NL: July 2019
July 2019 Newsletter:
Art as Antidote
"Art is a wound turned into light."
I have a reoccurring dream that I'm walking down a flight of stairs, surrounded by flames, carrying myself as a child.
Can I tell you a story?
So, last April I was organizing my studio and stumbled on an unfinished sculpture I'd abandoned about two years ago. It was a rough outline of a figure made of wire, wood, plaster and some 17th century French silk I'd found at the Marche de Puce in Paris. The fabric was only a scrap but it was a treasure to me. It was delicate and intricately embroidered and part of a collection of antique textiles I'd been acquiring since my 20's. I'd been very stingy over the years about incorporating the textiles into my work, but for this sculpture I'd broken down and used a special piece.
I was determined to fall back in love with the abandoned figure, so with fresh eyes and tools in hand, I jumped back in and picked up where I left off. I'd just started teaching a new figurative sculpture class at a beautiful church near my house. Several of my students were brand new. I feel strongly that more transparency about the creative process and the life of an artist would be helpful, so I decided to share short videos of me working on the sculpture, to social media, until the creative gesture came to a natural resolution.
What happened next was totally unexpected.
Just as I began re-working the piece, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris went up in flames. Images on the news of black smoke billowing from the spire and orange flames licking the Rose Windows roused buried memories from my own life and I was deeply moved. As a child I almost died in a fire. Coincidentally the person who rescued me was a French man who'd come for a long visit. He was elegant and brought me chocolates and a doll dressed in pink. He told me stories about skiing in the alps and sailing off the coast of Normandy. We lived on a secluded farm outside of Washington DC. My parents had art friends who frequently came out on the weekends to get away from the city. We'd all gone to bed after a dinner party. By 3 am the house was engulfed in flames. To escape, my mother jumped out of a window. In the chaos I became trapped. The French man had managed to get out but went back into the burning house to find me. He was injured badly. We ran through the woods. I don't remember seeing the French man again... It's possible I've been looking for him.
The following movie is a visual diary of my creative life during a three month period when Notre Dame haunted my dreams and intertwined with my own childhood memories of fire. What started as a simple artists Vlog turned into an exploration of the psychedelic nature of memory and creativity and a spontaneous expression of grief and desire.
I love this quote by poet Li Young Lee...
“If you rigorously dissect it, you realize that everything is a shape of the totality of causes. What’s another name for the totality of causes? The Cosmos. So everything is a shape of Cosmos or God. It feels like something bigger than me—that I can’t possibly fathom but am embedded in.”
Chaosmos X - Remembering Tomorrow
A group exhibition of selected works from the Servais Family Collection, curated by Nicolas De Ribou. From June 22 - September 29 in France.
At Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète located at 18 rue de la République in Montpellier, France. Alain Servais has been collecting the work of groundbreaking artists since 1997. If you are in the area, this show is worth a visit.
Press Release: Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète
From Blood and Semen by Andres Serrano to My Generation by Eva & Franco Mattes, the exhibition CHAOSMOS X.
Remembering Tomorrow offers a journey through the body - be it biological, social, technological or digital - and its evolutions, its mutations. So it is as much a question of life with this mixture of biological fluids - blood and sperm - as to arrive at a reflection on digital death. For this, the years pass by and approach in turn the representation of sex (Robert Mapplethorpe) and its practices (Cindy Sherman), subversion and subcultures (Bjarne Melgaard), cloning and bioethics (Makoto Aida), identities imagined or fantasized (Lucas Samaras), digital manipulation of images (Loretta Lux) and aesthetic surgical modifications (Yoon Ji Seon), education and its access (Melissa Ichiuji), gender and social differences (Mickalene Thomas ), love and filiation (Shirin Fakhim), poverty and its effects (Ariel Orozco), the dark areas of humanity (Roger Ballen), information systems and global thinking (Christophe Bruno), l political activism and memory (Regina Jose Galindo), emigration and free movement (Daniela Ortiz), the impact of technology on surveillance (Jon Rafman), skin color and its social role (Apparatus 22 ), DNA analysis and determination (Heather Dewey-Hagborg). So many current philosophical, scientific, political and theoretical issues with future repercussions.