Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Earth is a Trampled Garden

The Earth is A Trampled Garden
Bea Fremderman, Ficus Interfaith, and Laurie Kang
Organized by Bryce Grates

http://brycegrat.es/

Brooklyn, NY

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(Hu)Man is perpetually erasing existing bonds with nature in exchange for a reality that they have erected. This new reality can be viewed as a “second nature”. We are societally intertwined with this overdetermined second nature, and have pushed the antiquated “first nature” further and further away from us, into a space that only exists within the experience economy. This comes in the form of nature preserves, zoos, artificially-designed parks established in the midst of cities, and so forth. Much like art, we now experience and view nature as a preserved object, or entertainment. We see it as a reproduction of something that once was, which is now just an optimized system composed and funded through a capitalistic agenda.

The Earth is a Trampled Garden aims to bring together artists who move in the direction of a perhaps fictional, or not-yet-tapped, “third nature”. Handmade objects using seeds, plants, naturally occurring chemical reactions, et al., they provide a new take on the ways that natural materials can be considered and reconstructed for an audience.

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Photographer Franco Banfi and his fellow divers were following this pod of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) when the giants suddenly seemed to fall into a vertical slumber. This phenomenon was first studied in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan inadvertently drifted into a group of non-responsive sperm whales floating just below the surface. Baffled by the behavior, the scientists analyzed data from tagged whales and discovered that these massive marine mammals spend about 7 percent of their time taking short (6- to 24-minute) rests in this shallow vertical position. Scientists think these brief naps may, in fact, be the only time the whales sleep.sleeping-whales.jpg.0x545_q70_crop-scale-1

Dangerous Together

19222968_1679675195379899_6273899256783872462_oDANGEROUS TOGETHER, co-curated by Prairie and Micah Schippa, presents:

BB5000
Dorota Gaweda & Egle Kulbokaite
Ficus Interfaith R+ P
Institute of Queer Ecology
KERNEL
Loney Abrams + Johnny Stannish
Sorbus

Opening June 23rd from 7-10pm. Show runs June 23rd – July 30th 2017.

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Micah Schippa:

Here let me send you what I have

Guillaume says “the critical potential of collaboration has to be problematized in relation with the question of authorship, as the latter holds a prominent place in modern academic self-image and systems of valorization. Thus, authorship is central to understanding how collaboration can provide a critical pathway to the production of knowledge. To be successful, collaboration needs to steer participants away from an intellectual state of idleness, where the effects of one’s social, historical, institutional, ideological, gendered and cultural situatedness are ‘in an unthought stage’ (Bourdieu 1994: 217). To this purpose, collaboration can offer a networked and dynamic collaborative environment within and through which ideas are critically fostered and engaged with, but also an epistemic frame where the notion of individual(ist) production is not necessarily celebrated as a competitive feature of contemporary academia, but re-situated in the dialogical dynamics of knowledge production, management and valorization.”

Prairie:

I like that

Did you see what I posted in the doc?

More-so related to ecology than collaboration, this excerpt from the introduction to Jason W. Moore’s “Capitalism in the Web of Life” offers a nice, brief analysis of how early human life developed symbiotically with the environment:

“When geographers say space, may we not also say nature? All social relations are spatial relations, relations within the web if life. Socio-spatial relations develop through nature. All species “build” environments – they are “ecosystem engineers.” But some engineers are more powerful than others. Humans have been especially powerful. This is not simply because of thought and language – which are of course central – but also because hominid evolution favored distinctive extroversions: a smaller digestive system and the use of fire as an external stomach; a narrower birth canal and community as external womb; less hair and the production of clothes as external fur. That list could be extended. The point is to highlight the ways in which evolutionary processes were powerfully co-produced: humanity is a species-environment relation.”

Can we think of a way in which to address both the collaboration happening between members of these artist collectives and the material/natural “collaboration” these groups are engaged with?

Micah Schippa:

Omg i looooooove this

It breaks the naturalized, solipsistic idea of capitalist development. Like, competition as a species-eat-species, top down effect is a matter of the way we perceive time at a small scale. We are engineers in a world of engineers, a world which itself is an engineer. But not so technically; more ambiently.

I like the way these two texts of ours breathe back and forth.

Omg wait should we just use this for the press release?

Prairie:

Yeah love that.

Haha, are these two texts dangerous together??! 😀

 

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Progress Beyond Reason

­­MX Gallery
169 Canal St, 5th floor

“Progress Beyond Reason”

Thomas Laprade/Aaron Lehman
Ficus Interfaith

 

We’ve always made sure to tell and retell the story of darkness and light.  And just as our ancestors danced to the songs of their ancestors, they always remembered to teach the steps to their young.  Juking became jerking and Egyptian hieroglyphs found their way into gay ballroom dances uptown.  The things the dead made and left behind were poignant too, especially when we could run fingers along the cracks that bore witness to their stories– as if we needed proof that time passed before we became lucky enough to sit up and watch it tick.

These rituals of making, sharing, and conserving guarantee that beliefs and values endure from one generation to the next.  Ritual, above all, functions to preserve social memory by connecting an individual to a shared, cultural history.  Dapping it up in the local fashion feels especially good when it’s as physical (with your arms around another body) as it is transcendentally shared. Ritual becomes the performance of history and our performance of ritual is the medium by which history thrusts forward and gives life meaning.

In pre-modern society this meaning of life was given at the beginning, and this meaning was immanent in all the ordinary customs and practices of daily life.  The beat of the drum told the feet exactly how they should move- and that alone was worth reproducing to keep the world going around.  In modern society, however, meaning is not given at the beginning of life– meaning is to be sought, discovered, acquired, and often discarded and re-rediscovered.  Suddenly it was no longer enough to make the world go around but necessary that it also move forward.

So the idea of progress and the need for perpetual improvement became held in the highest regard in the new world. A society, a life, or an action that did not show progress came to seem meaningless, and, in turn, ritual stood on the other side of a Great Divide.  It became tantamount to a blind faith in the past.  Ritual, as opposed to reason, became barbarism and idolatry that could only impede the path to a bright and rational future.

Some, equipped with instruments for measuring and fine-tuning, went about banishing the sprites and gargoyles that lived in the dark corners of the imagination.  They replaced them with methods of categorization and confinement, and even applied these ideas to people.  They claimed ornament was the mark of the savage and renovated temples to humiliate monks with simple reason and logic.  Others, erecting towers of mullioned glass and rectangular greys, said ritual was the insidious tool of authority used to stratify and take advantage of the aspirational poor. Ritual became our bogeyman, no longer a boon but a blight on progress.

Progress was to be social, scientific, liberal, constant, faster, constant, better, constant… until we found ourselves moving again to the beat of that ancient drum.  These activities, held to the metric of seemingly quantifiable progress and perpetual improvement became the new customs and practices of every day life–the modern ritual.

Yet all those cancerous qualities we feared about ritual– the blind faith and idolatry– were only in remission.  Aided by technology, these symbols of progress reproduced and hurdled through our psyches so fast that they became empty shells of what they once stood for. A dangerously ritualistic faith in progress emerged; the idea of a better future hijacked by eco-conscious marketing ploys, protestors at rallies in search of social currency, aerodynamic razors with embossed speed stripes for hairless bodies.  Futurism in this sense became reduced to a hyperbole of a wasteful and indulgent present; one that carrot-sticks us into the future while leaving us too tranquilized to really feel, think, or act in the moment.

We see this trickery most clearly in the technologies and materials that literally form the foundation of our culture. Perhaps the enabling feature of the Roman Empire’s sprawl was their use of concrete— they were the envy of the western world for the speed of their megalithic construction. Domes, aqueducts, and arches were poured rather than painstakingly pieced together. The imperfect predecessor of this technology was clay and the inheritors of its successes were plastics, rubber, terrazzo, and today the infinitely variable rendered image. What each of these technologies enable and share is their plasticity and offer of unlimited new forms. A poured concrete façade of a neoclassical building does not rely on wooden beams, columns of fluted reeds, and pegs that tie columns to architrave, and yet all those features are visible because they were the original construction techniques of Greek temples. While plastic materials like concrete offer vast potential for new forms, we continue to imbue them with the symbols of the past. We see in these technologies a preservation of image, appearance, and ritual while materiality drops away. This culminates in the rendered image, an image literally without matter. We live in homes with hollow Ikea furniture.

The fact of how we preserve our past when given so much technological potential for newness suggests that we can’t escape our history, but maybe there is potential within it for liberation.  If ritual is the practice of history then it must be a history for life. Not an idea of history that is only a scientific recording of facts, or limited by nostalgia and a blind recreation of past styles, but a practice that empowers an imagination aimed at the horizon. Today it’s possible to hear the ancient drum and, rather than be captive to it, have the ability to decide how the feet should move.

“Progress Beyond Reason”, featuring Thomas Laprade/Aaron Lehman and Ficus Interfaith, will run through July 4. Gallery hours are by appointment. To make an appointment please contact 773-490-0191 or 203-321-3701, or email info@mxgallery@gmail.com

 

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In History

 

 

13_Kincaid In History

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Pieter Bruegel, The Harvesters, 1565 (oil on wood)

 

 

Richard Foerster

Though they stoop and sweat
outside a stingy circle
that the pear tree affords …though the mustardy sheaves
of their morning’s labor
lie stiff in their ranks as battle-tallied dead . . . and though
the tree itself, coiling
ungracefully heavenward, pasta blue steeple, splits
their world with its axis,
here is Eden after allwhich the artist makes
us contemplate
by planting in the foregroundthat husky, unkempt reaper
with his legs splayed wide,
forcing our gaze crotchward,to the solid drowse
of his codpiece so casually
unlaced, while another,nearby, holding summer-
ripe fruit firmly to his lips,
stares out at us, and eats.

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William Carlos Williams

Summer !
the painting is organized
about a young

reaper enjoying his
noonday rest
completely

relaxed
from his morning labors
sprawled

in fact sleeping
unbuttoned
on his back

the women
have brought him his lunch
perhaps

a spot of wine
they gather gossiping
under a tree

whose shade
carelessly
he does not share the

resting
center of
their workaday world

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Pieter Brueghel, Hunters in the Snow (1565)

Oil on canvas, 46 inches x 63.75 inches. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

 

Brueghel’s WinterWalter de la Mare

Jagg’d mountain peaks and skies ice-green
Wall in the wild, cold scene below.
Churches, farms, bare copse, the sea
In freezing quiet of winter show;
Where ink-black shapes on fields in flood
Curling, skating, and sliding go.
To left, a gabled tavern; a blaze;
Peasants; a watching child; and lo,
Muffled, mute–beneath naked trees
In sharp perspective set a-row–
Trudge huntsmen, sinister spears aslant,
Dogs snuffling behind them in the snow;
And arrowlike, lean, athwart the air
Swoops into space a crow.

But flame, nor ice, nor piercing rock,
Nor silence, as of a frozen sea,
Nor that slant inward infinite line
Of signboard, bird, and hill, and tree,
Give more than subtle hint of him
Who squandered here life’s mystery.

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The Hunter in the Snow

William Carlos Williams

The over-all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return

from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in

their pack the inn-sign
hanging from a
broken hinge is a stag a crucifix

between his antlers the cold
inn yard is
deserted but for a huge bonfire

that flares wind-driven tended by
women who cluster
about it to the right beyond

the hill is a pattern of skaters
Brueghel the painter
concerned with it all has chosen

a winter-struck bush for his
foreground to
complete the picture

icarus

Pieter Brueghel, The Fall of Icarus

Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

 

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Musee des Beaux Arts

 

W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.