zugvogelblog

Narrar el mundo y la imaginación / Narrate the world and the imagination

Categoría: Atlas biográfico-Artes

GENDERIZATION

New York

On the bus, along 5th Avenue, by Mount Sinai Hospital, just a few days before the virus started ravaging the city; March, 2020.

FRIDAY’S WALK

Sunset in Central Park, Friday 14th February 2020

Sunset in Central Park. Apple Phone 6X, unmodified (14th February 2020)

 

ABANDONAR LA ESCRITURA, Ignacio Gómez de Liaño en el MNCARS

Herminio Molero,Tomato Sunset Tomato. Esmalte sobre cartulina, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid, 1969.

Tomato Sunset Tomato, Herminio Molero; esmalte sobre cartulina, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid, 1969

El perfil de Ignacio Gómez de Liaño es poco común pero no creo necesario desmenuzarlo aquí rutinariamente. No podría. Y tampoco se lo merece; está por encima de presentaciones al uso. Esta magnífica exposición -en gran parte su colección personal, que ha donado al Museo Reina Sofía- lo confirma. Es un auténtico regalo para los sentidos y el intelecto; para todos aquellos que, en España, prestamos atención a la creación y a la heurística, y, también, para los historiadores, del arte o de los últimos años del franquismo.

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El laberinto instalado en el Instituto Goethe de Madrid dónde muchos pudimos experimentar la primera catarsis posible durante los últimos años del franquismo: vivíamos dentro de un régimen con burbujas de libertad, insufladas por Alemania en este caso,  y con abismales carencias, también de libertad: un laberinto cerrado, pero iluminado

Poema Circular (una película), Elen Asins. Tinta sobre papel, ca. 1968.

Poema Circular (una película), Elena Asins. Tinta sobre papel, ca. 1968. Donación de Ignacio Gómez de Liaño al MNCARS.

     Gómez de Liaño ha planteado a lo largo de su vida una forma de cuestionar a la que en España hemos estado y seguimos estando poco habituados. Grandes personalidades como la suya -entre las más comprometidas-, molestan a las mentalidades institucionales y burocráticas y, también, a las más vanguardistas o progresistas. No se callan, aunque no siempre guste lo que dicen e, incluso sí, a veces, no gustan a nadie. Es cierto que no siempre son fáciles de comprender y que pueden llegar a ser exorbitantes. Pero la razón es que caminan siempre en el límite del pensamiento, y que, en todo momento, aspiran a hacerlo con coherencia. Esta exposición da buena cuenta de ello: no es el fruto de un coleccionista o de un artista,  ni siquiera de un historiador, es mucho más: es el testimonio de un filósofo que mientras vive reflexiona de manera creativa sobre los aspectos que considera cruciales en la vida, entre ellos, el arte y el conocimiento. Esta exposición ofrece el testimonio de una fértil época de creatividad cuyo enorme valor se aprecia ahora en toda su dimensión, porque fue requisito sine qua non de muchas otras polinizaciones artísticas que la sucedieron, muy distintas en carácter y objetivos, y, entre otras, la llamada movida. Él mismo, a través de su compromiso y de su búsqueda fue creador y protagonista de aquellos mimbres, que ahora revela en esta exposición, y culmina con su donación al museo.

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S/T, Julio Plaza. Metal esmaltado, ca. 1967

     Un posible punto de partida teórico para explicar lo que se aprecia en la exposición se sitúa en las primeras y segundas crisis del lenguaje en la Rusia zarista prerevolucionaria y, después, en Francia, tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial: en la senda de Saussure, Jakobson, y los formalistas Schklovsky y Bajtin, entre otros, que inician nuevos y drásticos métodos de análisis de los procesos de la creación en el ámbito del lenguaje y de la literatura. Otros poetas y artistas plásticos rusos se adentrarán en diversos experimentos, uno de entre los más notables el zaumni iasik (lenguaje irracional) en la ópera Victoria sobre el Sol, por ejemplo, de Alexei Kruchionij, Victor Jlebnikov, Mijail Matiushin y Vladimir Malévich, en 1913. También, más tarde, los constructivistas moscovitas se acercarán, en la década de 1920, a lo concreto, al minimalismo avant la lettre, y a lo automático -o a un objetivo tan místico como buscar la tridimensionalidad de la construcción en la bidimensionalidad de un plano-, con el fin de abandonar definitivamente la agencia individual del artista para entrar, “revolucionariamente”, en ámbitos productivos del estado soviético desligados del arte (al menos del concepto de arte que había prevalecido hasta la fecha, cuando design se traducía aún por “dibujo” solamente).

Spatial Composition, Katarzyna Kobro, Painted Steel, 1929. Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz.

Spatial Composition, Katarzyna Kobro. Painted Steel, 1929. Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, en el MOMA

     Es un aliciente que el Museo Reina Sofía dedique una amplia exposición, en la planta inmediatamente superior, a la actriz y activista francesa Delphine Seyrig, la inefable musa de Alain Resnais en L’année dernière à Marienbad. Esta película, de 1961, cabe bien dentro del proceso general de búsqueda más allá del lenguaje, y de su descomposición, al que ya he hecho mención, revivificando la vieja idea de vanguardia con un guión nouveau roman. Este film de Resnais contiene numerosos tesoros en los que no puedo extenderme ahora. Me detendré solo en Maso [chisme] et Miso [gynie] vont en bateau (lo que va entre corchetes es mío), “Maso y Miso van en barco”, un film re-interpretativo de un episodio del programa pionero de entrevistas de la television francesa, Apostrophe. Las habilidades de su sinuoso presentador, Bernard Pivot, quedan al descubierto gracias a la acción de Delphine Seyrig y su equipo, que logran desnudar el machismo del patriarcado reinante. Con su grupo, las Insoumuses, que firma Maso et Miso vont en bateau, logra dejar constancia del doble rasero de Bernard Pivot y de la Secretaria de Estado francesa para el (primer) Año de la Mujer en Francia, Françoise Giroud, en 1975. Lo más interesante es, a mi parecer, que convierte su grafiti audiovisual en un arma eficaz para el activismo político ya en la década de 1970. 

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Deplhine Seyrig y Giorgio Albertazzi en una escena de L’année dernière à Marienbad, de Alain Resnais, con guión de Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1961.

 

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W A L K S

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SHOOTING THE MAFIA

A breathtaking and loving documentary on Letizia Battaglia’s life as a photographer

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I was lucky to meet her in New York, more than nine years ago at the Gala of the International Center of Photography, 2009. She was given the Cornell Capa Infinity Award, together with other awardees: Aveek Sen, Liego Shiga, Gert van Kesteren and Annie Leibowitz among others. The guests were ecstatic. And Letizia Battaglia was simply a woman full of joy and energy. She still is. The documentary by Longinotto is just flawless, miraculously beautiful. I have no other words to describe it. Not to be missed.

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Letizia

THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, by Thomas Ostermeier

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     In the history of violence -that nobody has yet written with a sense of totality and global justice-, let us at least proceed step by step. On this occasion, Thomas Ostermeier has staged in Brooklyn the eponymous autobiographical novel by Edouard Louis, which basically concerns homosexuals: ethnically discriminated or not, immigrants and native, proletarians or dispossessed and nerds who signal themselves by feeling, and by reading too much for what it is expected from them. Persecuted, attacked, bullied, fallen ill, jailed or killed. Yes. But the first lesson? Violence is never a unilateral or a bilateral question; there are always more sides to it. And those other sides can be your own kin, homosexuals or not, your partner, your friends, your colleagues; or be within yourself, or be just a part of yourself or be simply right at the heart of your love. An excellent and talented rendition of Louis’ novel in German language by Ostermeier. Two hours that fly. A pleasure to see, despite the harrowing pain.

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L A H O R E

Poesía tallada, poesía escrita

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La tumba del Shah mogol Nur-ud-din Mohammed Salim (Jahangir, que reinó en Lahore entre 1605 y 1627)

DAmero rojo blanco

fue utilizada por el Emperador sikh Rangit Singh como cuartel

Damero hexaedro

y por el ejército británico como carbonera.

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Se encuentra en las afueras de Lahore

puerta de la torre

y tiene cuatro minaretes de mármol, que limitan la espléndida azotea y una terraza en el centro.

Puerta de la tumba del visir

Desde los minaretes se ve la ciudad y una tumba aledaña; la del gobernador de Lahore, pariente cercano, Asif Khan, cuya hija, la princesa Mumtas Mahal fue la mujer del Shah Sahan, quién ordenó construir el Taj Mahal, la tumba dónde ambos tienen su sepultura

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Pietra dura en la tumba de Asif Khan

La tradición persa sentía mayor inclinación por la caligrafía como soporte del motivo:

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Así, el poema permanecía en el papel en más de una sola forma visible.

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ART, PLACE, NATION AND NARRATION

On not being a tree was published in The Telegraph (Calcutta) Oct. 26th 2010, and is a generous contribution to Zugvogelblog by its author.

ON NOT BEING A TREE, by Aveek Sen

Art, place and the tyrany of context

“I fall into a place and I become of that place,” replied Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak when asked, during a public conversation in Calcutta, whether she would describe herself as cosmopolitan. “I feel sometimes, when someone asks me the question, that I have roots in air. You know? I am at home everywhere and I am not at home anywhere. It seems to me when one is at home, the place where one is at home has no name.” My music teacher had put it to me, once, more pithily: “I don’t need roots. I’m not a tree.”

Gabriela Iturbide

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     These two pictures were made by the Mexican photographer, Graciela Itúrbide. Both are hanging now in Delhi’s Instituto Cervantes as part of a show called — with a baffling and, one hopes, unintended vengefulness — An Eye for an Eye. Alongside Itúrbide’s work, made in the Seventies and Nineties in India, Mexico and the United States of America, we also see Raghu Rai’s Mexican photographs of the Nineties, so that the Mexican and the Indian exchange places, as it were, in the show. The eye passes over Rai’s work, stopping to catch the pictorial cleverness of each image with a silent “OK, got it” to move on to the next. With Itúrbide, time lengthens and becomes reflective, as she draws the viewer closer and deeper into the heart of the place, person, moment or feeling that she essays in each picture.

     The eye passes over Rai’s work, stopping to catch the pictorial cleverness of each image with a silent “OK, got it” to move on to the next. With Itúrbide, time lengthens and becomes reflective, as she draws the viewer closer and deeper into the heart of the place, person, moment or feeling that she essays in each picture. With Rai, we are optically and manually agile tourists in Mexico playing with light and shade, angles and effects. With Graciela, we are on an inward journey that makes us continually look into ourselves, at the fluid and complicated relations between where we are inside our heads and where we happen to be physically at a particular moment. As she compels us to grasp the meaning of each image, and of the relationships among them as a sequence, something else begins to happen. The sense of an identified location becomes irrelevant and eventually dissolves altogether. We begin to ignore the captions. Place is overcome, absorbed and transfigured. Like the aerial flocks of birds that she photographs repeatedly, identities disperse into experience, movement, memory, encounter, performance and connection. The picture on the left is called “Khajuraho, India, 1998”; next to it is “Highway 61: From Memphis, Tennessee to Clarkesdale, Mississippi, 1997-1998”. But do the labels — Indian, American, Mexican — matter at all with these mysterious, metaphysical images? Is Graciela a Mexican woman photographer? Or is she simply an artist? What do we lose, and gain, with each of these definitions of who she is as a maker of images?

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Angel Woman, Sonora Desert, México (Mujer Ángel), 1979. Graciela Iturbide / Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

*   *   *

     Under what circumstances is national or cultural context important to understanding a photograph? Depends on who is doing the understanding, why, and for whom. There is a way of looking at, archiving, understanding and writing about photography that is entirely historical, sociological, anthropological. And here context is all-important. Usually, this kind of writing is academic and specialized; aesthetic criteria are irrelevant or subordinated to the more levelling gaze of the social sciences. The hierarchical distinctions between art and not-art, or among documentary, popular, commercial, journalistic or art photography, do not apply in such readings. So, if we are, say, studying representations of women, or immigrants, or dwarfs, then we should be looking at every kind of photography from advertisements, police shots and ethnographic records to photo-essays in Granta and the work of Arbus, Salgado or Iturbide, without getting into disputes over whether what we are looking at is art or not, or if it is art, then whether we are looking at good art or bad art. We are more interested in content rather than form, and we are producing critical knowledge using photographs as primary documents. We might have chosen to look at folksongs or newspapers or films, and done the same sort of work with these, without bothering very much about aesthetics (although the aesthetic or formal aspects of these documents could have enhanced our interpretation and made it more nuanced).

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     But the moment we get into questions of a different kind of meaning or affect (that is, once we take photography into art galleries, auctions and art publishing houses), the moment we get into questions of beauty and form, or of aesthetic, emotional and intellectual impact, then the role of context, especially national context, becomes more ambivalent and complicated. A different set of priorities and criteria, together with a different kind of politics, takes over.

     Someone should write about the international politics of contextualization, and how a great deal of serious academic work is structured by that politics. Why is it, for instance, that Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston, the Bechers or Jeff Wall is simply photography, whereas Graciela Iturbide is Mexican photography or Nobuyoshi Araki Japanese photography? I suspect that the answer to this is not only political, but also geopolitical, going back to the ancient geographical divides in post-Enlightenment European epistemology: Who is looking at whom? Who is studying whom? Who is writing about whom? Who is the subject, and who the object, of knowledge and of interpretation? What do we need to know in order to understand a Western artist? And what do we need to know in order to understand a non-Western artist? Who are ‘we’ here?

     In the first case, not very much context is required because Western art is supposed to be universal, transcending national or geographic differences. It is Art. But Asian art is not Art, but ‘Asian art’, and therefore an informed understanding of the various contexts in which it is produced is essential for doing it full justice. It is always tied to its time and place. So, an Indian photographer cannot depict loss, absence or fear, but must always represent poverty-stricken or fundamentalist Bharat, or liberalized and industrializing India. We hardly ever have books, photobook introductions or catalogue essays explaining what is Belgian, French, Canadian or American about Belgian, French, Canadian or American photography, because we can respond to Belgian, French, Canadian or American photographs as we respond to the Venus de Milo or Mona Lisa, without having to know about Classical Greece or Renaissance Italy.

     But not so for Asian photography. An entirely different approach to knowing, understanding and looking has to be constructed, mastered, disseminated and repeatedly invoked in order to bring such a category into the global field of vision. And this applies to not only those who are looking at it, showing it, collecting it and writing about it, but also to those who are making it. That is, Asian photographers themselves often end up internalizing this way of seeing and start producing work for it, and from within it, presenting their work, in books and in shows, according to its requirements. They readily accept the contexts in which their work is invariably read, and then start perpetuating those readings of their work, together with the assumptions that inform these readings.

     They end up producing work that could be written about, shown and taught within what has turned into readymade frames and perspectives. Non-Asia looks at Asia in a certain way, and therefore Asia also looks at, and projects, itself in that way. In the earlier centuries, this was called Colonialism or Imperialism; Edward Said had called it Orientalism. Now it is called Context, and the right-minded, well-intentioned, academically respectable sound of the word obscures the structures of commerce, knowledge and power that constitute this primacy of Context.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1101026/jsp/opinion/story_13094834.jsp

zugvogelblog

Narrar el mundo y la imaginación / Narrate the world and the imagination