Thursday, 18 January 2018

Let’s Murder the Moonlight

Below are three amazing quotes from one of F. T. Marinetti’s Futurist manifestos called ‘Let’s Murder the Moonlight’ (11 April, 1909):

“That sun struck us in the face with its great torch of flaming purple, then flared out, vomiting itself into the infinite.”

“ ‘I feel my twenty-year-old body growing younger!… I’m retuning, with ever more infantile footsteps, to the cradle… Soon I’ll reenter my mother’s womb!… Everything, then, is permitted! I want expensive playthings to smash… Cities that I can flatten, human anthills to kick over!… I want to tame the Winds and put them on a leash… I want a pack of winds, fluid grayhounds to hunt the flaccid, bearded cirrus clouds’.”

“From the fluctuating blue meadows, slowly emerging was the vaporous hair of countless women who were swimming, sighing, and opening the petals of their mouths and their moist eyes. Then, in the intoxicating flood of perfumes, we saw a fabulous forest growing and spreading around us, its foliage arching downward, as if fatigued by a lazy breeze.”



Monday, 8 January 2018

Questions regarding where (art) academia meets activism meets real life

This line of thinking is perhaps particularly pertinent, at least for me, with regard to the history of art. Working on a PhD in this field at the moment, I find myself questioning the place of art within world and the ways in which it contributes to it generatively. How can art bring criticism to life and how does it affect people? How can we make sense of the difficulties the general public may have with modernism and how can we find an art practice that is affective, emotional, political, formal all at once? Or, is it ok that different works of art propose different effects on its viewer? How do I explain my love for a Josef Albers painting from his series Homage to the Square? How to explain that these works make me feel something phenomenological or otherwise outside of colour theory, outside of the intellectual return to Malevich’s Black Square? What is art supposed to do?

Turning my mind then toward documentary, a form of making that has always been an important part of my research and art historical practice, I admit that in certain respects, it has always been easier for me, in its realism over abstraction, to reckon with as political or partaking in activism. Yet, Rosler and Sekula’s theoretical writings on documentary show that this medium too fails time and again to be truly documentarian, to be truly political or to have true impact on the world, bringing real change.

As a young scholar in art history, questions on the involvement of my work in real life have begun to haunt me and I write this post to try to explore my efforts to find meaning in my scholarship and to remember this moment of confusion so that I might always return to why I feel art history is important. But perhaps more on that another time.



Intellect, emotion and curiosity

Recent life events over the last several weeks have caused me to wonder about the ways in which I approach my emotional life and how, given my familial background, I grew up intellectualising my feelings. In the last several years, in an effort to live simply, I ceased this practice, that is, the attempt to take an intellectual interest in my emotions as a sort of psychoanalytic case study. While in certain respects, this distinct effort to pay less attention to my emotions, perhaps, admittedly, in an effort to feel less intensely, did me a disservice in that I no longer understood myself. More importantly perhaps, I lost my curiosity when it came to my own emotional engagement with the world and in doing so, lost a part of myself that I had spent years nurturing: that part of me that took a keen interest in psychology and in my efforts to attend to myself psychically. There are risks, however, to this kind of emotional attention. To intellectualise one’s feelings depends necessarily on a certain distance, one that can be healthy, but a distance that also risks, for example, using words such as disassociated rather than disconnected. Ironically, with regard to this example, jargon may lead to a real disconnect with the emotion at hand. Perhaps the way forward is a mindful one that borrows from Buddhism. In this way, I might acknowledge a feeling, accept it, and allow it to exist, painful or not. In respecting this pain, perhaps there is a way to bear it more fruitfully. In accepting my own intensities, perhaps there is a way to better learn to understand them, celebrate them, perhaps discover a way to control them, but also to know when to let them lead me.