I dropped by the DCA to check out the latest exhibit by Eve Fowler, ‘What a Slight. What a Sound. What a Universal Shudder’ — pieces all influenced by Gertrude Stein’s writings. I was unprepared for how hard it hit, even in the first piece, ‘with it which is as it if it is to be’ — disorienting because you step through black out curtains into a darkened room. I have poor night vision so I had to stand there for a moment. I was instantly mesmerised:
This 16mm work is an intimate portrait of some of Fowler’s closest friends in the LA artistic community: the camera focuses on several female artists working in their studios with an accompanying soundtrack of their voices reading from Stein’s 1910 text Many Many Women. Yin Ho, writing in Artforum, described this film as “a quietly explosive work: a subtle, simple document of female camaraderie and process, and the subdued magic of everyday life.”
We so seldom value woman–full stop, yes–but especially as artists. Think of all the loving docos of male artists in all their seriousness. The attention to technique, the fawning po-faced attachment to their importance. To see these women creating like this while Stein’s words echoed filled me with such a joy. I needed this. I need to see these women working. I need it to keep working myself.
‘This one is one and she is that one. Each one is one. There are many. Each one is different from any other one.’
I finally understand Stein and her orality. I think delving much more into sound studies has helped my brain make that connection. When I was first exposed to her back in my younger, literalist days, I could only approach her in literary terms. A big misunderstanding.
I need to go back and see it again. Great exhibition.
Corinne Mikael West
Thanks to the fabulous Pam Grossman mentioning this in an interview, I have been recharged by the great quote from the always delightful Tori Amos:
“You have to out-create the destruction
– it’s the only way.”
(By the by, have you been listening to Native Invader? It’s really terrific.)
I realise that this is what I feel subconsciously in these (make no mistake about it) perilous times. Yes, work to undo the evil at every step. Yes, raise our voices in protest, in resistance, in outrage at the seemingly endless venal obscenities!
But I am not a politician. I am not an organiser. I am a creator and I will create because that is my path of resistance. Create and re-create everything they try to destroy. Create the community and its strength that we need. Create the vision that will give us hope. Make every day a resounding yes to all that they claim is impossible. Do not give in to their selfish mediocrity.
I’ve been filling the well of my head with artists like Corinne Mikael/Michelle West (I love this image because it looks like she’s lecturing on how abstract-expressionism will sort things out) and of course my trimulierate Varo, Carrington and Fini. Reading The Militant Muse which has fed that need for examples of unruly artists making their way through explosive, soul-sapping times. Hanging on to the hope of a better future:
“When the heroic male narratives of modernism begin to fade, we may, eventually, be ready to recognize this amazingly idiosyncratic body of work.”
Prophetic words on Hedda Sterne but much more widely applicable, I hope, in the coming days.
Cities and Memory have a new project up which includes my photography! Check it out to find a fascinating random connection between art and sound, evoking a sense of place from images anchored to a specific location inspiring sounds that know no bounds.
I love it when a plan comes together. Wander through the memories and sounds…or scroll down to Scotland to find my Orkney picture.
The SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s our Sunday poetry offering by Wendy Goldberg; I think it’s got just the right touch of melancholy for an ending.
We’ve had a wonderful time sharing our writing, music and art. Keep dreaming, remember refill the well, and as the dames would surely tell you, make sure someone’s got your back while you dream.
Perhaps it would be like no poem would ever be forgotten,
if we remembered every dream we ever had.
The day would be as surreal as the night,
populated with a memory that does not exist,
a narrative running counter to the light.
Would people say in the café, wiping sugar off the table
I am a flyer or I dream of water?
Would lovers whisper sexual non-sequitors
about images that abandon all sense of plot?
Perhaps those taboos would go silently unshared,
and if nightmares could not be broken with the day,
we might keep those secret yet.
But, we would remember all —
from an angel in the deep midnight womb
telling us the mind of God
to our last twilight vision in sickbeds
where dreams glide away like a grey sky
sliding its palms on an endless, still sea.
As we breathe at night, we breathe in day
like the way we dream
about the dead in that first year of grief.
Instead, mornings have merciful hands,
wiping a fogged-up mirror, and we see
the same story we keep telling ourselves.
The SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s tonight’s entry by singer-songwriter Julie Beman:
“Memory This” is a song about two dreams, but it also sounds dreamlike due to various production choices made during development and engineering.
The song opens with a mellotron, moody and wonky; its sound is a staple of both science fiction and prog rock and its “out-of-tune-y-ness” serves to destabilize. The piano brings in a feeling of being grounded, but only until the vocal, awash in reverb and delay, introduces a dream. After four lines the vocal splits into elaborate harmonies. As all of the parts are sung by the same person, there is a hall-of-mirrors quality to them; one person has multiplied into many. Strings are typical dream-fare. Panning moves the sound in space, denying it an opportunity to “land.” The song ends with an improvisation, an act of creation that will happen only once, much like a dream.
The SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s today’s entry by Karen Ponzio in poetic form: find her as @kptheword on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook.
Ode to Dreaming
What do you do when you cease to dream?
Do you walk the streets endlessly,
Drink large quantities of wine, whiskey,
Or some other magic potion sweet
Search for a wild woman, make her your queen,
Feed her sugar fresh from your lips
As she lies back upon the green grass
Of your mountain bed,
Stir her guts up with promises
Of passion in pink and red
Comfort her when she breaks instead?
Is there comfort in anything if it isn’t taken
To its end?
Is death the only comfort left?
Must you pretend that life is the better choice
Knowing it is not a choice at all?
Must you fall over and over into the same hole
Hidden in plain sight
Or is the hole one of your own making
Where other worlds awaited you,
Jewels, gold, a dragon’s lair,
A sorcerer’s stone
A hiding place for an alien force
Though no escape from the torture of knowing
You were mostly alone?
Would you then try once again
To close your eyes at night
And see what transpires
Without judgement of what is
Wrong or right,
Without begging her to tell you something
Anything to keep you from hearing
The stories of your own plight
Buried deep within your troubled mind?
Would you let your queen get her beauty sleep,
or do you feel the need to wake her
And ask if she had claimed your love as well as
How much do you expect her to take?
Do you even know what love is?
Do you have anything left to say?
Let what you love break if it has to
And love it anyway.
The SpeakEasy dames are hosting Ione’s Dream Festival this week: check it out on Facebook. Here’s today’s entry by Stephanie Johnson, fab artist, who’s put together some images to spark your dreams.
Alan Alikatuktu – The Astonishing Dream
John Henry Fuseli- The Nightmare
Lajos Gulacsy – the Opium Smoker’s Dream
Leszek Andrzej Kostuj – Dream Messengers
Katsushita Hokusai – Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife
Australian Aboriginal art – Seven Sisters (Dreamtime)