➙ Thoughts

...a semi-daily collection of notes and observations

the return

Coming back from my weekend was a happy homecoming, it felt like I had been away for ages!  Things had happened, of course, so it took some time to sort out the details from the various sources. We had just two events left. The artists film night (attended solely by us of course) and Yasa's performance, which was better attended.


Then there was only to do the 'wrapping up' bits; packing, hanging the last of my photos in the gallery and saying goodbye to a few people before indulging in my goodbye dinner; a feast of slightly cooked meat, liver, salad, several other tasty bits, amazing wine and cake. 


It left me with enough energy to make it through my overnight flight back to Istanbul, to join up again with my live in other locations

Ljubljana

I spent the weekend in Ljubljana, staying two days with Metka, one of the artists in the exhibition. She lives with her boyfriend in an artists' work/live space, subsidised by the city. There are six such units in the building, home to two of the other Necessary Discourse artists as well. The flats were new, high ceilinged, with rows of fluorescent lights in the studio space, which doubled for most of the artists as living and dining room. 

listening

I got it from my mother...I do really try to listen to people, to understand their point of view, their world, not immediately countering them, overriding their position before even understanding it. Most often, before I am able to defend my particular position (especially if it has never been challenged before) only after I try on the other person's idea, jump into their reality. Running around in their shoes for a few days allows me to try out this new position variety of situations to see if it fits, to see which parts of myself it is pleasing, and which it is aggravating. Only THEN can I form my defense and THEN (unfortunately several days later) respond with an argument. This method, however, is painfully slow in the high-speed context of evening conversations.

culture policy

The speaker last night glanced at 'culture' through another lens, from the perspective of the European Union. Culture politics were presented from the perspective of the Slovenian Ministry of Culture. Again totally in Slovene, she brought along with her an EU report, entirely in English, which kept me occupied for her entire presentation. 


The report was a survey of the definition and role of 'culture' in the various EU member states. What is your definition of culture? Do you create culture? consume culture? How do you get your cultural information? How important is culture in your life? for your country? for your identity? Do you feel more national or more European? Do you travel? Why? How many languages do you speak? for what reason?


The report organised the results by country, sex, income level and other statistical tags, showing general trends and tendencies of the south, north and eastern countries. 


I took the survey myself and ended up being somewhere in-between Italian and Swedish. 

visitors!

We had a visit from Matthias Reichelt, a writer for Kunstforum International, a German contemporary art periodical. At the same time Tadej Pogacar came from Ljubljana to hang and open his portion of the exhibition, 'A Tale of Two Cities'. A flashback to the first week of this project, we went for dinner at the hotel. The conversation floated from Yugoslavian politics to contemporary Slovenian art, from EU cultural policy to concentration camp survivors, from national identity to  personal guilt. Fueled by the giant Serbian meat platter, we enjoyed the silence of the empty hotel restaurant. (sorry to Tadej who is vegetarian) 

locally laughing

And, by far, the biggest crowd comes for the local comedian. What a medium, comedy...incredible! Its been ages since I saw a stand-up comedian, I was put off by them in general because of their overuse of totally vulgar language. However, humor has the powerful ability to act as a carrier of more serious symbols and issues. The act of laughing together, momentarily grouping together against the big bad 'other', laughing about your place, yourself, your country and your situation. 

my escapes

I've been here for three weeks now, and sure, sometimes I escape from my immediate reality. I create distractions, curious to watch in what form these escapes come.  


  • walking in the woods - body occupied, movement as meditation, mind blank or thinking of deep past
  • talking with distant friends - body irrelevant, mind in another place completely
  • reading - body at rest, education, constant relations to reality
  • watching movies - body at rest, lying in bed or on floor, education, entertainment, total escape
  • oversleeping - body inert, avoiding consciousness
  • visiting supermarkets - body anonymous, fantasies of future scenarios, other realities (house, cooking, friends) 
  • answering emails / other work - body irrelevant, feeling of productivity, pathways to the future
  • drinking alcohol - body activated, mind optimistic, perception of time altered
  • making up stories - body irrelevant, tuning out surrounding sound, deep and playful observation of physical reality


labor

labor is a meditation, making you feel productive over a span of many hours. It keeps you occupied.  Its so much harder to do nothing for half the day only to bloom in a brilliant moment of real consciousness. 

information overload

I wonder how it is possible to be suffering from information overload, in the tiny but concentrated existence I have here. As a filterer of information, I sometimes become clogged, confused about where to put things, who and where my audience is hiding. It is easiest just to keep things private, it makes the least amount of problems, everyone remains safe. This, however, would be death for myself and my project. 

ends and beginnings

I'm afraid, actually, that I've gone past the line of the project as I intended...I've crossed the border between my project and my real life. It was bound to happen some time, the project flirts with this possibility at every point, why not this way....why not now. The exhibition is titled Necessary Discourse on Hysteria after all, is it not inevitable to at some point become hysteric? 


There are many visions of mass hysteria, groups of people in extreme emotional states, crying, fighting, in trauma. But there are other kinds as well. I experienced a different hysteria, building up over the past several weeks, that was brought to the surface after  a series of provocations. 


But how, now, do I begin actually? After such a moment. Now so much has become private information...private experiences. To write about other things and less intense discourse would be trivial and an insult to the very title of the project. 


I can say that I deeply understand art, and more importantly, artists, to be dominators of a position. They must do so in order to present to the world something truly of their own; their thought, their process, their artwork for all to see. This takes great courage, courage coming from each of their unique combinations of ignorance, confidence and sense of purpose.


What does this mean for me? This means I am required to go on, to find a beginning in the end. To accept my hysterics as part of the process, perhaps inherent in the very nature of my project. 

thanksgiving

Yes, yesterday was thanksgiving. I got a few text messages from friends, and an online animated greeting card from my parents. There was a talk at the gallery (the first one in English!  yeah!) and later we went to Rado's house for pizza. I called a toast for the holiday, my company was surprisingly compliant but asked exactly what Thanksgiving was. Another over-marketed American holiday for sure, but for me, any holiday was more about our family traditions than anything else; going to the parade, cooking all day, spending time with friends and family. 


Later on in the day, my friend came to my rescue with an email. She describes Thanksgiving as:


"Present day it's a time when we are thankful for what we have and eat a lot with our family/friends.  back in the day it's when the settlers came together with the indians for the first time in peace, ate together and shared their harvest (i believe this is where white people first ate corn on the cob if you need to explain it that way:)"


Thank you Maryann

the museum

I have no religious feelings toward the sanctity of the museum, if anything I would prefer art to happen in more commonplace locations and independent spaces. However...museums are one mental space in our culture not dedicated to commerce*, and this should be exploited to its highest level. 


*not that commerce is avoided, but that it is not the only purpose and theoretical base to its activities. 

exhibition in small town

there are simple economies of scale at play....you will get less people, less press, less hype....

but things can happen in this context that are not possible in large cities...

intimacy, a specific context and ideally, new audiences

When I go out with Artists

By Crash Test Dummies


When I go out with artists
They talk about language and the cubists and the dadaists
And I try to catch their meanings
And keep up with all the martinis
I don't know which should be my favorite paintings

If I could see, if I could see, if I could
See all the symbols, unlock what they mean
Maybe I could, maybe I could, maybe I
Could meet the artists, and get to know them personally

If I were David Byrne
I'd go to galleries and not be too concerned
Well I would have a cup of coffee
And I'd find my surroundings quite amusing and
People would ask me which were my favorite paintings

What if the artists ran the TV?
All the ads would be for fine scotch whiskey:
Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, the whole single malt family

The artists of the future
Will make up new things and different nomenclatures
And they'll stand amongst their pictures
And they'll sing and laugh and quote from scriptures and
When they go home they'll dream of brilliant paintings

intentions

Why become an artist? 


I must admit it was not made clear to me what exactly that was when I first got involved. We had a huge basement in my house, with lots of 'stuff' that we played with; we built cities from boxes, painted and other, more specific 'craft' projects. My grade schools had excellent art programs and I was able to take ceramics, metals, drawing, painting, graphic arts and sculpture. I liked the physicality of these activities, I learned the skills quickly and I had a good eye for design and composition. It was somehow settled...I wanted to study art, but of course I should choose to specify in graphic design because it was useful. This I did, concurrently with ceramics and sculpture courses. At a certain point I decided I didn't want to spend my life in front of a computer, so I quit the graphics classes (right before 'website design') and concentrated on ceramics. Shortly after this, I stopped using clay, as it became evident that I would not have a ceramics studio of my own any time in the near future. My art was made from everyday materials; paper, plastic, food, I was fascinated by Arte Brute and the Dadaists. 


And then all the sudden it was over, University ended and my primary goal became leaving the country.  A frenzied drive for independence and self-sustainability. 

Timm's concepts

Timm takes an idea, facinates himself with it, and throws out into the world. He makes 'total kunst' or 'total art'. He has done everything it seems, explored every idea, and has continued to do so.  Others come across them, discovering again, in another context, in another place, in a way hopefully true to themselves. 

bullet-proof

Flatz makes somehow bullet proof art, with a preconceived idea that he follows to its conclusion; researched, defendable, packable, marketable and sale-able.  During a conversation, he said this is male art, and my own approach of  finding my way through an idea, imposing upon and learning from various aspects of the work is somehow female. 

gossip

Not surprisingly, I become a storehouse for frustrations within the group. Because I am somehow not so involved, yet all the time present, people feel comfortable with me. I'm not so much a gossiper, I don't spread things around, but all bits of information can't help but to become integrated with my thoughts and impressions of the people around me. These quickly become preconceptions and biases of my own, a danger to my very purpose. 

american girl

that was the last of them...now I am not only the only woman, but the only non-German speaker left.....sigh.........

opening hysterics

So...it came and it went. All the preparations, panics and stresses somehow ended at that mysterious predetermined time of 'the opening'. Arguments, misunderstandings and discussions were temporarily put on hold as we smiled in front of our audience of about 45 people. Afterwards, however, they came back in full force, appearing even at the classic 'after-opening' drunken evening of relief and relaxation. 


I've never been around a group of people that argue so much. Perhaps, too, it is a form of discourse, just not my particular way of communicating.