I participated in a xerography show a couple days ago in The Lab, a gallery in SF's Mission district. The show, Astoria 2, had photocopy art from over 20 artists. I used copies of my photos with typewritten messages, an example of a personal archive resurfaced and recycled. Below is one of the pieces included in the show.
A couple of weeks ago I heard the artist Mungo Thomson speak at SFAI. He talked about numerous performative and installation pieces. He talked about making an orchestra play cricket sounds for far too long, and making chimes on coat racks in a museum to annoy and charm the guests. But what interested me the most was how he possibly was given loads of money to create magnificently large museum murals of inverted Hubble Telescope images he found for free on the internet. I was a little bothered by this but intrigued to pursue my own appropriated work in correspondence with my personal archive of photographs.
So I chose an arm photo I made recently and composited it with a number of (not inverted, I like the original colors) images of space. Here are a few, starting with the Carina Nebula Pillar (and arm), the Butterfly Nebula (and arm), and a globular star cluster omega cantauri (and arm), and last but not least, bok globules in star forming region (and arm). Maybe like Mungo, I am drawn to what is at the farthest expanses of our reality, beyond our understanding: sometimes curious, sometimes breathtaking, and always rather incomprehensible.
Yesterday, October 23rd, was the Opening Reception for Then and Now: Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute 1945- Present. "In celebration of the pioneering spirit, rich history, and current energy of fine art photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, 24 current graduate photography students created work in response to alumni work made during the early years of the school’s photography program. Primary source materials, including several original silver gelatin prints, held in the Anne Bremer Memorial Library were consulted. Current student work and selected alumni work from the library’s collection will be displayed in the gallery together. As a whole, the exhibition meditates on the continuities and differences in the conceptualization and practice of fine art photography from the beginnings of the country’s first fine art photography program to today, and the potential for visual archives to inform and inspire contemporary image making." The show was a success. We brought snacks, wine, live ragtime music with a lovely voice and guitar (Toni's Berkeley friends), and a number of alumni and faculty and students wandering in and out between and after classes. The Diego Rivera gallery itself is a sight to behold. The wall on the right as you enter is a painting of a painting, extremely large mural made by Diego himself several decades ago, probably before Ansel Adams even came to initiate the photography program here. The loveliest things about it is the woman that may have been his ode to Frieda, the only one in the mural and also the draftsman for the "mural" plans in the mural. Anyway, back to the show. My piece was a photograph I took in 2006 when I was a senior at the University of Oregon studying Literature. I had just moved into the Florence Apartments where my coworker (now my ex boyfriend) lived on the 3rd floor and I was on the 2nd, and we would repeatedly run into each other in the halls, until I invited him over for something I was baking in the oven, and between that and a very old algebra book, well things happened. And then many years later I have some good times and many miserable ones, but there are these photographs, and since he was (is) quite handsome, many of the photographs, especially from this initial good stage, are just beautiful. This photo was in response to one I found in the library archives by an unknown student. I chose it for its mood. A face, covered half in shadow, playing jazz on a bass. We assume it is jazz. The portrait has that mood- that in-between, melancholy, spiritual and slightly out of this world mood that I trace in many of my photographs. When I saw it I knew it would converse best with my work, and then I went home, uncovered my chest of photographs, and with a beer traced my hands and eyes over each and every one of them until I had a small pile, and a smaller pile, and finally had chosen the one photograph that I felt carried that emotion I was looking for: something...something...untitled.
While I don't plan to do this every time I want to incorporate text into a photo, it was necessary here. I have a weakness for good poetry:
T.S. Eliot. e. e. cummings. John Keats. Sylvia Plath. "I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am." These words by Plath stuck in my head so long, and kept reappearing in my own poetry that I made them stick forever to my skin in the form of a tattoo. Just a small one, a reminder to myself. "I am."
Always finding random old things to put into art projects from SCRAP in SF and Urban Ore in Berkeley.
This is a recent side project from of course more of my writing and these old small photo papers that are getting increasingly dark in the light. At first I thought it was just glossy paper and then I realized that they hadn't been "fixed", and they were turning from off white to yellow to light tan and gray as I kept them in the sun.
Initially when I typed words from my old typewriter and hung them on my studio walls, they were patterned from my fingerprints and small creases which added a tinge of yellow or pink here and there. Now they are growing muddy and eventually they will turn black. I'm not sure if the ink will rub off and leave lines of words I can then fix, but just in case they do disappear, I'm recording what I typed here:
I AM NOT HERE.
LIKE FLOWERS I'M WAITING.
DEATH IS COMING TOGETHER.
HE IS GOING TO LAY IN THE DARK IN THE OTHER ROOM.
I'M SORRY FOR BEING SORRY...
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
What really caught my attention later on that I didn't notice while initially making these was that the "I'm sorry for being sorry..." page had light indents from something had written with a pen (before I knew I might use it) and then rubbed off with my thumb. So what I had written was a hexagram from the I-ching that I had thrown while thinking about my ex boyfriend, who's initials are visible underneath the hexagram Chien Kun.
I have a typewriter I found recently and have been making lots of art with it::) I like the vague impression of something beyond the surface with this somewhat see through letter paper.
I typed on both sides of several sheets, hung as a long horizontal looping line across a room. Each page I chose the side I wanted... I guess this is my form of concrete poetry. Always reading poetry, recently dipping into Mark Danielewski and Ernesto Santiago.
There is nothing quite as peaceful as going out into nature with your dog and camera. I can respond to my environment in physical movement the way I subsequently respond with internal dialogue via writing.
This photograph is from Tilden Park by Berkeley and north Oakland. There were no clouds, no people, and no distractions despite a blazing hot autumn sun.