7/25/15


"There is a quality of dream, ideally, to arrivals after long journeys, and with all that has been lost as carriages and ocean liners and long-distance trains have given way to supersonic planes, something has been gained, in the simple jolt of flying from New York, say, to Bangkok, in a few hours, and changing seasons and centuries in a moment. We lose a part of our rational faculties, the wide-awakeness that is our usual guiding light; but something else in us, closer to the dark, comes awake. Bleary, confused and not sure if we are here or there, we walk without defenses through a province of the imagination. Part of us is in mid-air, and the rest is not quite sure what to make of the whispers from across the street, the generous smiles, the coins that could be pounds or could be pennies.
Later we will return, and photograph for the neighbors the Taj Mahal by moonlight; first, though, and unforgettably, we will encounter the bodies along the road, the campfires in the unlit night, the urchins grabbing at one’s sleeve outside the Taj Mahal Hotel."

The Dream Quality of Arrivals by Pico Iyer

7/16/15

"For most of my life I have felt like a human magnet for the sorts of people and experiences that I encountered at the Grand Hotel and on the islands of the Torres Strait. For years, I was convinced that it was perpetual motion that opened me up and made me vulnerable and receptive to odd and unusual encounters. For years, this compulsion to keep moving kept me on the road."

The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer by Eric Hansen

7/6/15

"...especially through the elaboration of an idea of 'impersonal intimacy' in which people don't destructively overpersonalize and territorialize their relations with each other, enabling, instead, 'an experience of exchange, of intimacy, of desire indifferent to personal identity.'"

Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled by Michael Cobb

7/1/15


The best thing about Picturing the Americas is its political bent. Curatorial text constantly reminds us that historical landscape art, when painted by colonists, is usually an act of erasure. The extremely photogenic aboriginal activist Hayden King appears in a video to explain this more fully and convincingly, along with some less magnetic academics. Such a reading makes many pleasing, anodyne works suddenly problematic and suddenly complex. It gives the viewer much more to ponder than the technical proficiency so clearly on display: usually we're just asked to consider the magnificent beauty of a landscape painting. At some institutions, we are directed to appreciate the difficult rustic circumstances in which it was created. But a charged political reading  provokes welcome conflict in the viewer; it's a gratifying art experience to judge the work both beautiful and simultaneously repulsive. Why didn't the AGO position Picturing the Americas more strongly to the public? Why do art institutions persist in their own outdated belief that audiences are their intellectual inferiors? Arts marketing should never be so bland.  

Picturing the Americas @AGO

6/21/15


"Sunsets impose a heavy burden on the sightseer. A spot acquires such a reputation as the place from which 'to watch the sunset' that you are virtually obliged to go there. Phnom Bakheng was just such a spot...When we finally got to the top it was rammed, like a party waiting to kick off. We expected to see a DJ, decks, banks of speakers. There were hundreds, possibly thousands of people, but they weren't waiting for a party--they were waiting for the sunset. The Japanese were out in force. Everyone--us included--were spraying or smearing themselves with insect repellent because the mosquitoes were also out in force. Serious photographers had their cameras on tripods. One such photographer turned to his wife and said, "Fifteen minutes to go," as though they were colleagues at Mission Control at NASA. Everyone else simply waited. For the sunset...Waiting for the sunset becomes an activity, an exercise in abeyance."

Yoga for People Who Can't be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

6/17/15

"I can't take much pressure but I do have to survive, and I do still want to play. I do still need to be accepted as an artist. But I want to be more than a "jazz player" playing. I want to make the people forget the categories and make them feel what's really happening. I want to make them feel joy or sadness. I want to make them open up and listen. That's what I've always wanted. I'll do the best I can."

Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper by Art and Laurie Pepper

6/13/15


"He told me to call when I got to Fort Collins, he even said to call collect, but I suppose one of life's big tricks is to give us precisely the thing we want, two weeks after we've stopped wanting it, and I couldn't take Homer seriously, even when I tried."

Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston

6/5/15

"...truer than all subsequent loves because it never had to survive real life..."

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

5/31/15

"The other move put on you by the parenting lobby is that you should have kids because you might regret not doing so when you get older. This seems demented and irrelevant in equal measure since while life may not have a purpose, it certainly has consequences, one of which is the accumulation of a vast, coastal shelf of uncut, 100-percent-pure regret. And this will happen whether you have no kids, one kid, or a dozen. When it comes to regret, everyone's a winner! I think I was about fourteen when I was obliged to swallow my first substantial helping of regret. I would like to claim that it was also my last, but it turned out to be the opening course of a never-ending feast. If I've never forgotten the taste, that is because under- or overcooked regret is the main dish--the very taste--of adulthood."

Selfish, Shallow and Self-absorbed edited by Meghan Daum

5/23/15


"Expressions like "I'm feeling up today" and "I'm high," Lakoff and Johnson argue, derive from the metaphorical equation of happiness and height, while expressions like "I'm feeling down today" and "I'm low" derive from the metaphorical equation of dejection with depth.

I is an Other by James Geary