We were so fortunate to experience the NW with two weeks (Aug. 8th-22nd) of gorgeous weather and rain only happening at night. So many flowers were in bloom still and I was able to identify online, all of them but one. I met up with the Rycheners in Seattle, had a day there, we flew to Anchorage, rented an RV and rolled around Alaska. I went back to Washington to meet up with my dad for camping and the art opening where my latest studio work was being shown.
Sunset from the plane
Gray clouds close over
Orange sliver in the west
Like sleepy eyelids
Seagulls and a bald eagle. Sourdough bread and chowder sampler bread at Duke’s – seafood, clam, and lobster. A-Frame duplex covered in vibrant flowers. Monkey Puzzle Tree. Barnacle and black seaweed covered steps. Massive freight barge, heavy with train cars, floats slowly down the Puget Sound. Maple’s red seedpods. Salty air.
Museum of Pop Culture
I think this is going to be a museum about Jimi Hendrix. It definitely looks trippy on the outside. The music playing in the lobby is standard auto-tuned pop of the 2010’s. Nothing calls to me visually or sonically. We are pressed for time anyways, so $30 a ticket isn’t a price we are willing to pay to explore and see if anything else of interest is beyond the entryway.
Pike’s Place Market
Creamy yellow Golden Trout with pink lips and middle stripe; Three and a half to four ft. long chrome King Salmon; Two inch round, two ft. long king crab legs on ice; Bouquets galore – white lilies with lavender edging, silver painted branches, poppy seedpods, dahlias
snowy mountain tops
melting into river trails
heading into bays
Glenn Hwy. overpass overlooking pale ice blue stream frothing on the edges; Spruce broom rust in the tree tops kept tricking me into thinking there was a baby bear up there; After watching the roadside for hours, in hopes of spotting an animal, I say, “It’s time to see a moose! That’s my declaration.” A few minutes later, while getting something out of my backpack, Todd yells, “A moose!” By the time I jump over to the window, it is already far in the distance. All I can see through the screen obscuring my view is a flash of a fuzzy moose and horns silhouette. Rocks arranged on bare dirt hillsides with names and animal shapes. We stay the night at a small RV park next to a glacial mountainside. I realize a glacier and iceberg are not the same thing. The cliffs across the street are speckled white in a couple of places. Through binoculars we can see they are dall sheep.
We stop in a small town named Nenana. We take our photos under an “Alaska” sign / photo booth on the side of the street. Wander around looking at the buildings and I spot a second bald eagle suddenly flying above me. My lens isn’t long enough to capture a great shot of it, but cool anyways. We stop in for lunch at a quaint little restaurant for lunch and the waitress offers us a zucchini from her garden, which lasts us several meals because as I mentioned, it was Alaska-sized! On the way out the door, we notice a book with names and dates next to it. I had just read American Gods, so between Mr. Rychener’s comments and that, I remember it is guesses of when the ice on a nearby body of water will melt after wintertime. Like in the book, something heavy is probably sitting on it that can fall in to prove the date. The winning guess gets a cash prize.
Tanana River whirlpools
To see a video of these strange river vortexes, visit: https://vimeo.com/236171268
We hear strange insect / birdlike sounds from the trees then realize it was these tiny red squirrels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFQKzsz1j7s Two tasty local beers: Kodiak Brown Ale with ballistic Grizzly Bear on the can + Moose Drool light ale. Long-lasting jewel toned sunset. Pattering of drizzle on leaves sounds like a rain stick.
Surprise “use-at-your-own-risk” canoes; “Snowball flowers” (Cotton sedge grass); Boggy, mosquito ridden landscape. Deliciously mild low bush cranberries for days. I can’t get enough of them.; We see some birds fly in and out of the trees. Mr. and Mrs. Rychener say they are gray jays, but I don’t get a good look. ; Fisherman’s catch of silver with purple striped trout
Reindeer (caribou) dogs roasted over an open fire; Misty morning on Moon Lake; Raven honking on top of a tree sounded like geese
On the road near Eielson AFB
Cliff side’s jagged edges make easy climbing ledges for spray painting who loves who and favorite sports teams. A pipeline, suspended up high, stretched alongside the pavement. Trance inducing, the trees go on and on…
Flocks of Canadian Geese fly over the RV park; In hope of bread, ducks swim towards a girl and her brother fishing in the pond. A young one gets entangled in the fishing line. The boy goes for scissors while Todd helps unstring its wing. My good buddy / neighbor / coworker on Jeju Island, S. Korea, Dave picks us up and takes us to local hangout, The Golden Eagle Saloon, for a mini party with him and a musician friend, Isaac, who I also knew on the island.
Afterwards, we pick up some of his fellow Shakespearean actors living in an artists’ camp in a birch forest. They are both from Wisconsin, where I was born, and one happened to be from the graduating high school class of my dad! Those trees are known to be home to flying squirrels. A prop rests at the base of the trees – a wooden cutout of a ship with a red wig hanging over the bow.
Dave drives us out about an hour away under a lovely sunset. We carefully watch for moose while singing 70’s and 80’s rock songs or listening to jazz and electronic music playing on the radio. Finally we arrive at Chena Hot Springs. I can’t say enough good things about the place. I would go there every day if I could. The springs are enclosed in boulders that you can stretch, sit, or climb on. There is a fountain you can sit under. A strong sprayer to pound your shoulders with. The water ranges from warm to as hot as it can get before scalding you. We would have stayed much longer had they not been closing for the night.
The next morning, another dear friend I met in S.Korea, Carey, picked me up and then we swung around to get Dave for breakfast at The Oasis. Crab meat eggs benedict and good company. If you ever need some good reading about Alaska before your trip, visit the site Carey writes for, http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/
On the road again
Abandoned four-story, igloo shaped hotel. Beverage business yard sign announcing, “Yes. We have Red Bull smoothies!” *BLECH* Yellow and blue painted metal sign for True Value Hardware on A-frame cabin with wooden sun and rays above its garage door and windows. There are stops along the way where we have to sit for about ten minutes as construction is underway. A stout little native woman holds a sign up in the road reminding us to stop, then eventually gets into a “pilot car” pickup truck and leads us out of the maintenance area.
Denali National Park and Preserve
Our first night is spent in an RV spot in the preserve. The next morning, while hiking along Savage Creek, we hear a sharp squeaking sound, almost like a dog toy, but can’t find its source. Camouflaged with the rocks are these little chinchilla looking rodents, which someone correctly guess it is a pika. Pika facts: In order to warn its neighbors under the rocks, pika scouts looking out from above will give off a sharp squeaking sound when predators, including humans are nearby. It’s a prairie dog! No, it’s a ground hog! No, it’s an Arctic ground squirrel. This large rodent is digging away and pulling out plant roots, chewing them up like pretzel sticks.
Pretty river flow: https://vimeo.com/236217656
The next night we stay outside of the preserve, but near Denali, at an RV park called the Grizzly Bear. Just before sundown, we walk to the river access across the highway…
In the resort next to the river, we hear from a gift shop cashier that she saw a mother moose and calf around 9:30PM. We decide to take a night drive in hopes of having the same luck. I spot a young one cross the road so Todd stops the RV to watch. Several other cars stop as well. People are getting out and taking photos, but we can’t see from where we are so we get out too. We move into a fairly close vantage point but with plenty of shrubbery between us and the mother moose there. We are growing uncomfortable though because one of the people is clearly getting too close and making the cow nervous. We tell her so, but she didn’t seem to either understand or care. A tour bus driver tells us that we should back away, so we leave.
Moose (and willow) facts: Although moose are in the deer family they are given bovine names (bull, cow, and calf). People who use all of the parts of a dead moose use the brain to tan its hides. Females have 24 hrs. to breed. If male smells the mating hormone, he will slowly approach female and rest his head on her rump. If she is receptive, they will proceed.
Several types of willow, which contains vitamin c and the pain relieving acid used in aspirin, grow in Alaska, but I never saw a weeping willow. Most likely because many animals, including the moose, like to eat it in abundance, so it never gets a chance to grow large. They eat 7-10 times a day because they require 50-60 lbs. of food per day. In order to be able to recover from the feasting, part of the year willow puts out a chemical that animals cannot digest. That is when they begin eating other things.
A dewlap is a flap of skin under the chin of a moose. Experts are uncertain what the purpose is, but our shuttle driver, Bard makes us laugh when he says, “Let’s get our dewlap pierced!” Bard said that more deaths happen per year by female moose attacks than by any other cause. Be careful not to get too close, especially to a baby moose because it’s mother is nearby. According to my dad, if their ears go back, they are likely to charge you.
Horseshoe Lake, a gorgeous emerald body of water in a valley. Although we haven’t had luck spotting a moose, we discover moose tracks. There are impressively cut beaver dams and gnawed fallen trees. Female mallards and ducklings splash about and fish. We see a lone fish that Todd recognizes as a Arctic grayling because of its large dorsal fin. We stop to take a photo together against the lush colors and a gray jay lands on a tree near where we are sitting, so we get a good look at it. It’s really cute!
This video shows a creek full of of sediment from melted glaciers. It is uninhabitable by fish or amphibians: https://vimeo.com/236218216
We visit a sled dog kennel where the dogs are so mellow I wonder if they are sedated. When it comes time to put on a show for us though, they go wild – barking and jumping in hopes they will be the ones picked to perform and get treats. The canines are still used to run sleds up to high parts of the mountains that are inaccessible to vehicles, but where park staff are stationed.
To see the show, visit: https://vimeo.com/236217730
6,000,000 acres; Denali Mountain means “the high, big, or great one” in Athabascan. It was named Mount McKinley because a Republican explorer and gold prospector wanted to celebrate the presidential nomination of William McKinley, who had never even been to the state. President Obama officially renamed the mountain in efforts to restore respect back to Native Americans. It was too cloudy to get a glimpse of its peak while we are there because it is the tallest one in North America, so this opportunity is rare. We see so many other gorgeous ranges on our shuttle tour though such as the impressive Sable Pass, Polychrome Mountains, Geode Mountain, and Eielson. When I try to pick up one moose horn at one of the stops I can’t. I start cracking up over how heavy it is. Needless to say, they are massive animals.
Other things we see on the shuttle are: homosapiens in brightly colored rain gear; low level strips of water weaving around the riverbed is called a braided river; random ring of red leaved plants on a hillside; male moose bones scattered in a field from wolf pack attack, and a weird “fairy portal” made of birch in the middle of a field. Shuttle bus stops for us to see a few willow ptarmigan, the state bird of Alaska. They are ground birds from the grouse family and are hunted as a food source by humans. The consensus online is that they taste like quail and/or chicken. Despite all the bear activity warning signs at the trail heads, luckily we never see one close up on our walks. Fortunately, we see several from a distance. There is a grizzly that appears to be frolicking, but we are told it is injured. Blond grizzly mamas and cub twins foraging for berries on the hillsides. When salmon season is over, they change their food source. It’s hard to imagine they can get enough berries for those big bodies. A lone female moose far in the distance. Caribou (reindeer), which I am uncertain as to the sex of because both females and males grow antlers.
Mice with a red stripe down back running around the park’s Wilderness and Visitor Centers. One hangs out under a hanging planter, as it’s being watered by someone on a ladder, so it can lap up the liquid draining onto the ground below. They scurry too fast for me to catch a photo and I can’t find one on the internet.
Driving back towards Anchorage
Vegetables get enormous because there is so many hours of sunlight. Supposedly it went down completely at 3 AM and rose again at 4 AM. A zucchini about 18″ long and 5″ wide on the bottom end is sitting on the counter of The Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe, Talkeenta, AK. They offer birch syrup drinks, but I really just want a sample of it so I know what it tastes like. The lady behind the counter gives me a couple of drops in a spoon. It tastes almost like molasses, but not as heavy. We enjoy a delicious smoked salmon bagel sandwich. The trees surrounding the place are draped in a soft green moss that I haven’t seen anywhere else we’ve traveled to. In the woodland trail I spy a dark-eyed junco (slate colored subspecies).
We stop because Barbara sees a trumpeter swan couple in a pond. In the next RV park, Montana Creek, we park in for the evening, we go for a walk by a creek and see a school of fish close to the opposite shore, probably salmon, appearing to swim in place. They are most likely laying eggs in the rocks. A large, dying one is swimming alone on the shore we are standing on. Seagulls fly overhead. I occasionally hear one swoop down to try and pick one up or hear a fish jump. Todd and his dad part ways with me to eat, while I obsess over lovely lichen patches with my close-up filter while talking and singing aloud to invisible bears that could walk up at any time, especially if they smell fish. Lichen are not plants, but a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi. They absorb minerals from the rocks, trees, and bones they attach to and create soil by expediting the decay of those hard surfaces. Some varieties are then eaten for their mineral and protein content by moose and caribou.
I traverse through most of the woods there and stumble across a tunnel window. Just after taking a picture, I small man, with a strong resemblance to a leprechaun in his plaid paddy cap, white hair and beard walks into the passageway, carrying a bundle under his arm, grumbling fiercely to himself. I scramble up the hill to the train tracks because a petite woman alone in the wilderness should be especially cautious. Todd said he was probably grumbling because there wasn’t enough gold under the rainbow. Later I see him in an RV near ours. He no longer sports a sweatshirt, but a long sleeved tee with suspenders. I see that he is Asian and his beard was merely speckled with white, but the darkness of the tunnel must have only allowed that to show through.
A wild berries of Alaska poster at one of the trail heads helped us recognize the abundant high bush cranberries there. We sampled some. One was too tart, one was awfully overripe, one was just right. Still, I preferred the low bush type that we had a few days before.
Musk ox farm in Palmer, AK. They are raised here in order to harvest the down under their hair. This ultra-soft fiber, qiviut (KIV-ee-OOT), is warmer and softer than sheep’s wool. When these animals are grown, they looked like giant long-haired guinea pigs (with horns). Highly durable and waterproof scarves and other items are made from qiviut. Just a shake will dispel all the water even from a rain soaked garment! Their astounding spiral nasal cavities allow the air to warm up before reaching their lungs, so that they can endure -80 degrees fahrenheit! Obviously, qiviut has helped them survive those temps too. Oomingmak, as the animals are known to native peoples of the area, have been around as long as the woolly mammoth and fossils of them have been seen as far south as Florida. If have ever been a fan of the Cocteau Twins, here is a lovely song, named after these sweet animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSKO2vDTfq4
has a bar called the Sleeping Lady where an art exhibit featuring work by living artists from Northwestern Native American tribes.
Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington, Denny Creek Campground
Dad picks me up after dark from the airport. He’s smaller than I remember. He says I am too. He says he shrank by two inches after he had spinal surgery. I don’t remember the conversation now, but I remember his is in a great mood and being funny. We haven’t seen each other in four years. I haven’t been to Washington in seven. We arrive in the forest after dark, but I can still see the massive trees. The sky is clear so I can finally see the stars! I don’t have a tripod with me, so I rest my camera on the ground supported by a flashlight.
In the morning, we eat sage sausage that he has made with fresh eggs. I take a walk by the creek (Denny) flowing through the park. It’s the prettiest creek I’ve ever seen. There are clear running waterfalls and pools along the trail. I become so engrossed there that I hardly even wander far from camp, but am gone for hours.
When I return Dad shows me his walking stick that he has hung feathers of Stellar’s Jay, woodpecker, and crow. He shows me a bone that is used to make an arrow shaft from a small tree branch. There are many robins but the light is too dim and they are moving too quickly for me to get a good shot. I did manage to get one of a hairy woodpecker. At night we make a campfire and act silly.
The next day we have breakfast, then head over to Columbia City neighborhood in Seattle, when I am participating in an art exhibit. To see images from that show, visit my other blog post: https://haikuflash.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/su-casa-es-mi-casa
My friend in Alaska, Dave, tells me to go to a diner in North Bend because it’s the one everyone hangs out at in the surreal murder mystery series Twin Peaks. We just happen to be staying 20 minutes from there, so plan to head over for breakfast, pie, and coffee. I have been watching Twin Peaks: The Return every Sunday, so am excited to be in one of the three-dimensional locations I have seen on the two-dimensional screen. We are greeted by a flashing open sign with a blue neon mug and red marquee lights above it representing steam rising from its hot liquid. I’m pretty sure it was in one of the episodes.
The props and memorabilia sprinkled throughout the place definitely lend to the feeling that the show is superimposed on top of the charming diner. I can see close up, the panoramic landscape painted in a strip along the entire wood paneled wall. My cup is emblazoned with the logo for Twede’s Cafe along with their slogan “The Home of Twin Peaks Cherry Pie and ‘A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee’.” A rectangular wooden sign with letters carved out and painted white: TWIN PEAKS Population 51, 201, sits on top of the pie case. A man, appearing to be the manager, sports a t-shirt with a Twin Peaks Sheriff Department decal on the back. To top it off, as we are leaving, we see an FBI Agent smoking out back with one of the waiters as a sun dog glows above us, just like in the intro scene of every Twin Peaks: The Return episode. In fact, that entire fictitious town, invented by David Lynch and Mark Frost, is situated in that area, including other regular scenes depicted in the show, the Snoqualmie Falls (named for a branch of the Salish tribe) and “Crying Man” mountain, Mount Si.
To see this gorgeous misty waterfall in action, visit: https://vimeo.com/236171694
After brunch and a walk to the aforementioned falls, we go hiking up to Franklin Falls, which feeds the creek running through our camp, Denny Creek. On the way up, we see many small trees growing from hollowed out dead tree trunks that have filled with dirt; cozy cabins; a tree trunk remnant that serves as a rocking bench, which I enjoy with a random little girl on the trail; a tree base that looks like a giant spring onion; and tiny black squirrels. It’s a sunny day, so at the apex we see many rainbows in its mist. The water is cool and fresh. Dad finds an arrowhead along the rocky shore. We see a young guy climbing the cliff side really fast like he is a billy goat. We walk off our Twede’s, so have room for grilled steak, compliments of dad’s friend who owns cattle and uses no hormones or antibiotics. Needless to say it was super flavorful and fresh.
The next morning, we are considering going into the city to meet with the Rychener’s to view the eclipse, but are worried about the traffic, which has been insane the past couple of days. Instead we drive out to the highway near the campground where we have a clear view of the sun. The peak of the eclipse is supposed to be at 10:20, but it is still pretty bright outside, which I am not expecting because I had already seen one in the 80’s that was much larger (lower in the sky because it was evening time) and probably closer to totality because it got much darker. It did cool down noticeably though. I try to capture a shot at 1/8000th of a second, ISO 100, and f32, but my lens isn’t very long and when I review the image, it doesn’t look like much…until I see it on my monitor! So pretty! Very different than the cell phone pix I take, which only show a tiny trace image of a crescent sun shape off to the side.
We enjoy lunch and a pint at my favorite Irish restaurant, Kell’s. They have the best soda bread and so many delicious seafood choices. It’s right on the wharf, so we stroll over to the aquarium, which was closing soon and cost too much for the amount of time we would have in there. Still, we get a good view of the water, boats, and gulls. We have some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we make our way to the Discovery Park lighthouse, West Point Light. The park is non-existent without getting a special permit first, so dad drops us off and comes back to get us later. The nostalgic looking building has been renovated and has been automated since 1985.
I don’t want to leave the wilderness to return to Austin traffic and heat, but I know that the bitter cold will catch up with the Northwest shortly after we leave. Luckily for them, they get the Northern Lights as consolation. We are too early to catch any. It isn’t dark enough. I hope to go back another time for their electric show and go to Valdez too, which is highly recommended by several people.
To see more photos from this trip, visit: https://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery/Alaska/G0000nLeUEupIxYA/C0000wXadIR1Yr_g AND https://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery/Washington-State/G0000lWJERtcV3d4/C0000wXadIR1Yr_g
Raccoons raid campsites
Barking echoes in canyons
Boars grumble in the night
In between larger, complex projects, I do simple ones like this little series of photos, Winter Shadows (a follow up to my Autumn Shadows series from 2015) in collaboration with another Austin artist, Todd Rychener, for the Weather show at Lower Level Creative Space in Denver with colleagues Lindey Anderson from Colorado (Gallery Director), Asher Mains from Grenada, and Andy Spaziani from Canada.
This summer, in Berlin, the Transart Institute is hosting an art festival, the Transart Triennale, with artists from far way presenting works that speak to the theme Imperceptible Self, a term coined by philosopher Rosi Braidotti. For the TI Triennale Media Tent, I have curated a blog post, entitled Dissolve, featuring three photographers’ works which I feel poetically embody this theme. (*Not for viewing by children*). To visit this work on the TI Triennale site, view it here: http://www.transarttriennale.org/blog/dissolve
In a world full of chaos we must search inside ourselves for orientation. Our motivations towards material success, desires, and status melt away as we access the internal realms. Once ego has dissolved, we tap into the flow of potentialities where we find beautiful and bizarre revelations beckoning us to give birth to them as art, stories, and sound. Those who can translate the meaning of what they have discovered inside their psyches, give us a better understanding of their imperceptible selves. Their identities become more closely aligned with their purpose as embodiments of an eternal life-force. In this exhibition, three photographers have done just that. By tuning into what is beyond the visible, they have brought psychological and emotional impact back into the physical realm using symbolic gestures, props, and movement. Stephanie Reid – curator.
Approaches to art that are perpetually bright and sunny lack dimension as they ignore the darker aspects of life. The Surrealist André Breton coined the term “l’humour noir”, also known as black comedy or gallows humor, which takes a cynical approach to sensitive topics. It often makes light of them, sometimes in offensive ways, in order to prompt serious contemplation. L’humour noir writing usually concludes that life is meaningless, yet absurdly comical.
Similarly, in Umscheid’s “Ghosts” we might coin the term gray comedy. Here he represents the mental blind spots where our motivations are still secreted away from consciousness. This is the stage where we function as shades of ourselves. Yet the apparitions he depicts are sympathetic characters. Some are caught between oblivion and manifestation / ego and spirit, not quite ready to surrender to the mystery of becoming-imperceptible. Like small children trying to find their way, he keenly describes their awkwardness. Their grasping at the invisible strings of the world as if it were a puppet is futile. Their imbalance and uncertainty causes them to collide into delicately gorgeous and vaguely humorous consequences. Even the “Made in Korea” marking sewn onto the borders of the fabric are part of the haphazard nature of these ghosts’ encounters. In Falter, a ghost drags its paint covered foot as if it had accidentally stumbled into it and is now attempting to wipe it off. In Fallen Petals, the apparition props up a dead flower on its hip as a final protest to fading away. The two almost seem to empathize with each other. In Pool’s Bottom, the phantom gives a shudder and impulsively fights to maintain muscular control in the final throes of losing corporeality.
Others in his series appear as if they have finally succumbed to their dissolution. In Becoming the Other, individual personalities are lost as they merge to become new forms. In To the Heavens, lets its limp limbs float with the stars. Finally, in Uncloaking, it appears as if one is already levitating, and about to be unveiled after an incubation period. It has touched the invisible and is now prepared to function with a new mind state perpetually open to flux.
(Models: Dandie Doyle, Kate Kubala, Heather Sanford, Mechelle Gonzales, Rachel Theobald, and Jordan Schiappa)
How can men learn from the feminine Jungian archetype, the anima, theorized to be inside them all? She is said to visit their dreams to guide them towards enhancing intangible abilities such as intuition, receptivity to the irrational, and depth of emotion, all of which will balance their lives. In his Post Morality series, Angelovski has done just that by listening to his inner visions and dreams about how to proceed with a portrait session requested by the pregnant model.
Despite the collection seeming to be influenced by Joel Peter Witkin, after getting to know the model better, Jan Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring suddenly came to the photographer’s mind. That famous painting is sometimes considered a tronie, a 16thand 17thcentury term for Dutch and Flemish paintings of heads of universal character types, usually wearing costumes, and portrayed to show distinct expressions descriptive of those characters. A youth might be making a funny face or a witch might appear to be laughing hysterically. Sometimes the faces were obstructed by shadows to create a more dramatic image.
A subsequent dream of the model wearing one of artist Polly van der Glas’s “facebags” became the catalyst for the costume in these photos. Similarly to the ploy of shadows in tronies, the woman’s face is totally covered here leaving the expression to be found on the mask itself, which might be indicative of what she is representing or feeling such as in the warrior-like characterization on the mask in organ of corti, where she is standing confidently. If one can overlook the alarming, almost grotesque images, the fact that the figure wears masks with no way to look outwards, reveals to us that she embodies the skill of looking inward in contemplation. Perhaps even better able to communicate with the child in her womb. Angelovski then, has shown in these images a potent connection between spirit and flesh, not only of one’s self, but with others. What better archetype to embody this ideal than a mother, a woman who is willing to sacrifice so much in life and become so vulnerable for her child-to-be?
Finally, it is very fitting that while trying to find a third person for this exhibition, I had a daydream vision of George’s face in a dark stairwell with a spiral staircase. A few days later, I saw this Post Morality series and it dawned on me that it was the missing link between the other two artist’s works here.
(in collaboration with her brother, Andrés
Where is the beginning and ending of our flesh? When we empathize with another? When we are outsiders who do not function by the status quo? When we build our lives around genuine passion and devotion to our work? When we commune with our environment?
Here, Analia explores these questions by seeking the answers in the story of the unusual life circumstances of herself and her brother, Andrés. Although they have the same parents, he was first born with a natural genetic alteration causing physical disfigurements and a mental disorder, whereas she was born after genetic adjustments were made to ensure she was healthy. In opposite ways, how they were brought into the world is very different from the majority of humans. Together they are outside of societal norms. Their portrait below shows Ani tenderly expressing her attempt to empathize with and protect him, hiding his protruding rib cage and face, while at the same time gently placing her hand on his.
In her second piece the gyroscopic panorama of the kitchen in a restaurant where Andrés is a potato peeler, he again only shows his lovely, dedicated hands to us.
The final photograph, from her series of misshapen potatoes, represents the ones he discards at work, almost tragically revealing his self-image by imitating of the majority of society who compulsively reject that which is not uniform.
**Below is a still image from a 360 degree interactive gyroscopic image, entitled José, after the owner of the restaurant where Andrés works.
To view it, click here, then scroll left, right, up and down, for the full view: http://analiasirabonian.esy.es/jose/
As shock, grief, and anger worked its way through me over this event I took my time to write out my thoughts and feelings over it before really discussing it publicly.
Friday, November 13th, 2015: Attacks in Paris. Over 300 deaths and injuries, such as possibly debilitating ones like bullets in the legs. Many people, including those who have bad mouthed France, and especially Paris, to me colorize their Facebook pages in the colors of the French flag or the peace symbol with Eiffel Tower graphic in support. I refrain because I don’t want to be misunderstood as simply jumping on the bandwagon or not caring about attacks elsewhere in the world. I hope those who though ill of Paris before have had a change of heart after seeing how well they stuck together. My thoughts below are in my constant defense of the City of Light. Have you seen a sunset there or on a train from Paris to the SE coast? It is indescribably lovely. The pink light on centuries old carved stone, the river, the twinkling tower on the hour, the fairy tale chateaus and hills dotted with sheep. Then there is the food! Don’t get me started. Paris & France are not better than anywhere else, but unique in a marvelous way.
Saturday, November 14th, 2015: I’m not going to hide the fact that I resent people trying to make us feel guilty for our grief over Friday’s attacks in Paris or worse yet acting like the people who were killed had it coming to them because their governments are corrupt. I had seen it mentioned in the news just as I had seen the attacks in the Kenyan university in April and the almost constant attacks in the Middle East. I read all of them and cried but know not what to do, so have to quickly separate myself from it. What would you have us do, stare into the face of terrorism every day? Have it effect our entire life when we have no control over it? I’m not going to apologize for not wanting to be in pain every day. So, if two other people hadn’t brought it up that night in more detail I probably would have moved on with my life and not given it more of my energy, despite the fact that I have been to Paris several times, spent enough time there to feel I know it well, and spent a lot of time practicing speaking French.
However, as details were revealed, on top of feeling like a dear friend has been hurt and a large number of people injured or killed while they were in her arms, I am seeing the effect of this on music. I spend a great deal of time in concert halls and venues. Not only has the entire city been shut down for days, but many musicians have lost their livelihood by having their shows canceled there. If you know nothing about Paris, you should at least know that creativity has thrived there for decades. A vast list of talented people flock to, are accepted, and thrive there…Nina Simone, Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel, Albert Camus, Brassaï, Marcel Duchamp, Josephine Baker, Vincent Van Gogh, Daguerre, The Lumière Brothers, Les Nubians, Birdy Nam Nam…If these names mean nothing to you perhaps this is why you can’t understand how tragic this feels. I am an artist, so it hits me hard.
A man made a song as an emotional response and way to cope with this situation and people are commenting on his Soundcloud page that he is trying to cash in and/or get attention in the wake of this tragedy (despite him not selling the song). Seriously?! If you have no understanding of the need to express yourself artistically, please find an outlet. Art is not a crime and neither is a party or being fabulous. This sound artist was trying to heal himself with his artform and thankfully many responses were positive, including from a 10th arrondisement resident who said it was therapeutic while dealing with the aftermath. Others angrily wanted to know why he didn’t write a song for the people who died in Beirut or Baghdad…
Have you ever been to Paris? Yes, many of us in the west know a great deal more about it than those two cities because we have been there. I have been welcomed there on several occasions and had an amazing time. No, I don’t buy into the, “Everyone is rude in Paris,” line because I have never had anyone be rude to me there. It’s a big city. Just because you spent a lot of money on your vacation to get there, doesn’t mean everyone is going to want to be your best friend once you arrive. If someone bumps into you in the sidewalk because you were standing in the middle of foot traffic looking at your map expecting them to say, “excuse me” is ridiculous (True story). Trust me, if someone in Paris, New York, or Miami wants to get rude with you, it will be blatantly clear.
Like most major cities, Paris is very multicultural, meaning it welcomes people around the world to represent it. Pulling out the, “You’re only upset about this because white people got hurt,” card is extremely insensitive, two-dimensional, and well, I hate to say it, but racist. The musician I wrote about in the previous paragraph is black. I implore people with this sentiment to check the list they have made so far of people who died in that concert hall and soccer arena, then think a little harder before jumping to spread more hatred in this world. Unless one has personally found a remedy to the situation in Syria, or anywhere else there is bloodshed, they are not morally superior to those who feel more personal grief for a place they are familiar with than a place they are not. If someone has a peaceful solution, I wish they would share it with us. I am sure there are millions of people who would join to enact it. Many of us pray for peace in this world and act as consciously as we can to be sensitive to other people’s plights. We wait for our current leaders try to undo the mess the ones before them have made. We wait for them to make the best decisions and when it’s not working, we must wait some more until they try something different. We must voice our opinions and hope they listen to reason. We must keep peace and tolerance on an individual and local level. It has a domino effect. We must find assertive ways to try to change the minds of people who are racist and aggressive.
In the meanwhile, please don’t tell others they shouldn’t be upset or supportive of the people, in a place we feel an affinity for, after vicious bloodshed. How would it feel if my friend’s home and your family’s home were bombed and I told you that people shouldn’t be upset about your home because that would mean they don’t care about my friend’s home being bombed? That doesn’t even make sense! Peaceful people don’t want anyone in the world to suffer and there are many of us out there. I daresay we are the majority, despite what fear mongerers would like to believe and have you do the same. The anti-muslim sentiments need to stop as well. No one wants to feel like an outsider or be harassed because of their upbringing. I can’t believe that on this day someone smeared pages torn from the Koran with feces on the walls of a mosque in a suburb of my city. The interview on the radio was with a Muslim man who is American born and a member of that house of worship. He was beside himself with trying to figure out how to explain this obscenity to his children.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2015: Oh and here’s a good one…victim blaming. I read someone post about how the empires have colonized the rest of the world for centuries and now the European colonizers are “getting theirs”. Then as an after thought, a statement of sympathy for the people of Paris and those who died. Pardon me? How is it that any of the people who were harmed responsible for history? Talk about opportunism! Then there are politicians saying they brought it on themselves because they were listening to death metal. Apparently they have never heard of primal scream therapy or had a healthy thrashing about to release anger without hurting anyone.
Here’s the thing that needs to be said over and over, whoever is responsible for these atrocities can not be allowed to make us live in fear or turn against each other. United we stand, divided we fall. This is a fact, not a nationalistic cliché.
Monday, November 23rd, 2015: I think I can finally put this to rest after watching this Parisian man discuss the attacks with his young son in such a brave and kind way. Bon courage mes amis. Je t’aime toujours, peu importe ce que quelqu’un dit ou fait.
Since I was a little girl my family always had a subscription to National Geographic. They still do. When I visit I read a few issues from front to back and marvel at the photography in them. I still buy individual issues that peak my interest. There is often an angle or history of a topic, that I have never heard before. This one from May 2015 comes to mind:
I did notice at one point that began putting more ads in the magazine, which kind of bothered me, but I also understand that their readership probably went down, so they had to compensate. Still some of the ads running seemed counter to their mission. Automobile, oil, and pharmaceutical companies with large budgets now fill the spaces in between articles and their content still maintained its integrity. I still drive a car that uses gasoline. I don’t make the income to afford a hybrid, but still I can’t judge.
However, now the sad news has been revealed that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, the sensationalist station which thrives on getting people addicted to the rush of getting all up in arms by rumors, twisting of information, and flat out lies, has purchased National Geographic. This only serves to further cement their lack of critical thinking skills and prejudices. Below is a nice little page giving a run down of multiple discrepancies with truth given by that station. Note that this site, Politifact, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for its work in the 2008 presidential campaign to verify statements reported in the media and sort fact from fiction.
I didn’t want to believe that Murdoch really bought NG, so I fact checked and read in this article from The Washington Post that among the 180 of 2,000 employees at NG, the NG Channel had several fact checkers laid off. I haven’t owned a TV in ages, so am not familiar with the National Geographic Channel and have heard that some of their programming is “dumbed down fluff”. After perusing their schedule, I question the purpose of their shows like “Cops” inspired “Alaska State Troopers”, and “Border Wars”. I would have to watch some episodes to make an assessment as to whether their stance is classist, racist, and nationalist, but at face value they seem to be. If that is the case, I would not be interested in supporting their channel even if there are still shows, which from their descriptions are clearly educational, such as “Breakthrough” and “Grand Canyon Skywalk”. I wonder which types of shows the dismissed fact checkers were assigned to.
I find it really upsetting that the #1 inspiration for my life as a photographer specializing in art, nature, travel, and photojournalism, has been taken over by people who feed into the fears and neurosis of the populous. That is my goal here today. To make sure that the readership of National Geographic are aware of this story SHOULD they find a strange shift that doesn’t match what they have come to trust in before. I wish strength to the staff who are made it through this transition and hope they are able to keep their positions without too much compromise. Well wishes to the ones who were laid off, too.
It reminds me of the time I turned on KUT, a local station that reports from BBC and NPR to hear a man ranting about Obama, talking about how he planned to disarm the nation so that Islamic extremists could take over America. There were sound bites that were shoddily edited together to “prove” his point. I was seriously bummed out that my station allowed this program to air with them. The same guy was on the next day. Then I realized that after getting my battery changed, my station presets had cancelled out. I was listening to Alex Jones on some station I’d never listened to prior. WHEW! The world hasn’t been overrun entirely by the crackpots, but keep ever vigilant about what is being said between the lines. A healthy amount of skepticism is wise.
Selected works from Mila Kunst Intermezzo #1
Selected works from Mila Kunst Intermezzo #3
Selected works from
Lindner Project Space
July 27, 2014
Selected works from Lindner Project Space
August 9th, 2014
a beautiful dance performance with a rocking chair about motherhood by Jeca Rodriguez
amongst other objects, book artist and Columbia College professor, Miriam Schaer displayed throughout the gallery, baby clothes embroidered with stinging quotes such as, “Your child is the best art work you have ever made. You don’t need to make any other art,” and “Your not having children is the biggest disappointment of our life. These clothes were put on baby dolls and photographed for her book, “The Presence of Their Absence”. To see more of her work, visit: http://miriamschaer.com/
a haunting performance, “The Maternal Line” by Valerie Walkerdine which is about learning to speak with ghosts by allowing them to have a way to speak, even if they do not exist, their memory still exists within us. Her work posits how art can help us what is being transmitted to us. How can we feel with the other as the womb conveys sound? She often uses threes in her work, for example a performance will begin with 1) a lost spirit not at peace, 2) entering the underworld as a half-being, 3) release. Her opening to this performance was to slowly walk through the gallery towards the winding staircase leading to the basement, all the while singing solemn atavistic sounds similar to Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance. When she reaches the ground floor, a projection of close ups of dancers moving around on the ground is screened behind her. Suddenly, the image is flipped to look like they are crawling around on the ceiling. Valerie sings and shouts eerily as if in turmoil. A new scene forms and the focus is on a torso shot of a young woman in a red leotard being pushed back and forth between other dancers in black. They gradually work her into a frenzy until Valerie screams and pleads for it to STOP! STOP! The scene fades away into white with a blurred figure dancing there. Now in a white leotard, Valerie dances in front of the screen, which creates strange juxtapositions between her brightly illuminated limbs and her silhouette. The mood lifts as she boisterously sings, a song about her Chiquita being sweeta, singing to her burro and how people will think her a fool. She stated that she uses songs that are important to her mother and grandmother in her works, so maybe this playful song was one of their favorites.
photo collages created by Deborah Dudley ~
All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid
We didn’t see the entire museum, but instead spent a good deal of time in the upstairs film installation room and the following exhibition:
The End of the 20th Century. The Best Is Yet to Come. A Dialogue with the Marx Collection (part of the museum’s permanent collection from Erich Marx)
Warhol of Joseph Beuys with diamond dust
Landscape of Beuys’s basalt sculptures
a giant Mao painting against Mao wallpaper in a room of violent images – Elvis with guns, electric chairs, knives, a car accident death, pointy-toed spiked-heeled pumps
A film room 1920 William Kentridge from South Africa “Journey to the Moon” brought back to mind the films that inspired me to begin film making in the early 90’s. Special effects in the pre-digital era required a great deal of experimentation and imagination. Almost a century later, they are still effective as poetic storytelling devices. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPf63b6Glz8
A variety of Rauschenberg’s works such as Pink Door, Mule Deer, and collage prints described by John Cage as looking at several TV screens, on different channels, simultaneously
A Cy Twombly room featured several works including “The School of Fontainebleau” and “I am Thyrsis of Etna”, but my favorite of his works being shown was, “Empire of Flora” with its exciting treatment and colors of flowers. It has the sense of playing in a garden, getting ones hands dirty, pulling weeds, bumblebees, blooms and water streaming from a hose.
This wing ended in an Anselm Kiefer gallery where the astounding “Lilith amroten Meer” commanded serious attention but only after visiting his less weighty work “Ways of Worldly Wisdom: Armenius’s Battle” on the side wall.
Rachel Whitereed – Untitled with Thomas Struth – San Zaccharia time lapse photograph
The last exhibition we visited was the reason we came to the museum that day. Our film teacher, Anna Faroqhi, had to bow out of instructing our film workshop because her father, the film essayist, Harun Farocki, had died during the residency just a couple of days before the class was scheduled. We wanted to honor his memory by going to see his exhibition. The Hamburger Banhof was showing several of his works at the time, so instead of class we went to see some of his projects. On either side of the viewing room entrance two small monitors, and a viewing bench with headphones, invited visitors to relax and take in the show. However, the first essay was “Inextinguishable Fire”, a disquieting reenactment of the development of napalm at the Dow Chemical Plant and the atrocities committed by its use. **WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK. It gets a gory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JBbgWSBTdA
That foyer lead to a large room with four screens staggered throughout and showing the shorts from his, “Serious Games” series. These films explore different phases of soldier training from video game simulation, a live action simulation which took place in a small fabricated village with actors pretending to be the inhabitants, the creation of the video games, and post traumatic distress therapy. I found the post traumatic distress therapy to be useful in developing a conversation to have with my teenage brother should he still be considering joining the military.
Upon exiting, a compilation segments of at least three of films could be filmed on the other monitor. of his 1995 film “Interface” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsA5E5qIgm4 , which gives a first hand look at how the artist worked in his editing room while comparing and contrasting film and video; “Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPGSmvtmaWY, which touches on the historical uses of the factory as a control mechanism for the population; and “zwischen zwei Kriegen” (between two wars), which can be ordered along with his other works at the online video data bank http://www.vdb.org/artists/harun-farocki. I urge you to take some time to familiarize yourself with the catalogue of this prolific artist and eloquent, insightful writer.
All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid.
SomoS is on the 1st floor of corner building in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. It is a large space flooded with soft natural light and a relaxing gathering room with bar in the back. The show on August 2, 2014 featured artists from 1st, 2nd, and graduating MFA classes, as well as, work from artists represented by tète gallery in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Putting work in the show was optional for students and were were asked to bring simple, fun works. First year students were told about the show shortly before it happened, so our work was either made in Berlin or was work that had already been brought for presentations at school. Considering how impromptu it was, I think it turned rather well! Sadly, I did not get images of all the work in the show, but this is a sample.
Here is the description of my piece (first of images below) which I created for the TI workshop, World as Sculpture. The assignment was to bring a sculptural artwork you have made but feel is not quite complete, then discuss how to make it more sculptural using modeling. I had previously made a set mixed CDs for a Leo friend in Los Angeles. I titled the compilations, The Moon and a Lantern for more mellow tracks and The Sun and a Lion for more upbeat tracks. The compilation titles were named specifically after the cover art illustrations I drew for them, using scribbled circles for the heavenly orbs and the origami folding line pattern for the object not seen in the drawing, but referenced in the title (lantern and lion). To see those images, visit: https://haikuflash.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Other-Illustration-and-Mixed-Media/G0000xdw0IFgWFaE/I0000qtO9L770Cqw/C00000PRsirHYLFo
Along the same lines, I created this illustration created for a world music compilation I also selected the songs for. I infer three-dimensionality by layering origami fold lines for a pine tree on top of the world map image. In response to the exercise, I stated that to make it more sculptural, I would fold (model) the illustration into its intended shape. The pine tree can then be set upon the circular song list that normally lies under the CD, to transform from packaging design to sculptural artwork.
Andrea Spaziani sent postcards to participants who had previously expressed interest in her community dance project. Each card had a one sentence description of a type of dance that could be performed. During the course of the opening at SomoS gallery in Berlin this summer, she performed her own versions of each instruction.
To end the night, attendees were treated to a live performance by Transart advisor, Lynn Book, of the Dada vocal sound piece Ursonate (primeval sonata) written and developed by Kurt Schwitter between 1922 and 1932. The poem was a favorite of Transart Institute co-founder, Klaus Knoll, who suddenly fell ill earlier this year and passed away just before the summer residency began. Book honored his memory by flawlessly guiding us through sublime and sometimes comical soundscape.
During the Transart Institute MFA Summer Residency in Berlin, we were given insight into the art world there by going on a gallery and studio tour on July 26th. The tour was organized by the school’s Initiatives Coordinator, kate hers RHEE. This was an excellent way to begin the program. Most Berlin galleries set up at the major art fairs such as Cologne, Miami, Basel, and Hong Kong. All images copyright © 2014 by Stephanie Reid.
Gallery Stop 1: Esther Schipper
Exhibit: “Paper Work” featuring works by Ceal Floyer and Karin Sander created with office supplies. The former artist created a series of gradated circular ink blots make by pressing grey pens onto the center of blotting paper sheets until the pens are out of ink. Whereas the latter artist utilizes objects such as a hole punch, clips, or tabs on A4 paper to design patterns.
Gallery Stop 2: Kühlhaus Berlin.
This is an approximately 18,000 sq feet historical building that was a cooling station before refrigerators were readily available. The courtyard in the photo below, with the whale hovering in the air, used to be a market and train station where people could come and buy foods that had been kept fresh in the kühlhaus. Several people recently purchased the warehouse for cultural activities and are remodeling the building to code, for example, by building cement stairs vs. wooden ones. The Berlin Art Prize, an annual art competition between local contemporary artists, was held at the Kühlhaus earlier this year.
However, the four-story exhibition on display while we were there was of student works from the school of high art, Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee in the GDR (German Democratic Republic), or East Germany. It was explained that arts funding is highly competitive since the conjoining of East and West Germany because now there are two major art schools in Berlin, the other being Akademie der Künste, in the West, which has a history going back to the 1600’s. None of the works had labels, therefore I am unable to provide the names of the artists whose works are shown here, except for a sculptural installation in front of the building which is the result of a performance given by Elena Kaludova. Elena wore a t-shirt with the slogan “STOP BORING ART!” printed on the back so that it could be read as she drilled holes through the wooden sign. The sign had the words “BORING ART” carved out of it. The artist drilled through most of the letters until only the “O” and “R” were left intact.
Gallery Stop 3: Schwarz Contemporary run by Ann Schwarz
This exhibit was of works by several artists represented by the gallery.
Postcard of outdoor installation, 2200 K, by Monika Goetz
photograph of paper by Holger Neihaus
painting by Fee Kleiss (left) and photo of paper by Holger Neihaus (right)
delicate “stencil” paintings on white kite fabric by Henrik Eiben
Gallery Stop 4: Wentrup Galerie by Jan Wentrup
The gallery currently represents 13 artists. Works by several of those artists were on display.
Main gallery – Axel Geis’s photo realistic chandeliers painted from different angles on highly glossed canvases. The viewer stands in the middle where the light fixture would normally be so that the subject and object are reversed. How strange to be scrutinized by a light fixture! This is an excellent example of “assemblage” mentioned in the World as Scuplture Workshop section of my post here: https://haikuflash.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/course-sampler-transart-institute-mfa-and-certificate-summer-residency-2014/
Gregor Hildebrandt creates many of his artworks from cassette tapes. In some cases, as with this piece, he glues the tape to a canvas and before peeling the audio tape back off again, he applies pressure through footsteps, scratching, etcetera, so that the emulsion stays on the canvas where he has effected it. Those works are named after the music that was recorded on the tape. This one is titled “Neues vom Trickser (Toco) IV” by the band Tocotronic.
Another piece by Gregor Hildebrandt. In this work, he cut a print of a still frame from the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” into small rectangles that fit inside of cassette case spines then displayed them in a wall organizer.
Peles Empire are two female artists, Katharina Stöver from Germany and Barbara Wolff from Romania who both currently work in London. The goal of their collaborative team is to copy the rooms of the Peles Castle in Romania and present it in the new ways. The castle already consists of copied, mismatched styles from Baroque to Art Deco. The artists are then creating copies of copies to a microscopic level. The replicative nature of their work can then be described as sculptural as discussed in my World as Sculpture Workshop blog linked above. Here, a photograph of marble is used as a paper mâché landscape onto a cement sheet.
another angle of the Peles Empire slab
Here photographic images of Peles Castle are used as wallpaper on cement sheets. Layers appear to be torn away to reveal another texture and/or image underneath.
HB 55 (Herzbergstrasse 55) Räume der kunst (rooms of art). This historical set of buildings used to be a margarine factory.
1) Aleks Slota was our tour guide and has a studio here. He explained that he uses a megaphone to recite speeches that were written but never read, out of his studio window. One example was the speech written in case the U.S. astronauts never returned from their first trip to the moon.
2) Art photographer, Ivonne Thein, makes commentary on the fashion world and beauty, sometimes through jarring imagery. http://www.ivonnethein.com/
from Ivonne Thein’s Thirty-two Kilos series
from Ivonne Thein’s Thirty-two Kilos series
video of a woman dressing into and undressing from a flesh colored body suit
A hidden camera behind the black box on the wall displays a live action, out of focus video of the person standing in front of it, thus rendering them indistinguishably.
postcard from Ivonne Thein’s Proforma series which appears to be human bodies seamlessly joined with mannequin heads or possibly just their faces. This is the most subtle and effective commentary on airbrushing / Photoshopping models that I’ve seen to date.
Her work was one of the primary inspirations for my first post-graduation project, Dissolve, here: https://haikuflash.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/a-collection-of-photography-on-the-theme-imperceptible-self/
3) Louise Gibson is a sculptress from Scotland currently working in Berlin at a studio near a scrapyard. She recycles discarded clothing and electronics by embedding them in resin castings, then when dry, she cuts them into shapes. She also melts, morphs, and varnishes large appliances and building materials into blobs of color and sheen (see bottom shelf in image below).