Category Archives: art & film

Adrian Piper : Think About It

Adrian_PiperPiper_1970

The voices (and works) of the past are coming in strong and are louder than ever. Everything that is happening today, the unrest and the breakthroughs, are built on the persistent work of those that proceeded it. We have so many to thank.

Adrian Piper, Thank you for the work you have made since the 1960s. Thank you for who you’ve been and for who you continue to be. Your presence is powerful and your contribution is beyond measure.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a major career retrospective for Adrian Piper in 2018, the largest show ever for a living artist. And the Hammer Museum is Los Angeles, known for its permanent collection of historical art presented a 50 year survey of her work. But the artist they were praising declined the invitation to attend. Piper was not present for the exhibitions, because she refused to return to the United States. Not even the holy grail of art world honors could bring her back.

photo of adrian piper

Adrian-Piper

An American conceptual artist and philosopher, Adrian Piper’s work addresses professional ostracism, otherness, racial passing, and racism by using various traditional and non-traditional media to provoke self-analysis. Piper was born in New York City on September 20, 1948. She received a master’s in philosophy from Harvard University in 1977 and her doctorate in 1981. In the 1970’s she was kicked out of the art world for her race and sex. Her work started to address attitudes around racism, intending to help people confront their racist views.

Piper taught at Wellesley College, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, and University of California, San Diego. In 1991, she became the first female African-American philosophy professor to receive academic tenure in the United States. Wellesley College terminated her tenured full professorship in 2008. During that time she was on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration Watch List. In 2015, she was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist in the international exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Adrian Piper currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

Whut choo Adrian Piper

Image: Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait as a Nice White Lady, 1995

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Image: Everything #2.8, Adrian Piper, 2003

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Image: Everything #2.13, Adrian Piper, 2003

Video: Keynote speaker Jörg Heiser, on the work of Adrian Piper

The following images and text are works and words of Adrian Piper.

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Image: Decide Who You Are #1, Adrian Piper, 1992

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Image: Detail from “Everything #21, Adrian Piper, 2010-13

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Image: Pretend #3, Adrian Piper, 1990 “Pretend not to know what you know”

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Adrian_Piper Art

Images: Close to Home, 2 of 15 photographs, Adrian Piper, 1987

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pretend adrian piper

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Image: Pretend #2, Adrian Piper, 1990 “Pretend not to know what you know”

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Image: Think About It, Adrian Piper, 1987, mock-up for billboard design

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Image: Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, 1970. Photographer Rosemary Mayer

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Image: My Calling Card #1 and #2, Adrian Piper (1986-1990)

Adrian Piper Portrait

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Image: The Mythic Being: Say It Like You Mean It, Adrian Piper, 1975

“I am identified as “black” by others, both “black” and “white,” only when this serves to enhance their own social status, and not otherwise. Identifying myself as “black” had also very often served this function for me. I had regarded it as an honor and a privilege to be counted among the members of a community that had proved its mettle, its intelligence, and its genius by surviving and sometimes flourishing amid the most resourceful and sustained effort to destroy its humanity the world has ever seen.”

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Image: I Am Some Body, the Body of My Friends, #1-18, 1992-95, 1 of 18 photographs. Photo of Adrian Piper and her mother, when she was suffering from emphysema, towards the end of her life.

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Image: Safe #1–4, Adrian Piper (1990) “We are around you”

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Image: Safe, 1 of 4 framed photographs and audio, Adrian Piper, 1990 “You are safe”

black artist adrian piper

“I’m black.

Now, let’s deal with this social fact, and the fact of my stating it, together.

Maybe you don’t see why we have to deal with it together. Maybe you think it’s just my problem and that I should deal with it by myself.

But it’s not just my problem. It’s our problem.”

.

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The Magic of Making Mistakes

magic creative process

Bad things that mean nothing.

I loved this video (embedded below) by New Yorker Magazine about Liana Finck. Not only did it make me miss New York, but the part were she takes two hours to create bad drawings really stood out for me.

Lately I’ve been seeing (in myself and others) an all or nothing mindset when it comes to creativity, and life choices in general. Like we have to do things perfectly the first go-around or it’s a waste of time. We often forget how important process is. And mistakes are part of the process.

Doing things terribly. Trying things out. Having to make changes. Losing investments. Looking foolish. Not getting the results we were hoping for. Things not working out. Failure to meet expectations. Feeling silly. Experiencing regret. Of course all of that is hard to accept. But how will you grow and evolve if you aren’t willing to be uncomfortable?

I’ve mentioned this before, but I erased an entire website that I created because ONE PERSON (that I respected) criticized it. I felt like I had failed and I deleted the whole thing. Which was not a good idea. I really wish that I could have let that work live and allowed myself to be vulnerable and publicly (or even privately) evolve. I wish that I wasn’t so hasty and reactive, and would have accepted the creative process and continued to explore ideas without the self-imposed pressure of having to be perfect.

Another example is in my personal life. I left New York and moved to North Carolina, then Oregon, then California. All of those moves were a huge risk that came with a hefty price. I invested so much time, money and effort. It was emotionally, mentally and physically super-taxing.

Looking back, the loud voice in me says, “Oh f*ck! What did you do? Ugh. What a loss.” But there is a softer, wiser, all-seeing voice that whispers, “What if those mistakes were exactly what you needed for your highest evolution? What if they lead to something amazing, beyond your current understanding? Everything is fine. Keep going. Don’t be afraid to get banged up a little.”

Just like any vehicle, this body is not forever. My life is my greatest adventure and greatest work of art. I don’t want to waste it by playing safe. I have to remind myself of that, over and over. I constantly need reminders.

I’m so grateful for the experiences I had this week that reinforced the idea that stepping into the Unknown is worth it. Looking silly is worth it. Losing money is worth it. Wasting time is worth it. Following your curiosity is worth it. Allowing yourself to be childlike is worth it. Doing bad things and making mistakes is worth it.

It’s all part of the creative process.

:)

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Nic and Pancho

nic and pancho

I have a little white chihuahua, who is my super-sidekick and the love of my life. So of course I’m going to adore the work of Nic Bello and Pancho. Their recent video was too cute not to share. I’m also including a few of their older videos as well.

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Marina Abramović: Hardcore Journey

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I’m having a Marina Abramović moment (or string of moments). I listened to her memoir, Walk Through Walls. After that I watched her Brazilian documentary, The Space In Between (available on Vimeo). And soon I’ll re-watch her other documentary (that I saw some years ago), The Artist Is Present.

Embedded are two trailers for you. If you decide to watch her films, don’t start with the Brazilian documentary! Start with her older works, so you can see her life/work in context.

The Artist Is Present:

The Space In Between:

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The Blank on Blank Episodes

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Andy Kehoe: The Edge of the Unknown

Andy Kehoe - At the Edge of an Unknown World

Around 2007 I lost my desire to appreciate art; to both view and create it. Every invitation to go to a museum or gallery opening was turned down. (While living in NYC, it’s easy to get several invitations per week to view artists and their work, especially if you are connected to the art community there.)

It’s 2015, and I haven’t fully recovered my desire or former passion for art viewing or art making. Something in me has been pulling towards the ephemeral and intangible — more so the spiritual. Over the last seven years I’ve felt much closer to spirit (energy) than to matter. I seem more interested in fleeting moments, plant matter, super-powers and phenomena. It’s what I spend my time thinking about, it’s what I want to get to know, it’s why I moved out of the city and closer to nature.

Whenever I view the deep tree saturated mountain vistas and the magical ever-changing sky, I’m reminded of my own nature, my own spirit — the spirit that is life itself. I feel at ease, and I feel at home. It’s a feeling that I wasn’t getting from big city art gigs or fancy art gallery openings.  And since I wasn’t seeing it (or feeling it), I stopped connecting with that world — completely. I disconnected from art and art lovers.

There are very few artists that try to capture the ephemeral or the unknown, and simply represent mystery, spirit or energy. Alex Grey is someone who is wildly famous for illustrating what can not be seen with the naked eye. I can appreciate his work, but I don’t feel that it touches on what I feel, or what I know. It doesn’t draw me in. With such a small handful of artists that speak with their work and participate in the conversation of the Unseen, it’s hard to find one that resonates with me.

Only recently have I found an artist that speaks to my current journey and how I feel. His name is Andy Kehoe, and he has a large following online. That’s how I found his work. I’d love to buy his “At the Edge of the Unknown World” piece. I haven’t wanted to buy art in years! I’m really happy that I found Andy’s work, because it means that I haven’t lost my love or interest in fine art, I just lost interest in work that doesn’t represent what I currently feel, and the desire I have to connect with nature and spirit.

Below is a christmas list of Andy’s art. I love all of these pieces! But he has much more. I’ll leave his information below, so you can view his whole body of work. I chose the pieces that speak to me, but there might be others that speak to you.

Mother of the Lone Wolf
Andy Kehoe Art - Mother of the Lone Wolf Print

Roamer of the Subterranean Forest
Andy Kehoe - Roamer of the Subterranean Forest

Onward Again My Friend
Andy Kehoe - Onward Again My Friend

Dream Chamber
Dream Chamber Print - Andy Kehoe

Mutual Enchantment
Andy Kehoe Artwork - Mutual Enchantment Print

Together in Love and Wonder
Andy Kehoe - Together in Love and Wonder

Information on Andy Kehoe:

Andy Kehoe Website

Andy Kehoe Instagram

Andy Kehoe Facebook

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Pockets of Light

Today I am re-posting a blog post I wrote and published on November 13, 2011. The topic & movie clip I share in the post resonate with me in the same way it did three years ago. Many things have changed for me personally since writing the blog post. I no longer live in New York, that is one example, and is for sure the biggest change. But overall, I still feel the same. I still share the same feelings and I’m still moving in the same direction.

This week a friend of mine put me in contact with the film My Dinner With Andre, directed by Louis Malle, made in 1981. After finding out a bit about the film I rushed to read the script, and after reading the script I finally watched the film.

Below I’ve embedded a short video clip of the film for you, as well as the script for the scene. I recommend reading the text in addition to watching the video. Just so you catch all that Andre is saying since the scene happens quickly. Underneath the script excerpt, I share a few of my thoughts (very briefly).

My Dinner with Andre

ANDRE: Okay! Yes! We’re bored! We’re all bored now! But has it ever occurred to you, Wally, that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brain-washing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money? And that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks. And it’s not just a question of individual survival, Wally, but that somebody who’s bored is asleep, and somebody who’s asleep will not say “no”. See, I keep meeting these people, I mean, uh, just a few days ago I met this man whom I greatly admire, he’s a Swedish physicist, Gustav Björnstrand. And he told me that he no longer watches television, he doesn’t read newspapers and he doesn’t read magazines. He’s completely cut them out of his life, because he really does feel that we’re living in some kind of Orwellian nightmare now, and that everything that you hear now contributes to turning you into a robot!

And when I was at Findhorn, I met this extraordinary English tree expert, who had devoted his life to saving trees. He just got back from Washington, lobbying to save the redwoods? He’s eighty-four years old and he always travels with a back-pack ’cause he never knows where he’s gonna be tomorrow! And when I met him at Findhorn he said to me: “Where are you from?” And I said: “New York.” He said: “Ah, New York! Yes, that’s a very interesting place. Do you know a lot of New Yorkers who keep talking about the fact that they want to leave but never do?” And I said: “Oh, yes!” And he said: “Why do you think they don’t leave?” I gave him different banal theories. He said: “Oh, I don’t think it’s that way at all.” He said: “I think that New York is the new model for the new concentration camp, where the camp has been built by the inmates themselves, and the inmates are the guards, and they have this pride in this thing they’ve built, they’ve built their own prison. And so they exist in a state of schizophrenia, where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result they no longer have, having been lobotomized, the capacity to leave the prison they’ve made, or to even see it as a prison. And then he went into his pocket and he took out a seed for a tree, and he said: “This is a pine tree.” He put it in my hand and he said: “Escape, before it’s too late.”

You see, actually, for two or three years now Chiquita and I have had this very unpleasant feeling that we really should get out. No, we really should feel like Jews in Germany in the late thirties. Get out of here! Of course, the problem is where to go, ’cause it seems quite obvious that the whole world is going in the same direction. You see, I think it’s quite possible that the nineteen-sixties represented the last burst of the human being before he was extinguished. And that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now, and that from now on there’ll simply be all these robots walking around, feeling nothing, thinking nothing. And there’ll be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being, with feelings and thoughts. And that history and memory are right now being erased, and soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet!

Now, of course, Björnstrand feels that there’s really almost no hope. And that we’re probably going back to a very savage, lawless, terrifying period. Findhorn people see it a little differently. They’re feeling that there’ll be these “pockets of light” springing up in different parts of the world, and that these will be in a way invisible planets on this planet, and that as we, or the world, grow colder, we can take invisible space journeys to these different planets, refuel for what it is we need to do on the planet itself, and come back. And it’s their feeling that there have to be centers, now, where people can come and reconstruct a new future for the world. And when I was talking to Gustav Björnstrand, he was saying that actually, these centers are growing up everywhere now! And that what they’re trying to do, which is what Findhorn was trying to do, and in a way what I was trying to do…I mean, these things can’t be given names, but in a way, these are all attempts at creating a new kind of school, or a new kind of monastery. And Björnstrand talks about the concept of reserves, islands of safety, where history can be remembered, and the human being can continue to function in order to maintain the species through a dark age.

In other words we’re talking about an underground, which did exist in a different way during the Dark Ages among the mystical orders of the Church. And the purpose of this underground is to find out how to preserve the light, life, the culture. How to keep things living. You see, I keep thinking that what we need is a new language, a language of the heart, languages in the Polish forest where language wasn’t needed. Some kind of language between people that is a new kind of poetry, that’s the poetry of the dancing bee that tells us where the honey is. And I think that in order to create that language, you’re going to have to learn how you can go through a looking glass into another kind of perception, where you have that sense of being united to all things. And suddenly, you understand everything.

My Thoughts

To answer Andre’s question: the problem is where to go, ’cause it seems quite obvious that the whole world is going in the same direction”  I think the place everyone should go, is within. Don’t move out of your city to save yourself, and don’t go anywhere to awaken, and definitely don’t look for a place that will bring you happiness — it’s useless. The only place you can do that is within yourself, right here, right now.

And these “pockets of lightthat he talks about — we can be them for each other. We can create public works, or a home, or a community space, that acts like a center or gathering place for sharing or schooling (or rather, unlearning) — centers where people come together to recreate their lives powerfully. Individually we can also be beacons of light, encouraging one another to shine, and to be human beings that think for ourselves (instead of following religion, tradition, or corporate marketing like consumer robots). We can begin to speak that universal language that Andre talked about, the language of the heart!

For me I have no doubt in my mind I will live this. No doubt at all. And this blog, and the work I do, and how I live my life now, is just the beginning. I feel more connected to everything than ever before. I also feel more optimistic about the future than ever before.

[Free online links for reading & viewing My Dinner With Andre, written by Andre GregoryWallace Shawn. If you would like to read the script click HERE. If you would like to view the full length movie click HERE.]

[The tree photo is of me! Taken by my dear friend Jack.]

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Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: Tomi Ungerer

Far Out Isn't Far Enough Tomi Ungerer

I love watching documentaries. I’ve made quite a few posts on Sunday Is For Lovers sharing my favorite documentaries. More than not, the list is full of documentaries about artists. This week I found another great one. It’s about Tomi Ungerer. If you are unfamiliar with his name, once you view the film and see his body of work, you’ll recall seeing his artwork throughout your life. His body of work is enormous. Be it children’s books, political posters, artistic pornography, commercial works — he’s done it all. And all of it is outstanding.

Tomi Ungerer political worksThe title of the film about his life is Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story. I saw it on Netflix. But I’m sure it’s available through numerous outlets. Below I’ll post a quote I enjoyed from the film. I identified with it in so many ways.  It brought me back to how I felt as a youth, and how I feel currently as an adult.

“…When you’re faced with this kind of historical contradiction — what is liberation? What is fascism? What is dictatorial? And this is what I found out as a child very, very early. Everything was just absurd. The war is absurd. People are absurd. The grown ups are absurd.”

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