Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009


CAP – September 15
Visiting Curator @ UD- Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor is the 20th century art curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Taylor spoke on behalf of the Art History’s lecture series “Fusions in Art: Methods, Criticism, and Culture.” The visiting curator’s lecture entitled “Givens: Robert Gober, Ray Johnson, Hannah Wilke, and the Legacy of Marcel Duchamp’s Etant Donnes” was based in conjunction with the Etant Donnes Symposium and Exhibition at the PMA. The focus on his talk was to look at Etant Donnes in respect to the artists that were influenced by and followed in the wake of Marcel Duchamp. In looking at Etant Donnes in the context of contemporary artists Taylor argued that this work art, which was at times perceived “pornographic” in fact laid the foundation and perhaps even gave some courage to successive artists to show their work which may also have been deemed controversial of pornographic.
Marcel Duchamp took about 20 years to perfect and complete Etant Donnes. During this time Duchamp kept the project a huge secret from everyone except a very select few- these included his lovers whose bodies were used to cast the form of the reclining female figure. Duchamp in fact had made it a point to profess his retirement from, stating that he had “given up on art” in exchange to have “taken up chess”. Due to these reasons Etant Donnes has been such an enigmatic piece of work.
The lure of Etant Donnes has permeated into realm of his successors. Openly homosexual artist, Robert Gober, whose work predominantly dealt with the AIDS epidemic, found solace in perhaps the perceived “violence” and “pornographic” qualities in Etant Donnes. His sculptures which comprise of fragments of realistic male body parts are usually covered with drains (referencing Kaposis Sarcoma) and placed in situations where it looks as though a wall or architectural element has severed the body. Most notably in on of his sculptures the Virgin Mary, flanked by two suitcases, strikingly has a large drainpipe piercing her core. In either suitcase there is an underwater scene with a male figure with a child, however an overlaying drainage grate obstructs the majority of the scene and figures. These carefully planned obstructions in view, resonate in Etant Donnes’s voyeuristic peepholes. Having complete control over the voyeurs gaze, Duchamp strategically placed these peepholes so that there is only one direction to look upon Etant Donnes.
In Hannah Wilke’s feminist critique of Etant Donnes, she is photographed in a position likened to the sprawled nude. This photograph, entitled I object creates a duality in correlation to the imagery. Here this statement can reference the “I object” in that of a courtroom setting, perhaps in reference to Etant Donnes.; or in fact, this statement could be calling the viewers attention to what they are doing “objectifying” the female body. However in this case, the I would stand for Wilke, calling to mind that she has taken it upon herself to acquiesce in the objectification of her own body.
The final artist presented to us, in the legacy of Etant Donnes is Ray Johnson. Taylor recounts a story about how the director of the museum, Anne d’Harnoncour, has received anonymous letters and drawing that referenced the work of Marcel Duchamp and in particular Etant Donnes. With out knowing that it was Ray Johnson creating these overtly sexual-tongue-in-cheek-pun drawings, she had collected them over the years, and kept them safe in a file. The most striking and interesting aspects of these drawings were the repeated use of the pattern on the hatband on the portrait of Duchamp in alter ego as Rrose Selavy. Years after he had finally revealed himself- these drawings are currently on display at the Etant Donnes Exhibition at the PMA. However perhaps one of his culminating gestures in response to Duchamp’s legacy was his creation of the official Marcel Duchamp Fan Club. (I want to join that club!!!)


CAP – September 24
7:30- 10:15 pm
“I Am My Own Wife” + Q&A with Actor

“I Am My Own Wife” is the first play in a series that will be performed by the Resident Ensemble Players (REP) at the University of Delaware this Fall Semester. “I Am My Own Wife” tells the poignant story of the real-life German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who survived the horrors of both Nazi invasions of WWII and the communists of the Cold War. There are more than 30 characters, or personas, in this play that were taken on by one actor- Michael Gotch.
The wardrobe doesn’t stray much from the gray dress with apron and string of pearls worn to resemble to appearance of Charlotte vonMahlsdorf. As Gotch changes characters his tone of voice and stance changes. He has been able to create a vast array of characteristics that clearly delineate one character from the next. The set is fairly simple in that it employs a large rotatable wall with doorway and threshold. Behind this central piece is a large wall sculpture, which contains hundreds of antique objects which range from a handmade vest, a bust, and a replica of a Nazi Uniform. Props are sparse, and on the stage one can view a faux phonograph, a table, chair, and a box containing pieces of miniature furniture.
Douglas Wright, the playwright, is also one of the main characters of this play. “I am my own wife” was written as a way for Douglas to muse on his meetings and interviews with Charlotte as well as portray the enigmatic and captivating character. Upon Wright’s first meeting with Charlotte as curator at her house-made-museum, he was intrigued by her collection and the enigma- that which was Ms. Von Mahldorf. As the play progresses, and with each encounter, the playwright and audience learn more and more about the unique life and experiences von Mahlsdorf had to face through the interviews conducted by Wright, which were recorded onto over 50 cassette tapes.
As the story unravels, Wright learns about von Mahlsdorf’s childhood and the hardships faced by his/her family as a result of his/her Nazi father. VonMahlsdorf recounts the story when he was discovered by his/her lesbian aunt trying on the only dress in her closet. This was the moment where vonMahlsdorf learned about transvestites and the when he learned that gender was not so defined. His Aunt remarked “isn’t it funny that I should have been born a male and you a female”. However as Wright, starts to go through vonMahlsdorf’s file, and reads into the newspapers and tabloids he learns a side of the story that does fit his enigmatic impression and esteemed perception of vonMahlsdorf. Wright becomes discouraged at the thought that the original lure of Charlotte could be spurious. However Wright thinks back to something that Charlotte had said to him in one of their taped interviews: “you must tell it like it is.” And with this Wright is given the inspiration to write “I Am My Own Wife.”
I encourage all to go see this extremely awe inspiring tale of the lovely transvestite –Charlotte vonMahlsberg. As stated by the actor, much research was done in trying the best to recreate the actual personalities – in demeanor and in stance- of the characters presented to us.


CAP – September 26
13th Annual DUMBO Art Under The Bridge Festival

The Dumbo Arts Center (DAC) held its 13th Annual DUMBO Art Under The Bridge Festival this weekend. Festivities started Friday and lasted until Sunday. These included public art installations, art and music performances, venders, and open studios. Myself and some friends attended the festival on Saturday evening and walked around D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn. We started at the intersection of Jay and York Street traversing towards Brooklyn Bridge Park and Empire Fulton Ferry State Park. Our destination was to watch a 45 minute performance by Abby Donovan “These The Heavens Of My Brain” which was taking place in the parks. On our way we watched a band performing under the Manhattan Bridge, where almost directly above them was a looping video projection that consisted of footage of trains/cars quickly rushing by- a vignette of what could be happening on top of the bridge. It wasn’t accompanied by any prerecorded sound, but rather the sounds of cars rushing past in real time became the sound track for the recording of the past.
As we continued past art venders and random metal sculptures, we stumbled upon a long archway with a vaulted ceiling. In this tunnel-like archway there were three large scale video projections across the length of the ceiling. The videos were of a design oriented graphic animation of flowers slowing morphing into different organic shapes, types of flowers, and changing color. Through this large archway people were sprawled out on their backs staring up at the ceiling. We sat for a while in serenity watching the organic forms morph.
As we happened into Washington Street, we made it to the DAC where artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen filled the area with their huge site-specific installation “The Experience of Green” made entirely out of red kraft paper. They transformed the space into a forest like labyrinth, which resembled gnarled trees, twisted roots, and smaller orifices where three people at a time could walk into. In certain areas the smaller spaces began to feel as though you were in a womb or even amongst intestines! As you twisted around the texturally rich area you continuously found something new and intriguing about the topography, whether it was smaller niches or as a result of light conditions. With the area completely covered in red (even the walls were painted over) it was curious that they would name the installation “the experience of green”. However we later found out that it was because of the color green “persisting as an optical after imaging “ when the participant blinked or closed their eyes!
As we entered the parks near the East River waterfront we encountered this old brick structure that no longer had windows, doors, or a roof, and in which certain parts of the walls were missing. As you walked into this structure there were three extremely large glowing piles, two of which were green and one white. On inspection they were plastic “Have a Nice Day” bags replete with smiley faces as well as a bunch of “I (heart) NY” plastic bags which were filled with green or white balloons.
On the side of a brick building in Wodiczko-esque fashion, artist Ed Purver projected a video of arms, which looked as if they were coming out of a row of windows. These hands would move around, interact and hold on another as they took turns spelling out messaged using sign language. Some of the messages included: “Will I ever be enough?” “There is music inside you” “We love you more than you can measure” “The earth delights to feel your bare feet” and “Pause here and look at the sky”.
In the park was a playground, which was made to resemble a ship. In “These The Heavens Of My Brain” Artist Abby Donovan stood atop this mock ship accompanied by a hand made wooden fishing pole and two large briefcases. Below her on the ground were three women; all three including the artist wore headlamps. The performance began as the artist opened the first briefcase-which was lined with foil. Inside the case was a bright light and hand crafted letters covered with glow-in-the-dark paint. Abby began by attaching the letters one by one onto her fishing pole, lowering them below to the three girls. As she lowered the letters, the girls would slowly move the letters to re-expose them to fresh light. Sporadically the artist would use her cell phone to call the three girls below, giving them instructions on how to arrange the letters on the ground. As time progressed, the girls- with the assistance of the artist’s cell phone calls- slowly rearranged the letters on the ground to spell out a message- while continuing to use their lamps to re-expose the letters with light. Once all the letters were removed from the suitcases the artist left the playground. The girls arranged the letters to spell out “These The Heavens Of My Brai” – the final “n” was missing. One of the girls received a call telling her to meet the artist on the side of the playground. The girl returned with the two briefcases, and after opening them, all three began to deconstruct the message. After all the letters were enclosed in the suitcases they picked up the cases and left the area.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"I do not suppose there can be much difference for Nadja between the inside of a sanitarium and the outside"

Upon finishing "Nadja" i have been curiously wondering... "what ever happened to Nadja after she was commited into the insane asylum?"... and "why was Breton so nonchalant upon hearing that she had been incarcerated... she was his muse... his obsession... why was he ok with this?!... why did he not do anything?"
I wonder why so many (horrible) things can happen... and we can just be ok with it...

I find parallels in themes of misogyny running concurrent with "Malleus Maleficarum"...


"First on top of the clothes you are wearing, you are to put on a blue-dyed garment shaped like a monk's scapular without a hood at the front or back. It is to have crosses [made] from bits of yellow cloth, three palms long and two wide. You must wear this garment on top of all your other clothes for ____" (a period of one year or two years should be stipulated, the longer or shorter time depending on what the offender's guilt requires). "In addition to this, you must stand, wearing the said garment and crosses, in the doorway of ____ (church), at ____(time), for ____(period)"; or "on the four principal feasts of the glorious Virgin"; or, "in ____(cities), in the doorways of _ ____ (church or churches). We also condemn you by this judicial sentence to ____(prison) in perpetuity", or "for ____(time)".

I have also been thinking about/looking into the (forced) self immolation of women
This is touched on in the seminal piece "Can the Subaltern Speak?" written by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

the photo below is Afghan women of Herat, victims of self immolation - their attempted suicides through this means was to escape a life of hopelessness under gender apartheid


"a chance encounter between a sewing machine and an umbrella"

I (remember) dreams in fragments...
as i crossed an unfamiliar threshold with an unfamiliar figure in a flash of light my neck was severed cutting my head from the rest of body, however as i carefully concentrated and continued to walk as though I was unafflicted it remained still attached though a clear delineation was present and slowing producing thin ribbons of crimson...
i climbed a series of stairs which progressively became unstable so much so that I was dangling high above the local Shop Rite where thousands of police officers (including my father) stood below just staring at my frightened body dangling from a rope...
i squeezed my eyes shut and profusely thought in my mind, willing my scalp to regrow my (old long) hair, after several times of repeating this process, my hair grew back down to its normal length only much thinner, frail, brittle and deep red...
I dream in fragments...
I create in fragments...

Visual Memory:
"One small step for stúlkan; one giant leap towards the Motherland"

this is an image of my first glance at a place where I finally felt accepted and a part of something....

Friday, September 18, 2009


Before i went the the University of Delaware I had some of my high school photography on my facebook, apparently people had seen it and felt threatened by the shocking imagery...I was deemed a threat and before I even started my freshmen year, The dean of students was calling my house so as to inquire me and submit my photos into review... to see if there was a REAL issue there...

AHHH... the power of art!!! =)

and you can tell...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Hexenhammer" or "The Hammer of Witches"

De Profundis Clamavi

Have pity, You alone whom I adore
From down this black pit where my heart is sped,
A sombre universe ringed round with lead
Where fear and curses the long night explore.

Six months a cold sun hovers overhead;
The other six is night upon this land.
No beast; no stream; no wood; no leaves expand.
The desert Pole is not a waste so dead.

Now in the whole world there's no horror quite
so cold and cruel as this glacial sun,
So like old Chaos as this boundless night;

I envy the least animals that run,
Which can find respite in brute slumber drowned,
So slowly is the skein of time unwound.

Charles Baudelaire

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

while I am standing "on line".. others prefer to stand "in line"

"As an artist my artistic practice is embodied in a particular process, rather than a specific medium. I am interested in systems and the disparate parts that comprise them. I find solace in repetition and most often find myself engaged in a tedious process to create multiples. These pieces become interconnected and related to one another when they are joined together to make a structure." -dani

As an artist I am interested in recording moments occurring at separate times and in different spaces. By using digital processes I am able to control the duration and sequence of these moments. Using these disparate elements of video and sound I am able to compose an aural and visual experience along a continuum that defies the conventions of what is expected when a viewer sits down to watch a movie. Constructing physical sets under the guise as a theater, I am able to use the corporeality of my body to pantomime ideas about the existence of conflicting identities in a digital world. In focusing the soundtrack amidst variations in the lullaby “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” the ‘non-narrative-narrative’ ponders the question “how I wonder what you are?”. Drawing from personal and collective nostalgia I am interested in looking at this form of musing as a means of escape.

For summer work trailer see link or post below:

I am influenced by artsits:
pipilotti rist
olafur eliasson
frances picabia
marcel duchamp
marina ambromovic

I am influenced by intellectual thinkers:
Ayn Rand
Karl Marx
Georges Bataille
Noam Chomsky



Howard Roark Speaks for Individualism

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