I do want to do something.


Breathless thoughts
January 10, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: London notes

new-york-city.jpg

5 pounds a day, a lova in Stockwell, two on a bike at night while it’s raining and I can feel his legs rubbing against my legs and then in the morning he kisses me and I wait to hear if he dropped the key thinking I must get out of here. I have to arrange time. I’m looking for it so bad, I want this connection and I can’t find it. Everything is possible. Everything must happen she said. Can’t aim for the everything. Have to find a diary. Looking for landmarks in the desert and thinking about essence. Wish I could hold on to , or just let go. I enter new roads and on the bus’ window, reflections of trees in thick skies, with no leaves left. I end up buying a moleskine and maybe we’ll meet in New York.



Push and Pull (what did you think when you left my room?)
December 29, 2007, 5:13 pm
Filed under: London notes

This is the text of Allan Kaprow performance, Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hoffman, presented at the Museum of Modern Art in April 1963. Kaprow’s intentions are clearly critical of the formalist tradition of post war America, but ‘m not going to talk about this here (not directly at least).

This performance explores an enclosed space, a room, and plays with its spatial disposition by continuously reconfiguring the spatial relations between the room’s components. These components can be objects but also the color of your hair, your body weight, the smell of the food you are cooking (were you too blond for this room and too tall? was everything too low and you didn’t really look out of the window). The elements to consider are infinite and the composition must reach a certain “state”. Pushing and pulling through a set given of elements and equilibriums. There seems to be a cause effect relation in the way elements react to one anther, the text’s instructions has a scientific tone. The reaction between elements, alchemical.

“… The interactivity between negatives and positives, furthermore, may be so equalized as to produce a higher neutrality than the biases of the separate elements. Properly handled, a silence of perfect ineloquence will result. On the other hand, the positives or negatives may be accented, producing a ruler-ruled relation. This in turn may be enhanced or neutralized by closed-field or open-field concepts: closing a door or opening it, for instance, will contain or break the boundary of the structure.” (maybe we should have left the door open).

I’m interested in rooms as I have been spending a lot of time in them. I like their temporarily and the way they are confined to “their” ( my/your) space. A window changes everything. As in Chantal Akerman’s movie (see Longing for a Room), the room becomes a way of experimenting one’s subjectivity. Is it my own private space. I always think about my room in relation to the world. It is a space where you can walk naked, but always think that somebody might be watching you . Things are assembled and lived in relation to the light that comes from outside, the weather, the street.

“If the forms of the furniture express “you,” what are you going to do about others? When visitors come and you draw up chairs for them, don’t you express “them” a little? What happens to the room? Who is right? Should rooms be lived in or stared at”

(When, you left, the room looked different.)picture-228.jpg

Instructions:

Anyone can find or make one or more rooms of any shape, size, proportion, and color — then furnish them perhaps, maybe paint some things or everything.

Everyone else can come in and, if the room(s) are furnished, they also can arrange them, accommodating themselves as they see fit.

Each day things will change.


Points of View:

Think of subletting someone’s apartment. How can you get rid of the fellow when he is in every piece of furniture, every arrangement? Do you like living with him? Imagine it unfurnished. What would you do — buy some things (if so, what style?), scrounge some off the streets, ask your relatives or friends (which will remind you of them?) … Perhaps live without furniture instead. As for the question of style, why not have everything totally unrelated to everything else — shape, color, period, arrangement, etc.? Can it be done? Do you like candy canes? Then why not paint everything in stripes? Or, better, like twelve different types of candy canes? Maybe dots, billions of them, baby dots, mommy dots, daddy dots, pink, brown, snot-green, white, orange, shocking-red, Da-glo blue — all over everything, floors, ceilings, inside of drawers, in the sink, on the silverware, on the sheets and pillowcases …. Do you prefer round rooms, tall ones, hexagonal ones, caves, lean-tos, rooms without windows, skylights? Suppose you liked eating off the floor (some people are that clean, I’m told) — it could be carpeted with food at all times. Design it like a Persian rug and you could eat your way through the designs, right across the room, making new ones behind you as you went along. Maybe, after all, formality is the thing. Then carefully choose a big chair, a little one, a bigger table and a very small lamp, and push them and pull them around until they make a significant composition. The significance is determined by having both a calculated and an intuited reciprocity obtain between every PUSH IN ONE direction, and every pull acting against it in another direction. Significance may be achieved within-either a structure of symmetries, in which each push-pull relation is made of nearequals; or a structure of asymmetries, where the push-pull relation is realized from near-equivalences. But one caution! Don’t sit on THE chairs, because this will destroy the composition. Unless, of course, you once again start pushing and pulling everything around until it works right. Repeat when you leave. Consider whether or not you’re a red-head and dressed in Kelly green. Are you fat, fatter than the table? In that case, quickly change your clothes if the small chair’s color doesn’t correspond; and also lose some weight. What about the kids? And their toys? I’d suggest allowing for a variable proportion of three yellow toy ducks to be considered equivalent to one medium-sized violet dress (softened by black hair, brown eyes, and leopard-skin bag). Now these relationships will be seen to exactly balance the combined density of the orange large chair, the brownish mantle ornament, and the beige stripe running around the baseboard. You mustn’t neglect the spaces in between the furniture and how they figure in the total space. They are, in fact, “solids” of another order, and each negative area is colored and qualified by the punctuating components (tables, chairs, etc.) around it. The interactivity between negatives and positives, furthermore, may be so equalized as to produce a higher neutrality than the biases of the separate elements. Properly handled, a silence of perfect ineloquence will result. On the other hand, the positives or negatives may be accented, producing a ruler-ruled relation. This in turn may be enhanced or neutralized by closed-field or open-field concepts: closing a door or opening it, for instance, will contain or break the boundary of the structure. Now, since these generalizations are made concrete by the frequent occurrence of children’s toys being left in any ordinary room, it is only necessary to stay out of the room when the toys are there and vice versa. However, don’t suppose the conclusion here is “each to his own.” The further question is “who knows how to compose forms?” If “form” is now too much for you, why not chuck it all and take the pure leap? What is a “pure leap”? (The word “comedy” in the title of this Environment isn’t necessarily humorous — though it may be — I had in mind Balzac’s “Human Comedy.”) Instead of “forms” try simply an idea like: rooms full of people contrasted with empty rooms; one, maybe a hockshop, the other, a monk’s cell …. A sunsetcolored roomagainst a blue-Monday one …. Or, the !’room” made by your own feelings wherever you decide to sit down in the woods. Aren’t these “forms” also? Is a nude woman on a bed a better form than a pink coverlet on a bed? Which is more personal? If the forms of the furniture express “you,” what are you going to do about others? When visitors come and you draw up chairs for them, don’t you express “them” a little? What happens to the room? Who is right? Should rooms be lived in or stared at? I have heard of some people who have antique chairs you mustn’t sit on because they’ll collapse. Don’t move that ashtray because it expresses Daddy so well just where it is! But maybe the smell of mushroom soup cooking will heighten the colorchords on the walls, particularly the candy-cane stripes. I find that Rhythm-and-Blues on the radio goes fine with soundless newscasts on TV. Try it out if you really want to compose your rooms! Did you ever think of arranging rooms for darkness, that is, for night-time, when you go to bed and see only dim shadows? A room for feelies only! Wet surfaces, rough, sandpapery objects, other things as soft as foam rubber to run your toe into getting to the bathroom at 4 a.m., silks slithering across your cheek, very large solids like cedar chests for braille identification. This should be a thoughtful problem, and it would develop all the senses except the eyes. How long does it take to develop artistic senses? Why not ask an interior decorator?


   


Giving Notice
December 23, 2007, 1:24 am
Filed under: London notes

I’m leaving London! Still one month to go… It’s a joyous melancholy. The closest thing to describe it are the last verses of Baudelaire’s poem, Le Voyage.
VIII
Ô Mort, vieux capitaine, il est temps! levons l’ancre!
Ce pays nous ennuie, ô Mort! Appareillons!
Si le ciel et la mer sont noirs comme de l’encre,
Nos coeurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons!
Verse-nous ton poison pour qu’il nous réconforte!
Nous voulons, tant ce feu nous brûle le cerveau,
Plonger au fond du gouffre, Enfer ou Ciel, qu’importe?
Au fond de l’Inconnu pour trouver du nouveau!

VIll
O Death, old Captain, it is time. Weigh anchor!
To sail beyond the doldrums of our days.
Though black as pitch the sea and sky, we hanker
For space; you know our hearts are full of rays.
Pour us your poison to revive our soul!
It cheers the burning quest that we pursue,
Careless if Hell or Heaven be our goal,
Beyond the known world to seek out the New!



Some notes on pragmatism. Kitchen conversations.
December 3, 2007, 6:31 pm
Filed under: London notes

These are some fragments from conversations that I have assembled. The concern is pragmatism. What does it mean, to start with. Well, here is a Wikipidia link to trace the history of its philosophy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism.

In an email a friend sent me  on a discussion about  engagement, he concluded by saying “(le pragmatisme, jusqu’au bout.. et la pratique !)” . Pragmatism until the end… and practice. He was saying this against the ideology that engagement stood for, according to him, a military ideology that did not leave much space for the doing and for the process that he opposed to engagement (engagement understood as a commitment to an ideal, idea).

 Matt, my flatmate -a very handy architect who can fix everthing in the house and more- said that you can always say that you are a pragmatic person, that saves you from getting in trouble, from getting involved in emotions and stuff. You just do, and that becomes the excuse and the reason.

I liked that he said that. Not many “pragmatics” have this lucidity. Maybe Matt is the ultimate pragmatic.

I would like to end these notes with a quote by Agamben. I still don’t know what to do with it, but I feel it has something to do with this kitchen conversation.  

”Gesture is the name of this intersection between life and art, act and power, general and particular, text and execution. It is a moment of life subtracted from the context of individual biography as well as the moment of art subtracted from the neutrality of aesthetics: it is pure praxis.”
Giorgio Agamben, Means Without an End, Notes on Politics, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press, 2000, p.79.



To the reader
November 28, 2007, 6:26 pm
Filed under: London notes

fsehands1.jpg

Yesterday 27 of November, I went to a talk, part of the Sweatshop series organized by the Serpentine Gallery.The topic was , “On engagements: Confrontations, Conflations and Lateral Engagements”.

A topic that particularly interest me since I am in a moment of my life where I am unable to take a decision, to face my positions, to take responsibility. Even worse, hear my heart beat.

A lot of things came out in the discussions. The speakers where Alexander Garcia Duttmann, Professor of Philosophy and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths.Maria Fusco, writer and director of Art Writing , Goldsmiths, and Tom Morton, writer and curators. The moderators were Lisa Le Feuvre and Edgar Schmitz.
Lisa Le Feuvre introduced the lecture series as following the organizers selfish interest in matters concerning them. She repeated the word selfish a few times. The attention to one’s own private interest, the following of passions, up to the point of falling in a certain madness came up in the discussion as one form of engagement. You engage with what matters to you. And what matter to you could be dictated by many things, one of them is your desires, whatever those may be. See where they lead you/us.
-But is being overwhelmed by something, being engaged?- There is a certain powerlessness in this engagement that does not quite make it contractual, if one considers engagement being this paradoxical position of which is the distance where one can say, I engage or I don’t.
I will come back on this later.
The second, or other direction/attitude towards engagement was formulated by Alex Duttmann and consisted of an erasure of the self towards something. To erase one’s fingerprints to achieved position, a goal, reach an answer. He quoted Kierkegaard and his reflexions on marriage. I am paraphrasing here but he referred to a passage where Kierkegaard was questioning the “whys” in marriage saying that the beauty in marriage is to have as little why as possible. The less why, the more love. This conception of engagement follows the idea of fidelity. I lead op faith based either on the very absurdity the act one is committing, or something that becomes obvious, because, you know, that’s it!

The “yes”, as I have understood it from Duttmann is coming closer to “the given”. He made a distinction at the beginning of his talk between engagement and the given. Engagement is what excludes the given. The given is a certain happiness. Something similar to stupidity. Engagement, once it comes closer to the given, becomes this sort of stupidity. In a contorted path, then, engagement is about saying yes to something that is already there. The engagement is in the affirmation of letting go. To let go, is engagement. ?

Either/Or

This is where the two approaches that were sketched out can meet. In an excess. Saying yes is an excess, something one jumps/falls/ is thrown into. Following one’s passion (the first approach), being excessive is also something that goes beyong the “I”. In both cases, engagement is probably the ability to configure the I and to position it. Saying yes, or saying no. Being in the moment or deferring that moment. Withdrawing into indifference and in boredom, being activists. Taking a decision or refusing to take it. The moment I say I, I am already describing a position, a place, a voice, a desire, a history, a language, a grammatical construction. What to do with the I is something else. And this is what can be scary. If I think that I am always already involve, I can direct, construct and build on that involvement. Directing my actions and my desires.

Boredom

Do I have this power? Or is my only power the one of realizing that I have none, falling back into boredom, a narcissistic retreat into-with myself ( I am thinking here about Sara Kane’s adaption of Phaedra, Phaedra’s Love, where Hyppolitus pushes the limits of boredom and disinterestedness to exhaustion and abjection). This conception of engagement/disengagement brings also to mind Baudelaire’ and his poem, To the Reader, (Au lecteur), published in the Flowers of Evil. Baudelaire’s poem is somehow different because it contains an address, a relation between him and the reader bounded by hyppocrysie and the sharing of the knowledge and the fear before the terrible monster of boredom. In his address to the reader,there is a relation with, but also against boredom. Baudelaire is addressing, but is also maybe calling for.

“Mais parmi les chacals, les panthères, les lices,
Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents,
Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants,
Dans la ménagerie infâme de nos vices,

Il en est un plus laid, plus méchant, plus immonde!
Quoiqu’il ne pousse ni grands gestes, ni grands cris,
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde.

C’est l’Ennui!- L’oeil chargé d’un pleur involontaire,
Il rêve d’échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère! ”

Engagement. An masturbatory narcissism or a leap of faith in the search of a transfigurative exchange. masturbation or sublimation?

Or simply an address.

 



The summer is in autumn
October 2, 2007, 2:49 pm
Filed under: London notes

No light coming from the window, no light in the room, and feeling always a bit breathless and burpy. And thinking, thinking, thinking. About about about. I pay attention to this words, about, on , with, and, but, or, with. Thinking about how I think, and there is no way out, but to be with me. Useless to run away, where, into other thoughts. Have to find a particularity, always already have a particularity. Trying to be “here” without seeing it in opposition to “there”. Am I really interested in “space”? Yes, as a way to think where I am. Now you are so far away. Into another world, time, space, in my heart? To what rhythm does my heart beat, to what time and to what space? If my heart is not “attuned to the heartbeat of contingency”  (E. Kososfky Sedgwick) was it or is it ever. Thinking is already a step aside. So there was no summer, no tan no bodily transformation, a bit of boots and a bit of sandals, warm but always a bit windy. Craving for the sun and getting use to the rain. This meteorological dislocation is the setting that orchestrates my life. I don’t like when the plane moves, nothing has to move but everything is, and when the tube stops, panic. Need to stand on my feet, need to be able to stop, and breath (“ take a deep breath” Skype). Need to feel the ground under my feet and my body at an in each of my steps, need to feel my body again, between seasons, the plane and the tube, here and there.