Posts filed under ‘Books’

Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake

Described by critics as “the drama of a woman who after ten years of living together with a genious couldn’t take any more“, this book “testefies that art is a deadly dangerous region, for which you pay with your life” (Karl Korn, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung).

When sixty-two year old Picasso met twenty-one year old student painter Francoise Guilot, he made it very clear to her that “when love begins, it is already recorded somewhere, as it is its duration and content“. The book gives great inside to Picasso’s personality and how he was in his intimacy, with his boosts in temperament and manipulative character.
Though a bitter report by Gilot of ten years of living together, the book also allows a bit of insight into Picasso’s way of thinking, his art drive and all the people that populated his life. Especially interesting is the remark that in the ten years of their relationship Picasso and Guillot never really shared a social life, as Picasso was obcessed with his art.

April 18, 2011 at 12:32 am 1 comment

Fool for Love and Other Plays by Sam Shepard

Cowboy Mouth
Slim: Cut the shit, baby. You never knew that guy; he’s a million years old. Just tell the story.
Cavale: I do so, I do know him, Slim. He hung himself on my birthday. My birthday. And some lady tole my mom I was made from a hanged man. Poor bastard. And, Slim, he had a crow too. Just like Raymond. I read this dream book Baudelaire writ, and he said Nerval came to him half-crow, half-half-half-ass. Nah. I’m just teasing. I’m sorry Nerval, Slim. I don’t wanna’tell this story. It’s stupid. I’m sick of telling about people killing themselves, it makes me jealous.
Slim: Okay! Okay! Then don’t tell me a story! Don’t never tell me a story! Don’t never tell me another fucking story! See if I care! Nobody gives a rat’s ass anyway! I’m gonna’ play rock-and-roll! I’m gonna’ play some mean, shitkickin’ rock-and-roll!”


Fool for Love, From left, Larry Lamb, Juliette Lewis and Martin Henderson in “Fool for Love” in London.
Eddie: May, I’m trying to take care of you. All right?
May: No, you’re not. You’re just guilty. Gutless and guilty.
Eddie: Great.
(He moves down left to table, sticking close to the wall. Pause)
May: (quietly, staying in the corner) I’m gonna’ kill her ya’ know.
Eddie: Who?
May: Who?
Eddie: Don’t talk like that.
(May slowly begins to move downstage right as Eddie simultaneously moves up left. Both of them press the walls as they move)
May: I am, I’m gonna’ kill her and then I’m gonna’ kill you. Systematically. With sharp knives. Two separate knives. One for her and one for you. (she slamms wall with her elbows. Wall resonates) So the blood doesn’t mix. I’m gonna’ torture her first though. Not you. I’m just gonna’ let you have it. Probably in the midst of a kiss. Right when you think everything’s been healed up. Right in the moment when you’re sure you’ve got me buffaloed. That’s when you’ll die.
(She arrives extreme down right at the very limits of the set. Eddie in the extreme up left corner. Pause.)
Eddie: You know how many miles I went outa’ my way just to come here and see you? You got any idea?
May: Nobody asked you to come.
Eddie: Two thousand, four hundred and eighty.
May: Yeah? Where were you, Katmandu or something?
Eddie: Two thousand, four hundred and eighty miles.
May: So what!
(He drops his head, stares at the floor. Pause. She stares at him. He begins to move slowly down left, sticking close to wall as he speaks.)
Eddie: I missed you. I did. I missed you more than anything I ever missed inmy whole life. I kept think’ about you the whole time I was driving. Kept seeing you. Sometimes just a part of you.
May: Which part?
Eddie: Your neck.
May: My neck?
Eddie: Yeah.
May: You missed my neck?
Eddie: I missed all of you but your neck kept coming up for some reason. I kept crying about your neck.
May: Crying?
Eddie: (he stops by stage-left door. She stays down right) Yeah. Weeping. Like a baby. Uncontrollabe. It would just start up and stop and then start up all over again. For miles. I couldn’t stop it. Cars would pass me on the road. People would stare at me. My face was all twisted up. I couldn’t stop my face.”

April 17, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Street Art, Street Life: From the 1950s to Now

“Street Art, Street Life: From the 1950s to Now” was an exhibition curated by guest curator Lydia Yee at the Bronx Museum in New York from September 14, 2008 to January 25, 2009.

Usually associated with graffiti, the label “street art” actually embodies a wider range of practices brilliantly covered by this exhibition.
From street photography, to documentation of performances and ephemeral actions, videos, and art objects made from found materials, the show included works by Robert Frank, William Klein, Jacques de la Villeglé, Yoko Ono, Vito Acconci, Martha Rosler, Sophie Calle, Nikki S. Lee, Francis Alÿs among others.
I especially appreciated the work of Francis Alÿs, the information on the Fluxus tours in New York and Robin Rhode’s piece.

My greatest discovery was Tehching Hsieh‘s performance work, for its hardship, invisibility strategies, integrity and radicality.
Tehching Hsieh accomplished several one year performances (Cage Piece, Time Clock Piece, Outdoor Piece, Rope Piece and No Art Piece), meticulously cataloguing and recording the entire process.
In the Outdoor Piece, 1981/82, he lived one year in New York without ever entering an enclosed space or a city building, with exception for one night spent in jail. In the Rope Piece, he tied himself to another person with a 2,4 meter rope and stayed in the same room, unallowed to touch each other for a whole year.

“Street Art, Street Life: From the 1950s to Now” joins works which directly address street struggle, the indistinguishibility from art and daily life, the blurring distinctions between art and non-art, artist and audience, at the same time offering a ground for the critique of the institutions of art.

April 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The book sticks with me.
Makes me wish I lived in New York in the sixties and seventies and experienced the street struggle and its art scene, when artists were making and being part of History.
Patti Smith’s narrative is an elegy to a lost friend and great artist – Robert Mapplethorpe-, a tale of generosity and love. I was shocked to find out that she discovered her own talent and started doing her own thing so late in life. Sam Sheppard, who really saw through her, gave her her first guitar.
In their early years together, Robert Mapplethorpe’s ambition and dreams stimulated Patti Smith, and her providing for Robert made it possible for him to develop his art, until they went their separate ways in pursue of their own dreams.
I feel happy that I will go to a Patti Smith concert in a few weeks, it feels like witnessing a little miracle.

April 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

“Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. A Novel” by Geoff Dyer

I liked the two different stories in one single book, though I do not believe them to be different versions of the same story. I see them more like different moments in the same person’s life. The narrator refers everything as having its avatar and this is possibly the way the author understands his own book.

The correspondences between both parts lie, among other things, in the romantic/ friendship encounter between people, the fascination for a specific city and the development of a mood, which is also partly city-related.

The second story, especially towards the end, engaged me more. “Death in Varanasi” poses the question: “What if (…) desire went away and never came back?”. Among other subjects, the book is about lust, about feeling it in the first story and about renuntiating it in the second.

Some of my favourite quotes:
The bank at the other side was quite steep. Walking over it was like cresting a low sand dune. As I did so, a dark bird flapped noisily into the air. To my right, in a small bay, two dogs were eating something at the river’s edge.
A dead man.
Was being chewed by two dogs. One was eating his left forearm, the other his right wrist. The dead man was intact. He was lying face down. I could see his hair and one ear. He was wearing a filthy pale blue T-shirt, torn in several places and shorts. The dogs looked up, looked at me, then resumed their meal. It seemed a strange place to start, the arms. Maybe they started there because it was easy to get their jaws around limbs.
I could not see the dead man properly, but I recognized one of the dogs
“. (p.265)

Some people stop believing that hapiness is going to come their way. On the brink of becoming one of them, I began to accept that it was my destiny to be unhappy. In the normal course of things I would have made some accomodation with this, would have set up camp as a permanently unhappy person. But what had happened in Varanasi was that something was taken out of the equation so that there was nothing for unhappiness to fasten itself upon. That something was me. I had cheated destiny. Actually, the passive construction is more accurate: destiny had been cheated“. (p.279)

May 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm Leave a comment

“Nocturnes” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Animated trailer by George Wu for Kazuo Ishiguro’s book “Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall”.

I was smiling stiffly and standing in a corner with my boxe gloves on when a book caught my eye at the airport newspaper store. Its back cover read that these were stories “marked by a haunting theme: the struggle to keep alive a sense of life’s romance”. There are no coincidences in life and so I bought the book.

I was puzzled throughout the reading since, instead of giving us insight into the character’s contradictory choices and behaviour, the narrator simply presents them. He refuses to make an interpretation or leave any clues as to it and even places the development of the story in a nearby future and beyond the story’s last written sentence. In this sense, “Nocturnes” really keeps growing on you after you finished reading the book.

I felt mislead at first, since apparently there seemed to be no answer to its greater question – what keeps us going. I realized then that my thoughts keept revolving around all those gestures and emotions I couldn’t figure out in the book, around the stories’ unfinished endings. It hit me then that our sense of wonder lies exactly there.

A great book.

May 6, 2010 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

How I feel today

“For no apparent reason – that is, for no reason that I was aware of at the time – I curled my hand into a fist, stood up, and punched the wall as hard as I could. The thin beaverboard panel gave way without a struggle, bursting open with a dull cracking noise as my arm shot through it. I wondered if the furniture was just as flimsy and picked-up a chair to find out. I smashed it down on the bureau, then watched in happiness as the whole thing splintered to bits. To complete the experiment, I took hold of one of the severed chair legs in my right hand and proceeded to go around the room, attacking one object after another with my makeshift club: the lamps, the mirrors, the television, whatever happened to be there. It took only a few minutes to destroy the place from top to bottom, but it made me feel immeasurably better, as though I had finally done something logical, something truly worthly of the occasion”. (Paul Auster, Moon Palace, 1989)

January 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

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