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Sarah Lucas, Eating a Banana, 1990. Iris print, 21 1/4 in. x 23 1/2 in (540 mm x 598 mm). Photographs © Sarah Lucas. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London.

London’s National Portrait Gallery is displaying a set of twelve self-portraits by the ever lovely Sarah Lucas from the ’90s. She was kind enough to answer six questions about these portraits and what she’s working on now. Enjoy the interview.


Laurel Nakadate, Fever dream with rabbit.

Nakadate is exactly my age but with much better abs. We’re both year of the rabbit. A little something on her first major museum show, at PS1.

David Wojnarowicz by Tom Warren, 1983.

Fortunately, I was able to attend a recent ICP Panel dedicated to the recent controversy over David Wojnarowicz’s Fire In My Belly. Although I found the discussion illuminating—I learned so much about the back story surrounding this media event—I did walk away feeling a most uneasy of sorrows. Perhaps it was seeing footage of the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s part of the video, but seeing that with a full room of people who most likely know at least one person who is HIV positive or has passed away from AIDS…seeing that footage in public, with others around was a totally different experience than seeing it on my computer, outraged at this whole thing.  I realized that although censorship has robbed a museum audience of that public but touching ability to connect on this piece, its experience has been made all the more intense. That is one good thing to come out of all this: more people are seeing it, thinking, debating, learning. And hopefully, progressing.

Anyway, I wrote a little something about it,  David Wojnarowicz: Convenient Misinterpretations.

Wanda Ewing, Déjeuner Avec Mes Amis, 2000. Lithograph, 28" x 30".

Wanda Ewing is an artist from Omaha who I met this past summer, at a lecture about her work. This month, I interviewed Wanda. We talked about race, body image, feminism, art history, and end with an inquiry into the fundamentalist politics of gender: the conservative outrage behind David Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly being pulled from a museum show, would it be the same if it were a video of the Virgin Mary’s body covered in ants?

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I like interpretations of this painting.

Ana Mendieta, Isla, 1981/1994. Black and white photograph, 40 x 30 inches (101.6 x 76.2 cm). Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.

Blood and Fire: on the importance of Ana Mendieta and her legacy.

Crystal Gregory, For Jane, 2010. Drywall, 2 x 4, screws, 10’ x 10’. Photograph by Amber Gregory.

Continue reading: my interview with Crystal Gregory discussing her creative process, published on Velvet Park Media.

Pipilotti Rist, Massachusetts Chandelier

Pipilotti Rist, Massachusetts Chandelier, 2010. Installation view Luhring Augustine, New York. Two projections on chandelier of previously worn and cleaned underpants, 2 players, one translucent light bulb. Unique, 98 1/2 x 66 inches.

My review of the show, published on Velvet Park Media.

Photography by iO Tillett Wright.

Photography by iO Tillett Wright.

I was still luxuriating in post-yoga endorphins when my painter friend told me he needed to take a break…continue reading my review of this exhibition, published on Velvet Park Media.

Bob Flanagan & Sheree Rose, "Wall of Pain", 1981-1992. Photographs and hypodermic needles, 132 x 168 in.

Bob Flanagan & Sheree Rose, "Wall of Pain", 1981-1992. Photographs and hypodermic needles, 132 x 168 in.

Read my review of this show, published on Velvet Park Media.

Portrait of former Army National Guard mechanic Sergeant Jen Hogg and partner Jackie Scalone. A cofounder of the Service Women's Action Network, Sergeant Hogg trained as a 63Y track vehicle mechanic and worked as the HEMTT wrecker operator. Photograph by Jo Ann Santangelo/Redux Pictures.

Continue reading: the interview with Jo Ann Santangelo, published on Velvet Park Media.

Iris Kyle, 2003; Bonny Priest, 2004. Images courtesy of Martin Schoeller/Hasted Hunt Kraeutler.

Iris Kyle, 2003; Bonny Priest, 2004. Images courtesy of Martin Schoeller/Hasted Hunt Kraeutler.

Schoeller states that for him, female bodybuilders “challenge the boundaries of not only the shifting, maddening, and ruthless standards of the female beauty industry, but of what constitutes (un)natural.”

Confident enough to enjoy it?  Then read my review of Martin Schoeller’s show, published on Velvet Park Media.

Teresa Ascencao's Euphoric Femme project. 2009, 2010.

Euphoric Femme, 2009. Co-creators: Augusta Shaw, Andrea Luxton, Aurora King, Jess MG, Teresa Ascencao (amongst other not listed).

See close-ups of images, and read  my take on this ambitious project.

Two young transgender females hanging out on a Friday Night on the corner of Christopher and Greenwich Street. Photograph by Jo Ann Santangelo

Two young transgender females hanging out on a friday night on the corner of Christopher and Greenwich Street. Photograph by Jo Ann Santangelo

My first interview with Jo Ann Santangelo, published on Velvet Park Media.

"Lodestar" by Kiki Smith, on view at The Pace Gallery in Chelsea, NYC, June 2010. Photographs by Patricia.

Infancy, adulthood, mortality. These stages were depicted on glass by the careful hand of Kiki Smith. When I entered The Pace Gallery on 22nd Street, I immediately thought: Japanese screens. But after walking around each freestanding piece, I modified that thought. “Pilgrim”, as the works are collectively named,  felt like a collection of windows. It wasn’t just the symmetry of painted glass—each stage of the human pilgrimage was rendered as a world in itself, portrayed as rooms without walls.  Inspired by Prudence Punderson’s The First, Second and Last Scene of Mortality, Pilgrim focuses as much on eternal consolation as it does in momentary despair.  The winged form and feather of Ave, 2000 was present. In most of the pieces that contained them, light bulbs reminded me of dream catchers. That led me to wonder about relationships to light as guidance. If “Pilgrim” takes its cue from the North Star, what can we deduce from the dream catcher’s relationship to an electrical synapse? Is it contrasting an eternal light with a contemporary source of illumination? Is each stage of the cyclical journey illuminated differently, due to reliance on the body as compass?

Two panels from "Lodestar".

The gallery space became a sitting room, complete with three benches for viewing “Pilgrim”.  As viewers we sit, look at windows encapsulating trajectories of the human condition, in the form of female experience. Although it’s not the first time Smith has applied the use of a grid,  as a viewer, it’s the first time that a square shape has ever felt cyclical.

Read my piece on Kiki Smith at the Brooklyn Museum and Pace Gallery on Velvet Park Media.

Ten minutes with Marina at the MoMA, May 2010. Screenshot by Fine Art Frame Works.

The second time I committed to a full day’s wait at the museum, I glanced up from my mobile just in time to watch someone walk away from the chair. As the middle aged woman strutted smugly, with an unforgettable, lifted swaggering of the shoulders, Marina crumbled a little. Cleansing her emotional palate took a little longer than we had been used to seeing. And a strangely grotesque feeling passed through my stomach, like an invisible current; a wandering illness.

Until that point, I had wanted to sit with Marina to experience a silent dialogue completely dependent on a setting where representations of the female body are usually cast, painted or drawn into the inanimate. The appeal was to animate the female form in a museum, while remaining still as a statue. After witnessing Marina’s reaction to this particular sitter, my motivation shifted from curiosity of form to an embodiment of sustenance.

When I first saw the show in March, sitting with Marina wasn’t imperative. Strolling by her in the bright square of the atrium seemed sufficient. After seeing the retrospective again, something clicked and a decision surfaced-—I would try: to animate form within confinement, in direct dialogue with an expert at doing just that. This curiosity led me to stand and sit for three full days on queue. (And some previous feeble attempts; an hour here, two hours there, but feeble is not a useful word in the context of Abramovic. Even as a viewer it’s full dedication or nothing.) I succeeded on the third full day, with new friends cheering me on. What, was I not hungry enough? Did I not want this? Why was I so hung up on arriving with dignity, as my ankles were kicked and my small feet stomped? On day 61, I speed-walked, with a determined dignity on full-throttle.

The fellow who sat with her before my turn hugged me before leaving, depositing a renewed strength of happiness into my arms. The guard signaled, I walked to the chair and sat. Immediately, (to overcome shyness) I placed the right index finger on my left inner wrist, beat-matching breath to the vascular organ.  Within several moments of focused calm and under Marina’s warm gaze, I relaxed. The circus sidelining the perimeter melted away.

Her first glimpse of me began with my shoes. Marina’s gaze brightened, towards the benign acknowledgment that precedes the union of strangers. The most overwhelming emotion wasn’t nervousness but an intense desire to deflect the direct harshness of strobes. Sitting still seemed easier than connecting with endless pairs of eyes under such probing light. Most of what I remember isn’t easily rendered verbally, but in approximation:  intense, focused, open.  That space between clavicle and lower rib flooded open, wildly. I didn’t anticipate nourishment to have rushed from there, but it did.

For me, Marina’s work carries severe Buddhist undertones: combining tenacity of spirit and discipline of mind towards transcending. In Buddhism, feet symbolize presence. How fitting, that she met each sitter by first acknowledging their feet. What better language for grounding the transcendent? If Buddhist theory is applied to the space between chairs, all forms of presence (being, mind, body) begin with showing up and taking seat. My black linen Chinese slippers now remind me of that power; the power of observance in tenacity, and vice versa.

Although I assured my new friends I would only take ten minutes, (“but it might be two, or maybe twenty…”), I didn’t want to be a devourer. But, just in case, I asked A. Y.  to walk into my field of vision and signal, were I to remain beyond thirty minutes. Wasn’t necessary—I stayed ten minutes exactly without keeping track of time or breath.

This exhibit brought out the best and worst. In simple shock at the fury of  fandom, a yogi musician behind me noted “Everyone is just hurrying to get somewhere, but if they realized that there’s no where to go—we could all just be.”  Waiting was part of it, tolerance was key: not becoming overwhelmed by the neediness of others. Also, joy:  witnessing love as language in those who were respectful. And, of course, observing disparaging comments here and there from passerbys. When art lovers complain about Marina’s work as an attack on the female form, have they not contemplated “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”? Or “Woman, I”? Did they not notice Marina hovering as Saint Teresa? So many questions.

On the last day of the performance, thunderous clapping soared and echoed from the atrium to the museum doors. A few A-listers were there, completely obscured among the reoccurring faces on the Flickr diary, who were there, basking in a haze of instant micro-celebrity. Marina bowed graciously, surrounded by her troupe and made her way out of the spotlight, flanked by body guards and the grateful adoration of her loyal set. On my way out, I greeted familiar faces,  some of whom didn’t get a chance to sit with Marina but remained authentically invested in the possibilities of the work as creation, as community, as life, as eternal. Their dedication is not captured in a Flickr portrait; or a webcam capture—but they were there. And they were quite present.

Republished with permission by Velvet Park on June 9, 2010.

Marcello Venusti. Portrait of Michelangelo, post-1535. Oil on canvas. 36 x 27 cm. Casa Buonarroti, Florence

Marcello Venusti. Portrait of Michelangelo, post-1535. Oil on canvas. 36 x 27 cm. Casa Buonarroti, Florence

Study for the Head of Leda

Michelangelo: Study for the Head of Leda

Two weeks ago, I finished reading The Sistine Secrets.  No, not reading, devouring!  This afternoon  I finally went to see Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth show at The Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery- Syracuse University’s Lubin House.  This exhibit was worth seeing just for a close inspection of Marcello Venusti’s portrait of Michelangelo–the only surviving painting of the Renaissance Master, in a rich array of late Baroque style lighting captured in rich oils. But far more rewarding was admiring the physicality of  the Pièta in person. The Renaissance fascination with perfect human form cast by the Master of his time.   Then, see the same pair of hands and eyes trace the contours of an effeminate profile in a sketch for the head of Leda: minimum  strokes, maximum pathos. To think that before the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo had not created any large-scale frescoes…what else can demonstrate the power of the ‘beginner’s mind’? In who else do we see the art mastering both the intimate (portraits, poetry) and the grandiose (frescoes, sculpture) with such electic splendor?

Salvador Dali Landscape near Figueras

Salvador Dali Landscape near Figueras

Salvador Dali described his paintings as “hand-painted photographs”, but not even that description could prepare one for the multi-faceted narratives of his film sketches. Finally, I was able to see Destino, Dalí’s collaboration with Walt Disney on a remarkable animation that is compliments Dali’s flowing forms and transitional landscapes.  Here, a pre-Surrealist landscape showing an idyllic serenity through Impressionist talent. This is one of Dali’s earliest known works, and I could not help but compare these qualities to the landscape treatments in Destino.  It also reminded me of Richard Billingham’s recent work in the UK countryside.

Supplemental Impulses

whimsy and adventurism, grouped thematically

Whose Blog is This?

I'm Patricia and this blog is part inspiration wall, part pop culture project, with some links to my writing. I'm a conceptual artist, photo editor, creative director living and working in New York City. My opinions are my own and certainly not paid for. If you want to support this site, click on amazon links peppered throughout this blog. Thank you for reading!

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