What To Do When You Don’t Know the Artist(s) in the Exhibition but Really Like Their Work – This is odd sometimes.  Going up to a more established artist that makes you go weak in the knees at an opening is a social nuance.  If they are swarmed with people and there is little to no in, then pass it by, if there is a break you can say “hi” and let them know how much you like their work.  Don’t overly chat about the work, don’t go on and on about anything at all really.  If you really love the work and you weren’t able to say anything/chickened out, it is totally cute and fine to send them a message via email through their representing gallery.  Artists are generally super nice and everyone likes fans.

What To Say To Dealers – DO NOT give dealers your website/card/upcoming show/catalog, anything at all if you are an artist.  Dealers are not scoping for new talent at openings.  Leave them alone.  Say hello, congratulate them on the show, ask them about the artist’s work on view but do not try to set up a mini studio visit.  Really déclassé.

Don’t Drink Too Much – Easy to say, harder to do.  Just make sure you don’t get too loud or too stumbly.  And whatever you do, DO NOT, give a jumping hug where all limbs are tentacled around another person.  I’ve seen it happen way too many times.

Sign The Book – This is a nice thing to do and make sure to do at friend’s shows.  Its like a funeral and a wedding all at once.

Read The Press Release – I know this is hard to do sometimes but words help.  Really. Words help.

Make A Loose Itinerary – Write down streets and gallery names you want to see that evening in advance.  It will help in all the melee and when you can’t remember what else you wanted to see after all the chit chat.  Also, this will be super helpful if you end up loosing your buddy(ies) in the mix and talking on the phone is nearly impossible but texting a gallery name is easy-peasy.

Be Nice – Be nice to everyone you meet during openings.  This is a packed situation where you are meeting friends of friends of friends and all the names will slip one ear and out the other but being engaged and nice (genuinely), will make everything lighter and fun.  Being a too-cool-for-school or a sour-puss-know-it-all is just so boring. 

If You Like A Show, See It Again During Regular Hours – Seeing art is very hard to do at these things especially if it is super crowded.  If you like a show in a cursory sort of way at first glance during an opening, make note to come back when it is just you and the light bulbs.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Three Films from the Criteron Collection and the Women in Them: À nos amours, Eraserhead, and Kuroneko

I watched three movies via Hulu in the past few days from the free Criterion Collection list.  I don’t watch movies as much as I should.  I forget how wonderfully escapist they are.  It’s like reading a short book or looking at so-so art but it is has a much more immediate impact in the way it affects the brain, emotions, ears, and eyes.  While watching these films I was by myself.  I feel like watching films by oneself changes the experience of the movie then if seen with another person.  The presence of another person, even isolated in their own looking, changes how one looks.  While watching these films, the roles that the female characters caught my attention (as it always does through my certified feminist eyeballs), and it is interesting to see how a story is pitched or pinned by the roles women play.  

The first movie is À nos amours a 1983 French movie directed by Maurice Pialat whose center is Suzanne, played by Sandrine Bonnaire.  Suzanne recently turned sixteen and the story first starts idyllic; there is a summer camp, there is boy Luc, with a tent near a road, there is a play.  But things quickly feel dangerous in the sexual department by the gaze drawn on Suzanne by the camera, and even her brother’s remarks on how lovely she is in the sunlight with her womanly body mismatching her babyish face.  The first instance of her detached promiscuity is with ‘the American’ in which he thanks her after coitus and she says “…it was free.”   Her detachment is not of a cold hardened woman though, she cries when she returns back to camp out of frustration with herself and when she sees the American again and he pretends he does not know her, she analyzes it with her friend but without any angst.  She returns home and her father, played by Maurice Pialat, admonishes her with a few slaps in the face when she wants to go out with her girlfriends and some boys on a date.  You quickly realize that Suzanne has mastered the fake out of being a teenager on an innocent coming of age date.  She dates/has sex with older men, some known to the family and they are interchangeable throughout the movie.  The turning point is when her father decides to leave the family and he confides this in an overly adult conceptualized way with Suzanne who seems to understand all of it without hurt feelings.  She is then left with her jilted, nervous mother and her overweight brother who try to control her promiscuities with screaming fits and hitting, slapping and throwing Suzanne about.  The fight scenes are so awkwardly true to life it makes things feel as tense as it was imagined to be. 

Suzanne is a lonely girl and she is honest and she speaks openly and concisely about her constant unhappiness and how being with a man is the only way to relieve it.  There is a melancholy but not an obsessive self-reflexivity and drama.  There is a lightness to her and to her way of expressing her deep condition and there is a beautiful sadness to all of it but in a very subtle, unsolvable way.   The issues of her father are complex and he makes a scene when he returns at the end of the film during a family dinner party but it is clear that him and Suzanne have a bond that no one else will ever have.   She is extremely young and her misadventures and escapism in the arms of a lover appear to be the destiny of her as she leaves her husband of a few months to fly to San Diego with the new paramour.  Her youth is the thing that draws you into the film.  There is such vulnerability in Bonnaire’s face as she plays the character but always a coy knowing smile as well.  She reminds me of characters in Jean Rhy’s novels, before they become boozed, unkempt women out of their prime.  Sensing that Suzanne is from the same linage as Rhy’s characters makes things even more melancholic.

Eraserhead from 1977 is written and directed by David Lynch and wow, whatever you do, don’t watch it for the first time at 12:30 at night.  The movie’s central figure is Henry, played by Jack Nance, who has eccentric top-heavy hair, nervous blinky eyes and is a general nice guy with not much backbone.  He lives in a small one-room apartment and his sexy hooded eyed, dark haired neighbor relays the message that Mary called and wanted to know if he was coming to at her parent’s house for dinner.  He goes and Mary her mother and her father are very odd and things get bizarre even a miniature dancing, oozing chicken makes a showing at dinner, things will get very surreal indeed.  It is revealed that Mary had a “baby” and so Mary and Henry go live in Henry’s apartment.   Here you see the baby and it is shocking in its deformity, really inhuman, raw, animal, alien face. 

Things get very odd.  Mary can’t stand the baby’s crying and decides to leave.  She is simpleton of sorts and returns to her parents.  Henry is left alone and he starts having hallucinations through the grates of the broiler where there is a stage, very Lynchian in design, and it has a spot light and a white dolly faced women comes on stage.  She has a curled up bob, and has giant chipmunk crusty cheeks and is all white.  She makes little giggle coo noises and her eyes are wide with excitement.  She shuffles around and things plop out of the sky, weird spermazoidal things that she proceeds to politely squish with her feet.  Henry is in way over his head and he has this monster baby crying and sick that he has to take care of. 

His sexy neighbor comes over and they have sex which turns into a primordial ooze pool.  The sexy women can see the monster baby and the next time she sees Henry, she sees Henry with the monster baby head.  More things get crazy, there are parallel story lines and in the end things get messy and goo filled with a scissor stab.  In all this, Henry as the male as the sperm carrier is seen as the creator thus the one responsible for the monster baby.  Mary is an unknowing producer of this, the sexy neighbor is the potential for sexual escape from this and the white-cheeked girl is the embrace of this.  The types of women Lynch has in this film and throughout carry this weird ability to be keys, guides, and ways of escape. 

Lastly, there is Kuroneko a 1968 Japanese film directed by Kaneto Shindo.  The story opens with a small house near a field and then a gang of war worn samurai pop up from the tree line and drink greedily from the water trawl.  They then enter the house and there is a mother, played by Nobuko Otowa and her daughter in law, Shige, played by Kiwako Taichi.  The men grab food and then proceed to rape and kill both the mother and Shige.  The house is burned when the gang of samurai are through and you see the charred remains of the house and the still bodies of the Mother and Shige.  A black cat comes to the burned site and he sniffs and licks the two women.  Next there is a well-dressed samurai on his horse and a beautiful white figure appears.  She asks him to walk him to her home and there her mother greets them.  It is clear that is the Mother and Shige but they are in finer clothes in a regal house and their faces are white and their eyebrow lines extended to the tops of their forehead.  As the samurai drinks and then begins to grope the young women in white, the mother starts to do a dramatic elaborate series of movements and fog roles in the room.  The sound of a cat is heard.  The young woman is fooling around with the samurai and then she goes for his throat and kills him like a cat.  This goes on with many more samurai and the leader of the samurai is called by the emperor and is told to get rid of this “ghost.” 

The head samurai is introduced to a young soldier who killed a fierce and known warrior and in return he is made a samurai and is allowed to the have the name Gintoki of the Grove.  Gintoki is ordered to find the ghost and before he does this he rides to his old village and house and sees that is burned.  He asks an old villager and he says that he does not know what happened to his mother and wife. 

Gintoki goes to the woods in search of the ghost and is greeted by the woman.  You can tell that the woman recognizes him as there is sadness in her regular seduction.  They go to the house and are greeted by the older women and Gintoki tries to ask then who they are as they remind him so much of his mother and wife who he tells the tale of how he is searching for them and does not know what happened.  He leaves that night and the young women is beside herself in grief.  He searches for them for a few nights and then finally after a few days the young women returns and they make love for seven nights. 

After the seventh night she disappears and the older women says that the young woman doomed herself to hell for the seven nights of love with him.  The old women cannot reveal who they are because of the vow they gave to the dark god and the vow they made was to stay in this supernatural form so they can kill all the samurai.  Gintoki is bereft and knows that it was his wife and it is his mother.  He returns to the samurai leader and says that the ghost is gone.  The leader does not believe him and says he needs proof and that if he doesn’t give proof that he will kill him.  Gintoki then meets his mother and in the wood sees her true cat like reflection in a puddle. He cuts her arm off which becomes the arm of a large black cat.  He brings this back to the samurai leader and the leader is pleased. 

As Gintoki is purifying himself before he meets the emperor with his deed, a women comes to the door saying she needs to assist in his purification.  It is a diseased form of his mother but Gintoki is unable to perceive this.  He makes it so that she has access to the hand and then with the hand in her mouth she escapes, him slashing at her with his sword.  The end is him in a state of delirium. 

There is so much going on in the ways of representing women as both victim, avenger, witch, virgin, and evil.  The fact that all in the end are doomed is complex and very unwestern.  The stylization of this film is really beautiful, especially the dance/ritual by the mother and all the scenes in the ghosts women’s house.  The role of the black cat is particularly interesting as it a bad omen but it is also the protective animus for the wronged women.   The theme of war and samurai’s power and abuse of that power is emphasized throughout the film but in a reflective way, the disabuse and powerlessness of women through all power structures is an interesting way to seek justice and vengeance, even if there are no winners in that act.