Wednesday, December 31, 2008

With its chastity we can certainly live in our own worlds

Santosh Verma
Friday, November 28, 2008
Inflections of Delight

An artist like Santosh discards the outward appearances of nature, not as material for observation but as an idiom of expression. He needs nature and cannot divorce himself from it. But he can pierce the outward in search of the inward life. At its base are still the varied patterns of unfolding life, in flowers, plants, grasses; the texture of the stones, shells, bark; the sound and movement of water and of bird and insect life; the subtle inflection of cloud and mist and the changing sky are still the sources of his delight.

Many in these days of abstraction believe they have transformed nature to a still more elevated articulation. Unfortunately, quite a bit of what is described as abstraction is random and inchoate. These artists do not seem to have felt the charm of root reality, that is, of nature on their pulse. I believe Santosh is one of those who has so felt it. What he has succeeded in doing is to give nature a fresh incarnation. He draws out its essence. Here, in his work, it is this we invariably taste with our eager eyes.

He has evolved new ways of suggesting the interwoven rhythms by which the visible word is permeated. Thus he does something far more ‘deeply interfused' as binds together the patterns of shell, the thrust and the swell of the sea, the slant of light upon a leaf, the flight of a bird and a feather fall upon a mossy stone. But none of all this is literally so, purely imaginatively.

This is well groomed art, which can do more than delight. It can also enlighten. Experiencing works of this chaste order we as if stand at the mid point of a pendulum's swing--a pendulum of experience that swings outward into both the light as the life around us, and inward into ourselves. Resultantly, thanks to it we seek to penetrate and inform ourselves about the reality that lives deep within us. With its chastity we can certainly live in our own worlds; look upon it and sense it, for it is the stuff of experience that the artist in the viewer, also, seizes upon, and invests with fresh meanings.

I do think Santosh's 'abstraction' enriches our vision. It is not a mere escape or sedative. The overly jangled big city nerves will surely calm themselves with the decorum that there is in his compositions Keshav Malik Posted by Santosh at 7:43 AM Santosh Verma, Residence SRB-94B, SHIPRA RIVIERA, INDIRAPURAM, GHAZIABAD-201 010 E-Mail – Studio B-403, NEELPADM-1, VAISHALI, GHAZIABAD-201 010 View my complete profile Thursday, November 27, 2008 Paintings
65X65cm Acrylic On Canvas, 65X65cm Acrylic On Canvas, 90X120 cm Acrylic On Canvas, 60X75cm Acrylic On Canvas, 90X120 cm Acrylic On Canvas
7:13 AM Sunday, November 23, 2008 Water Colour 8:12 AM

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A stunning modern-day architectural conception

Matrimandir Meditation Centre
Posted under Religion by gems78 on Monday 22 December 2008 at 5:58 pm

Auroville, in the former French colony of Pondicherry, is an independent settlement inspired by the spiritual teachings of Sri Aurobindo. Intended to be an ideal city for spiritual seekers, it is steadily evolving according to the master plan drawn up by Mirra Alfassa, known for Aurovilians as the Mother, the Paris-born spiritual partner of Sri Aurobindo.
A stunning modern-day architectural conception, situated in an expansive landscaped area referred to as Peace, the meditation centre takes the form of a golden globe appearing to rise out of the earth as a symbol of spiritual consciousness. The centre takes its golden hue from cladding formed of stainless-steel discs coated with gold leaf.
There are no organized rites or symbols within this space to distract visitors from their thoughts or direct them toward a specific religion. The Matrimandir Meditation Centre was conceived simply as an embodiment of peace. In its remarkable meditation chamber, one can rethink one’s self – an experience truly worth having. Design and Culture Dance floor of design and culture

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jacques Rancière: Aesthetics is Politics

Everything you wanted to know about Jacques Rancière but were afraid to ask…..
Sophie Berrebi

The essays by Jonathan Dronsfield and Steven Wright included in this issue were first presented at the conference Aesthetics and Politics: With and Around Jacques Rancière co-organised by myself and Marie-Aude Baronian at the University of Amsterdam on 20 and 21 June 2006.
One of the elements that triggered the organisation of the conference was a passage of his then recent book Malaise dans l’esthétique (2004). In it, Rancière discussed several exhibitions of contemporary art that had taken place around the year 2000.[1] The way he approached these group shows was particularly refreshing in a context marked by heavy discussions about curatorial practice et al.: Rancière responded to exhibition concept, presentation and individual works without dissociating the one from the other. In other terms, and while his writings were already proving to be influential to the contemporary art milieu, he wove these exhibitions into his text, reacting to them more as a random albeit attentive visitor than as an expert. This attitude inevitably provoked the desire on the part of the reader to stroll alongside him and ask him everything we ever wanted to know about his views (but were afraid to ask).

The format of the conference developed out of that desire for a conversation, and Jacques Rancière proved to be extremely generous in his response, agreeing to a two-day visit to Amsterdam to give a lecture and respond to a series of papers discussing aspects of his work.
The plenary lecture Rancière delivered on the evening of 20 June, entitled ‘Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art’ was attended by an audience of more than 150 people ranging from students to artists and academics. The following day, during an intense day-long conference, academics of different backgrounds presented papers derived from their encounter with Rancière’s work. Sessions on literature and politics, on performing and contemporary arts succeeded one another, separated by panel discussions in which Rancière gave informal replies to questions raised by the speakers. More than once these replies triggered animated discussions, although, predictably perhaps, a climax was reached in the discussion which ensued from third panel dedicated to contemporary art. A substantial part of that panel is reprinted here, with papers given by Jonathan Dronsfield and Steven Wright and the exchange that followed, which was kindly recorded by a member of the audience.

In addition to the elements of the conference that are reprinted here is ‘Jacques Rancière and Indisciplinarity’ an interview conducted with Jacques Rancière by Marie-Aude Baronian and our colleague from the University of Amsterdam and ASCA, Mireille Rosello. A version of this extensive interview, which took place several months after the conference, was published in Dutch by Valiz (NL), in a volume of studies on Jacques Rancière that appeared in the Netherlands in late 2007. In this exchange, Ranciere discusses his position with regard to democracy, politics, film, literature, art and research.
Finally, my short article ‘Jacques Rancière: Aesthetics is Politics’, also reprinted here, was prompted by a visit to the pavilion of Central Asia at the Venice Biennale in 2005. It was originally commissioned and published by the Dutch art magazine Metropolis M No. 4 (2005), pp. 64-71.

[1] Notably, Bruit de Fond, (Centre National de la Photographie, Paris), Let’s Entertain, (Walker art Centre, Minneapolis, and Centre Pompidou, Paris) and Voilà, le Monde dans la tête (Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris), all three organised in 2000. Volume 2. No. 1. Summer 2008 ISSN 1752-6388

Monday, September 01, 2008

Educating the synthesizing power of imaginal (thinking in images) thinking

Seeing Meaning Looking at Images and Understanding Sunday, August 31, 2008
Visual Philosophy
“A consciousness that proceeds by sight…is a greater power for knowledge than the consciousness of the thinker.” Sri Aurobindo, A Greater Psychology

When I first used the term “visual philosophy” a student in the class said, “Wait a minute, are you talking about aesthetics?” It was natural to think I was referring to philosophy about art and beauty because we don’t generally think of art and images in their capacity to express ideas, to evoke a philosophical stance through a visual depiction. Beyond simply communicating information, an image shows how to see the information. We equate seeing with understanding.

We are drowning in information and need the wisdom to know how to filter it. Insight sees the significance within the whole. Wisdom depends on perception. The metaphors of seeing attest to our underlying trust in what we ”see with our own eyes.” We “believe what we see”. As we enlarge our picture of reality, our understanding grows.

Observation lies beneath the methods of art and science. As science separates the world into smaller and smaller parts, art should be equally important in pulling the whole back together, to see the forest as well as the trees. Ideas expressed visually can include the multiple variables that we live with in actual experience, the influences from every direction that controlled experiments leave out. Artists enlarge the range of what we are able to see. By sensitizing people to significant pattern, capacity for insight is developed. Understanding how feeling represents the meaning of what we see tunes our intuition and our trust in its guidance.

Educating the synthesizing power of imaginal (thinking in images) thinking may allow us to evolve a new level of intelligence. Arguing for the superiority of visual communication, Barbara Stafford writes “Perceptually combined information… avoids the intellectual limitations of linearity.” She believes that in the graphic world of the internet, artists will be more important in explaining reality, understanding the display of knowledge, allowing an immediate apprehension of connections.

Art reveals consciousness. It offers multiple windows on the deepest and broadest aspects of being human. This is a physical improvement in the most evolved parts of our brain. Like any other activity, the parts of the brain that are used are strengthened. More benefit comes from the self-understanding arising from what you choose to see. Perception is not passive. It’s always scanning for what will be useful to us. Joseph Campbell said, ”The eyes are the scouts of the heart.” We are drawn to what resonates with our own inner state, often mirroring it, sometimes compensating for it. Given that neuroscience has shown that feelings precede and direct thought, letting the eye make choices from the world of art could likely take us deeper into understanding our feelings than talking about them.

The mission of visual philosophy is to see more, to become aware of the complex web of relationships that visual intelligence deals with best, and to express meaning visually. Knowledge of all kinds can be communicated with images. Even in regard to invisible realms and deep level patterns, artists can help us understand consciousness more fully by what they reveal of it. Posted by Susan Waters-Eller at 3:35 PM

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Santosh Verma at Jehangir from August 26

An Exhibition of Paintings By
Santosh Verma

26th August To 1st September
Jehangir Art Gallery
161-MG Road, Mumbai

Please oblige us with your benign presence.
Santosh Verma: 09891398249 7:13 PM
Location: SRB-94 B, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, UP - 201012

Friday, August 08, 2008

De-privileging the masculine spectatorial gaze in context-less galleries

A Chronology of Modern Indian Art and Thematic Considerations By Debashish Banerji
by Debashish on November 18, 2005 10:25PM (PST)

An Introduction to the history of modern Indian art along with an approach to its categorization, as expressed in the curatorial practice of the exhibition "Contours of Modernity" held at the SOKA University, Irvine from February-April, 2005 and curated by Debashish Banerji and Nalini Rao. more » 1 Attachment Leave Comment Permanent Link

In concluding this section, I would like to draw attention to the powerful body of art produced by contemporary Indian artists focusing on gender issues. The homoerotic fantasies of Bhupen Khakkar or the feminist polemics of Nalini Malani, Arpana Caur, Arpita Singh, Gogi Saroj Pal, Nilima Sheikh and others constitute a prominent direction of contemporary Indian art. It is unfortunate that the present exhibition has not been able to adequately represent this stream. This omission has been entirely logistical and the curators of the exhibition hope to remedy this lacuna in future presentations.

Moreover, with the exception of photography, logistical reasons have also been responsible for the omission of work in contemporary media other than painting, such as printmaking, video, computer, installation or performance art. The attempt to de-privilege the masculine spectatorial gaze from its vantage as viewer in context-less galleries or possessor of collections, has led increasingly to the movement of art from the pictorial space of walls to more intimate and participatory social contexts. This may be seen as a movement from the modern to the postmodern in art, and, since the late 1980s, increasing numbers of Indian artists are presenting their ideas, interpretations and social questions in these forms.

Artists like Vivian Sundaram, Ranbir Kaleka, Subodh Gupta and Ajay Sinha have been at the vanguard of Indian installation arts and producing some of the most exciting contemporary artworks of our time. It is regretted that we could not present any of this work at this exhibition, but we are hopeful that the quality of the works that we have been able to present will generate enough interest and support in the community to enable us to offer a more thorough representation of modern Indian art and its diverse tendencies in the near future. Keywords: Art Attachments: ContoursHistoryandGrouping.doc (58KB)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

V5: Group Show by Puducherry Artists at Auroville

V5: Group Show by Pondicherry Artists
Kala Kendra, Bharat Nivas, Pavilion of India ::: 11:00 AM
an exhibition of paintings by artists from pondicherry
danasegar s.
ezhilarasan e.
sridar k.
vengadesh b.
tirounavacarassou g.

August 10 - August 24
Open Daily 11 am till 7 pm
inauguration: 5 pm, Sunday, August 10, 2008
All are welcome
posted by dharmesh


Exhibition "Miniatures" by Firooza

Exhibition of paintings on silk by Firooza
15th July to 13th August at Pitanga
Daily 8-12.30 & 2-7pm
posted by Pitanga

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tushar Nair captures the playful and frolicsome aspect of Puducherry

Of hues varied and wonderful The Hindu Friday Review Delhi Friday, Jun 20, 2008
A group exhibition by SAIMC students is proof of their talent.
We are like that only A photo from the exhibition.

It might have been their first exhibition, but it wouldn't be their last. Students of the Creative Photography department, Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication (SAIMC), recently held their first annual photography exhibition at the Alliance Francaise. Guided by Raghu Rai, the works of the seven students have an honest freshness to them. While the quality varied from excellent to average, each student certainly has a signature style.

The locations are common, but the photographers highlight different aspects of each, be it Anandpur Sahib, Puducherry or Delhi. Some students concentrate on the location, others on the people. Some use candidness to their advantage, while others use posturing skilfully. While Siddharth Kumar brings out the sheer scale of the festival ground, Nilay Jyoti Talukdar brings out the power and ferocity of the Hola Mohalla festival. Tushar Nair captures the playful and frolicsome aspect of Puducherry. His subjects even seem to pose and smile for the camera. Bharat Choudhary, on the other hand, evokes the serenity of Auroville in Puducherry. His camera frames people lost in solitude under the shade of the banyan tree. Sagar Heerani's photo of the Mitra guesthouse removes the specificities of the location and creates instead a moment rather than a scene. The only pure black and white collection is by Kiranjit Baruah, who uses foreground and background interestingly.

Uniquely Indian
Some of the most memorable photos include Tanul Trivedy's Bike Rickshaw. The front of a motorbike is attached to a cart. It's the kind of photo that makes you smile and say, "We are like this only!" India is colour, and this photo shines with greens and reds. Bharat Choudhary's photo at Nizamuddin Dargah is magical in its over-layering. It's the kind of photo that reveals itself slowly to the viewer - the longer you stare - the more layers appear. It makes phantasms of people and creates illusions of reality.

At the end of their course at SAIMC each student has ambitions. Some want to pursue fashion photography while others have aspirations of "activist photography". While they do agree that photography can't be learnt, they admit that it can be better understood. And this exhibition was proof that they've certainly understood the art and are en route to mastering it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rare portraits by S M Pandit at Chaitanyamayi Art Gallery, Gulbarga

Visual treat in store for art enthusiasts Gulbarga, April 25:

Art lovers are in for a visual treat at the Chaitanyamayi Art Gallery in Gulbarga city for a week from April 24. On show will be true-to-life rare portraits by renowned painter the late S M Pandit.

The exhibition has been arranged to mark the fifth anniversary celebrations of the gallery that was established in memory of the Mother of Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry. It was on April 24 that the Mother came to Puducherry and made it her home.

The rare paintings, which are part of a private collection, are being put up for public viewing for the first time. The works will include the true-to-life portrait of S M Pandit’s teacher B G Sathe. It also happens to be the artist’s first painting which he sketched when he was a student at the J J Art School in Mumbai. The other paintings include those of Sir M Visvesvaraya, the Mother, Sri Aurobindo, the former legislator Gangadhar Namoshi, the former chairman of the erstwhile Gulbarga City Municipal Council Neelkantrao Patil. There will be also 35 other paintings of leading businessmen and industrialists of Gulbarga district. These were sketched between 1976 and 1982.

The gallery’s founder chairman and painter A S Patil told presspersons that it was for the first time that these paintings were being exhibited. These paintings would go a long way in perfecting the art of mixing the right kind of colour and bringing the right ambience in portraits, he said. Dr Patil said that besides the breathtaking portraits of world leaders such as Saddam Hussain, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher there were also landscape and realistic paintings and those highlighting important episodes in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Bhagvad Gita and Shakuntalam.

S M Pandit had won several awards and the Royal Arts Academy of London has conferred a fellowship on him. Some of his rare paintings are put up at a private art gallery owned by his family members in Gulbarga city.

Artist Mohan Panchal, who has done a PhD thesis on the works of S M Pandit, will deliver a special lecture on the inaugural day and portrait painters Vijay Sindhu and M C Chetty will make on-the-spot portrait paintings on April 25 and 28. Dr Patil said that the exhibition would be open from 9 am to noon and from 5 pm to 8 pm every day from April 24 to 30.

Friday, April 25, 2008

When I discovered the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother it changed my life and work fundamentally

Home After Hrs Drawing artistic inspiration
Ismat Tahseen Thursday, April 24, 2008 23:59 IST

The splash of colours brightens the face of Buddha on an otherwise darkened canvas followed by another with a frenetic burst of dots.
Ask artist Hufreesh Dumasia about the titles of the paintings and he will say that it’s a mere formality. “It’s for the audience to take inspiration from my paintings. The title is a mere formality,” said Hufreesh.
The canvasses are part of the group of artists from Auroville that are on show at the Indusvista Art gallery at Fort. Back in Mumbai for their second art exhibition, the artists are happy to be in the city that offers them a different pace of life. “Back in Auroville, the pace of things is slower,” smiled Hufreesh.
“We have more than 128 nationalities in one place, yet everyone is so friendly to each other, more than life it’s an experiment in human unity,” she added.
That feeling has certainly spilled onto their canvases. Like Nele Martens’ work that employs structural modelling with rhythmic brush strokes.
“It seems chaotic but aims to create a harmony straight from my heart, which comes from the serenity one feels in Auroville,” she explains.
Amsterdam-born sculptor Henk van Putten admitted had been using a limited scale of forms since 35 years and says he was inspired too.
“When I discovered the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother it changed my life and work fundamentally,” he said. “For two years I did nothing there and then I think as my life underwent a change in terms of thought, I felt inspired to paint too.” Among the interesting artworks, there’re steel boxes which Agnus had put aside for months until, Agnus said, “nature gave them a rusted robe. I just painted on them to symbolise important human emotions.” Home After Hrs The man on a mission

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Significance of Indian Art by Sri Aurobindo

Books › "Sri Aurobindo"
97. Psychic Being: Soul: Its Nature, Mission and Evolution by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and A. S. Dalal (Paperback - Jun 1, 1999)
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lalit Bhati, Adil Writer, and Auroson Bystrom

Adil Writer is a ceramic artist based out of Auroville, Pondicherry. Adil’s works exemplify a fearlessness to explore. Some of his pieces feature written text on textured clay bearing poetry, ruminations, lyrics & mantras in Sanskrit. Posted by MASALA CHAI at 10:10 PM Labels:


Auroville is an under-construction town from south India that plans to create a harmonious way of life for all its inhabitants. Lalit Bhati is an urban planner, an architect and resident of Auroville, and will be presenting the project at the Ecocity World Summit. The Auroville site states that the ultimate purpose of this city is “to realise human unity”, and to be a town where “men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities”. ( dátum: 12:30 Címkék: ,


Auroson Bystrom- furniture design
Dear Shaded Viewers,
Designer Auroson Bystrom is an anomaly. The Indian Born 37 year old of Swedish descent integrates not only his complex surroundings of India but melds them with his sense of minimalism which comes from his Northern European routes.

Bystrom was raised in Auroville, India. For Bystrom opposites play a role constantly pushing against one another to create an integrated baseline– his work is an ordering of chaos, an emission, a message and ultimately manifest aesthetic. “There is an elemental language in the stone, wood and metals. The process is the transformation into a new language of form.” states Bystrom.

His first piece was a commissioned series of stone and wood. This quickly led to international attention in key magazines such as Elle Décor and i-D as well as sold out gallery shows in his native country and abroad. Press: Peoples Revolution Later, Diane Posted by Diane Pernet at 02:00 PM Permalink

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eco-friendly building materials, alternative technology, and an architecture that is energy-efficient and climate-responsive

Building the Indian way DESIGN Gargi Gupta New Delhi Business Standard March 29, 2008

Is there an architectural style that you can identify as “contemporary Indian”? Jagan Shah, architect and historian, feels there is and picks on 20 mid-career architects — he calls them the “new moderns” — for an exposition of the “contemporary Indian” (Contemporary Indian Architecture, Roli).

So what is the “contemporary Indian”? No, it’s not an architectural style that merely tacks on “Indian” motifs or symbols to the structure, or mimics vernacular architecture. No, in a globalised world, an architect can’t simply get by on national identity.

What ties together the architects Shah picks on are “multidisciplinary insights” and a widening of respective agendas to include concerns about climate, ecology and gender. It is through the description of structures by them that he comes to a definition of the “contemporary Indian”.

Shah refers to two other vital issues which have had an impact on “creative” expression — the diminishing role of the state in commissioning public buildings, and the fact that with globalisation, architects are concentrating on delivery schedules, quality, detailing, engineering and programming skill. Here’s a look at some of the architects whose works he holds up

Walls have eyes

Auroville-based Anupama Kundoo is first on the list and it is her own residence that Shah holds up as an example of the “contemporary Indian”, identifying it in her attention to three areas: “Eco-friendly building materials, alternative technology, and an architecture that is energy-efficient and climate-responsive”.

Called “The Wall House”, Kundoo’s house is only 2.2 metres wide, made of exposed brick that’s scaled down to the smaller proportions of the local achakal brick.

It’s most distinctive feature is a two-storey-high vaulted verandah at the entrance, made of interlocking clay tubes, which is not just cheap, it is also great for insulation. Energy and costs have been further lowered by the use of solid stone and recycled wood.

Aurodhan Gallery has the city’s finest collection of contemporary Indian art

Pondicherry’s French Connection By MATT GROSS NYT: March 30, 2008

Farther north lay the Aurodhan Gallery, perhaps the city’s finest collection of contemporary Indian art. After browsing three floors of brilliant Ganesh portraits and somber neo-Expressionist scenes of old men drinking and playing checkers, I asked the gallery owner’s wife, Shernaz Verma, what to do next. She suggested I visit the French Institute and Auroville — a utopian community founded by the Sri Aurobindo Society, whose followers were, for many years, Pondy’s main tourists — but warned I shouldn’t expect a vacation crammed with activities.
In Pondicherry, she said, “there’s not much to see, but a lot to feel.”

Auroville, just over the border in Tamil Nadu state, was founded by a society devoted to the guru Sri Aurobindo in the 1960s and is now home to more than 1,700 people from more than 40 countries. At the center of this “ideal township” is the Matrimandir, a dimpled golden globe where the late guru’s followers meditate. Auroville also has the closest beaches to Pondicherry.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For Deleuze, art is to be thought on the side of production, but without a centralized designer be it God or man

larvalsubjects Says: March 12, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Both Deleuze and Whitehead see being in aesthetic or artistic terms as creations or inventions. This is one of the key claims of Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism, which proposes to united the two sundered halves of the aesthetic. Whitehead sees beauty as a central principle in the production of beings. Shaviro has done truly outstanding (and humbling) work on the intersection of Deleuze and Whitehead which you can find over at The Pinocchio Theory. You might find his article entitled “The Wrenching Duality of the Aesthetic” especially interesting in this connection. These can be found here:
Remember, one of the key issues at work in these questions is that of immanence. That is, how are we able to think the emergence of order without presupposing design or a maker. This is why I hesitate in response to your remarks about aesthetics (Kant famously argued that Beauty is a trace of design in nature in the Critique of Judgment).

For Deleuze, art is to be thought on the side of production, but without a centralized designer be it God or man. Deleuze is thoroughly Darwinian, in this sense, not because he accepts natural selection as the central mechanism, but because like Darwin he thinks the emergence of forms and order without any form or design preceding these forms and organization. The forms of life, existence, society, art, etc., are thus creations in a quasi-artistic or aesthetic sense. I’ve discussed this quite a bit on the blog in relation to Deleuze.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

An Exhibition of Ceramics by Anna and Saraswati

Pottery Poetry
Pavilion of Tibetan Culture until 10 March) ::: 10:00 AM
The Russian Pavilion Group presents POTTERY POETRY
An Exhibition of Ceramics by Anna and Saraswati
Opening Saturday, March 1st, 2008 at 4:00 p.m. until the 10th of March, 2008 at The Pavilion of Tibetan Culture International Zone, Auroville posted by jill

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The dawn of spirituality, human unity and goodwill

Other States - Puducherry Images that capture the spirit of Auroville on display
Serena Josephine. M The Hindu Saturday, Mar 01, 2008
Aurodhan’s Lalit Verma has showcased rare photographs at Bharat Nivas
— Photo: T. Singaravelou Speaking volumes: President of Aurodhan Lalit Verma takes exponent of classical dance Mallika Sarabhai on a tour of an exhibition of his rare photographs at Bharat Nivas on Thursday. PUDUCHERRY:

Transcending barriers of language and culture, a photography exhibition here attempts to convey the values that Auroville stands for.
Words apart, the pictures at the photography exhibition display some of the golden moments in time.
As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Auroville, president of Aurodhan Lalit Verma has put up some of his rare collections of photographs at Bharat Nivas.
The exhibition was inaugurated on February 28 and will be on till March 31.
Mr. Verma established Aurodhan nearly 10 years ago in Puducherry “to try and raise the art consciousness” here. He created the statue of Sri Aurobindo that was installed at Savithri Bhavan on the 40th birth anniversary of Auroville.
Titled ‘les moments d`ores’ (golden moments), the photography exhibition has Auroville as its central theme. This is Mr. Lalit Verma’s first exhibition at Auroville.

“One of the highlights of the exhibition is a photograph which was taken on the last birthday of Auroville. It shows a gap in the cloud and sunlight passes through the banyan tree at Matrimandir. There are 12 rays of the sun representing The Mother’s symbol. It was like a gift to me,” Mr. Verma said.
While the eye searched for inner meanings in the photographs, Mr. Verma explains, “It shows all the values that represent Auroville, including the dawn of spirituality, human unity and goodwill.”
Going a step further, he stressed the need for people to act always with the highest aspirations to bring harmony in the world.
“I have displayed a photograph of a tsunami girl who lost her family in Puducherry. Her smile is simply unbelievable,” he said of one picture.
Thirty-three photographs have been displayed at the exhibition. The photography exhibition will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day till it closes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

To switch fluidly from the scale of the atom to the scale of entire cities

Design Review 'Design and the Elastic Mind' The Soul in the New Machines By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF The New York Times: February 22, 2008 Bioengineered crossbreeds. Temperamental robots. Spermatozoa imprinted with secret texts. Although the fascination with organic form has been around since the Renaissance, we have now entered an age in which designers and architects are drawing their inspiration from hidden patterns in nature rather than from pretty leaves or snowflakes. The results can be scary, but they may also hold the key to paradise.

“Design and the Elastic Mind,” an exhilarating new show opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art, makes the case that through the mechanism of design, scientific advances of the last decade have at least opened the way to unexpected visual pleasures.
As revolutionary in its own way as MoMA’s “Machine Art” exhibition of 1934, which introduced Modern design to a generation of Americans, the exhibition is packed with individual works of sublime beauty. Like that earlier show, it is shaped by an unwavering faith in the transformative powers of technology.
Yet the exhibition’s overarching theme, the ability to switch fluidly from the scale of the atom to the scale of entire cities, may sound a death knell for the tired ideological divides of the last century, between modernity and history, technology and man, individual and collective. It should be required viewing for anyone who believes that our civilization is heading back toward the Dark Ages.
Organized by Paola Antonelli, the show opens with an act of high-tech graffiti. A can of spray paint is suspended from a system of cables and pulleys in front of a wall. A small motor guided by computer software winds and unwinds the cables, moving the spray can methodically across the white surface to spell out the show’s title.
It is a nice, mischievous touch. And the precision of the script, in contrast to the paint’s fuzzy edges or the occasional drip, reinforces the show’s point that the old Manichaean duality between the artist and artificial intelligence, nature and machine, no longer holds.
To create “The Honeycomb Vase,” for instance, Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny designed a temporary frame in the shape of a squat vase with a slender neck. A colony of nearly 40,000 bees then went to work for a week constructing a hive over it in what the designer calls “slow prototyping” — a pointed reference to the methodical repetition of the old assembly line.
The resulting voluptuous, translucent form reflects a close collaboration between man and nature in which the artist serves as a gentle guide before allowing the bees to take over.
Similarly, Joris Laarman’s “Bone Chair” was created with computer software that mimics the creation of human bones. The weight and stresses on a typical chair are programmed into the computer, which then works out an appropriate “bone” structure, churning out a series of increasingly refined prototypes. (The final computer version has a raw, undigested quality, but Mr. Laarman couldn’t resist adding a final dash of aesthetic refinement by smoothing over the rough edges, a nice little example of how reluctant some designers are to yield control.)
Other designers are more concerned with developing strategies that allow the machine to adapt to individual tastes rather than with creating the perfect prototype. Using rapid manufacturing systems, the Swedish team known as Front Design have developed a process in which a person sketches a piece of furniture in the air, which is then recorded with motion-capture video technology and transformed into a digital file. The file can then be used to generate a laser-cut piece of real furniture. Individual desire takes precedence over mass consumer tastes.
In all of these cases the computer’s grasp of complex underlying patterns allows the designer to create objects that are not only superefficient but also remarkably adaptable.
But the show is about more than gorgeous, environmentally sensitive design. The human body is repositioned as part of a fluid, elastic chain that extends from minuscule atomic particles to global communication networks.
The best example of this approach is Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch’s “Rules of Six,” which uses algorithms to fashion an organically based architecture. Mimicking the growth patterns of microscopic nanostructures, they envisioned an unpredictable, self-generating landscape that can multiply indefinitely without sacrificing stability. Their design is indifferent to scale: the sprawling matrix of three-dimensional interlocking hexagons could represent rooms, buildings or entire urban neighborhoods.
In another fascinating if fanciful application of nanotechnology, the typeface designer Oded Ezer proposes using it to imprint incantatory typed messages on spermatozoa, the high-tech equivalent of a primitive fertility ritual.
The ease with which human designers can shift from the atomic to the global is driven home by the show’s layout, designed by Lana Hum. Visitors pass between two walls that converge slightly, to create a forced perspective — an architectural trick that extends all the way back to Palladio in the 16th century but here makes you feel like Alice tumbling through the looking glass.
Suddenly you are in a space packed with unfamiliar objects, like a trade fair. The scales shift once again; dystopian visions seep into the picture. “New City,” a projected three-dimensional display of a virtual world by Peter Frankfurt, Greg Lynn and Alex McDowell, is a model of an idealized society where buildings, cities and entire geographic regions all flow seamlessly together. It suggests how the Internet could be used as a testing ground for an emerging utopia.
Perhaps the most unnerving project here is “Architecture and Justice” from the Million Dollar Blocks Project, a graphic study by Columbia University’s Spatial Information Design Lab. Using the computer to filter through masses of data on prison populations, the group studied several American cities and identified the blocks where the highest concentration of prison inmates lived when they were arrested. That more than $1 million a year is spent on incarcerating people from each one of these blocks is shocking misuse of resources.
The graphic display on a blood-red grid is a bold expression of how the computer can be a powerful analytical tool for dislodging received wisdom and enabling us to examine entrenched social problems through a new lens.
If the show has a weakness, it’s when it introduces artsy expressions of futuristic societies that tend to be technologically crude: images of heavy plastic tubes that potential sexual mates can use to sniff each other, for example, or robots that refuse to respond until they are lavished with affection.
The almost unwieldy scope of the exhibition, however, is a virtue: it sends our imaginations spinning in endless directions. The technological optimism and trade-show ambience, for example, may conjure Charles and Ray Eames’s gigantic slide displays from the 1959 Moscow Trade Fair, which flaunted the peacetime technology of cold-war America. I left MoMA already dreaming of a followup show that would map out the link between today’s new design technologies and the wartime military research that generated them.
Or how about a show that looks at the relationships between technology, modernity and fundamentalism?
But I don’t want to detract from the mood. “Design and the Elastic mind” is the most uplifting show MoMA’s architecture and design department has presented since the museum reopened in 2004. Thanks to its imaginative breadth, we can begin to dream again.
“Design and the Elastic Mind” opens on Sunday and continues through May 12 at the Museum of Modern Art; (212) 708-9400, Richard Perry/The New York Times “New City” by Peter Frankfurt, Greg Lynn and Alex McDowell in a show opening Sunday at MoMA. More Photos >

Meditative play of light...searching for silence

Aura of Auroville Ruchika Talwar Expressindia: Saturday , February 23, 2008

A Franco-Swiss family and an Italian, who have left Europe to make Auroville their home, are in the Capital with paintings, which have an almost meditative play of light; gigantic installations embellished with mantras and the red sand of Aurobindo’s ashram; and haiku-like photographs with the aura of Auroville.
The Hymn of Silence, an enormous installation by Veronique Nicolet (above, in picture), a 51-year-old who has been an art teacher at Auroville for the past 11 years, consists of three sheets of glass, painted in blue and engraved with the mantra Om Namo Bhagawataya. But the photographs of the Italian Ireno Guerci, who is enamoured with “the visual paradise that India is”, are simple. “They are an invitation to contemplate the little ideas that we tend to ignore in the lust for big ones,” he says.
Then there is 55-year-old Michel Nicolet, with his installation Prakriti and Purusha, and 36-year-old Karine Applanat Nicolet, who is an interior decorator at the quaint township in Pondicherry. Her paintings probably have the softest colours one has ever seen on canvas, as though they are searching for silence.
The exhibition at the India International Centre comes with a probing title: “Why Art?” Rajan Ghosh, who has written a book on the relationship between art and Aurobindo, explains, “The title is interrogative, but the answer lies in the search within. Aurobindo believed that art doesn’t give what nature does; it gives much more.” The exhibition at the India International Centre Annexe is on till February 29

Friday, February 22, 2008

Surreal-metaphysical imageries and mystical symbolism

Exhibition: ‘South Calcutta Artists’ Academy
Aurelec Cafeteria & Art Gallery (until 16 March) ::: 8:00 AM 17 February to 16 March 2008
Exhibition by members of the South Calcutta Artists’ Academy
Aurelec Cafeteria & Art Gallery
The ‘South Calcutta Artists’ Academy’ is an artists’ organization, consisting of painters, sculptors, graphic and ceramic artists, and so on. It is the quest for empathy, for togetherness, that led us to establish the Academy in 2001.
Our Academy aims to provide a broad platform for artists to overcome their personal and commercial handicaps, without compromising their individual identities. Just as parallel lines can progress together, similarly different ambitions and thought-processes are sought to be accommodated under the umbrella of our Academy.
Representation at ‘Aurelec’ Exhibition :
The members of the South Calcutta Artists’ Academy aspire to represent the Eastern Region, especially Calcutta, at the Pondicherry Artists’ Workshop. All the members of the Academy are upcoming contemporary artists, experimenting with the various genres of both contemporary and traditional Indian art.
Calcutta as we all know is known as the cultural capital of our country. It amalgamates the traditions of Indian classical and folk art forms along with the influence of colonialism.
The artists of the Academy seek a forum to bring international exposure to the artistic traditions of Eastern India, as well as to exchange knowledge of existent and emergent art forms and techniques.
Ten painters will exhibit their work in the forthcoming exhibition in ‘Aurelec’:
Sujit Karmakar seamlessly blends Indian traditional art symbols and monochromatic colour schemes with contemporary themes and concerns.
Pinaki Acharyya’s surreal-metaphysical imageries are juxtaposed with Indian spiritual and mystical symbolism.
Sharmistha Acharjee likes to experiment with lines and form. She focuses on inanimate objects, which she then invests with a new dimension.
Ashok Kumar Dey draws inspiration from folk art forms. His lines are cleanly and firmly etched, giving his figures a certain fixity of purpose.
Sujit Saha uses primitive art forms and animal motifs to highlight his contemporary concerns.
Tapan Biswas likes to place spiritual art forms against contemporary images.
Pradip Laha goes back to Bengal folk art and figurative style for inspiration. The female images in his paintings create a new niche to highlight feminine forms and feelings.
Mahua Roy mixes her fantasies and innocence to express herself.
Amitava Banerjee amalgamates bold brushwork with his simplified folk forms.
Rajib Deyashi works with naturalistic forms and realistic colours.
Lal Malsawma is from Mizoram (North-East ). His paintings portray with honesty the environment to which he belongs.
Aurelec Cafeteria, Auroville, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
posted by Franz

Paintings, silk screens and drawings by Monique Patenaude

Exhibition: "The Blue Invasion"
Pitanga (until 12 March) ::: 8:00 AM
The Blue Invasion and other unseen art works
Paintings, silk screens and drawings
by Monique Patenaude
21 February to 12 March 2008 at Pitanga
Daily open: 8 – 12:30 & 2 – 7 pm Sundays closed
The English version of the book “Made in Auroville, India”,
translated by L’aura Joy, will be launched at the same time.
posted by Pitanga

Monday, February 18, 2008

Still can the vision come, the joy arrive

Archetypal matter-spirit mysteries set for debate again
S. Dorairaj Other States - The Hindu - Puducherry
Three-day meet organised by Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity
— Photo: T. Singaravelou The brochure of the three-day meet, ‘Sri Aurobindo…The New Dynamism of the Material and the Spiritual’ that will be held in Puducherry from Friday.

“When the circle will be completed, when the two extremities will touch, when the highest will manifest in the most material that the experience will be truly decisive.” – This is how The Mother throws light on the dynamism of the material and the spiritual.
Fathoming out the mysteries of the relationship between matter and spirit, Sri Aurobindo says:
“There Matter is the Spirit’s firm density
Where sense can build a world of pure delight.”

But an attempt to find answers to questions such as “Are these poetic images?,” “Or, do they reflect the nature of changes taking place in our world?” and “Can we discover links to them? And weave them together to form a rich tapestry of our lives?” has been made by the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity by organising a three-day meet, “Sri Aurobindo…The New Dynamism of the Material and the Spiritual.”
The meet to be held at Bharat Nivas in Auroville will commence its deliberations on February 15.
The first day will be devoted to the broad topic, “Our Frontiers of Scientific Research.” It will have presentations by experts on the irreversible discoveries in physics, the new findings in biology, economics taking a new look, in search of new organisational structures, how technology impacts the human psyche, how globalisation affects individuals and societies and climatic change and its far reaching imperatives.
Topics such as art as expression of the spirit, the multi-dimensionality of the literary canvas, architecture as form and consciousness, design and its changing contours, education seeking new methods and goals, search for a greater psychology of man and society and the meaning of ‘embodiment’ and evolutionary purpose would be discussed on the second day under the broad subject, “As Life recreates itself.”
The third day would have the session on “Spiritual Experience and the goal of Transformation.” Issues such as “A new sense of the ‘spiritual’ in life-in-matter, its many forms and practices, the supra-mental consciousness and the substance, the supra-mental manifestation, its moment of evolutionary presence and the path of internal yoga” would be discussed.

24 speakers
A total of 24 speakers will make their presentations. Each session will also have collective interaction.
The deliberations on the first day will start with recitation from ‘Savitri’ and conclude with the chanting of “OM” with Narad at Sri Aurobindo Auditorium. The second day’s session will begin with recitation from ‘Isha Upanishad’. Exhibition
An exhibition on “Infinite Matter” would be inaugurated at Kala Kendra.
On the third day, the session would commence with meditation with music of ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Centenary 1972’.
It would culminate in a power-point presentation titled, “A Presence of Roger Anger.”
A power-point presentation on “How the Body’s Development Supports Higher States of Consciousness” in the forenoon at the audio-visual room of Kala Kendra and contemporary dance and live music programme “An Infinite Matter” by Grace and Nadaka at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in the evening are slated for February 18.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Nishikanta-Dilip Kumar combination that resulted in memorable compositions

ALL THE BEST: Tale of two legends
It is not often that one encounters so many legends in a single week. Art lovers speak of Ramkinkar Baij with the same reverence that connoisseurs of music refer to Dilip Kumar Roy. At the same time came a living legend in the world of dance from Germany, Pina Bausch who had taken Kolkata by storm more than 12 years ago with a production called Carnations. Her performance has been discussed elsewhere and hence we can concentrate on the two who have their roots n Bengal but whose legacy is cherished all over.
Dilip Kumar Roy was born in the same year as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and while the latter spend the better part of his life striving for the freedom that came when he was not around, the former strived for freedom of music compositions that stood apart in an era dominated by Tagore. The point was stressed in an absorbing lecture by Sudhir Chakraborty which was the highlight of Sura Kavya Trust’s 111th birth anniversary programme on Dilip Kumar Roy at the GD Birla Sabhagar. The idea was to emphasise the “parampara’’ that made Dilip Kumar what he was ~ a scholar with a universal outlook but whose creative genius distinguished him from Tagore and who found his métier in several thousand songs which have not yet been comprehensively compiled.
It is left to organisations like Sura Kavya Trust to preserve the heritage through publications, music albums and, most important, getting the new generation to imbibe the power and passion of Dilip Kumar’s music. The programme revealed exciting new talents. One of them was Sujata Majumdar who accompanied Sudhir Chakraborty as an illustrator of the musical legacy handed down to Dilip Kumar from his father Dwijendralal. The raga-based compositions were illustrated with Sujata’s rendering of Barasha elo which was followed up with the Nishikanta-Dilip Kumar combination that resulted in memorable compositions like Tomar andhar nishaye and tunes adapted from the Scotch, Irish and English compositions. The speaker, an acclaimed musicologist, covered different phases of the musical careers of father and son with such depth and perspicacity that the audience consisting mainly of admirers of Sri Aurobindo’s ardent disciple must have returned with a clearer understanding of the musical genius.
The second half was also devoted to the musical spirit handed down by father to son, this time resulting in a visual delight. Alokananda Roy made a stunning presence with movements that were wonderfully in tune with the songs rendered by Shikha Basu and Prabuddha Raha reinforced by Debraj Roy’s commentary written by Biswajit Ganguly. The DL Roy selections were in the patriotic mould but there were images of sheer joy reflected in songs like Ami eshechhi. There were also beautifully nuanced compositions that Shikha Basu used her experience and competence to give the audience a taste of the spiritual strength that went into all of Dilip Kumar’s work.
An equally comprehensive view of Ramkinkar Baij is presented by Anant Art Gallery. This is the most well curated show one has seen in recent times. The highlight is a series of photographs taken by Devi Prasad when he was a student of Ramkinkar at Santiniketan. Most of the photographs of the sculptures were said to have been taken at night with controlled lighting and they produce an ambience that is just right for appreciation of Ramkinkar’s memorable sculptures ~ the Yaksha and Yamini statues, studies of the human form, a study of Rabindranath that has been discussed again and again and images of mother and child, love and innocence.
Along with the sculptures come original paintings in water colour and oil. Most of these have a spontaneous flourish ~ village scenes and quick sketches that carry the energy and universal humanism that he brought to all his work. The credit for all this must go Naman Ahuja of the School of Arts and Aesthetic, JNU, who first presented the show in Delhi to an overwhelming response. In Kolkata there is an audio-visual section that includes an unfinished film on Ramkinkar by Ritwik Ghatak. It adds up to the most intimate portrait of the man who revealed so many shades to a colourful life.
POSTSCRIPT: Perhaps the least talked about side of Satyajit Ray’s creative genius was his contribution to the visual arts. If the show mounted by Ray Society at the Academy was any guide, there is no doubt that the energy and inventiveness Ray displayed elsewhere is reinforced by the plethora of illustrations, book covers, posters, typefaces, set and costume designs, advertisement art works and much more. The question is, where do all these get preserved? Swapan Mullick the Saturday, 9 February 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Money Museum

At a time of uncertainty — as the market quavers, the dollar sinks, sub-prime lenders go belly up, and the Federal Reserve Bank rapidly twists its dials — money becomes more puzzling and more unpredictable, demanding closer scrutiny. So while opening the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street last month might at first have seemed like bad timing — like buying a stock at its top, or selling at its bottom — there was actually no better moment to mount this tribute to the “forces that have made New York City the financial capital of the world” (as one of the museum’s displays puts it). And if our city’s status and the currency that backs it are more contested than they once were, that only makes the enterprise more urgently intriguing.
In fact, the museum was founded just after the 1987 market crash, because John Herzog, chairman of a trading firm that has since become part of Merrill Lynch, said he felt that there was no “institutional memory” on Wall Street. Moments of crisis require that expanded perspective, and, as the museum’s founding shows, they also inspire it...
One display reminds us that Willie Sutton famously explained that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.” But we come to this former bank to see exactly what money is — and what America has made of it. That doesn’t really happen. But enough is seen so that money starts to seem less like a material object than like something more ethereal, affected by sea winds and psychology, faith and risk. And at this uncertain moment its mysterious powers seem all the more uncanny: it’s a perfect time to see it in action. This museum is not a bad place to start. The Museum of American Finance is open Tuesdays through Saturdays at 48 Wall Street, Lower Manhattan; (212) 908-4110 or More Articles in Arts »

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Art is also a supreme comfort because it gives credence, by its very attention, to the various moods and modes of being

The Practice of Appreciation Posted on December 28th McFawn
In the New York Times the other day, Roberta Smith wrote an article titled What We Talk About When We Talk About Art about the obtuse and pretentious language in art criticism today. Smith takes issue with three words: privilege, reference (both used as verbs) and the term practice used to describe what artists do. Smith seems particularly uncomfortable with the word “practice,” claiming that it characterizes art-making as a white-color activity, that it implies that artists need license to practice (of which she disagrees) and, most interestingly, that “practice” indicates that art is ultimately a problem-solving activity. Here’s how Smith puts it:
Second is the implication that an artist, like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, is trained to fix some external problem… Art rarely succeeds when it sets out to fix anything beyond the artist’s own subjective needs.
Smith’s issue with the word practice is less interesting than the bold claim it leads her to about the purpose of art. She seems to believe that art is most successful when it doesn’t try to tackle any problem outside the artist’s psyche or aesthetic aims.
Sunil Gangadharan at Art and Perception wrote an insightful response that makes the point that art often draws attention to global problems, perhaps encouraging “the viewer to think about (and in the ideal case, acting to alleviate) a problem hitherto unknown or underrepresented”–thereby tackling an “outside” problem. Certainly this would be the goal of most political art.
I have never thought of art as a problem-solving activity, outside of the inherent problem-solving in bringing an intention to realization. Art may gesture towards problems in the world, but I agree that the best art does not aim to “fix” anything. The purpose of art will always be debated, but my natural response is that art, rather than solving problems, is a means to a greater valuing of the world, problems and all. The best art is a sophisticated and distinctive appreciation of the world, and the best art criticism is a sophisticated and distinctive appreciation of art.
Without art, what we would appreciate in the world would be limited. We would no doubt appreciate food, water, shelter, family, and any personal relationships that benefited us. But our pleasures would likely be restricted to only what contributed to our survival and immediate happiness, and our way of ordering the world would probably consist of a simple dichotomy: good and bad. Good things help us survive or feel good, and bad things impede our survival and hurt. Art, however, gives us the ability–and the permission–to appreciate the unclassifiable details of the world. For instance, without art, we might find the natural world beautiful, or we might be drawn to a hard-to-read feature in someone else, like a sardonic yet shy smile. The appreciation of such things perhaps existed before art, but it is art that encourages us to dwell in and value these perceptions.
Art is also a supreme comfort because it gives credence, by its very attention, to the various moods and modes of being. Joy, triumph, contentment all seem real to us because these are the things we want to feel as real, and suffering is real because of the vividness of pain. But the more subtle states of being–bittersweet melancholy, self-amusement, mischievousness–these states and every other, art argues, are just as real and just as capable of being valued.
When I find art or literature moving, I feel as if the art is elaborating on something I once felt briefly. For instance, Hawthorne’s “My Visit to Niagara” explores the numbness and intimidation and loss of self we sometimes feel in the presence of natural phenomena. I felt, when reading “Niagara” that I also had this experience in the presence of nature (my visit to the Andes in Peru was one example). But like so many sensations throughout the course of life, I let myself be swept along to the next experience without pausing on the significance and singularity of that moment. Good art slows the world down and shows us the dimensionality in even the most transient of experiences. Art is perpendicular to life: if a lifetime is a horizontal and forward-moving, art is vertical–showing us the heights and depths in moments from which we are compelled to move on. Art may not fix the problems of the world, but it shows us the fullness of what’s at stake. Trackback URL Some Responses to “The Practice of Appreciation” :
Art certainly is “perpendicular to life”. It is a time out from life as we usually live it, and when it is good enough, the “supreme comfort” McFawn talks about is there to enjoy. Roberta Smith makes quite a few good points too, until her last paragraph, where she blows it by conceding that she, like many many others since Leo Casteli exhibited a fake Fountain in the 50s, no longer demands to see art. It is as if the very lack of discipline Smith “refers to” ultimately consumed her own experience of art. Commented catfish on December 29th, 2007.
About Hawthorne’s visit to Niagra, I think it would be very hard to make outdoor scullpture if I lived in the Rocky mountains, say around Gunnison. Not because of “numbness” but because it would feel like what’s the use when you can see a landscape like that everyday. Commented catfish on December 29th, 2007.
And finally, one the web site for the school of art at the University of Illinois, it says that the studio curriculum prepares students for careers in social activism. (! ?) They forgot to note whether or not jobs in social activism come with fringe benefits, but the way it was presented could lead one to expect they do. Theirs is a good example of the enlightened, 21st century art department doing what it does best - putting an academic wrapper around the multi-thousand year old instinctual activity we label art. Commented catfish on December 29th, 2007.
“Art is perpendicular to life” is brilliant! It’s going down in my quotes to remember. Commented Steve Durbin on January 5th, 2008.

Great art often comes from an artist thinking – and wanting to solve something – beyond their subjective selfhood

Roberta Smith wrote a lively piece in the Sunday Times last week titled ‘What we talk about when we talk about Art’ (link here). She weighed in on the use of commonly used clichés used by the artworld that inherently reflects and harbors intellectual insecurities. As an example, she talks about the oft over-used ‘Referencing‘ (as in the statement “this work referencing male chauvinism uses…”), ‘Privilege’ (as in “privileging the leftist agenda”) and ‘Practice’ (as in “my studio practice”). I have seen these used and sometimes abused in many artist biographies, statements and exhibition descriptions. While Referencing really means ‘referring to’ and Privilege means ‘favoring’, it is the term Practice that has the biggest potential for being misconstrued…
She makes three assertions:
#1. First off, there’s the implication that artists, like lawyers, doctors and dentists, need a license to practice. Many artists already feel the need for a license: It’s called a master of fine arts. But artists don’t need licenses or certificates or permission to do their work. Their job description, if they have one, is to operate outside accepted limits.
#2. Second is the implication that an artist, like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, is trained to fix some external problem. Art rarely succeeds when it sets out to fix anything beyond the artist’s own, subjective needs.
#3. Practice sanitizes a very messy process. It suggests that art making is a kind of white-collar activity whose practitioners don’t get their hands dirty, either physically or emotionally. It converts art into a hygienic desk job and signals a basic discomfort with the physical mess as well as the unknowable, irrational side of art making. It suggests that materials are not the point of art at all — when they are, on some level, the only point.
While I completely agree with #1 (that a formal degree while definitely useful is not essential to the development of an art mindset in an individual) and #3 (the subversion of materials around an artist constitutes an important part of artistic expression), I do have questions about #2 (the assertion that artists have a self-help, therapy based relationship with their art and it serves to solve personal, subjective problems rather than focus on larger global issues)…
I would say that in a large number of cases, the output produced by an artist may be directed to induce the viewer to think about (and in the ideal case, acting to alleviate) a problem hitherto unknown or underrepresented (sewer cleaners in India or a film about plantation workers in Dominica are two cases that come to mind). I might also add that artistic expressions such as the above stems from strong sincerity that the artist must have for the problem rather than being an accidental by-product while the artist indulged in self therapy…
Feedback appreciated. 5 Comments
Comment by Steve DurbinDecember 28, 2007 2:26 am
Thanks for calling this one to our attention; it’s quite apropos for a site that’s so full (too full?) of talk about art.
As a language fan, I don’t believe in synonyms, though I certainly see plenty of poor word choice. “Referencing” may have roughly the same denotation as “referring to,” but it is used in quite different contexts and suggests a whole postmodern theoretical framework. It’s a much better word (because it conveys so much more) IF one wants all that, and IF one has understood correctly the audience’s reaction. If used only to impress, without awareness of how pretentious it sounds to most, it will probably have the opposite effect.
Smith seems most bothered by “practice.” I never took this in the sense of a professional practice, but rather as meaning one’s habitual way of working, which I think most artists have, despite the unpredictabilities of it. Perhaps the New York usage is different. If I trust her ear on this, then I conclude there are different language communities even within the art world. Not necessarily a bad thing if we just remember it.
Comment by BirgitDecember 28, 2007 8:16 am
Ms. Smith’s verbal perception is only ‘So so!
ALLEN VEANER’s letter to the NYTimes editor
Ms. Smith, referring to a work by the German painter Martin Kippenberger, writes that it is ‘’labeled with ‘preis,’ the German word for price.'’ While it is true that preis means price, the word has many meanings, one of which is prize or award. I suspect that the title ‘’2. Preis.'’ is an expression of irony referring to ‘’second prize.'’
Allen Veaner is correct!
Comment by McFawnDecember 29, 2007 8:39 pm
Good response. I started to write a longer reply here but it became so long & ramble-y that I posted it at my site, with the appropriate citing/shout out to your post.
I thought it was strange that Smith was so bothered by the word practice…and I thought you made a good point about how great art often comes from an artist thinking–and wanting to solve something–beyond their subjective selfhood.
Comment by JuneDecember 30, 2007 11:57 am
Hi Sunil and all,
I am only bothered by the use of “practice” when it is clearly referencing the licensed utilization of artistic skills priveliging those with academic credentials.[add snort here]
And I am thoroughly frustrated by “referencing” since I don’t think the referral to deconstruction and high-tone theories is meaningful, except to those who have already imbibed the dregs of the vinegarish wine of Derrida (sorry, Steve). It’s very like the business use of “utilization” where it has become the word of obfuscating choice (see above”) We may be stuck with it, but I don’t have to like it.
“Privileging” I think is better — it has a very specific kind of connotation and is shorthand for what would be a mouthful to explain. I think it is useful even if it does reference an academic sort of techno-speak.
But back to the main question that Sunil broaches: what is the aim of art? I have to bow to McFawn’s emendation of Smith’s concepts:
“Good art slows the world down and shows us the dimensionality in even the most transient of experiences. Art is perpendicular to life: if a lifetime is a horizontal and forward-moving, art is vertical–showing us the heights and depths in moments from which we are compelled to move on. Art may not fix the problems of the world, but it shows us the fullness of what’s at stake.”
I like McFawn’s concept because it sidesteps questions of self-examination or political statement, both of which can exist in given works of art but are essentially beside the point. I don’t think Sunil’s portraits will change anybody’s mind or actions vis-a-vis tragic lives. But they do arrest us, stop us in our tracks and make us consider — consider what? well,possibly his technical prowess, or the plight of the human condition, or the nature of “progress,” or the irony of digitized portraiture in a hungry world, or the disgusting state of our own braggadocio or whether we can send more money to the local food bank.
The stopped state that art provokes can go in many directions — the important thing is that we get stopped.
And this may be why we all resent the 15 seconds or so of viewing that most art gets from viewers. But that’s a different subject altogether.
Comment by Martha — January 3, 2008 2:30 pm
I think the word “practice” has also come to have the positive implication borrowed from meditation, zen or otherwise. In the literature about that, one’s meditation work is often called one’s practice.
R.S. is privileging a tempest in a teapot, as far as I can see.
But isn’t it also funny how, if you read an artist statement before seeing the work, 99% of the time the words would not anticipate what the visual reality is…

Art rarely succeeds when it sets out to fix anything beyond the artist’s own, subjective needs

Is self therapy a reason for taking to the arts?
Roberta Smith in a short essay in the back page of the Sunday Times art review made some assertions as regards art as a 'practice'.The assertions are as follows:
#1. First off, there’s the implication that artists, like lawyers, doctors and dentists, need a license to practice. Many artists already feel the need for a license: It’s called a master of fine arts. But artists don’t need licenses or certificates or permission to do their work. Their job description, if they have one, is to operate outside accepted limits.
#2. Second is the implication that an artist, like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, is trained to fix some external problem. Art rarely succeeds when it sets out to fix anything beyond the artist’s own, subjective needs.
#3. Practice sanitizes a very messy process. It suggests that art making is a kind of white-collar activity whose practitioners don’t get their hands dirty, either physically or emotionally. It converts art into a hygienic desk job and signals a basic discomfort with the physical mess as well as the unknowable, irrational side of art making. It suggests that materials are not the point of art at all — when they are, on some level, the only point.
While #1 and #3 are very much agreeable, I questioned #2 over at Art and Perception in a post yesterday. Link to the post here. Posted by Sunil at 11:39 PM 0 comments Labels:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

They often don't know what to say about their art

WHY WRITE? Kris Tiner
This is where the well-informed critic or historian usually steps in to correct the balance of information, and thank goodness for them. But at some point we have to let the artists speak for themselves.
Historically we are at a point where information is so rapidly and easily exchanged that artists can no longer afford not to speak for themselves, and students, educators, and critics of the music can't afford not to listen. The field is so exceedingly diverse and the technology is so exceedingly simple to make the kind of idea-sharing and community building that's only been dreamed of in the past a definite and immediate reality. Imagine if Rothko or Charlie Parker had a blog, if Anthony Braxton had posted his Tri-Axium writings on a website instead of printing them in a prohibitively limited (and costly) edition, if Charles Ives hadn't had to wait patiently for the publication of his music - what if he could have recorded it himself and distributed it freely over the internet?
There are so many ideas whose importance has been overshadowed only by their obscurity. Posted by Kris Tiner at 2:57 PM Labels: , 4 comments:
James Sproul said...
wow, brilliantly put as always. Sifting through the many ideas one strikes me as interesting. The artist that owns up to the responsibility of sharing their ideas about their art, do they also have a responsibility to share their ideas about their art form in general (this may or may not include talking about other artists). I think you are on that road, and I think it is a fantastic path to take. especially given, like you say, the speed at which we are able to communicate and even discuss (blog) about our ideas, and perhaps even argue our differing points of view. I have often heard people (mostly composers) say they don't want to explain their work in program notes or talking, they want the music to speak for itself.
I think this is just an excuse because they often don't know what to say about their art. Which is a little silly in my mind. I don't talk much about my work, but that is just because I don't like talking in front of people. so I write weird program notes. And often times I feel bad because I often can't express myself adequately enough to feel like I did it right, but that only comes with practice. I feel like it shouldn't be that difficult to explain your art-form (assuming one thinks about their art-form). I really dig your ideas on the difference between self-interpretation and self-representation. Someone doesn't have to explain their piece to where someone will listen to it and say "oh yes, that IS what I hear".
I don't think that is necessary, and many composers go to great lengths to explain to people who great their piece is, but I think there does need to be some expression (or to use your idea, representation) about what you believe and how that belief has been integrated into this particular piece. Which i think still allows an audience member to have a totally original experience for themselves with the music that is happening. I think this is more difficult in music that has no improvisation as it is a much more static situation and people tend to want to hear the story behind the piece (or often just the title). Anyhow, fantastic paper/blog, I truly enjoyed reading it. I think you are on to some really interesting ideas about how artists should, or can, express themselves.oh, if Ives only had a blog!!!! January 21, 2008 5:23 PM
Kris Tiner said...
Thanks! And I should clarify, in terms of the interpretation v. representation issue, I am talking about the artist's expression of "ideas about art", worldviews, systems, methods, things like that and not programs, or the kind of thing where you might say "this sound represents a waterfall here" or whatever. That, to me, is going a bit too far and we could just as easily get into a discussion of when does the composer cross the line and start trying to do the job of interpreting for the listener. Maybe we will.
When it comes to program music as such, I tend (once again) to side with Ives, asking (in the Prologue to Essays Before A Sonata):“How far is anyone justified, be he an authority or a layman, in expressing or trying to express in terms of music…the value of anything, material, moral, intellectual, or spiritual, which is usually expressed in terms other than music?”
In fact, this is as good a reason as any to write (and likely a self-justification of Ives' own writings) -- to say in words all that the music can't express or isn't saying on its own. When we try to explain what the music is saying that's where we cross the line and get into self-interpretation. January 21, 2008 8:33 PM
James Sproul said...
ah, thanks for clarifying, that is what I was thinking about. I think it is also of a certain responsibility, or maybe just an unwritten "hey, you should do this" but in expressing their views it should be more inclusive than just "composition is this" or what have you. I hold a firm belief in allowing all art-forms to converge in ones life, and allow those things to influence your decisions about your specific art-form, allow that poet to affect your art, or that painter, or even a specific painting or even philosopher (as I believe you have done to great extent with say, Ken Wilbur). They are going to influence it anyway just by having the experience, you might as well embrace it and allow it be as rich of an influence as possible. I believe, at least for myself, that is the only way to gain a richness in your personal art. I really like Ives' ideas on interpretation. Program notes, to me, and this is how I write mine, should express what the music won't. Often this constitutes technical things for most people, I try to leave as much of that stuff out as possible, unless there is just something that I used that they really should have at least basic knowledge of.
But often times I use program notes to express things that perhaps surrounded the piece during its conception and writing, that didn't necessarily go into the piece specifically, but did have influence, perhaps on my mood, or what-not, during. I find it interesting to understand what was going on during a writing of a particular piece in that persons life (or painting, or novel etc...). I find it often lends itself to an interesting point of view for me to experience and interpret what I am hearing. That can have a tendency to leak into crossing that line. so often people write six paragraph program notes about the piece and it's minutest details that are so unnecessary to the experience, but are there to show how "clever" the composer was. I don't like that. And it is interesting when the audience wants that interpretation done for them, they want the ENTIRE story of what is happening, mostly because they are perhaps lazy and don't want to do the work, or perhaps just uneducated about what you are doing (not implying stupidity, just not acquainted with that particular brand of whatever it is you are doing). What do we do as artists when they want that explanation?
I often refer them to the program notes, but that doesn't satisfy them, and if you say something aloof you sound like a pretentious jerk. it is a fine line. But I agree that the expression is not the expression of this piece or that one. It is the expression of the artist as a whole (their artist self, religious self perhaps, maybe even father-self) and through this self-expression have that original experience and interpretation instead of asking for it outright, which is much more satisfying. I had a lot of that experience in grad school, of people wanting to know what this meant or that etc... I honestly didn't know what to tell them. I just explained what I think about, perhaps a technique or something, but as far as interpretation, I had no idea what to say, because what the piece really means is something that is quite inexpressible for me. I could never explain what that piece means, nor do I try or hope to be able to. January 21, 2008 10:05 PM
James Sproul said...
one more thought. So if all this is sort of justifying writing about writing, doesn't this lead into a comparison of why we create in the first place. To express... something? Doesn't the representation of ones self through the music also carry over into the representation by the written word? Although simply expressing the same entity through different means, or perhaps different views of the same rock that sort of thing? Surely we get as much out of Ives from his music as his writing. Should we not examine both and examine him as an artist with all of it in mind? Are they not all artistic expressions? So in answer to the initial question "Why Write?" perhaps we write because we "compose" (because the phrase "we write because we write" seemed a little... ), they are essentially fulfilling similar needs within ourselves. the expression, or representation and we do it in whatever way we can. January 21, 2008 10:53 PM