The Dada Baroness

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

August 7th, 2015

 

Via The MIT Press: "Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927) is considered by many to be the first American dadaist as well as the mother of dada. An innovator in poetic form and an early creator of junk sculpture, the Baroness was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances. Some thought her merely crazed, others thought her a genius. The editor Margaret Anderson called her perhaps the only figure of our generation who deserves the epithet extraordinary. Yet despite her great notoriety and influence, until recently her story and work have been little known outside the circle of modernist scholars."

 

Via Wikipedia: "The Baroness was one of the characters, one of the terrors of the district, wrote her first biographer Djuna Barnes, whose book, however, remained unfinished. In Irrational Modernism: A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada, Amelia Jones provides a revisionist history of New York Dada, expressed through the life and works of The Baroness.

The recent biography, Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity, by Irene Gammel, makes a case for the Baroness’s artistic brilliance and avant-garde spirit. The book explores the Baroness’s personal and artistic relationships with Djuna Barnes, Berenice Abbott, and Jane Heap, as well as with Duchamp, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams. It shows the Baroness breaking every erotic boundary, reveling in anarchic performance, but the biography also presents her as Elsa’s friend Emily Coleman saw her, not as a saint or a madwoman, but as a woman of genius, alone in the world, frantic.

In 2013, the artists Lily Benson and Cassandra Guan released The Filmballad of Mamadada, an experimental biopic on the Baroness. The story of The Baroness' life was told through contributions from over fifty artists and filmmakers."

 

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

[ Catalysts ]

An Autobiographical Statement

by John Cage

July 19th, 2015

 

Via John Cage: "I determined to give up composition unless I could find a better reason for doing it than communication. I found this answer from Gira Sarabhai, an Indian singer and tabla player: The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences. I also found in the writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswammy that the responsibility of the artist is to imitate nature in her manner of operation. I became less disturbed and went back to work. [...]

 

We are living in a period in which many people have changed their mind about what the use of music is or could be for them. Something that doesn't speak or talk like a human being, that doesn't know its definition in the dictionary or its theory in the schools, that expresses itself simply by the fact of its vibrations. People paying attention to vibratory activity, not in reaction to a fixed ideal performance, but each time attentively to how it happens to be this time, not necessarily two times the same. A music that transports the listener to the moment where he is."

[ Catalysts ]

The Art of "Interbeing"

Legendary Zen Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh

April 5th, 2015

 

Via Brain Pickings: "Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day! [...]

The essence of loving kindness is being able to offer happiness. You can be the sunshine for another person. You can’t offer happiness until you have it for yourself. So build a home inside by accepting yourself and learning to love and heal yourself. Learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Then you have something to offer the other person. [...]

 

Often, when we say, I love you we focus mostly on the idea of the I who is doing the loving and less on the quality of the love that’s being offered. This is because we are caught by the idea of self. We think we have a self. But there is no such thing as an individual separate self. A flower is made only of non-flower elements, such as chlorophyll, sunlight, and water. If we were to remove all the non-flower elements from the flower, there would be no flower left. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower can only inter-be with all of us… Humans are like this too. We can’t exist by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be. I am made only of non-me elements, such as the Earth, the sun, parents, and ancestors. In a relationship, if you can see the nature of interbeing between you and the other person, you can see that his suffering is your own suffering, and your happiness is his own happiness. With this way of seeing, you speak and act differently. This in itself can relieve so much suffering. [...]

 

The remainder of How to Love explores the simple, profoundly transformative daily practices of love and understanding, which apply not only to romantic relationships but to all forms of interbeing. Complement it with John Steinbeck’s exquisite letter of advice on love to his teenage son and Susan Sontag’s lifetime of reflections on the subject, then revisit the great D.T. Suzuki on how Zen can help us cultivate our character."

[ Catalysts ]

Charismatic Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan Gives Public Lecture (1972)

Dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and storms of emotion

March 20th, 2015

 

Via Open Culture: "The footage above is from an extremely rare – and unexpectedly entertaining – video of the philosopher and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), giving a lecture at The Catholic University of Louvain in 1972. The film is notable for a couple of reasons:

 

1. In France, Lacan’s rock star status owed much to his popular public seminars. The charismatic iconoclast had been giving free public lectures for decades, and those lectures were usually packed with students, colleagues, skeptics, young radicals … and fans. The video gives you an idea of what the fuss was all about. Even at 70, Lacan still owns the room, and he has the presence of a stage actor, complete with dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and pitch-perfect storms of emotion (see minute 15:07)

 

2. At minute 21:37, a politically inspired heckler tries to ambush him. It’s a moment right out of a comedy show, if the comedy show were chic and grainy and edited by Jean-Luc Goddard. Note the grace with which Lacan neutralizes the poor guy, lights his cigar and then concludes the lecture, even though the fallout from their encounter is still stuck in his hair.

 

Lacan’s ideas have fallen a bit out of fashion in the past two decades, particularly in the U.S., where psychoanalysis has been nudged out of the spotlight by neuroscience and post-structuralism has lost ground to post-colonial studies. But Lacan still has his fans, notably the Elvis of Philosophy, Slavoj Zizek, who dominates YouTube the way his predecessor once did salons."

 

Thanls to Manu Burghart!

[ Catalysts ]

Contra-Internet

by Zach Blas

March 18, 2015

 

Via Zach Blas: "Contra-Internet describes the emerging militancies and subversions of the Internet. Comprised of multiple series, Contra-Internet critiques the Internet as a hegemonic descriptor for digital networking and premier arena of political control, as well as documents and speculates upon network alternatives that social movements are developing globally, such as autonomous mesh networks, encryption tactics, and darknets. Inspired by the transgender theorist Beatriz Preciado’s Manifesto contrasexual, Contra-Internet is oriented from a feminist and queer perspective, in an effort to unite such political positions with a hacker ethos. Contra-Internet aims to function as an expansive conceptual, practical, and experimental framework for refusing the neoliberal logic of the Internet while building alternatives to its infrastructure."

 

Via dis magazine: "The Inversion Practices series is comprised of short, performative videos that utilize various conceptual-technical tactics to abandon and subvert the Internet."

 

Thanks to Carsten Görtz!

[ Catalysts ]

The loving shrimp

La crevette amoureuse (1967/1975) by Henri Chopin

March 17th, 2015

 

Via art agenda: "The book is a philosophical parable, consisting of several dialogues between ERnest and MARiette, usually taking place before or after sex. He is characterized as a head of state or head of the world, and peppers his pillow talk with political concerns, the arbitrary laws and decrees of his own domain; his solipsism and arrogance are sometimes spurred on, sometimes discouraged by MARiette. As the book progresses, ERnest’s philosophical boutades appear to be a satire of the intellectualized epistemology of the Descartes-Berkeley-Hume-Kant-Fichte lineage. The text is in fact explicitly dedicated to Kant, whose self-centered brand of skepticism finds an extreme echo in ERnest’s absolutism as a ruler. Increasingly frustrated by the exercise of a power as absolute as it is vacuous (for his theories prevent him from acknowledging the existence of other subjects—both in the philosophical and in the political sense), ERnest ultimately resolves to forsake his name and, thereby, his subjectivity.

 

This summary, however, does little justice to La crevette amoureuse, which is visual as much as it is textual. Interspersed in its typewritten pages are both abstract and figurative compositions of symbols, reminiscent of Futurist poetry and of typographic art. Even though sometimes illustrative (the book includes portraits of its main characters, as well as geometric patterns), these compositions hardly qualify as illustrations as such, since in a way they are the text itself—they are literally made of the same stuff. The two forms flow into each other with no clear way of separating narration and image; at times Chopin explicitly challenges the meaningfulness of such distinctions, as when he presents a triangular sequence of punctuation marks as the text of one of ERnest’s last decrees. [...]

 

Chopin’s dactylopoèmes thus appear to be more than witty abstract compositions, or mere (if beautifully crafted) instances of typographic art: in this novel they are legitimate parts of a text. They are not appropriations or misuses of linguistic means to serve a pictorial end: they are extreme instances of their proper use—evolutions, if you like."

[ Catalysts ]

Hard / Talk

Stephen Sackur interviews Tracey Emin

January 13th, 2015

Never thought I would say this but Tracey Emin’s perspective in this BBC interviewreally resonates here and is meaningful to me, now.

Thanks to Manu Burghart!

[ Catalysts ]

The Art of Asking and the Shared Dignity of Giving and Receiving

by Amanda Palmer

December 28th, 2014

 

Via Brain Pickings: "Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable. […]

 

I don’t see these things as risks — I see them as trust. … But the perfect tools can’t help us if we can’t face each other, and give and receive fearlessly — but, more importantly, to ask without shame. … When we really see each other, we want to help each other. I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?"

 

Via The Definitive Reading List of the 14 Best Books of 2014 Overall: "When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.

 

There’s no correct path to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected."


Watch her TED talk!

[ Catalysts ]

Dark Psychedelia

A conversation between Gean Moreno and Michael Jones McKean

November 8th, 2014

 

Via dis magazine: "GM: Some of this rewiring may be afoot. Neuroscience doesn’t tire of challenging our cherished idea of a phenomenal self. Certain strands of it are proposing the the notion of a self is just an evolutionary prop. There literally is no such thing as a self, just chemicals firing up the illusion of such a thing as a survival mechanism. It constantly reminds us that there is no me beyond the biochemistry. Once this knowledge seeps into the general culture and replaces our common-sense understanding of who and how we are, who knows what biological and cognitive consequences will follow?"

[ Catalysts ]

Ultraliberal

Mutter

November 1st, 2014

 

Mutter in Cologne was definetly my concert of the year and if you haven't heard them yet it is high time. Do not miss their lyrics either. Reifen rollen.

[ Catalysts ]