Nursing a cold inevitable makes me feel lazy, however obvious it is that resting is not being lazy. This cold is properly timed because the weather has been pretty awful. Today marks the 12th time it has snowed this year which makes it either the best or worst Winter NYC has had in a few years Luckily for me the snow has remained novel enough to retain its excitement and I've been enjoying watching the various levels of flurries outside of my window.
Monday night Gowanus Swim Society had their second meeting at the Sheep Station in Gowanus. The meeting was great - we met new members, each of us talked about and presented our work, we redefined our individual responsibilities, and talked about potential group exhibitions that we might have. It sounds brief now that I write it out, but we talked about a lot and were able to get a firmer idea of how this new group collective would operate.
Fisk has been kind enough to agree to make the logo for GSS, making him an honorary member. I'm glad that he'll be able to participate in this group along with all the other amazing artists involved. Fisk and I (but mostly myself) will be managing social media which we will be strategizing this weekend. That's enough for now!
Reading for Object Lessons week #2 was Herculine Barbin, a book about an intersex person who was treated as a female for 22 years before being redetermined as a male. The first part of the book is a wonderful memoir written by Barbin. The memoir covers their entire life up until Barbin is about to take leave on ship to the Americas. After this chapter Barbin was found dead in their apartment by an apparent suicide. The second part of this book were medical notes, examination records, school records, and various news clippings. Barbin took great care rename all the characters in the memoir, including themselves, all for it grossly objectified after death. The third and final part of this book is a fictive account of the affair that Barbin (being addressed as female at this point) had with a woman with whom she taught at a convent. This book sheds a dramatic light on how a person can negate norms by simply existing.
Juliana Huxtable, an artist and nightlife personality, assigned this reading to the class and discussed with Jarrett how she came upon this text and how it has informed her work as an artist. It was wonderful to listen to Juliana speak in such a refined and educated manner about a subject that most people are very confused about.
Huxtable discussed how language itself lacks the ability to describe people who choose to remain intersex, that is people who choose to retain both their male and female body parts. People in the crowd asked honest questions like, "How is one supposed to know what someone prefers to be called or addressed as, or is?" Huxtable responded, "by getting to know them, talking with them, and after that you can usually tell." This answer speaks to Huxtable's overall conclusion that the best way to make life easier for intersex people is by communicating with others. In final remarks Huxtable said to talk with people about today, because it makes her job of raising awareness that much easier. I thought that was excellent advice.
I caught a spirit in this photo, perhaps Herculine?
Reading for Object Lessons Week #3 was Gesualdo: The Man and His Music by Glenn Watkins. This reading was assigned by Dorothea Rockburne who was to be our lecturer for the day, however she was feeling ill, so we took the day as a gift and chatted about a variety of subjects that we had been thinking about in the last two weeks. It was a wonderful moment where people we able to speak up more freely and it allowed many natural conversations to flow.
The book on Gesualdo was a bit difficult to get into but well worth the 400+ pages once it really grabbed your attention. Dorothea Rockburne will be rescheduled, so more about Gesualdo then, but here's an excellent documentary by Werner Herzog about the man.
Saturday evening Fisk and I went to an opening at Sardine of work by Holly Coulis. Her under paintings creep through final layers like hidden fauvist colors trying to break through, but are tamed by the well framed and familiar language of still life. Her marks and subject have an irresistible connection to Giorgio Morandi, where brush strokes are efficiently used to create shape and dimension that is full of subtle detail. These two seemingly opposing styles create works that have personality and humorous dimensionality. Coulis creates a marvelous harmony between vivid color and sedentary subject matter creating works that are active and full of energy. These paintings are a treat and I would encourage everyone to see the show.
This Saturday Fisk and I attended a panel discussion led by Mira Schor regarding concerns that were similar to those posed by the original Womanhouse. The panel included Kaitlynn Rendell, Sara Jimenez, Kara Rooney, Vanalynn Green, and Maureen Connor.
Kara Rooney made an excellent analysis of feminists in relation to capitalist culture; women are not longer fighting against a binary world but are facing a new domestic enemy. Women are no longer trying to escape their domestic situations, but are fighting the fear of what we cannot have.
In giving her own introduction, Vanalynne Green noted the ease at which young artists utilize the signifiers of art theory as fodder for their own work, when it is through life that one can begin to create their own signifiers with which to compare to theory. She also suggested that women need money, a notion more simple to embrace than something more complicated.
The conversation of the panel kept returning to the relevancy of economics in a woman's life. It was joked that women just need more money, and while everyone laughed at the lighthearted honesty of the statement, it feels inevitably true.
I would have enjoyed if the conversation had strayed a bit into the social politics of feminism, and I couldn't help but empathize with the gentleman who asked, "what do feminists want from men?" The panel reiterated how equal pay can benefit their economic status, keeping with the same points of their discussion. I agree, but is there nothing to be done socially that can have positive affects for women? The final comments from an audience member, who answered a question regarding the difficulty of repayment of student loans, full time work, and creating artwork, were that women have to find their own fulfillment and create the lives that they desire through action. I couldn't agree more.