Aretha Franklin in the concert movie Amazing Grace.

Aretha Franklin

Watch Amazing Grace on Whitsun
May 31st, 2020

Via The Hollywood Reporter: "In 1972, the director spent two days in a Watts church filming Franklin recording her historic gospel album. But he forgot to sync the sound. Now, after 43 years, the film is finally ready to be seen — if Franklin's lawsuit doesnt stop it."

Via The Guardian: "So, after nearly five decades, does the film stand the test of time? Hallelujah, yes! Despite being both unforgivingly overlit and tantalisingly truncated (this trim 88-minute cut abridges or omits some classic tracks), Elliott’s Lazarus-like resurrection of Pollack’s movie captures both the hive of musical activity and fervour or religious ecstasy that thronged through that church all those years ago."

Via Wikipedia: "Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com enthused, 'Whether you're religious or not, you owe it to yourself to see this movie if the chance arises. You'll see how much love and feeling went into the construction of the resulting album.' Variety's Owen Gleiberman noted, 'The movie reveals how the fundamental distinction between rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues was not only racist at its core, but a way for the consumer culture to slice the God out of music that was invented as a way to talk to God.' Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian wrote, 'The film is almost wall-to-wall music, with Franklin barely acknowledging the audience between songs.' The Los Angeles Times' Justin Chang wrote: 'Aretha Franklin didn't transcend the gospel or gospel music; as first her album and now this marvelous documentary remind us, she did more than most to fulfill its potential for truth and beauty, devotion and art.'"

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

[ Latest additions ]

Alice Coltrane

A translinear light
May 30th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz musician and composer, and in her later years a swamini. One of the few harpists in the history of jazz, she recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels."

Via National Museum of African American History & Culture: "16mm film. This film opens with a collage of photos of jazz musician John Coltrane with a voice-over of a male narrator communicating the musical genius and personal demeanor of the renowned music artist. The voice-over ends with an open-ended statement on John Coltrane's family; leading into an interview with his wife, Alice Coltrane. Alice Coltrane discusses the influence her late husband has had on her life, both musically and spiritually. She speaks of him being a spiritual person, although not tied to one organized religion, his vegetarian diet, and the how he carved time out of his days to meditate. There is footage of their children playing in the yard and walking with their mother. Alice plays the harp and talks about how her music is a manifestation of her spirituality. She discusses her musical career and how she balances that with being a mother and paying tribute to her late husband, but also not wanting to be defined as an extension of John Coltrane's music. Instead, when she finds herself playing some of the music he wrote, she sees herself as sharing in what he produced throughout his career. Footage of her playing the piano at a small jazz concert with a few other musicians plays for two minutes. In the final minutes of the segment, Alice Coltrane explains her relationship with a higher power and the personal enlightenment she has felt and gained through meditation. The film ends with a dolly-out/zoom-out long shot of Alice Coltrane and her children waving from their home."

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

[ Latest additions ]

Photo by Swantje Lichtenstein. Taken in March 2020 on a bike ride through Berlin during Corona crisis related lock-down.

Alvin Lucier

I am sitting in a room, 1969/1970
March 26th, 2020

Via Wikipedia: "The first performance of the work was in 1970 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In collaboration with his partner Mary Lucier, the performance featured projections of Polaroid images that had been degraded like the voice. [...]

The text spoken by Lucier describes the process of the work, concluding with a reference to his own stuttering:

I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have."

Every year since 2005 I play this piece to my students and ask them to not leave the room for its duration. Every year I experience something new. Every year I come out of the experience really happy.

Thanks for introducing me to the piece, and for reminding me of its birthday today, Marcus Schmickler!
Thanks to introducing me to Alvin Lucier, Phillip Schulze!

 

[ Latest additions ]

"Nidānas | Bhava" by Karl Dmitri Bishop.

bell hooks @ The New School

Teaching to transgress
November 2nd, 2019

To watch bell hooks converse with other brilliant people is always a treat and inspiration. From bell hooks in an Open Dialogue with New School Students - Whose Booty Is This? I learned about Emma Amos, and from bell hooks and Arthur Jafa Discuss Transgression in Public Spaces I learned about Equinox1600, an amazing collection of found images.

Via Medium this is a quote from bell hooks' book Teaching to Transgress: "If we really want to create a cultural climate where biases can be challenged and changed, all border crossings must be seen as valid and legitimate. This does not mean that they are not subjected to critique or critical interrogation, or that there will not be many occasions when the crossings of the powerful into the terrains of the powerless will not perpetuate existing structures. This risk is ultimately less threatening than a continued attachment to and support of existing systems of domination, particularly as they affect teaching, how we teach, and what we teach."

[ Latest additions ]

From Greta Thunbergs Twitter account on 3:56 PM · Jun 15, 2019: "Yes we can. #FridaysForFuture #schoolstrike4climate #ClimateStrike"

What would you like to do if money were no object?

Listen to Alan Watts
August 19th, 2019

"Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, 'we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do'. So I always ask the question, 'what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?'

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much. That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track. See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch and no vomit. It never gets there. And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: What do I desire?"

Talks and Lectures by Alan Watts

Related: I am in awe of Greta Thunbergs journey on an Open 60 sailboat.

[ Latest additions ]

Split shots are made half over and half under the surface of the water. To get a nice split you need a so called "dome port" in front of the underwater housing. The shots are no collages. Photos: Tobias Friedrich.

Fab Serenity

What Being Sober Has Meant to Me
June 10th, 2019

Via Brené Brown: "This last one is a quote from Mary Karr. I read it in an interview she did for The Fix. I recommend you read the entire interview – it blew me away.
'That schoolmarm part of me — that hypercritical finger-wagging part of myself that I thought was gonna keep me sober — that was actually what helped me stay drunk. What keeps you sober is love and connection to something bigger than yourself.When I got sober, I thought giving up [alcohol] was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.' "

Via The Fix: "There’s this idea of the tortured artist, or of a link between depression and creativity—is that true and necessary? If so, how do you make meaningful art after recovery, if you’re no longer tortured?
Mary Karr: Well, I don’t know, maybe you don’t. I’ve been sober almost 25 years and anything anyone’s ever bought from me has been written when I was sober. If I hadn’t been, I would’ve been like David, swinging from a fucking noose. That really cuts down on your creativity. [Laughs]
When I was super depressed, I wasn’t working—I was always too depressed. Hemingway did his best work when he didn’t drink, then he drank himself to death and blew his head off with a shotgun. Someone asked John Cheever, “What’d you learn from Hemingway?” and he said “I learned not to blow my head off with a shotgun.” I remember going to the Michigan poetry festival, meeting Etheridge Knight there and Robert Creeley. Creeley was so drunk—he was reading and he only had one eye, of course, and had to hold his book like two inches from his face using his one good eye. But you look at somebody like George Saunders—I think he’s the best short story writer in English alive—that’s somebody who tries very hard to live a sane, alert life.
You’re present when you’re not drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. It’s probably better for your writing career, you know? I think being tortured as a virtue is a kind of antiquated sense of what it is to be an artist. It comes out of that Symbolist idea, back to Rimbaud and all that disordering of the senses and all of that being some exalted state. When I’ve been that way, I’ve always been less exalted than I would have liked. [...]

Blake said, '...we are put on Earth a little space / That we might learn to bear the beams of love.' And I think, 'bearing the beams of love' is where the freedom is, actually. Every drunk is an outlaw, and certainly every artist is. Making amends, to me, is again about freedom. I do that to be free of the past, to not be haunted. That schoolmarm part of me—that hypercritical finger-wagging part of myself that I thought was gonna keep me sober—that was is actually what helped me stay drunk. What keeps you sober is love and connection to something bigger than yourself."

Grant me
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

[ Latest additions ]

Hilma af Klint Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece(Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild), 1915, from Altarpieces (Altarbilder).

Hilma af Klint No. 2a, The Current Standpoint of the Mahatmas (Nr 2a, Mahatmernas nuvarande ståndpunkt), 1920, from Series II (Serie II).

About Hilma af Klint

Planetary objects
April 22nd, 2019

Via Hilma af Klint Foundation: "The collection “Paintings for the Temple” encompasses 193 paintings, subdivided into several series and sub-groups. It is one of the very first pieces of abstract art in the Western world, as it predates with several years the first non-figurative compositions of her contemporaries in Europe. [...]

Hilma af Klint understood the uniqueness of her works. Working intensively with herself, and with her personal development, she wanted to understand the process in which she was taking part.

This aspect became the main quest all through her life: “What is the message that the paintings convey?”. She would actively seek the answer through philosophical studies, by taking part in various religious movements and by researching in their respective archives – all in vain. [...]

Hilma af Klint had a vision that her work would contribute to influence not only the consciousness of people in general, but in its extension also society itself. However, she was convinced that her contemporaries were not ready to perceive them. She had received strict orders from the “High Ones”, her spiritual leaders, not to show the paintings to anyone. Not even Rudolf Steiner could interpret Hilma af Klint’s paintings. At their first meeting in 1908, Rudolf Steiner consequently advised her to wait fifty years before exhibiting them. This is one of the reasons why Hilma af Klint never aimed at exhibiting her esoteric and abstract works during her lifetime. The works of art belonged to the future and would only then be understood by the public.

When Hilma af Klint passed away in the autumn of 1944, she left behind around 1300 non-figurative paintings that had never been shown to outsiders, and more than 125 notebooks and sketchbooks. In her will, Hilma af Klint specified that her life’s work should be kept secret for at least 20 years after her death. Her last wish was also that the collection should never be split up."

[ Latest additions ]
halb

Experiment Inside a Portable Glass Laboratory, 2018, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 25 x 31 cm (9.8 x 12.2 in) by Davor Gromilovic.

halb

Death Inside the Laboratory, 2017, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 17.5 x 23 cm (6.8 x 9 in) by Davor Gromilovic.

Superior Beast, 2017, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 25 x 31 cm (9.8 x 12.2 in) by Davor Gromilovic.

Enter the Surreal, Monster-Populated Realm of Davor Gromilovic

Stay away from the brown acid
January 12th, 2019

Via Juxtapoz Magazine: "Davor Gromilovic's surreal, strange almost psychotic drawings place us in a world where there are no rules and all that is the unnatural rules.

Although contemporary drawing represents the primary field of his creative exploration and development, Davor Gromilovic also shows creative abilities and genuine commitment to other artistic forms such as painting, illustration, graphics, murals, art fanzines, etc. His work is narrative and often inspired by fantastic motives of fairy tales, folk-art, pop surrealism, sci-fi, and even by north renaissance masters of painting, as well as by his personal experiences and inner world. In his work one notices a dominant use of symbols, his inner world and complex reflections from which he develops ideas and specific intimate aesthetics. Complex, but at the same time purified, strongly imaginative but well-thought-out works adorn this artist’s rich oeuvre. He currently resides in Sombor, Serbia (born in Yugoslavia, 1985)."

[ Latest additions ]

bell hooks and Beverly Guy-Sheftall in a discussion that reflects on feminism and their own legacies in popular culture today.

bell hooks

Take me as I am or watch me as I go
October 14th, 2018

Via Wikipedia: "Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, feminist, and social activist. The name "bell hooks" is derived from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.
The focus of hooks' writing has been the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. She has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.
In 2014, she founded the bell hooks Institute at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky."

Watch this discussion: "Join bell hooks and Beverly Guy-Sheftall in a discussion sponsored by Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School that reflects on feminism and their own legacies in popular culture today. 
Beverly Guy-Sheftall is a feminist scholar, writer and editor, and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and English at Spelman College.
bell hooks is an author, activist, feminist and scholar-in-residence at The New School. This fall is her fifth and final week-long visit in a three-year residency."

[ Latest additions ]

Film still from "Beuys" (2017) German documentary film directed by Andres Veiel.

How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare

Joseph Beuys
Oktober 3rd, 2018 (German Unity Day)

Via Wikipedia: "At the beginning of the performance Beuys locked the gallery doors from the inside, leaving the gallery-goers outside. They could observe the scene within only through the windows. With his head entirely coated in honey and gold leaf, he began to explain pictures to a dead hare. Whispering to the dead animal on his arm in an apparent dialog, he processed through the exhibit from artwork to artwork. Occasionally he would stop and return to the center of the gallery, where he stepped over a dead fir tree that lay on the floor. After three hours the public was let into the room. Beuys sat upon a stool in the entrance area with the hare on his arm and his back to the onlookers." [...]

"Beuys explained:
'Für mich ist der Hase das Symbol für die Inkarnation, Denn der Hase macht das ganz real, was der Mensch nur in Gedanken kann. Er gräbt sich ein, er gräbt sich einen Bau. Er inkarniert sich in die Erde, und das allein ist wichtig. So kommt er bei mir vor. Mit Honig auf dem Kopf tue ich natürlich etwas, was mit denken zu tun hat. Die menschliche Fähigkeit ist, nicht Honig abzugeben, sondern zu denken, Ideen abzugeben. Dadurch wird der Todescharakter des Gedankens wieder lebendig gemacht. Denn Honig ist zweifelslos eine lebendige Substanz. Der menschliche Gedanke kann auch lebendig sein. Er kann aber auch interellektualisierend tödlich sein, auch tot bleiben, sich todbringend äußern etwa im politischen Bereich oder der Pädagogik.' "

[ Latest additions ]