Clarification - Paul Klee, 1932, oil on canvas
Cervantes' reader is idle, desocupado, one who is not occupied, has nothing better to do. Unlike the listener to Homer or the reader of Dante, who listens or reads so as to have reaffirmed the order of things, how things are, this reader is imagined as turning the pages of a printed book in the solitude of his or her own room, simply in order to pass the time. And the author too, though he would like to be the inspired spokesman of the community, recognises that he is only a solitary individual, 'filled with inconstant thoughts never imagined by anyone else', and therefore with no authority for what he says and no access to the truth or to a Muse who would herself have access to it. In such a situation the worst possible thing would be to imagine or pretend that he did; his only hope is to accept that this is the way things are and to make the best of them. In that way, perhaps, he may become the spokesman for a new community of solitary individuals.
--Gabriel Josipovici on the preface to Don Quixote, in What Ever Happened to Modernism? (Yale UP, 2011), p.29.
"You know, when Picasso and I were close, there was a moment when we had trouble recognising our own canvases... I reckoned the personality of the painter ought not to intervene and therefore the pictures ought to be anonymous. It was I who decided we should not sign our canvases and Picasso followed suit for a while. The moment someone could do the same thing as I did, I thought there was no difference between pictures and they should not be signed. Afterwards I understood that all that was untrue..." "People didn't understand very well at the time why very often we didn't sign our canvases. [This is Picasso in Françoise Gilot's recollection.] It was because we felt the temptation, the hope, of an anonymous art, not in its expression but in its point of departure. We were trying to set up a new order and it had to express itself through different individuals. Nobody needed to know that it was so-and-so who had done this or that painting. But individualism was already too strong and that resulted in a failure... As soon as we saw that the collective adventure was a lost cause, each one of us had to find an individual adventure. And the individual adventure always goes back to the one which is the archetype of our times: that is, van Gogh's — an essentially solitary and tragic adventure."
--recollections by Braque & Picasso, compiled in T.J. Clark's Farewell to an Idea (Yale UP, 1999), p.222.
Posted by Matthew Flanagan at 15:31
OPALKA 1965 / 1 - ∞ [detail] - Roman Opalka, 1965-2011, acrylic on canvas
In 1965, Roman Opalka started counting from one to infinity, recording every number on a series of 196 x 135 cm canvases. Since 1972, each new grey canvas was gradually whitened by approx. 1% each time, and by 2008 the paintings consisted entirely of white upon white. Opalka painted into this void for three years before completing the work at the only possible point: his death, on August 6th, 2011. An obituary in the bourgeois press, perhaps impressed by the almost mechanical rationality of this exercise, noted: 'Some critics saw his project as a sort of suicide, and he did not altogether dispute that.'
Posted by Matthew Flanagan at 22:17
As the AV festival continues, so does the 744-hour Radio Boredcast — listening infrequently, I've heard more than a few unexpected sounds amidst the diverse noise. Some highlights from the slow cinema weekend: the Saturday/Sunday triple-bill of The Turin Horse, Two Years at Sea and Century of Birthing; the Pig Iron shot from Benning's Milwaukee/Duisberg (best seen in tandem with a trip to the SSI blast furnace at South Gare); Susan Stenger's Full Circle; Torsten Lauschmann & this. Also, Lumière's Acontecimientos 2011 has been published — some addenda to my list: Julia Holter's new LP (incl.) & FACT mix; Grouper's Violet Replacement European dates & CD-R; and, re: inflexion points, Paul Mason's LSE lecture, Notes on the Inorganic part I & II, and Our Operaismo [pdf].
Posted by Matthew Flanagan at 18:37
Whitley Bay, walking between the boarded up sea-front buildings. Something has finished here, we agree. Something is over. But at least they haven't begun the regeneration yet. They're going to turn it into a cultural quarter. Imagine that! A cultural quarter, where there was once the funfair and golden sands.It was the same in the city. W. was unimpressed by the regeneration of the quayside, with its so-called public art. Public art is invariably a form of marketing for property development, he says. It's inevitably the forerunner of gentrification.W. is an enemy of art. We ought to fine artists rather than subsidise them, he says. They ought to be subject to systematic purges. He's never doubted we need some kind of Cultural Revolution.The real art of the city is industrial, of course, W. says. Spiller's Wharf. The High Bridge. The four storeys of the flax mill in the Ouseburn Valley...W. likes to imagine the people of the city, the old working class, coming to reclaim the quayside. What need did anchor-smiths and salt-panners have for a cultural quarter? Why can't the descendants of the keelmen, of the rope-makers and wagon-drivers, come and retake the new ghettoes for the rich? In his imagination, W. says, a great army of Geordies storm along the river, smashing the public art and tearing down the new buildings.
Posted by Matthew Flanagan at 18:20