Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29th Trustee Week!

May 29th 2010,
I believe I will be playing catchup for the rest of my time here, or at least the next month.
It is wild living at such a furious pace. I feel I have been invited to a week long party on an island and I am stuck here! Its really rather lux but even too much lux is too much. We are in middle of trustee week, with open studios last Thursday after last Tuesday’s opening at Santo Spirito at Sassio.

Began the week mounting the show at Santo Spirito. Stressful as location built for me was quite small. I made mistake of giving image dimensions not room dimensions, but piece looked spectacular nonetheless—many people attested….! It was MIRRORWORLDS in its original three-screen incarnation, now shown on single wall, as secular altar piece, supposedly middle image larger but the small space made this hard to obtain. Left Santo Spirito Monday a bit unsettled to return Tuesday where we repaired as best we could. The opening itself went well. Many people, including some friends—the surprise of Magdalena Campos Pons and Carrie Mae Weems plus husband. Carrie seemed taken with MW. An independent curator friend of Giovanna’s showed up, very complimentary as was James Baron, another independent curator with whom my paths have crossed numerous times while here in Rome. His wife Jeannette is an accomplished photographer—enjoyed her book immensely, a less theatric Nan Golden but looking at same social set.

Next door to the enormous, aged golden rectangular space with 50 ft ceilings where we were exhibiting, was another space the same size. Not as well installed in fact but with many wonderful pieces. The show from a collection, I believe—of contemporary work. The Clairbout lovely and transcendentally clever, a beautiful Burri in reds and brown, an interesting heretofore not known Polish woman playing with light and space, a noisy video that said nothing but had a powerful percussive beat belaying the entire room, an early reflective Eliasson,

Wednesday came and Mary, my invaluable assistant, and myself set up for Open Studios for Thursday. This involved immense cleaning and moving and rearranging and imagining how to make the space work showing 3 different pieces. Ended up with Shelley dailies large in front (5x6 ft) , 2 portrait dvds from L’impero Invertito playing in left back , shaping the corner, rather small 2x3 ft projections. Across the way, right back was flat-screen monitor with The Future Is Behind You, to show my inspiration and what dailies might get shaped into (dangling preposition if not daring one).

Exhausted but happy with results and had 300-400 people come through. No less than 10, up to 30 at any one time. Here's a pix of one couple who seem to have followed my work. THey said lovely things in Italian that I could understand.
Some people loved the portraits from the installation, others The Future, others the Shelley 'dailies'. NO one seemed to see the conjunctions between them, or talked about all three in any interesting way. Robert Storrs came by late, was noncommittal, really did not spend enough time to warrant his “I’ve seen enough”. Ouch.

Mostly felt quite good: I had done a quick edit Wed night of Shelley footage, after leaving the job till too late (really), was tipsy a bit after dinner, but wanted still to make a longer dvd than I had had November last. Well…I really didn’t leave enough time……veramente. Got started processing the edit at 1am. Went to bed and woke up at 5ish am feeling anxious about technology involved. At 5:30 got out of bed and went to studio (had to pull on clothes, feeling grubby) to check. Well..there was a real problem and I realized it wasn’t going to make it by 6pm for opening. So there at the last moment., opened up my new computer that I just received the day before (bow to Lauren K. who carried back) and got it going. Did a version upgraded to new computer and had to re-back up some files that were on my itunes on old computer, not in capture scratch (okay this is tech talk…read on skip on).
After doing that, worked fine. Another hitch with new version of compressor, solved with Mary on phone (that girl is a tech wizard) and an hour and half later, I had the dvd! Okay speed is worth it!

Backwards two weeks, after arriving from nyc, we had a walk entitled “the other Rome” which involved traveling to various 20th century worker’s utopic housing units. May 7th a Friday. Still haunts. Pictures to follow in another post.

First up: Villagggio Olimpico by Adalberto Libera and Luigi Moretti, near the Renzo piano auditorium. These were housing for communal workers built in 1958-60 for the Olympics. Recently – 1998 – they state has sold the apartments to the renters who wanted to buy them and so they are slowly going on the market. Roberto our guide, pointed out the two story houses on pilotis by Libera. “These work as a repeated module on a cross plan with a stair in the empty middle space that leads to the four apartments per floor.” Very 50s 60s suburban, flat walls with half or full windows. The backs more interesting to me: the detailing of the concrete and floor to ceiling windows that were narrow and yet had a balcony feel. Suddenly no longer international style 50/60 modernism but a more original detailing of roman meditarranean dimension. And out the back fittingly, nature has grown wild, interacting with these rationalist buildings (rectangular shapes and ordinary materials) creating unexpected differentiations. “The randomness of how things have developed is what gives these buildings their humanity”

Then on to San Policarpo, a church next to a fantastic park. Built in 1960 by Giuseppe Nicolosi. Simple and very visible use of materials—concrete and metal— used in a striking vertical plan, odd, even shattered, or rather torn, yet placid.
The setting a long extended park with roman aqueducts in distance. Presumably a neighborhood where Pasolini shot. Now much changed: a kind of suburbia (really outskirts of rome) splaying out from park. Quiet.

Circling on ward, starting from the north and moving clockwise through the city we come to Unità d’Abitazione Orizzontale built by Adalberto Libera in 1950-54. These are 200 apartments of one story houses with small enclosed gardens and on a block plan. Reminded one of California single story homes. The shared blocks are not for cars and thus have all manner of plants and flowers, both communal and diverse. Pleasant and room for a bicycle although at this distance you might want a car. Nice green space and low density indeed. All the blocks are painted in different colors to distinguish and individualize the streets.

Quartiere Tuscolano II which I don’t remember as well was built in 1950-54, another post war developemtn of high buildings funded by the state as part of recreating the economy and giving modern housing to the many persons leaving the countryside to move to the cities in search of work. INA casa projects exist almost everywhere in the country, from Bologna to Matera. In Rome there are many other INA csa projects as Tiburtino I, II and III; Tuscolano I, across the way; Quartiere Ponte Mammolo; Quartiere San Basilio, but this is the largest. 35,5 hectares 3150 apartment for approximately 18,000 inhabitants.The long v shaped building is by De Renzi Muratori while the star shaped 9 story towers with 4 apartments per floor are by De Renzi alone. [much of my informative notes are from our guide Roberto Caracciola].

San Saba I and II: IACP housing project built between 1907 and 1923 by Giovanni Bellucci and Quadrio Pirani. Interestingly the mayor at that time, Ernesto Nathan, was English and Jewish (! Reasoning re romevs papal politics). He brought this English sensibility, creating small houses, with northern ‘piedmontese’ details: two stories in general with gardens in front and back. A more spacious Park Slope, Brooklyn? Glorious place to live indeed. Now quite valuable. a great example of housing in what was then a relatively new capital of the country. 567 apartment and 1952 rooms.

Garbatella—the most unique of the Roman neighborhoods. Coincidently our yoga teacher has just moved into one of the larger buildings. Built between 1921 and 1940 the overall plan was by Gustavo Giovannoni and Massimo Piacentini. 26 hectares, with individual houses by De Renzi and Marconi. Separated into large and small buildings, irregular blocks, running up and down hills south of Testaccio— the small buildings lovely, not individual houses but doubles, some 4 apts to a building. In one block all different styles but all within traditions of Italian architecture, whether with ships’ rail or farmhouse stucco roof and porch. Beautiful gardens. It is jasmine time.

We in the academy swoon coming into the Cornile.

In Garbatella, the blocks have signs in which the fascist symbol has been hammered out.

Then Corviale outside the city, nearer the airport. 1972- 1982 By Mario Fiorentino, Federico Gorio, Piero Maria Lugli, Giulio Sterbini and Michele Valori. The design on the walls are by artists Nicola Carrino. A huge narrow housing project. A city within a city but without charm and as result, all that was to be correlated to the residential apartments never came into being abandoning the inhabitants to their devices. Instead of being dynamited like US failed housing projects. This monstrousity, out in the wild so to speak is left alone. The tenants no longer pay rent. So though relatively far from the city with no amenities—no schools or supermarkets close—it is still inhabited, less dangerous than before with expensive cars in the parking lot.

I’m sleepy so for now I will sign off. Ciao.

Monday, May 24, 2010

may 24th 2010: "You keep it clean"

May 24, 2010
a month later. So much to say and do and remember. One is living so densely it is hard to keep up with events.
My dream life remains vivid

NYC ended with a wonderful welcome. The show at Poetry Project was ultimately a pleasure though the panel was vague. Not enough disagreement nor question. Remembering Ann’s lecture on Livy where he says "democracy needs opposition." So does thought and dialogue. The films —often with a bit too much b/w nature footage to my taste— set up SURFACE NOISE beautifully (okay, okay—I am writing about my own film here but in truth, I hadn’t seen it in at least 5 years. found it charged) came on as powercolor rollercoaster, or visual spoonerisms in a foxfire of ambient idioms. Indeed. Passion and velocity and humor and quizzical quotidians. Questions/comments rolled: in regard to the comic in art? transitions, speed of change, “You release the viewer from this or that associative impression as quickly as possible without being jumpy or evasive, using a subtle and terse language. You keep it "clean." Courtesy of poet Anne Tardos. Steve Benson’s voiceover in the film: “why you love the pastoral so much—is because your whole life is…… work” which is not only sociological reality (comically phrased) but also a mechanism of desire through/in opposition. Where when we are seeking.
This = vibrato of life.

More people to see and hang with before boarding my free Continental return flight—including Henry and Sean and Charles B and Susan and quick interface with Bob and Francie. Too many people I know have cancer on the West Coast, but here despite various grievances and strength joy smartaleck-y-ness, minds are clicking and my apartment with green plants red blossoms simply Trip home (I have now just called Rome home!) was easy. My sister Toni and brother-in-law Bob visiting after postponed earlier tour-due-to-volcano, so turning round, unpacking, visiting, showing them Academy (glorious)—visiting ghetto and synagogue museum, if not the best installation, interesting particulars. You realize Jews were everywhere in Europe and isolationist. a kind of fundamental community as it would appear today —self defined, barely tolerated, religious, separate…both self and social.

speaking of which (?), Morton Feldman and Phillip Guston celebration today up at Villa Aurelia. Learned or re-remembered Guston changing his name from Goldstein. Puts in perspective, is this self-loathing…….? what kind of repression? Yet too the intricacy of gene pool. Said not the answer they wanted.
One great lecture this afternoon called "trauma/ideal". Arguing that Guston finding his father hung, released in/through painting this never=to-leave trauma; collapsed on him forever. A way to read light bulb cartoons and his depression, (internally I said to myself: obsession), repression too of course, even as he moves from abstraction to representation to undo repression. The speaker had found his own dad dead (!) and talked about always wanting to put things together to make beautiful, harmonious, but finding he was always tearing same apart. What we know. The status of the given. The answer they wanted.

Today was multiplex: trying to get show up at the st. Spiritus in Sassio down by Vatican. Very slowly eating lunch awaiting projectors, checking said projectors, then back up to academy via Janicula for recording voiceover with Mary, then a leap to Guston conference. once again reminding me of Guston's bravery, to brave the scorn of his colleagues, to do what he had to do—and that these colleagues largely missed the humor and desperation in the work.

Fun in very different sense to see him drawing in Villa Sciarra by the terribly strange, almost kitschy, lion-women fountain. I filmed same place in l6mm this winter, in nearly black and white since rare, once in 25 year, snow drained color out of the scene. The puffy paws become distortions of body in Guston. The snow on the palm trees a true impossible moment, surrealist and morning in mine.
In middle of talks, rain starts up with terrific thunder and then sun as musician played piano piece of Feldman upstairs towards sunset. Very beautiful as light leaped in; one expected a rainbow. The city ahead of us; the clouds increasing.

Later tomorrow back to Guston morning session, then Sassio to check up on install. Return to edit piece for open studios. Then back to Sassio for opening, maybe Guston after. Just writing this makes me tired.

More catchup in days to come. i go to sleep now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

April 27th-catchup NYC-Rome

April 27th, 2010 Manhattan for a while.

Home in New York City with my posse, my pals, my friends who can withstand error and contradiction fast talk irony wit. No longer hitchhiking.
The weather is wonderful, much like Rome and first night reading Charles Bernstein’s interview with Jay Saunders (who works at Greene naftali) in Bomb (an avant ‘art forum’magazine) where Charles challenges the visual out of its complacency. Take that decriers of rhetoric and ideology. It’s all ideology—otherwise known as “context”, what are you aiming to do.

Next day at poetry reading with Rob Fitterman and John Yao at Bowery Poetry Club. If not the most satisfying rhythmically, lots of food for thought and out at dinner after— with poet pals, the reading brought up ideas and challenges. Such a life of mind I love. Out later with Nada to film screening in Brooklyn. Best work documenting radical young (but mentally mature!) group of recent grads, poetish film folk…..? Who were hired by a press to disrupt the press’ own reading and do so with charm wit and playful dexterity. They are into guerilla poetry—to penetrate the ordinary. Lovely, walking home in light rain with a friend.

Next day off to Gisburg to work on foleys—sound track for China film which is still not finished (okay okay). Had fun and returned to brunch with friends when who shows up but the very great Julie Patton and her pal musician Chris Jones . We all sit together catch up and return to Chris’s apt with immense view of Thompkins Square Park —whole city laid out afore you. It felt so retro, the 70s, where one could go with the flow in terms of time and afternoons. Finally —we all left to be back at work!
Have already swum with my group and will again tonight.
More to come; the Biennial, friends, my show at St. Marks Friday night, MoMa and Banksy’s new movie. Yes.

Back at ranch of Academy, before I left, I missed discussing aqueduct weekend which was terrific because we were falling among trees and stone through the Italian steep forested slopes. Or wandering through 2000 year old aqueduct with water proof cement lining the walls (at one point over 5 feet high, many miles long—brings water into la Citta), showing years of calcium buildup---little rubble nubbles of stone. Beautiful and fun. Had lunch at monastry at foot of site.

Later that week Robert Hammond’s talk notable for Nancy Davenport’s comment about the Academy that it is cross “between Ivory Merchant and the Shining”!
Carmela was a bit upset perhaps…? It’s not quite so ghoulish for me but I do feel like a hitchhiker and may still on returning. Appreciating it’s paradisical qualities all the more being in a grittier NY paradise. My home here is quiet quiet and East Village where I live has so little traffic it feels like a Brooklyn outpost. You go towards the center Manhattan island or uptown and it is noisy high paced less liveable. Just where are the rooftops of Rome? Ahhh I miss the vistas and speaking my broken Italian.

After Robert’s talk, Wed was Kiel whose figures for the 2000 year old bridge covering the Tevere were beautiful and whose project however laden with rhetoric and ideology is wonderful. I wanted him to design me a home until I realized his box had no plumbing and he pointed out the northeast is hardest to build for because it is wet! Do I want a cement home? His designs would be interesting in any case.

Then Ann V. whom I missed some of her talk coming in late (mixing up place and time, mea culpa) but it was lively and as in all her lectures quite present: one line sticks with me : Democracy needs dissent.

Then just out of the blue we have a wed that begins with heading down to the Caravaggio exhibit at the Scuderie Quirinale with Jan, a visiting artist and Mary, my inestimable intern. Wonderful cupids, grinning with wings, but otherwise badly lit, crowded and not as many or just as many paintings as Bacon/Caravaggio show earlier in the year at Borghese. I guess I am spoiled. But the day wasn’t over. Late at night an impromptu performance by visiting artist Ivan Ilic of piece by Bach arranged by Brahms, for the left hand. Now that was ecstatic.

Next evening before dinner a practiced performance by choir of voices of Palestrina, then putting my show on after our meal : L’Impero Invertito. A friend of Bruce McLure showed up and loves the install work—frescos and the other pieces, enjoys the complication of ideas, what is more ‘difficult’ and will take me to a cocinema (kitchen cinema) group north of the city when I return. That night ends with visit upstairs to see Lucca Nostris photos.
aspetto con impazienzaare fare quello in avvenire
tutti baci,