Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Centuries Greatest Injustice

Our Centuries Greatest Injustice
A TED talk by Sheryl WuDunn

I wrote about WuDunn's book (written with her husband Nicholas Kristof) in an earlier post here. The book is called Half The Sky and its amazing, I highly recommend it.

Living In Sin

Living In Sin
by Adrienne Rich
She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman's tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night's cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf amoong the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own--
envoy from some village in the moldings...
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hula Girl in a Hula World

I was lucky enough to spend Christmas this past year in Hawaii with my bf's family. While Hawaii can often times seem like a crazy tourist extravaganza there are also a ton of really amazing things about the islands that I didn't know. Settled by Polynesians who arrived 1,500 years ago and Tahitians that arrived 1,000 years ago, the islands have some of the oldest cultural traditions I've ever witnessed. The history itself of Hawaii is really interesting - strict social hierarchies that had been brought by the Tahitians were dissembled in 1810 when King Kamehameha united all the islands into one royal kingdom and then his son Liholiho abolished the old social hierarchies altogether in 1819. Their royal Iolani Palace had electricity and telephone before the White House or Buckingham palace. However the art of Hula and sport of surfing had been developing for centuries already and even when the islands became a territory of and then a state of the U.S. the culture of Hawaii continued.

The hula dancing is one of the most amazing ways to watch history alive in Hawaii right now. I know that seems corny to say but it was honestly one of the most beautiful forms of dance I've ever seen. It was amazing to think that not only was it developing hundreds, possibly thousands of years ago.... but you can also see moves now and then that are totally used in dance these days - like I swear Ciara copped some of these moves in her most recent video. Its awesome that a dance that it so old and traditional can also be so sexy and relevant.

I didn't take these videos but they're from the Old Lahaina Luau that was the one I went to....

This was one of my favorite dances

I really love the outfits in the second half of this

And a few others from other places....

Miss Jacqueline from Nonahere

Old footage from 1965

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Faren and The French Fries

My friend Faren's music video! Gush!

Women Of The Day

The House voted to defund Planned Parenthood today. Please call your rep. in the Senate and ask them not to pass the bill. I have so much to say about this but these two ladies below did it for me.

Rep. Gwen Moore (WI)

Rep. Jackie Speier (CA)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just This One Set Of Eyes

I spent a while yesterday thinking about Collier Schorr's photography- then having dinner time conversation about it later on. There are aspects of her work that I'm not that sure of - mainly using the framework of essentialist understanding of gender and the fact that I tend to have a hard time personally getting into photography as an art form since it seems to always be a narrative thing and doesn't mess with the material or form as much.

Okay anyway though, that's just me being annoying, cause there is also something that I like so much about her photos. I think that one way she does interact with the medium is that there is such emphasis put on the moment when she is taking the photo- how she can only see the subject with her own eyes, and the subject can only portray themselves with their own understanding of self - but how the viewer and subject do influence each other. The way that she plays with identity not just in gender but in nationality and religion becomes more complicated than the initial expectation - such as her work as a Jewish woman photographing Germans.

One of the strongest aspects of her work is that she is able to photograph androgyny and sexuality in both genders in a way that I don't think anyone else can. Her statements about how she can only look with female eyes are so interesting to me because her portraits of men - specifically the ones based off the Wyeth photos are so attractive and sexual in a way that recalls nostalgic pangs of first boyfriends or the photos of Leo Dicaprio that were so all consuming when I was in 7th grade. This is most interesting to me because I think that the male body represented in art has so often belonged to gay men and most of the time I can't relate to it at all - yet these photos by a lesbian woman make me wonder if there is something to this idea of a female gaze. In addition, though many of her photos of women were done for commercial projects, such as magazines, these also feel equally sexual. Her representation of the model Freja or actress Kristen Stewart manage to be erotic in a way that still feels like its meant for female eyes - gay, straight, or somewhere in between. Maybe they're attractive to men too, I'm not sure. Whether in portraying men or women, Schorr manages to convey androgyny in a way that is for once warm. She removes the android from androgyny and in finding what is soft in men and hard in women she plays on our sexualities' interest in power and submission but also that feeling of intimacy that comes from accepting what is unconventional in our lovers.

Below are photos from a series of German Soldiers, a series re-creating Andrew Wyeth's Helga, commercial fashion photos, and newer photos of still lives with flowers and landscapes. I think in the most recent flower series she takes the medium to a new level, abandoning narrative and using the medium itself to explore identity.

Objectification has usually been a male mainstay. Homosociality is, without a doubt, present in any project that involves itself in a male dominated arena, such as sports or the military. However, it may be that some gay male critics have become too comfortable in the idea that male sexuality, or men being caught in the gaze, is the property of male homosexuality. That type of "ownership" allows that women don't look at men and that when men appear a certain way it is a performance for other men. It's just another way that women's desire is undermined. This does give me pause, not in image making as much in the editing process afterwards. The struggle is how to represent men in a more fully defined way -- i.e., tenderness, vulnerability, physicality -- without falling into the trap of an assumed gay male gaze. In a way you have to search for varieties of ugliness, to almost de-aesthetify the image, to try and divest it of iconic perfections, all the while making pictures where the camera seems to fall in love.
-Collier Schorr

"In the Helga pictures I set out to create a total portrait of a young man using Andrew Wyeth's Helga paintings as a template to explore how one defines someone in images using a description of femininity to describe a man, so that you start to wonder with the Wyeth portraits whether it is a feminine pose or an artist's pose. Is it Wyeth's pose, is it Helga's pose?"
- Collier Schorr

"Having a boy play a girl (and when I say "play a girl" I don't mean that he is represented as a girl, because he is represented as a young man) is complicated. He knows he's looking at photographs of a girl and copying those poses. So the audience sees him as a man, but he can only see himself as a woman, because that's the model he's looking at. It was a really interesting exchange."
- Collier Schorr

"The work is about conflicting obsessions- twinship and opposition. It's about people who look the same but aren't, about boys that look like girls or girls that look like boys, or boys that look like athletes and aren't, or boys that look like soldiers and aren't. It's a metaphor for the Jew and the German- German Jews thinking they were the same as Germans and yet being so different..."
- Collier Schorr

"The landscape is filled with relics and memories. So many things are buried in the landscape in Germany. So many uniforms and medals. And you hear stories of people coming upon buttons and helmets in the fields."
- Collier Schorr

"The first soldier pictures I took were of Herbert and his friends. They all collected army stuff and they would go on campouts, play army, and raid each other's bunks. I was really surprised to find that all the army stuff was American and that they were dressing up as Americans, in a territory that was in fact occupied by American soldiers."
- Collier Schorr

"Some people fit into uniforms and are soldiers; some people don't fit into uniforms and aren't soldiers. Some pretend to be soldiers. I wanted to show that political causes change but soldiering is consistent. It's about putting young guys in scary places, asking them to die for someone else, to die for a cause they might not understand."
- Collier Schorr

"The androgynous part of the work comes from the fact that I can only imagine with a girl's brain. I'm creating a boy's world from the emotional center of a woman. Whenever they look soft it's because I don't really know what it is to be a guy. I only know what it is to be a girl. So I think that paints them with androgyny."
- Collier Schorr

Quite in the same way that the portraits were realized. Using a landscape to heighten the sense of drama. I looked at a lot of Mapplethorpe pictures in the last years and I was really drawn to the bondage pictures and wanted to bring that kind of tension and domination to a still life. That was the idea behind tying up the flowers, so they were elevated and trapped simultaneously. The nature becomes staged and I think I was always so aware of the forests and fields as being the locus of some theater, the military theater was only one possibility. It is also the theater of escape, migration and gentrification.
- Collier Schorr

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eileen Gray: Doing It All

Eileen Gray modernist architect and furniture designer could do just about anything!


This "Dragon Chair" above holds the record for highest price at auction for a contemporary work of decorative art.



A cool light:

Lacquer Screens:


Monday, February 7, 2011

Jessi Klein: Breaking Up in the Age of Google

This week The Moth had another awesome story by Jessi Klein. Its not too hard to be obsessed with Jessi so I'm really psyched that she's now writing for SNL. I've done a post about her before with the awesome story about hitting on Dale of Chip and Dale at Mousewitz aka Disneyworld.
This recent story is about internet stalking I'm pretty sure we can all relate in one way or another.

Click here to listen:
Audio: Jessi Klein: Breaking Up in the Age of Google

Friday, February 4, 2011

Farrah and Hannah: In Flesh and Death

I've had this thing kicking around in my head for a while. Its been a few years since both artist Hannah Wilke and actress Farrah Fawcett died in 2009. For some reason when I think of one of them I think of the other, like some venn diagram of two lives. Yes, one was a respected feminist artist and the other was a sex symbol, one was high art one was low. Yet, they both were incredibly important female bodies of the 1970s.

Hannah documented her own body, oftentimes posing like a glamor model to both celebrate female beauty and deconstruct understandings of female vanity and value. Farrah on the other hand was documented by Hollywood and reproduced for teen boys everywhere to hang on their walls. At 12 million copies sold world wide, her image in that bathingsuit is one of the most distributed visual images anywhere.

Having refused to pose nude as a young actress, Farrah did her first nude spread for Playboy for her 50th birthday. It was in fact a photoshoot of her making paintings - she made paintings and prints with her body, like Yves Klein's famous prints but authored by the model herself. Before taking up acting Farrah had actually been an art major at UT Austin and was serious about it when she returned to painting and sculpture later in life. Both Hannah and Farrah took the male gaze into their own hands, creating with their own bodies.

As they grew older both women developed cancer. Farrah had anal cancer, Hannah had lymphoma. Both women chose to document it, Hannah in photos and Farrah on video, creating what can be viewed as art or documentation of the final phase of a female body. Hannah also included photos of her mother's struggle with cancer along her own in her work Intra-Venus. I find it brings both Hannah and Farrah's careers full circle and makes them whole in that they have given us the female experience not only of youth and beauty but of physicality, suffering, and mortality.

I also find it interesting that in Farrah's famous red swimsuit photo she was wearing a one piece bathingsuit because she had a large scar on her stomach that she was afraid to show. I think that her acceptance of her body's imperfections in later life and her refusal to give us only one pleasant view of a woman was inspiring and profound. There are many ways that people live in the public eye these days, with reality tv, everyone getting their 15 minutes, and female existence being so closely interpreted as pornography or struggle. Yet, these women were ahead of their times and in both high and low they managed to give us an experience of physicality in all its glory and defeat.

Hannah Wilke's Gestures

hannah wilke_gestures from Mercedes M.M on Vimeo.

Farrah Fawcett skateboards away from a bad guy!

Sacré Farrah Fawcett !
Uploaded by HektorPekor. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.