On at Tate Liverpool as a special exhibition, Theaster Gates’ Amalgam ebbs and flows in the way it conveys the horrors that U.S.A. administration policy visited upon the people of Malaga, a small island off the coast of Maine in the early 1900s.
There are, however, some joyful elements to take from Gates’Amalgam
, and it will be up to each individual to find these.
The smell of the Ash pillars is one such element. Get up close. Press nostrils to the wood. Inhale the uniquely vibrant stench of death.
The other element is contained in Gates’ multi-media film that runs on loop.
For a few brief moments two individuals stare (at one another). The look is (enough). The connection pure. This, for anyone who has ever felt it, is the moment a heart feels (like it’s to burst). As you catch another’s stare. Something fixes (the gaze). It is a back and forth. (It is). And you are lost, if only for a brief spell. Unable to look away. Almost unable (to breathe). All else fades (from view). And upon averting one’s gaze, for that has to happen at some point, that person seems to live within you. They are all (you see). The memory of features (imprinted). Recalled (at will). A vital presence. Carried (within). Felt )without(.
(For my friend).
Depending on where and how you view art, and then again, what type of art you’re viewing, the effect it has on a viewer might be different. I can recall many standout moments from established, world-famous galleries, such as the Tate Modern showing of Rothko’s ‘Four Seasons’paintings, or Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’, for instance.
But what about the pop-up shows, the shoestring-budget shows, the ones where selling stuff isn’t the primary objective? Well, after mulling one of these shows over for a couple of weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that the main effect I experienced is that of thinking… What am I meant to think? Am I being guided by the artists to think? Or am I thinking anew because of what I’ve seen? And even… what have I just seen – what’s its purpose?
And thinking is never a bad thing, so, the overall result on a person’s psyche must be impactful at the very least. If it stays with you, as this show has, its effect will be long-lasting and far-reaching (assuming that I’m not the only one still thinking about it (the show)).
If you do have some spare money knocking about, why not take a punt on this piece of Conceptual Art. With perhaps a nod in the direction of Carl Andre, this Untitled piece speaks of #Austerity, #Unity, #Resistance, and probably a great many other things if you stop long enough to actually consider it.
It is currently listed on Ebay, with all proceeds from the sale going directly to Shelter (England and Scotland), for the benefit of those persons living without a home. The sale price is ambitious, but in a world where Donald J. Trump gets to be President-Elect of the U.S.ofA., who’s to say we can’t achieve the full price?
Dig deep, winter is coming, and being homeless is no fun, no matter where in the world you live.
Just a very quick post as I’m finding it hard to tear myself away from the figure of St. Theresa of Avila, whom I’m reading about because of the reference to Bernini’s sculpture, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. And so this post manifests itself in the aftermath of Reggie Yates’ documentary, more on which here, the second in his series titled Extreme UK (#ExtremeUK), which deals with a certain kind of anti-feminist rhetoric (wryly titled “meninism” by some Twitter users, a term I happen to like, funnily enough).
Should we be surprised at the “disenfranchised,” “disempowered” men speaking such anti-woman (as much as anti-feminist, if we’re being honest) sentiments? After all, it seems to hail from a tradition dating a long way back into our shared human history; in fact, we may pause to consider Paul’s words here: “The women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).
Some doubt Paul’s misogyny, and in some respects that’s really beside the point, for it is in the countless ways in which such words have been used to keep women “in their place” over the centuries that the key issue is to be found – we need only look to St. Theresa herself for a concrete example of this. Anyway, back to the book (Alison Weber’s Theresa of Avila and the Rhetoric of Femininity (which is very good)).
Liverpool based graffiti:
Manchester based graffiti:
The following posts provide two examples of graffiti photographed in a Manchester suburb, and a further two from Liverpool. Manchester and Liverpool are cities with a keen rivalry running between them, not least in terms of football (soccer), and so it is left to the reader/viewer to decide which city puts its creative talent to best use.
The posts are marked Not Safe For Work primarily because of the Manchester based graffiti, which contains language likely to offend. The Liverpool based graffiti is not offensive as such, but may jab at one’s sensibilities, depending on your thoughts on all matters scatological. This being said, Manchester is up first because chronologically speaking its examples of graffiti were captured first, with the Liverpool examples following soon after. All of them made me chuckle a little, and smile, which cannot be a bad thing. Hats off to those artists who create just for the sake of it.
Being busy, and stuff, it’s usual that I don’t comment on films as they’re released. I tend to wait for them to come out on DVD or until I can stream them. The Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is one such film. It’s been sitting on a shelf for over a month and I finally got round to watching it, and have not been able to stop thinking about it since, which I’m taking as a good thing.
Ever conscious not to include spoilers, this post is a reflection on a couple of aspects of the film that have pre-occupied my mind. The first is the spider motif that runs throughout the film, and that owes a huge nod to Louise Bourgeois’ Maman. There is a great discussion about the film, and about the film’s fixation with spiders, on the following Reddit subreddit: r/movies (but be aware, this has plenty of spoilers, so maybe go there after you’ve watched the film). Spiders have long been associated with the female form, think of Ariadne and also Arachne as two ancient examples of this, and this film appears to tap into the unconscious fears associated with spiders that many humans buy into, but most interesting is the way the film also challenges this view by presenting spiders as fearful and/or subject to human cruelty – and so we are talking metaphors here that require some unpacking, not literal stuff.
The second aspect is more a concern with the film’s aesthetics. From the off, the panorama views let you know that you can only be watching a film filmed in Canada, but the quality of the film, the filters, the camera angles (combined with the eerie soundtrack), and the angsty, not-in-too-much-of-a-hurry-to-move-the-plot-along-or-explain-everything-for-the-viewer feel of the film speaks very heavily of its European influence, and thank goodness for it. The film is challenging, slow in its pace, and offers more questions than answers, but it does make you think – and that’s a good thing, right?