Tuesday, April 29, 2008

L'elegance de la cafetière

Swedish porcelain coffee sets by Stig Lindberg, 60's

Caught while escaping

One of the few stars of the German art scene to make an international impact is Marcel Odenbach, first professor at the College of Design, ZKM in Karlsruhe, now at the Art College for Media in Cologne. The exhibition's and catalogue's emphase are his "plans" 1975-1983: fascinating collage-sheets with texts and drawings about the performances and video installations that he has conceived since the mid 1970s. These "plans" are being published in full for the first time, whether they have been realised or remained in the project stage. The focus of attention is Ach, wie gut, daß niemand weiß (What a good thing that no-one knows) from the year 1999, one of Odenbach's main works. In a large-format fourfold projection, historical ("Found Footage") shots and his own photographs of German history and the present day are combined with film images from Africa. The visitor stands in the middle of one single room where personal responsibility, emotional closeness and the presence of history are combined.

Marcel Odenbach:
Performance Aachen 1978

6 April to 8 June 2008
"Caught while escaping"
Plans 1975-1983. Video installations. New drawings
where : Kunsthalle Bremen

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fashion with Wallpaper

Laure Albin-Guillot, 30's

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Art of Doing Something Well

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman (Yale University Press)

In "The Human Condition," Hannah Arendt distinguished between Animal laborens and Homo faber -- between man as a worker, thoughtlessly and amorally lost in his labor's object, and man as a maker of society and its institutions, a builder of life in common. For Arendt, the maker had it all over the worker, who was, in her view, basically a drudge. Richard Sennett, Arendt's former student, thinks that his mentor's division is too sharply drawn, too contemptuous of practical life. In "The Craftsman" he compellingly explores the universe of skilled work, where "the desire to do a job well for its own sake" still flourishes.
Mr. Sennett regards skilled work capaciously, though; it is one form of what economists broadly call human capital. To bring such capital to a high level -- to the level of expertise -- requires (as Mr. Sennett notes) intense, constant involvement and thousands of hours of practice or apprenticeship. It matters not whether the craft is "practical" or artistic -- whether it involves playing a musical instrument, cooking a meal, building a brick wall, shooting a free throw or even raising a child -- the work is far from thoughtless and more than the dull effort of a "laboring animal."
As one might expect, 19th-century writers such as John Ruskin and William Morris receive a sympathetic hearing in "The Craftsman." They famously defended artisanal work against the division of labor and mass production of rising industrial capitalism. But Mr. Sennett is no anti-modern Arcadian. We can find exceptional craftsmanship today, he observes, in the high-tech science lab and in the work of anonymous computer programmers of the "open-source" Linux operating system.
Still, technology can make us forget the full meaning of craftsmanship, to lose sight of a human dimension. Computer-assisted design has largely replaced architectural drawing, for example, but the gain in efficiency has come at a cost. The architect, having no need to put pen to paper, now works in a condition of estrangement from the tactile and from "the relational." The result, Mr. Sennett claims, is poorly designed structures at odds with their surroundings and with the needs of their inhabitants.
Two figures from Greek myth recur in Mr. Sennett's argument. The lame blacksmith Hephaestus uses his tools for the common good, proud of his work but humble, a symbol of the exemplary nature of craftsmanship across time. Though craftsmanship is in part work done for its own sake, it is also for something, in Mr. Sennett's view -- a social practice whose tools, throughout history, have tended to serve human ends, from pots and pans to musical instruments to vaccines.
Pandora, by contrast, is an emblem of misplaced skill, scattering (in Hesiod's words) "pains and evils among men." Mr. Sennett notes that a "culture founded on man-made things risks continual self-harm," even when great skill goes into the making.
Is capitalism compatible with the right kind of craftsmanship -- or a destroyer of it? Oddly, Mr. Sennett, who calls himself a socialist and a pragmatist, never addresses the question directly. He observes somewhat blandly that social and economic conditions "often stand in the way of the craftsman's discipline and commitment" and briefly decries the creative destruction in market societies.
But he also praises Japanese auto makers for bringing the idea of craftsmanship back to the factory, so industrial work, in his view, is not necessarily incompatible with expertise, though it often is: The Fordist factory, with its mind-numbing repetition, is clearly for Mr. Sennett one of the great enemies of craft.
It is worth noting, in this respect, that Mr. Sennett's own book -- arguably the product of the book-making craft -- suffers from more than the usual number of typographical errors. Among others: "for the musician, the conductor appers [for 'appears'] visually just slightly ahead"; "in evolution, Darwin surmised, the brains of apes became larger as their arms hands ['and' is needed] were used for other purposes"; "so it is will [for 'with'] your instructional uncle." Perhaps we do not need to blame capitalism for a proofreader's distraction.
One could make a strong argument that postindustrial prosperity has helped craftsmanship to thrive. The craft of making wine, for instance, has experienced a renaissance thanks to globalized competition, leading winemakers everywhere to improve their technique dramatically. And those computer programmers whom Mr. Sennett admires are the leading edge of capitalism's most dynamic sector.
Artisanal coffee, hand-made furniture, bespoke suits: Western economies routinely create niche markets for the work of craftsmen. If a lot of what we consume is made without exacting care, it is affordable, something for which many of us are understandably willing to forgo a bit of craftsmanship in our lives. It is to Mr. Sennett's credit that he reminds us of what has been lost thereby.

Text by Brian C. Anderson
Mr. Anderson is the editor of City Journal and the author, most recently, of "Democratic Capitalism and its Discontents."
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Christ Hold by 4 Angels

France, XVe siècle

Preparation for the Urban Pastoral

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Faint Music

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

When everything broken is broken,
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.

As in the story a friend told once about the time
he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.
Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash.
He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.
And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,”
that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.
No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch
he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,
scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp
along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word
was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise
the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs,
and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up
on the girder like a child—the sun was going down
and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket
he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing
carefully, and drove home to an empty house.

There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties
hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.
A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick
with rage and grief. He knew more or less
where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.
They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears
in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,”
she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights,
a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.
“You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?”
“Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now,
“I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while—
Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—
and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more,
and go to sleep.
And he, he would play that scene
once only, once and a half, and tell himself
that he was going to carry it for a very long time
and that there was nothing he could do
but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened
to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark
cracking and curling as the cold came up.

It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.

Robert Hass, “Faint Music” from Sun Under Wood.

Statue of Liberty

Dorothy Iannone

Monday, April 14, 2008

Die uble Nachrede

Die uble Nachrede

Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz, Kunstbibliothek
Heinz Hajek-Halke: Form from Light and Shadow

Brilliant Trees

David Sylvian

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Nineteenth Century as a Song

“How like a well-kept garden is your soul.”
John Gray’s translation of Verlaine
& Baudelaire’s butcher in 1861
shorted him four centimes
on a pound of tripe.
He thought himself a clever man
and, wiping the calves’ blood from his beefy hands,
gazed briefly at what Tennyson called
“the sweet blue sky.”

It was a warm day.
What clouds there were
were made of sugar tinged with blood.
They shed, faintly, amid the clatter of carriages
new settings of the songs
Moravian virgins sang on wedding days.

The poet is a monarch of the clouds

& Swinburne on his northern coast
“trod,” he actually wrote, “by no tropic foot,”
composed that lovely elegy
and then found out Baudelaire was still alive
whom he had lodged dreamily
in a “deep division of prodigious breasts.”

Surely the poet is monarch of the clouds.
He hovers, like a lemon-colored kite,
over spring afternoons in the nineteenth century

while Marx in the library gloom
studies the birth rate of the weavers of Tilsit
and that gentle man Bakunin,
home after fingerfucking the countess,
applies his numb hands
to the making of bombs.

Robert Hass

“The Nineteenth Century as a Song” from Field Guide

Dream of Venus Pavillion


1939 World's Fair pavilion, Dali

Patterns in Landscape Architecture

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Las Pozas

Edward James, for the last 20 years of his life, aided by 40 full time laborers and craftmen, he built one of the biggest and yet least known architectural monuments of the 20th century, dedicated to Surrealism and hidden in the jungles of Mexico. He created over 36 extraordinary concrete structures, some over 100 feet high, at a personal cost exceeding 5 million dollars.

Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico 1947

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Now seen … now gone
the butterfly flits in and out
through fence-hung flowers;
but a life lived so close to them
I envy though it’s here and gone.

Saigyô (1118-1190)

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Photo of a scratched poster of Sir Edward James

Domestic Experiences

John Theodoropoulos focuses on his personal space. Memories of his family's history and of his youth surface through details of everyday life. The remains of cheese after breakfast, the worn-out leg of the family's table on the mosaic floor, the pile of bed sheets after waking up. He challenges the idealistic perception of the upper-class aesthetics of space, which creates the dominant model for perfection and well-being, subsidizing a realistic attribution of the familiar, through the impression of details of the lower-class influence on the formation of his surroundings.

His work is currently shown at Alpha Delta gallery , Athens

Friday, April 4, 2008

Adrenalin Architecture

Interiors in Anarchy

Punk House:
photo : Abby Banks, edited by Thurston Moore

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Next Exhibitions to Come

"Mail Order Monsters"

Tomoo Gokita, Asthenische, 2008

Participants :


Andreas Melas Presents
June 10 - August 15

Paticipants :
Benjamin Altermatt, Dimosthenis Agrafiotis, Georgia Desylla, Farida El Gazzar, Nikos Goulis, Dimitris Ioannou, Stelios Karamanolis, Margarita Kataga, Daniel Kemeny, Sifis Lykakis, Eva Michalaki, Otolab, Dora Oikonomou, Tereza Papamichali,Kostas Roussakis,Gianis Theodoropoulos, Paul Zografakis, Mary Zygouri

Tereza Papamichali

Curated by Margarita Kataga, Tereza Papamichali.
During June, Athens