Atlas of things before
The Atlas of things before is a transdisciplinary piece of work.
It is my research, my obsessions, potential undertones and storylines, a reference library, and a piece on its own.
In its vastness of content and definition, it is a snapshot of who I am and what I do (theory melts into practice; contemporary art mixes with popular culture references; ancient artefacts meet the internet age). It is a portfolio of my work and capabilities without actually showing anything made by me, other than the drawn relationships.
This exploration of symbolic associations as work itself is indebted to Any Warburg and his monumental Atlas Mnemosyne.
“By associating votive offerings with sacred images, the Catholic Church, it its wisdom, had left its formerly pagan flock a legitimate outlet for the inveterate impulse to associate oneself, or one's own effigy, with the Divine as expressed in the palpable form of the human image.”
- Aby Warburg (The Art of Portraiture and the Florentine Bourgeoisie, 1902)
It is as well an attempt to continue reinvindicating research not only as part of the creative process, but as creative artwork in itself.
SYMBOLS AND CONCEPTS
- LAYING BODY
FORMAL QUALITIES AND MATERIALS
- ART (contemporary)
- FOCUS (visual)
- POP (culture)
- DE KYNDT
- GONZALEZ TORRES
"MARIA GIL ULLDEMOLINS is a smart, confident young woman. She has one degree from Britain and is about to conclude another in her native Spain. And she feels that she has no future.
Ms Ulldemolins belongs to a generation of young Spaniards who feel that the implicit contract they accepted with their country—work hard, and you can have a better life than your parents—has been broken. Before the financial crisis Spanish unemployment, a perennial problem, was pushed down by credit-fuelled growth and a prolonged construction boom: in 2007 it was just 8%. Today it is 21.2%, and among the young a staggering 46.2%. “I trained for a world that doesn't exist,” says Ms Ulldemolins.
Spain's figures are particularly horrendous. But youth unemployment is rising perniciously across much of the developed world.(...) One in five under-25s in the European Union labour force is unemployed, with the figures particularly dire in the south. In America just over 18% of under-25s are jobless; young blacks, who make up 15% of the cohort, suffer a rate of 31%, rising to 44% among those without a high-school diploma (the figure for whites is 24%) (...)." (2)
"The term wabi-sabi suggests such qualities as impermanence, humility, asymmetry, and imperfection. These underlying principles are diametrically opposed to those of their Western counterparts, whose values are rooted in the Hellenic worldview that values permanence, grandeur, symmetry, and perfection.
Wabi-sabi is an intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things.(...)
Wabi-sabi, as a tool for contemplation and a philosophy of life, may now have an unforeseen relevance as an antidote to the rampant unraveling of the very social fabric which has held [us] together for so long. Its tenets of modesty and simplicity encourage a disciplined unity while discouraging overindulgence in the physical world. It gently promotes a life of quiet contemplation and a gentle aesthetic principle that underscores a meditative approach."(3)
“There is certainly a component of sighing that relates to an emotional state. When you are stressed, for example, you sigh more,” said Feldman. “It may be that neurons in the brain areas that process emotion are triggering the release of the sigh neuropeptides – but we don’t know that.”(4)
"When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say 'inner world' or 'outer world,' but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, 'I breathe,' the 'I' is extra. There is no you to say 'I.' What we call 'I' is just a swinging door which moves when we inhales and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no 'I,' no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door."(5)
This is an ongoing series. Not all pieces are represented on this page.
- Yoon, Jungu. Spirituality in Contemporary Art, 2015, Zidane Press, p. 59
- Suzuki, Shunryu .Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice
Telling the bees
"(...) beekeepers have been known to endorse quotes like the one attributed to Albert Einstein: If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.
Now I must quickly say that there is no good evidence that Albert Einstein actually said this. In fact he most assuredly did not. All you have to do is google “Einstein bees,” and you’ll get the whole story: how this quote surfaced for the first time in the early 1990s, long after Einstein’s death, and in contexts far removed from the possibility of verification. Moreover, one must note the fact that, genius though he was, Albert was a physicist, not an entomologist, and everyone knows that it’s entomologists who are the real authorities on this matter."(2)
The leave vote
"Britain has voted by a substantial margin to leave the European Union. The picture that is emerging is of a heavily polarised country, with remain areas coming in more strongly for remain than expected, and leave areas more strongly for leave. Geographically, Scotland and London have voted overwhelmingly for remain, but outside the capital, every English region had a majority for leave."(3)
"Writing tablets have been used for several millennia, long before paper was readily available like today. In ancient Greece and Rome, wax tablets were very popular. These were small, book sized wooden tablets that were hollowed out on one side and covered with a thin layer of wax. (...)
Writing on the wax surface was performed with a pointed instrument, a stylus. Writing by engraving in wax required the application of much more pressure and traction than would be necessary with ink on parchment or papyrus, and the scribe had to lift the stylus in order to change the direction of the stroke. Therefore the stylus could not be applied with the same degree of dexterity as a pen. (...) The entire tablet could be erased for reuse by warming it to about 122 °F and smoothing the softened wax surface. The modern expression of “a clean slate” equates to the Latin expression tabula rasa." (4)
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew
"(...) But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly" (5)
"Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman's genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father's warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea. " (6)
I thought I read somewhere that Agnes Martin's graphite lines were reminiscent of handwriting. As if instead of drawn, they were written. Something about the shakiness, the imperfection, the repetition and the interruption. I loved the idea, but lost the quote.
"Martin's work is nothing if not an index of her hand, the sensitive response to imperfections in the canvas' weave, the famed "tremolo" that is guarantor of the artist's presence" (7)
"By examining the grid closely one can see many imperfections in these apparently sharp straight lines; something so seemingly perfect yet flawed by a human hand. At times the pencil tip appears to glide along the relatively flat primed canvas surface. Then it will encounter irregularities within the surface and will rise and fall erratically, visually softening the line. In places the pencil tip veers off course completely for several centimeters. The artist may take a second to awake from this meditative drawing process in order to lift and reposition her pencil tip back on course. The viewer has only a subliminal awareness of these variations. They fail to derail us from looking because some of these flaws may have been deliberate, asymmetry and asperity being necessary for truly encountering the Buddhist idea of beauty" (8)
Not all pieces of this series are represented on this page.
- Katz, Jonathan, as quoted by Lovatt, Anna in In Pursuit of the Neutral: Agnes Martin's Shimmering Line, in Agnes Martin, 2015, Tate publishing, p. 101
- Barker, Rachel - Morning 1965, in Agnes Martin, 2015, Tate publishing, p. 90
"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”(1)
I work blindly, letting materials spread and behave however comes naturally to them. When I separate the two pages I am faced with the same image twice. I get an opportunity to live that image two times. I can make a set of decisions, and then a set of different ones. I cherish the privilege and try to often try and push the difference between these two sides.
"Hawking explained that M-theory allows the existence of a “multiverse” of different universes, each with different values of the physical constants. We exist in our universe not by the grace of God, according to Hawking, but simply because the physics in this particular universe is just right for stars, planets and humans to form."(2)
(a)symmetry, interdependece and non-attachement
"Non-attachment does not mean indifference or carelessness, but rather you should do your best and not worry about the results" (3)
"if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist." (4)
My mindfulness practice spills into my painting. The diptychs are ways to explore with my hands notions I've experienced when sitting to meditate. I started by trying to not mean to express ideas, but rather listen to whatever the materials were suggesting.
I started embracing serendipity, imperfection and accidents. This lead to not-attaching to outcomes, and the development of a process-based emphasis.
Not all pieces are represented on this page. Feel free to contact me about details.
- Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar.