Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stem Cells

In his previous exhibition (8 Good Reasons to Save Polaroid), Kasabian Beck concentrated on the mysterious interior life of his subject. Stories were revealed ever so slightly in the crook of an elbow or sweep of the hip. In Stem Cells, a portrait series, Kas is still fixated on the details, but allows the subjects to dictate what they are. You’ll notice first how elongated the torsos of his sitters are; each subject looks as though s/he’s waking from a nap but forgot to stop stretching. In this series, Kas seems to have arm wrestled James Schwarz over wet canvas. He works organic, extravagant whirls across the surfaces; eyeballs bulge, shoulders poke up like tent poles through fabric. The Vargas-esque torsos of the women are mated with melting Dali clocks (thank you, Toon, for that observation ;) ), the men bisect the canvas with their angular edges....the soft smeary bends suggest impermanence, while the hard lines fight against it. The main element of a portrait is the expression recorded. Kas seems to be working with straightforward sl snaps – only one sitter emotes slightly through her lips. Most of the expression here is in the eyes, rolling skywards or squinting, and in the lines created by Kas himself. The National Portrait Gallery, London was organized in 1856 to commemorate individuals for their deeds. Come see how and think about why the slindividual is celebrated, elevated and commemorated. Become a Stem Cell yourself at the Poperation Gallery.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Morals in a Virtual World

Sometime in the 1500s, scholar Gabriel Harvey received a letter from poet Edmund Spenser. The letter complained about the evils and lack of morals in the modern world. Harvey read the letter, put his feet up in front of the tavern fire, broke off the edge of his pipe stem, lit anew, and thought up this response…

“You suppose it a foolish mad world, wherein all things are over-ruled by fancy. What greater error? All things else are but trouble of mind and vexation of spirit. Until a man’s fancy be satisfied, he wanteth his most sovereign contentment, and cannot be quiet in himself. You suppose most of these bodily and sensual pleasures are to be abandoned as unlawful, and the inward contemplative delights of the mind more zealously to be embraced…Good Lord, you…go about to revive so old and stale a bookish opinion…Your greatest and most erroneous suppose is that Reason should be mistress and Appetite attend on her ladyship’s person as a poor servant…

There is a variable course and revolution of all things. Summer getteth the upper hand of winter, and winter again of summer. Nature herself is changeable; and most of all delighted with vanity; and art, after a sort her ape, conformeth herself to the like mutability…all things else in a manner flourish their time and then fade to nothing…”

In other words, people, don’t judge, be kind, and enjoy yourselves and one another while nature follows its regular course...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Flesh, Blood and Text

Artist: Alan Dojoji / Alan Sondheim at Experience Italy

“My back towards you as I’m typing…”
“If I find you wet me wet me…”
“I’m so tired tonight but don’t you dare touch me, don’t you, don’t you,
don’t you dare touch me…”
“I will turn dawn I will turn dusk…”
“You, you, you text me, you you you choose me…”

Twisted flocks of figures resembling gummy bears melted into knuckled shapes stream by. I touch them and they dissipate and reappear, like the moods described above by the narrator – a tantric female voice chants over the movement of the figures. “You make me want to throw up in my mouth”. I fly away, uncomfortable. I’ve overheard the narrator’s unedited thoughts…the fetal shapes meld and crosshatch across my view – I’m trapped, as the narrator is seemingly trapped in a dying relationship. It’s beautiful, it’s dark, it’s provocative.

Thank you, Blued, for keeping the mood light, or I would have been knocked, knuckle shaped, to the floor.