Monthly Archives: July 2014

Not to be afraid of our own mortality

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           Kobayashi Kiyochika, “Persimmons and White-Eyes” (1880)

               superimposed with photograph by Eleanor Beth Haswell,

‘Why are you so afraid of your own anatomy?’ (2014)

These ripe persimmons have not been punctured by birds. The bird may be joyously singing, not poised to peck. This woodblock print of Kobayashi Kiyochika, (1880) has been superimposed with a more recently made image (2014). The image is part of an art project for school by 18 year old Eleanor Beth Haswell who printed the article of clothing and took the photograph herself. The floral background of the wallpaper merges with the similar colours in the woodcut print, making it fit in seamlessly as a collage.

More than one woman has thought or said to another, ‘All he wants to do is to get into your nickers.’ This is what he would see if he could get under the skin.

The diagram of the reproductive system is anatomically correct, however, the birds and the persimmons do not seem to be in proportion. The birds are tiny compared to the persimmons, creating the impression of ripeness, fertility, fruitfulness. The woodcut is called ‘ Persimmons and White Eyes’. The artist has named her project, ‘Why are you so afraid of your own anatomy?’ Art brings what is hidden into the open. It invites exploration of the familiar and safe.

This collage is permeated with fertility but what if we consider ‘What would happen next?’ One bird might direct its beak at the flesh of the young woman’s thigh, while the other bird snips at a fallopian tube showing off its fine motor coordination. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is menace and suspense.

The beauty of nature harbours a sense of the dramatic — in time all living things die. This awareness opens us to possibilities of beauty before us, the shape of an ageing hand, our own hands, the beauty that nature has bestowed. I could call this collage,’Not to be afraid of our own mortality.’

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Dentist Window Installation

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Photo of the window display of the dentist Dr. Richard Saland , Upper East Side,  New York.

Notice the dental floss  dangling from Jackie’s teeth

(copyright Clara Brack)

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Oscar Santillan, Daybreak

oscar-santillan  oscar santillan

(Paint scraped off of the wall and dusted onto the ground) see link

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A story is not like a road to follow

A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.
Alice Munro (Selected Stories, 1968-1994) quoted here 

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Hand, c 1841 William Henry Fox Talbot

'No one knows what this intriguing image might mean- a right hand (maybe Talbot's own) cut off at the wrist by a shirt cuff and with two fingers held together, as if making a sign.' Geoffrey Batchen

‘No one knows what this intriguing image might mean- a right hand (maybe Talbot’s own) cut off at the wrist by a shirt cuff and with two fingers held together, as if making a sign.’ Geoffrey Batchen

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what life has taught me

‘You wear us out, when you keep on being stoical,’ I said. ‘It’s like a horrible mask. We want to smash it. We want to find you.

’‘We can’t bear the smile, darling,’ said Iris gently.

‘You don’t have to smile.’

Nicola wept on, in her niece’s embrace. Gab came to the door, looked in, and crept away. But Iris held my gaze without a flicker, her sober face tilted up towards the bench behind which I stood wringing the dry dish cloth in both hands.

In a little while Nicola stopped crying. She took a few quivering breaths, and freed herself from Iris’s arms. Iris reached for a clean tea towel and handed it to her; she dabbed at her eyes, folded it, and laid it on the bench.

Then, in a hoarse voice, she said, ‘But see all my life I’ve never wanted to bore people with the way I feel.’

We were silent.

‘No one wants to know about it, if I’m sad or frightened.’

Again we said nothing.

‘I’ve learnt,’ she went on, ‘to shut up. And present an optimistic face.’

She got off the couch arm and stood in her cotton nightie in the middle of the room. Light from the high window blurred her white hair. The shawl hung like two red curtains from her bony shoulder.

“Anyway’, she said, ‘that’s what life has taught me.’             Helen Garner The Spare Room p141-2

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secrets

Biography is the medium through which the remaining secrets of the famous dead are taken from them and dumped out in full view of the world. The biographer at work, indeed, is like the professional burglar, breaking into a house, rifling through certain drawers that he has good reason to think contain the jewelry and money, and triumphantly bearing his loot away. The voyeurism and busybodyism that impel writers and readers of biography alike are obscured by an apparatus of scholarship designed to give the enterprise an appearance of bank like blandness and solidity. The biographer is portrayed almost as a kind of benefactor. He is seen as sacrificing years of his life to his task, tirelessly sitting in archives and libraries and patiently conducting interviews with witnesses. There is no length he will not go to, and the more his book reflects his industry the more the reader believes that he is having an elevating literary experience, rather than simply listening to backstairs gossip and reading other people’s mail. The transgressive nature of biography is rarely acknowledged, but it is the only explanation for biography’s status as a popular genre. The reader’s amazing tolerance (which he would extend to no novel written half as badly as most biographies) makes sense only when seen as a kind of collusion between him and the biographer in an excitingly forbidden undertaking: tiptoeing down the corridor together, to stand in front of the bedroom door and try to peep through the keyhole.

Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

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listening

Listening is the most dangerous thing of all, listening means knowing, finding out about something and knowing what’s going on, our ears don’t have lids that can instinctively close against the words uttered, they can’t hide from what they sense they’re about to hear it’s always too late.   Javier Marías, A Heart So White, p 69

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Adam and Eve

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Abelardo Morell, Two Pages: Adam and Eve, 2011

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questions

My composition arises out of asking questions. I am reminded of a story early on about a class with Schoenberg. He had us go to the blackboard to solve a particular problem in counterpoint (though it was a class in harmony). He said, ‘When you have a solution, turn around and let me see it.’ I did that. He then said: ‘Now another solution, please.’ I gave another and another until finally, having made seven or eight, I reflected a moment and then said with some certainty: ‘There aren’t any more solutions.’ He said: ‘OK. What is the principle underlying all of these solutions?’ I couldn’t answer his question; but I had always worshipped the man, and at that point I did even more. He ascended, so to speak. I spent the rest of my life, until recently, hearing him ask that question over and over. And then it occurred to me through the direction that my work has taken, which is renunciation of choices and the substitution of asking questions, that the principle underlying all of the solutions that I had given him was the question that he had asked, because they certainly didn’t come from any other point. He would have accepted the answer, I think. The answers have the questions in common. Therefore the question underlies the answers.   John Cage

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