Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art for Art’s Sake   Leave a comment

Back in this October post I blogged about my new wallpaper.

So it is now a real delight to listen to Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s Radio 4 programme (Thursday 24th March 2011)

House Beautiful

As my Granddad never tired of saying in his Lady Windermere – “A Handbag!” – voice:

“Be careful of being too Modern. You are likely to become old fashioned quite suddenly.”



Posted March 29, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in aesthetics, Art

The End of Safari   Leave a comment

I found the info for the post below about Dante through Yvon Bonenfant’s website.

His delicious extended voice fantasy was part of Micah Silver’s sound installation at MAss MoCA’s Elegies exhibition 2010. Listen here.

Posted January 30, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in sound art

Dante Sculpted   1 comment

Check this out:

Robert Taplin’s Everything Imagined is Real (After Dante) “consists of nine sculptures, each referencing scenes from Dante’s Inferno as modern allegories of political strife. Taplin’s story begins as Dante’s does with the uncertain sense of whether or not we are in a dream or reality. Thus My Soul Which Was Still In Flight (The Dark Wood) depicts Dante, as a modern-day everyman, rising from bed to start his journey. As Talpin’s story unfolds, things become more complicated. The third canto of Dante’s Inferno brings Dante and Virgil to the River Acheron in order to cross into the First Circle of Hell.

Above: Across the Dark Waters (The River Acheron), 2007, wood, resin, plaster and lights, 84 by 94 by 50 inches; at Winston Wächter.

In Across The Dark Waters (The River Acheron), Taplin takes this iconic scene and turns it into a metaphor for the refuge crisis, representing people trying to cross waters, unknowing, just like Dante, of what awaits them upon their arrival. Taplin’s cycle ends with Dante mourning the fall of civilization — in We Went In Without a Fight (Through The Gates of Dis), Dante stands witness to a city destroyed, mourning both life on earth and what may await down below.”

Also see Art in America‘s Robert Taplin review

Low Culture   Leave a comment

Just received a low culture kit, posted by a worried friend!

It includes Shaun of the Dead… Voila. Everything connects to Finnegans Wake!!!

Posted January 27, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Art, cultural studies

Ways of Seeing   Leave a comment

In my last post I wrote about the Ice Climbing World Cup at Saas Fee and how I could not take it in initially. I don’t think my mirror neurons fired…

By coincidence I’d taken John Berger’s Ways of Seeing along with me for the weekend. It primed me to key into the live imagery from a feminist standpoint.

I so loved the way the men and the women moved in the same way during the speed climbing contest. Check out Russia’s You Tube posts below:

Listen for gendered commentary in your head.

It is weird to have men acting as “belay bunnies” for the women?

Are the sound tracks gendered?



This is perhaps the first version of “The Fall” that I’ve enjoyed. ;°).

Do gendered representations imply an inherently unequal power relationship? Here it is predominantly person vs gravity…

Although the chick-strop-after-fall is more culpable than the bloke-strop-after-fall…

In a Saas Fee sports shop there was an advertising shot based on the Biblical “Fall”.

titian the fall of man 1565Titian The Fall of Man (1565)

The Hopesend was asking about the cost of touring skis when I spotted it:

“Look! It’s the Fall” I yelled. “Look! The woman is skiing in her underwear, with a belly button piercing. And the focus of the shot is her tilted crotch. Not the bloke skiing in his underpants. Or the Allalinhorn. Look! Can you believe it!?”

Censured, I later forgot Ways of Seeing in a mountain hut. But the 1970’s TV program on which the book is based is available on You Tube.

Feel the turn   Leave a comment

Trained it home from Verbier last night, after testing gorgeous Kastle skis. I want a new pair of planks, so I spent my test day being really attentive to:

how my turns initiated

how the skis carved

my body position, with respect to the fall line.

I love Lito Tejada-Flores Breakthrough on Skis, for understanding this kinesthetic process of writing on the slopes “All my skiers’s senses seem concentrated along the edge of my ski, and I love nothing better than to leave my signature… in a series of perfectly carves arcs”.

But for my journey to and from the pistes, I decided to read John Hartley Williams and Matthew Sweeney’s book, Writing Poetry and to follow some of their exercises in my notebook. As the train pulled out of Le Chable and headed down the valley, I was still dressed in my ski kit and my muscle memory was full up with ski sensations of anticipating, preturns, weight shifting and crossovers. I opened chapter 7 of Writing Poetry, titled “Visualizing“, and started to read Charles Simic’s poem “My Shoes”…

As I read, I could feel this amazing compression as I got to a line end. Things were happening to carve sense at each turn:

Shoes, secret face of my inner life:

Shoes, the container for feet – metaphorically signed as a secret face where experiences are pressed down and hidden away. A memories container surreally located at the other end of the body to the head.

Juxtapositions making unexpected sense built up anticipation in me, and at that colon on the first line I swung my eyes down and across the page wanting to know where  these shoes were going to take me…

Two gaping toothless mouths,

the image laughed at me like a Kermit the Fog joke; like beloved grandparents with unpronounceable stories; it made me think of Heidegger’s critique of Van Gogh’s painting of peasant shoes (The Origin of the Work of Art), and Morton’s critique of Heiegger’s critique (Ecology without Nature)… at which point the image had done more than enough to turn my head uphill into thoughts of similes and semantics, and my eyes swung downwards rushing into…

Two partly decomposed animals skins

Smelling of mice-nests.

This linked turn made for a volta. The shoes shape-shifted. Yet, were still faithful to the material origins of their original form, like powder snow transforming into névé.

But how?

This interrogation sent my body off into the second stanza:

My brother and sister who died at birth

Continuing their existence in you,

The shoes and the authorial feet they hold suddenly became a grotesque inheritance: two coffins, the size of babies. I turned in horror:

Guiding my life

to be embraced by hope: the stanza’s line by line additions of opposing emotion sublimated into:

Towards their incomprehensible innocence.

At the full stop, my eyes gripped the page, slid over the stanza break into the concrete-as-religion (?) of the next stanza – I navigated the stanza in tightly linked turns, and ricochetted off the final question-mark:

What use are books to me

When in you it is possible to read

The Gospel of my life on earth

And still beyond, of things to come?

We read the future from the past inscribed within the objects that surround and constitute us. Something totemic started to happen to my reading experience here: a substantive-spiritual piling up of immanent- transcendental- immanent- transcendental (maybe? The relation between these terms is my bug bear at the moment).

A questioning spills into the fifth stanza. In my mind’s eye I saw a film of a thin man in a jumper with holes in the elbows and too-short sleeves shuffling around his unlit living room to place his shoes on the mantle, as I read:

I want to proclaim the religion

I have devised for your perfect humility

And the strange church I am building

With you as the alter.

There is something lonely and scruffy about such a “strange church”. It calls to mind I friend of mine (I think he is in his late seventies) who was walking around with a piece of white artist’s sketch paper in his pocket last week. The date of a man’s death was written on it (17th of January, 2011) and the man’s name. It was written in blue biro. A scribble was below it. I wrote my email address down below all this information. I didn’t mention the marks above. Previously, we’d talked about how my friend felt simultaneously pinioned and betrayed by language when trying to accept death. He hates the management speak of “Je vais gerer ma mort” (I’m going to manage my death)…

In Simic’s poem I lost my grip at the full stop at the end of stanza four, and skidded into the next stanza out of control. Here, the words Simic landed me with were more helpful than the rave about Derrida’s deconstruction that I offered up to my friend a few weeks ago:

Acetic and maternal, you endure:

Sacrifice, sacrifice is what accompanies this being. (I translate for myself).

Kin to oxen, to saints, to condemned men,

This line feels like some graph plot, where enthalpy/entropy shifts cause an entity to change state, shifting from one form to another depending on the environmental conditions.

With your mute patience, forming

The only true likeness of myself.

Who follows us in our own shape shifting? Our most beloved, at the heart of our greatest loneliness and our most profound joy.(My head suddenly announces).

What an après-ski ride!

For the moment I’m bundling all this thought into William Ruekert’s comment “A poem is stored energy, a formal turbulence, a living thing, a swirl in the flow.” (“Literature and Ecology” , 108). To be unpacked.

– Which was said by whem to whom?   Leave a comment


Voices speak through Yawn, including ALP’s.

Me, I’m just in from the private view of Min-art-ure by the Artists’ Association (Cheminee Nord) of the Usine Kugler, Geneva.

An installation of lead soldiers and little lead balls (shot?), hung on nylon threads from a barbeque grill, captivated me. They swung around arbitrarily, if you gave one shot ball a shove. The men with long swords, crashing into each other. A good metaphor for the un-announed voices running out of the long dashes on Joyce’s pages.

Also popped down to Thierry Fuez’s studio, while I was there. His artist’s biography is very Ecology Without Nature. This is Gulfstream 005. Thierry paints with time lapse poke-ography, swirling images up.

Posted January 14, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Art, Finnegans Wake Audio Recording