On View: The Metropolitan Museum of Art / 9-1-12

A museum's permanent collection is a direct representation of the message that museum uses to promote itself. The permanent collection is an ever-changing, growing thing. Visitors begin to have favorites or notice when a piece has been switched out. Even when there are no special exhibitions on view, the permanent collection remains. 

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

March was a busy month (art-wise) for me. I attended my first Armory Show (opening night at that) & visited a lot of new exhibitions. More in-depth posts to follow, for now enjoy my photos.

Checking in at The Armory Show

Sara & I & my red pants
The booth for the David Zwirner gallery. Very meta.
Nate Lowman, an artist in MoMA's collection, turned a membership email into a painting. My job is now art!
Came with high hopes, left with mixed feelings
Stand out piece from the New Museum's show by Adrian Villar Rojas
Degas at the Met
Mirrors at the Brooklyn Museum 
Keith Haring at Brooklyn Museum

Cindy Sherman | MoMA

Cindy Sherman opened at MoMA this Sunday & last Tuesday I was able to attend the opening reception. This exhibition has been generating a lot of buzz & the opening was well attended. 
I didn't think I was familiar with Sherman's work until I looked her up & came across her "Untitled Film Stills" series. These are a series of black & white photographs shot to resemble stills from films. The images were taken between 1977 to 1980, but reflect films shot in the 1950s and 60s. In these photos, Sherman takes the idea of the female character in film & pushes it further. She is the typical damsel in distress, the jealous housewife, or the shy yet sweet girl next door. Each photo captures a different character & a different emotion. Even in these early photos, Sherman is able to alter her appearance & change her personality enough so you don't think you've been seeing the same woman over & over. I like how this series acts as portraits of the roles women play on film, elevating them from objects of desire into flesh & blood figures that have lives beyond what the film shows.  

The entire series is on view within the second gallery of the exhibition--I need to revisit them since it was so crowded during the opening. Below are some of my favorites, taken from MoMA's exhibition site:

Untitled Film Still 51, 1979
Untitled Film Still 57, 1980
Untitled Film Still 59, 1980
Untitled Film Still 63, 1980

I feel the exhibition gives a nice overview of Cindy Sherman's work & makes effort to highlight her earlier work, so viewers can see how she has developed over time (pun not intended). Enjoy some of my photos of the opening below:

Entrance to the exhibition; the font changes every few seconds

Untitled Film Stills
Untitled Film Stills
Untitled #489, 1976. Read more here


I've been pretty terrible at keeping this place alive. Excuses aside, I'm making a vow to update more. So here are somethings of interest:

  • Last week I visited the Met's new galleries of Islamic Art. However, since I was camera-less, you can enjoy this old picture that was the background on my blackberry. I highly recommend visiting the new galleries--I enjoyed seeing something new at the Met & the illustrated manuscripts are amazing.

  • I never was much of a gallery go-er, but that's starting to change. On my last outing I went to David Zwirner to see On Kawara's date paintings. I want to do a more in-depth post about On Kawara's work, so for now I'll just post this one photo. 
  • Still working on this series, expect a post soon
  • Since I am so good at keeping this updated I started another tumblr: thepoint&theline. Follow it for more art. Also follow my regular tumblr teeth&things if you're up for it.

Sanford Biggers | Sweet Funk: An Introspective

I recently wrote a piece for Gnome Magazine on Sanford Bigger's show, Sweet Funk: An Introspective, at the Brooklyn Museum. I went to visit the exhibition at the end of October & was given permission to photograph pieces in the exhibit. I wanted to wait until the piece was published to share these images.

This was the first time I was introduced to Bigger's work. Through his work he tries to reclaim & reconfigure images & themes associated with Black culture. This is evident in his usage of the wide mouth grin, which alludes to black face, or trees, which speak to the history of lynching. Other themes, such as jazz music & the piano, speak more about the contributions African-Americans have made throughout history. Sweet Funk is made up of nine sculptural installations, with a focus on Blossom (2007), which the museum recently purchased. Please read my piece to learn more!

Blossom (2007)

Lotus (2007)

Kalimba II (2002)

Still from Cheshire (2007)

Calenda (Big Ass Bang!) (2004)

How Churches Are Built For the Purpose of Sound

photo via Brownstoner
Reading this article on Brownstoner about Emmanuel Baptist Church & the church built across from it, St. James Protestant Episcopal Church, reminded me of a project I've been meaning to complete. I'm inspired by different things, but I've always loved the architecture of churches. They can be vast, small, stone, wooden, cold, welcoming. I understand that religion can make some uncomfortable, but I've always found comfort in the structure of a church--they are built to last & they are beautiful. My project was to visit a number of churches & write poems during my time there. I still want to embark on this project. Emmanuel Baptist Church is one of the churches I plan to visit. I've actually attended Sunday service at the church; I went a few times during my Freshman year, after my family lost our house to a fire. I am not a religious person, but I took comfort in the idea of structure & support. I remember feeling a strong sense of deja vu--I had been to that church before but I couldn't remember when. It turns out I attended wedding the of family friend at Emmanuel Baptist when I was in the sixth grade. How strange yet appropriate that when I turned to this structure, it turned out to be a place I was familiar with.

 There are two photos I took of St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue back in May. Hopefully this will inspire me to follow through with my project & start writing (more) again.

Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity | Guggenheim Museum

Scan of the Guggenheim's exhibition brochure

Within the Guggenheim’s text about this exhibition, Lee Ufan is described as an artist, a poet, & a philosopher. These can seem like lofty terms, but I was convinced that Ufan shows the qualities of each within his work. Marking Infinity was Ufan’s first retrospective in a North American museum, & was the first time I was introduced to his work. The exhibition was organized by theme & series, giving insight to Ufan’s practice.

Ufan’s sculptures rely on the relationship between space & objects. Space related to physical features, such as the walls of the Guggenheim, but it also meant the space that occurred between the materials in Ufan’s work. Many of his sculptures pair natural & man-made materials together. The piece, Relatum—silence b is composed of a stone placed before a sheet of metal that leans against the gallery wall. It felt as if the stone was confronting the metal, or standing before it in order to understand it. Ufan did not set out to evoke certain emotions from his viewers—instead he let the objects appear as they are. In this setting, the objects interact with the elements in the gallery: light, air, & shadows. 

Relatum—silence b, 2008. Via The Guggenheim
I instantly thought of the word dialogue, relating to how the objects appear to be having a conversation. I use this in the abstract sense, but the term also lends itself to a series of paintings by Ufan. Even while working through different mediums, Ufan has been able to carry over certain themes, gestures & vocabulary. 

From Point, 1975. Via The Guggenheim
The first set of paintings came from Ufan’s From Point series, which focused on painting as action & process. Known for working within a repetitive nature, in this series Ufan made continuous points on a canvas until there was no ink left on his brush. These points mark the passing of time—another record of the physical nature of painting. The painting represents the action & process of painting--it is the direct result. The brush-marks are a record of the action—they show the direction, force, & flow of the paint. On a personal level, the painting From Point, 1975 reminded me of my Erasure Series (Up North it Begins to Snow) from my Senior Thesis.

A similar technique was applied in the From Line series. These paintings begin with the idea explored in From Point, but move away from the process of making art toward a focus on the finished painting—toward the outcome & the lines' ability to move. Ufan became concerned with the space of the canvas & how brush-marks occupied that space. In these paintings, Ufan began making his lines disfigured & applied all over the surface of the painting. The paintings in From Winds show his final transition.

From Line, 1980. Via The Guggenheim

Further up the ramp we are introduced to newer works in the Relatum series. Again Ufan interweaves natural & man-made materials—this time making work that played with the properties of the materials. In one sculpture, pieces of metal have been embedded in a block of wool. Both wool & metal have distinct textures, but when placed together, the object takes on qualities of both. The metal appears weightless within the wool, & the wool appears dense & thick. These were shown in front of paintings from his Correspondence series—the importance between occupied & blank space became repeating grey marks that took up space but also created it & avoided it. These are the predecessors to the Dialogue series.

Via The Guggeneheim

The Dialogue paintings—created with large flat brushes & grey paint—were my favorite series within the retrospective. The wall text introducing these paintings touched on Ufan’s usage of the color grey: the color represents “a vague, ephemeral & uncertain world.” The paintings are large, bearing minimal marks from Ufan. They show past influence from his From Point & From Line series: individual marks that use the entire amount of paint on the brush which have been placed on the canvas according to how they interact with the available space. The brush-marks become the subject of the work, its entire composition, & represent everything Ufan has worked towards in his craft. Again we think of process & the passing of time, but in a larger context. The scale of the paintings & their placement within the final gallery create a reflective mood. The marks almost feel fabricated, as if silk-screened & bear no trace of Ufan’s hand. Three Dialogue paintings were created on the walls of the museum--a triptych of grey marks that created a space which interacted with the properties available on-site & that left the experience to the viewer to interpret. 

Dialogue, 2007. Via The Guggenheim

Dialogue--space, 2009/11. Via The Guggenheim

(A Flight of Swallows)

[I mean to post this on August 7th--my grandmother's birthday. It is a piece I wrote last year for my Experimental Fiction class & is prompted from reading Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson]

My Nana, Eunice Hughes. Thanksgiving 2007


My grandmother is the youngest of twelve children. Growing up she learned things; count the chirps of crickets to determine the temperature; a Luna Moth lives for seven days; orcas are actually dolphins.

She takes these things & draws them in the dirt. She tells me she went around barefoot because she could. She goes to church for the sound, since cathedrals helped bring about the birth of harmony—the joining of many tones together.

Days pass. During migration, the Branta canadensis (Canada Goose) passes overhead in V-shaped flocks. She wants to call it the Canadian Goose, but that name is not the ornithological standard. She instead draws it as well, a waterfowl among her toes.

I ask about the barn, if it was red like many are. We compare it to other structures of architecture.
She starts wearing shoes. She thinks about where she is from: North Carolina. About the Appalachians. About the subranges. About the state insect (European honey bee). About the state motto (Esse quam videri).

She grows up, moves away.

Now my grandfather enters. He tells her that the humming bird is often mistaken for a large clear moth. He tells her that speaking begins in the lungs, with airflow causing the vocal cords to vibrate. She marries him in a tea-length dress.

First they live in Harlem, then Long Island—a product of two glacial moraines, one acting as a spine for the island. Because of the movement of glaciers, there is a difference between the North Shore & the South Shore. They decide on a small apartment.

I ask where I am during all of this. She tells me she hasn’t got to my part yet.

The past left by glaciers doesn’t bother her, & she works at night for an airline that no longer exists. My uncle is born. My mother is born. I am still waiting.

My mother takes piano lessons. Two wholes make a major note; a half & a whole a minor. There is no black key between B & C, & E & F. The piano makes noise that can be simplified by calling it vibration.

On vacation they take photographs at the Golden Gate Bridge, only the second largest suspension bridge in the US (the first: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge).  They stand looking at the bridge, which spans the Golden Gate, a strait connecting the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.

At this, I tell her I have seen both oceans.

My mother & uncle grow up. They learn about the rock behind the elementary school: another product of the island’s ice age. Once, while driving, my mother points it out to me. It is most likely Sedimentary.

Landscape can evolve by the process of faulting or folding. Erosion as well. The stream behind my grandmother’s house in the south began to grow a larger mouth as the water took more land.

Instead of brown she says ecru or umber.

It’s a mild Saturday in January, my grandmother says. I am excited because this is my part. My mother whispers to her belly that the Sharp-Shinned Hawk (she is too tired for proper classification) makes its nest in conifers (pines). Later I tell my mother I have a memory of hearing a low-frequency humming noise while inside her. When I was born, it stopped.

My grandmother takes me outside, points things out to me. When we startle a flock of birds, she says to use their collective name: a flight of swallows. Later there will be a parliament of owls, an unkindness of ravens.

She tells me people can develop an allergy to cedar trees.

Hyperthymesia is a condition in which a person contains an extraordinary autobiographical memory. But what good is remembering only about your-self? The Sturnella magna (Eastern Meadowlark) is among the first of the birds to appear in spring. Its song is a clear whistle of say-you, see-here

All birds have vocalization other than song. My grandmother tells me that if we are ever separated to call out to her, & she will hear me & respond, & at least our voices can be together.

Left: My grandparents on their wedding day. Right: A portrait taken in the 80's.

August 4th

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1970
Leandro Katz, The Lunar Alphabet I, 1978
Lunar Sentence I

Yoko Ono
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
I've been thinking (again) about art & language & how they interact--how a painting can involve words & a poem or statement can involve the visual. I've been thinking but I haven't been doing much else. That needs to change.

Fragment Eight

May 23rd 2011 - On the train from Dia:Beacon

I learn that whales keep the coast to their right as they swim north. My body loses half a liter of water each day by breathing. The way skin opens when cut. I turn my back to you in sleep. Again the mountains in winter. Everything migrates—returns home. A place, an action. Bodies of water becoming solid. The quiet that winter brings. A hush. I think in grey & white. The still that becomes early morning—a weight held over the landscape. My bed a nest, the snow trying for the first time. I miss summer & how the days dragged. The warmth of a field, the haze between bodies. I go back to the same things. It is a habit, like the space between the door & the floor. A pause.

december 7

Poem (À la recherche de Gertrude Stein) - Frank O'Hara

When I am feeling depressed and anxious and sullen
all you have to do is take your clothes off
and all is wiped away revealing life’s tenderness
that we are flesh and breathe and are near us
as you are really as you are I become as I
really am alive and knowing vaguely what is
and what is important to me above the intrusions
of incident and accidental relationships
which have nothing to do with my life

when I am in your presence I feel life is strong
and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine
and all of yours and yours in you and mine in me
sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured
by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs
spread out making an eternal circle together
creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic
the faint line of hair dividing your torso
gives my mind rest and emotions their release
into the infinite air where since once we are
together we always will be in this life come what may

Robert Mapplethorpe

Process / Progress

I like to use my typewriter for free writing--when I sit down & just begin. It's a good way to clear the mind & a rhythm develops due to the sound of the typewriter. Since I now have access to a scanner, I'd thought I'd share the result & give a look into my editing process.

The High Museum of Art - Atlanta, GA

I spent a few days in Atlanta last month & went to see the High Museum of Art with my mother. The High Museum is made up of three buildings which house different parts of the museum’s collection along with special exhibitions. My mother & I saw the Henri Cartier-Bresson photo exhibition (which I missed at MoMA last year), a Toulouse-Lautrec show, the modern/contemporary collection, the African Collection, & the prints & drawings gallery. There is a fantastic Alexander Calder mobile on the lawn adjacent to the museum that can be viewed from the road. We went on a grey day but in my mind that added to the experience. The buildings were very modern and open, and the Robinson Atrium made me a bit homesick for the Guggenheim.

My mom & an Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

"Para III", Morris Louis


The Calder Mobile. Found here

A Conversation, A Farewell

My earliest memory takes place in a moment of confusion. I am lying on my back & my vision is limited; it is as if I can only see in terms of shadow & light. There is a good amount of grey; grey that I will later learn is the walls in my mother’s childhood room.
There is confusion because I don’t know what is taking place. I feel I’ve become aware for the first time. Before I was sleeping, then I woke up.

Memory is a noun, an abstract noun: it isn’t something we can hold, something we can see or feel. It is the process of recalling stored information. That information can range from the dates of important works of art to telephone numbers & the location of your keys. That information is also your entire life—the minutes & seconds. Memory works by the process of Encoding (registering), Storage (creation), & Retrieval (recall). I learn that the Parthenon was built in 432 B.C., I store that information in my mind, & then I remember it when I take my Art History midterm. This is how memory works.
As we get older, our memory becomes impaired. “Can a memory ever admit it no longer recognizes itself please,” writes Rusty Morrison. It fails us; at times it stops completely. It is harder to register, to recall. Why is this? It makes sense when we are young that things slip our minds. But as the body develops, shouldn’t the mind do so as well? Or, shouldn’t it continue until we are no more?

Our memories serve as the way the mind collects the past; the way the body remembers what is has done & been through. I remember. I remember me. We remember as a society, as certain groups, as individuals. We are shaped by our memories. We remember falling out of the tree & are hesitant to climb one again. We remember that the road is pot-marked here & to drive slower. We have Topographic memory—the ability to recognize familiar places; it kicks in as we take the train out on to the island. Our memories make us. I think of Marina Abramović & her performance Freeing the Memory, in which she recited words in a stream-of-consciousness. “When words no longer come to mind the performance ends,” she wrote in the description of the piece. She spoke for an hour & a half before her memory was freed. & can we trust memory? Is memory faithful? I remember an event that my mother insists never happened. It involves me as a child getting locked in our garage & panicking because I couldn’t find the light switch. My mother says this never happened—so who is right? People forget that which they no longer wish to remember. They are able to avoid registering events & then it is as if they never occurred. To erase a moment, a year from your memory.
Forgetting is an important part of remembering. The mind must make room for new information, new names & dates of artifacts from the Gothic period. It isn’t possible to remember everything. We need to be able to forget in order to continue to remember. How does the mind know what to keep & what to let go? What makes one memory worth more than another? The mind forgets on its own, without informing us. We can remember the words to a song, & then years later have trouble singing it. The memories we bring up most often are the ones we keep.

What is the relationship between memory & language? If I weren’t able to say “I must remember this,” would I be able to remember & then recall? Can the mind remember without being told to? Language gives us words, so it can be said that it gives us memories. In order to express these memories we have to be able to speak them—language. When we were younger we remembered in images; some memories only exist as images, but we still need to give them voice.
The recent Tino Sehgal exhibition at the Guggenheim consisted of two performances, “The Kiss” & the piece “This Progress.” “This Progress” involved a series of guides leading guests up the museum’s spiral while asking them about progress. Each person had a conversation that was carried on between the guides until a guest reached the top of the museum. The only way that piece continues on is in the memories of those who attended the museum. There is no physical artwork or exhibition catalogue, just the memory of your conversation.

I am interested in memory because I believe it helps us connect to our past & our pasts are linked to people & structures—schools, offices, stores. Homes & houses. As Mary Warnock writes in her book Memory, “After all, one of the most familiar, and as we shall see, most valued kinds of memory, certainly ‘conscious’ and not a matter of habit only, is the way in which we remember places or people when we are absent from them.” Our memories are full of houses that we do not occupy. My memory contains two specific houses. The one I grew up in & the one I lost. I am interested in how a word can mean multiple things for different people. In order to write this thesis, I had to define the word “home” in my own terms & in my own beliefs. I set out to write about the different representations of home & what home means to me.

(The beginning of my Critical Introduction from my thesis)