Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Two quotes from Heidegger's "The Origin of the Work of Art"

"The work of art makes publicly known something other than itself, it manifests something other; it is an allegory. In the artwork, something other is brought into conjunction with the thing that is made… the work is a symbol."

"What could be easier than allowing a being to be just what it is? Or is it rather that this task brings us to what is the most difficult, particularly when such an intention – to allow a being to be as it is – is the opposite of that indifference which turns its back on beings in favour of an unexamined concept of being? We must return to the being and think about it itself in its being. At the same time, however, we must allow it to rest in its own nature."

Van Gogh (1888)

Two quotes from Georg Simmel's "Fashion"

Regarding the soul’s duality: "the physiological basis of our being gives the first hint, for we discover that human nature requires motion and repose, receptiveness and productivity – a masculine and a feminine principle are united in every human being. This type of duality applied to our spiritual nature causes the latter to be guided by the striving towards generalization on the one hand, and on the other by the desire to describe the single, special element. Thus generalization gives rest to the soul, whereas specialization permits it to move from example to example; and the same is true in the world of feeling. On the one hand we seek peaceful surrender to men and things, on the other an energetic activity with respect to both."

"Movement, time, rhythm of the gestures, are all undoubtedly influenced largely by what is worn: similarly dressed persons exhibit relative similarity in their actions. This is of especial value in modern life with its individualistic diffusion, while in the case of primitive races the effect produced is directed within and is therefore not dependent upon changes of fashion. Among primitive races fashions will be less numerous and more stable because the need of new impressions and forms of life, quite apart from their social effect, is far less pressing."

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

I was completely blown away by the exhibition 'Unceded Territories', a solo show of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver. I first came about his work in a class I took during my undergraduate studies at McGill on contemporary Canadian Aboriginal art. The work that I was taught is 'An Indian Act: Shooting the Indian Act', a performance from 1997 wherein Yuxweluptun shoots the Indian Act, a federal law from 1876 that remains active today limiting the rights aboriginal peoples in Canada. What remains from the performance are the rifles used for the shooting and the document having endured several bullets.

Getting the chance to look at some of his paintings, I was so impressed by his visual eloquence in his efforts to reclaim Aboriginal aesthetics within a modernist canon. Making use of traditions in Pop art and abstract painting (he plays with the tradition of white on white paintings, beginning with Malevich and then continued by Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Robert Ryman), Yuxweluptun becomes the agent who appropriates western culture to serve activist pursuits on the ways in which the west has failed many. 

He is the maker and no longer the subject and repurposes the techniques and history of western art to fulfill he own messages. Addressing a multitude of urgent issues such as the residential schools in Canada's ugly history, oil spills in the ocean and power in today's politics, this exhibition was immense and instantiated thought and concern for world problems that have a bad habit of getting brushed over.