The child-like character of her imagery and her touch like sudden lightning fill sheets of paper in one format only: A4. “Within the standard the minimum reduces immensity to distance between signs”.

Lisa Ponti

"Drawing is the least tiring thing there is."
September 29th, 2022

Via Macro - Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome: "After taking a degree in Philosophy, she worked with her father in various contexts: she assisted him in the making of the frescos at Palazzo del Bo in Padua (1940), played an active role on the editorial staff of the magazine Stile published by Garzanti (1941-1946), and was an editor-in-chief inside Domus (1940-1979), then specifically editing the magazine’s art coverage until 1986. [...]

Lisa Ponti began drawing while she was still working with Domus, but her first solo exhibition came only at age 70, in 1992, at the gallery of Franco Toselli in Milan. The child-like character of her imagery and her touch like sudden lightning fill sheets of paper in one format only: A4. 'Within the standard the minimum reduces immensity to distance between signs'
Like apparitions, the words and text graphically and ironically contribute, performing together with the rapid gesture that outlines the profile of cherub-like characters, figures of fantasy but also companions of hopes and turbulence. The duel between drawing and watercolours on the white page is enhanced by many other ways of narrating, thanks to the use of a range of materials and tools: newspaper pages and personal photographs with which to produce collages, markers and paintbrushes, cotton and wadding, stickers that dot or sketch forms on paper surfaces. For the artist, drawing is an intimate location, a moment in which to stake out and claim a private space of abandon. The A4 format is a limit to overcome through a mark that takes flight and compresses the dream or apparition into an instant."

From Lisa Ponti and Franco Toselli in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist:
"Hans Ulrich Obrist: Why should we be optimistic today in this world?'
Lisa Ponti: Because it’s not up to us! I’ve had a lot of surprises from the world, simply with optimism, without having made an effort. Making an effort is of no help at all; in fact it’s a bit depressing. Once you have found the right path, things then come along, one at a time, and so I took advantage. [...]
Hans Ulrich Obrist: What advice would you give to a young artist?
Lisa Ponto: Try all the paths, to try them all out! That’s the way to learn, by making mistakes! For example I learned from Sottsass about the color pink. In Milan, the custom is for rooms to be white, and then inside the rooms there are colorful objects and furniture. But from Sottsass, whom I visited a great deal because he collaborated on Domus, I learned the pink backdrop—the pink backdrop, with a few dashes of other colors. Sottsass came from Turin, which was outside this Milanese business according to which the house has to be a blank page punctuated with one, two, three, four, five objects. And so I painted my home in via Randaccio all pink! Even though pink was somewhat frowned upon then."

Thanks to Edda Charlie Eckardt!

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Daisies (Czech: Sedmikrásky) is a 1966 Czechoslovakian surrealist comedy-drama film written and directed by Věra Chytilová.

Věra Chytilová

An overheated kettle that you can’t turn down
September 17, 2022

Through the 2011 British documentary film about the history of film The Story of Film I learned about the stunning estate of Věra Chytilová.

Via Wikipedia: "Chytilová described herself as a control freak and, 'An overheated kettle that you can’t turn down'. Chytilová's overheated attitude made it difficult for her to gain work within the Soviet Union controlled film industry. She was known as being actively critical of the Soviet Union, stating that 'My critique is in the context of the moral principles you preach, isn’t it? A critical reflection is necessary'. She would routinely cause havoc and hysterical scenes to attempt to make films that were loyal to her vision regardless of the heavy censorship that was routinely imposed.

Chytilová embodied a unique cinematographic language and style that does not rely on any literary or verbal conventions, but rather utilizes various forms of visual manipulations to create meaning within her films. Chytilová used observations of everyday life in accordance with allegories and surreal contexts to create a personalized film style that is greatly influenced by the French New Wave, and Italian neorealism.

Chytilová actively used a filmic style similar to cinéma vérité in order to allow the audience to gain an outside perspective of the film. Her use of cinéma vérité is best illustrated in her 1966 film, Daisies, in which these techniques create a “philosophical documentary, of diverting the spectator from the involvement, destroying psychology and accentuates the humor”. Through these manipulations Chytilová created a disjunctive viewing experience for her audience forcing them to question the meaning of her films."

Via Criterion about Daisies ( Czechoslovakia, 1966, 76 minutes, Color): "If the entire world is bad, why shouldn’t we be? Adopting this insolent attitude as their guiding philosophy, a pair of hedonistic young women (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová), both named Marie, embark on a gleefully debauched odyssey of gluttony, giddy destruction, and antipatriarchal resistance, in which nothing is safe from their nihilistic pursuit of pleasure. But what happens when the fun is over? Matching her anarchic message with an equally radical aesthetic, director Věra Chytilová, with the close collaboration of cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, unleashes an optical storm of fluctuating film stocks, kaleidoscopic montages, cartoonish stop-motion cutouts, and surreal costumes designed by Ester Krumbachová, who also cowrote the script. The result is Daisies, the most defiant provocation of the Czechoslovak New Wave, an exuberant call to rebellion aimed squarely at those who uphold authoritarian oppression in any form."

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Occlusion Grotesque is an experimental typeface that is carved into the bark of a tree.

Intuition

When is it right to trust your gut instincts?
August 23rd, 2022

Via BBC: "Vincent emphasises that people’s gut instincts should not replace analytical thought, and we should be aware of the fact that they can sometimes be swayed by unconscious biases. (If there is a chance that racism, ageism or sexism is clouding your judgement, you might be especially wary of what your gut is telling you.) In general, however, his research confirms that an expert’s intuitive feelings can be important sources of information and should play some role in the decision-making process." [...]

"While some studies have suggested we can go with our first impression immediately, there often does seem to be an advantage in delaying the decision as we focus on some other activity. According to Marlène Abadie, a cognitive psychologist at Aix-Marseille University in Southern France, the pause allows the unconscious mind to form an accurate gist from the complex information that had been presented, which will in turn increase the accuracy of our intuitive judgement." [...]

"According to the latest research, the quality of someone’s gut instincts may depend on their overall emotional intelligence (EI). And by learning to increase our EI, we may therefore strengthen our intuitive decision-making." [...]

"If you want to fine-tune your intuition, then, you might first try to get in touch with your emotions more generally – carefully interrogating what exactly you are feeling and the sources of that mood. Over time, you may find it easier discern when you are receiving a genuine and accurate signal. Your gut feelings will never be completely fool proof, but with practice they can become an important guide."

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Auditorium, Capitol cinema, Berlin 1926 by Albert Vennemann (1885-1965), Gelatin silver print© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek

The Beauty of the World

Quote by Tennessee Williams
July 10th, 2022

Via James Grissom's blog: "It is the pursuit of beauty in things and people that is the journey… the real journey. I was happiest when I sought beauty in words and music and images. I was happiest in movies or in the middle of a symphony… whatever allowed the mind to ponder all that was possible and glorious. The world, I suppose, is the result of actions taken by people possessed of an image or an idea, and the world I care most about is constructed from those images that reminded someone of the beauty and the nobility of people… I'm back on the job of looking for this beauty, and nothing is safe from my eyes and my ears. I want to find and host the beauty of the world."

Interview with Tennessee Williams conducted by James Grissom in 1982

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In 2022, fifty-two years after it was created, Robert Smithson’s "Spiral Jetty" (1970) is a barometer for the climate emergency.

You Think Failure Is Hard?

So Is Learning From It
July 4th, 2022

Via Perspectives on Psychological Science: "Society celebrates failure as a teachable moment. But do people actually learn from failure? Although lay wisdom suggests people should, a review of the research suggests that this is hard. We present a unifying framework that points to emotional and cognitive barriers that make learning from failure difficult.

Emotions undermine learning because people find failure ego-threatening. People tend to look away from failure and not pay attention to it to protect their egos. Cognitively, people also struggle because the information in failure is less direct than the information in success and thus harder to extract.

Beyond identifying barriers, this framework suggests inroads by which barriers might be addressed. Finally, we explore implications. We outline what, exactly, people miss out on when they overlook the information in failure. We find that the information in failure is often high-quality information that can be used to predict success."

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Written and presented by Max Tobin.

Death is a trip

Farewell, Julee Cruise
June 9th, 2022

Today the beautiful, fabulous, highly intelligent, courageous, and incredibly creative Julee Cruise passed on. Her husband said that she "left this realm on her own terms. No regrets. She is at peace [...] I played her [The B-52's song] Roam during her transition. Now she will roam forever. Rest In Peace, my love."
I had the great pleasure meeting Julee Cruise several times, in New York and in Cologne while she was working on two Pluramon albums with composer Marcus Schmickler. Every conversation with her was deep and light at the same time, and wherever she went she worked her program. Julee continues to be a huge inspiration for me. She was a giant.

“Easy, easy, and you are doing this willingly and consciously and beautifully—going forward and up, light and free, forward and up towards the light, into the light, into complete love.” –Quote from Laura Huxley's beautiful letter about Aldous' death

Via aoen: "Over the past several decades, scientists have began to better understand dying as a biological process – whether it happens over the course of weeks or appears to occur in an instant. In this short video, the UK filmmaker and presenter Max Tobin deploys a heavy dose of gallows humour to investigate a groundbreaking series of studies that may offer hints at what the stage between clinical death (cessation of vital functions) and brain death (cessation of brain activity) actually feels like. In particular, he looks at the biological and experiential similarities between near-death experiences and taking the hallucinogenic drug DMT, in discussion with Chris Timmermann of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London, who led the research."

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Seminar @ Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln

Visual Music in the 1980s
June 7th,  2022

Jono Podmore, professor of Popular Music and chair of the master's degree program in Music Production at the prestigious Cologne University of Music, invited me to talk to his class about one of my favorite subjects, Visual Music

In my two-day seminar we considered a classic in the realm of Visual Music, the 1982 American experimental non-narrative film Koyaanisqatsi produced and directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke. Only a few months earlier on August 1, 1981 MTV (an initialism of Music Television) launched from New York City, and changed our perception of music forever. The students used both milestones to contextualize their own music and visualizations.

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'The World of Music Video' exhibition catalogue by Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage arrived yesterday. (Thanks to Andrea Piontek for the flowers.)

'The World of Music Video' exhibition catalogue

Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage
March 11th, 2022

When I was invited by Völklinger Hütte World Cultural Heritage to contibute to their exhibition catalogue The World of Music Video, I knew in no time that I could and would only do a text about Gender Roles in Music Videos if my friend and renowned sound artist, poet and professor Swantje Lichtenstein and I could work on it together.

Swantje Lichtenstein and I enjoy ultra long and deep phone calls. So, we applied what we do anyway to this project. Ultimately, Swantje took the pieces of our conversations and wove them into an intimate piece of text. I admire her craft, the way she uses her tools, and her inspired, honest, and free spirit.

After our performance with Johanna Dombois for LCD - Literature Club Duesseldorf at the Duesseldorf Salons des Amateurs in 2014, and our collaboration for the performance on c’s terms. heroine and sister for Nico (Christa Päffgen) in 2018 this was our third collaboration.

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Marcel Dzama made some new large drawings that he is showing in Miami at David Zwirner & Sie & Höke Gallery at Art Basel Miami.

Empowerment

Author and poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés
January 26th, 2022

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. in Women Who Run With The Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype:

"0-7 age of the body and dreaming/socialization, yet retaining imagination
7-14 age of separating yet weaving together reason and the imaginal
14-21 age of new body/young maidenhood/unfurling yet protecting sensuality
21-28 age of new world/new life/exploring the worlds
28-35 age of the mother/learning to mother others and self
35-42 age of the seeker/learning to mother self-seeking the self
42-49 age of early crone/finding the far encampment/giving courage to others
49-56 age of the underworld/learning the words and rites
56-63 age of choice/choosing one's world and the work yet to be done
63-70 age of becoming watchwoman/recasting all one has learned
70-77 age of re-youthanization/more cronedom
77-84 age of the mist beings/finding more big in the small
84-91 age of weaving with the scarlet thread/understanding the weaving of life
91-98 age of the ethereal/less to saying, more to being
98-105 age of pneuma, the breath
105+ age of timelessness"

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

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Henri Cartier-Bresson Brie, France. 1968

This is water

Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926-2022)
January 22nd, 2022

Via Plum Village: "With a deep mindful breath, we announce our beloved teacher Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh has passed away peacefully on 22nd January, 2022."

"We are a wave appearing on the surface of the ocean. The body of a wave does not last very long – perhaps only ten to twenty seconds. The wave is subject to beginning and ending, to going up and coming down. The wave may be caught in the idea that I am here now and I won’t be here later. And the wave may feel afraid or even angry. But the wave also has her ocean body. She has come from the ocean, and she will go back to the ocean. She has both her wave body and her ocean body. She is not only a wave; she is also the ocean. The wave does not need to look for a separate ocean body, because she is in this very moment both her wave body and her ocean body. As soon as the wave can go back to herself and touch her true nature, which is water, then all fear and anxiety disappear."Thích Nhất Hạnh

Via The New York Times: "Thich Nhat Hanh dismissed the idea of death. 'Birth and death are only notions,' he wrote in his book No Death, No Fear. 'They are not real.' He added: 'The Buddha taught that there is no birth; there is no death; there is no coming; there is no going; there is no same; there is no different; there is no permanent self; there is no annihilation. We only think there is.' That understanding, he wrote, can liberate people from fear and allow them to 'enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.'

Please also consider, the new Heart Sutra translation by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and the only commencemnet speech ever by David Foster Wallace, This is Water.

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