Four very fine essays + two more
In flipping through the Blind Spot tribute issue (No. 32 dedicated to the founder Kim Caputo), checking out mostly the photos, I noticed an article by Tim Davis. Tim's new book, My Life in Politics, had just come out so his name caught my attention. Pausing only briefly from my thumbing of the pages to read the opening line of his essay "No one reads the essays in art books. Admit it." Speaking for myself, I admit it. I have not read the text in at least half of the art books I own although I have read some. I can think of four in particular that are of note: The prelude in Hiroshi Watanabe's I See Angels Everyday; the opening story of John Gossage's The Pond; the historical (and political) text accompaning the images by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin in Ghetto and Chicago; and Carol Mavor's introduction to Taj Forer's Threefold Sun.
Forer has documented the communities around the US associated with the Waldorf Schools and the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. Carol Mavor describes the images with the most poetically descriptive terms, stating that the lucky will be touched with the "mud and snow and blue juniper berries, their green cabbages and sun-baked farmer, their crusty gnome holes and missing maypole ribbons". She not only explores the photos, but also the historical and philosophical ideas equating Forer's photos and the communities with Thomas More's concept of Utopia. Her selection of vocabulary-- blue, heavens, daydream, wishful, poetic, envisioned, calm-- generate a feel of the ideal within the essay itself.
Now, juxtapose this writing with the new regular contributing editor to Art in America magazine, Dave Hickey. Hickey reintroduces himself in the October 2008 issue with an essay on the utopian verses the pagan. Starting in the opening paragraph he begins with a reference to the book My Life as a Traitor by Zarah Ghahramini and Robert Hillman and how Ghahramini's belief in Zoroastrianism, and ultimately, in "pink shoes" and all things pagan, saved her from her kidnappers and torturers in Iran. He goes on for only two pages in classic Dave Hickey style, but no worries, the next issue has more.
Although I have previously mentioned the new issue of Nueva Luz, I read the text last week. Darius Himes edited this issue on the topic of race and opened with an introduction of how he, as a curator, intended to deal with this complex topic. Possibly sensing the feeling of change in our nation, or not, nevertheless apropos, Himes states "In an era of rampant tribalism, nationalism and racialism, the task of our time is to internally reconcile the paradox of being separate as distinct and unique individuals--through culture, class, race, religion, education, and individual talents-- and yet connected to all of humanity."
From utopian, to pagan, to altruistic. Read the essays!