Monday, May 18, 2009

ABC's de ME. Et apres moi, le deluge..d'ART.

(It means, ABC's of Me. And after me, the flood... of ART. I'm paraphrasing King Louis XIV of France, you'll see why presently...)

A: Attached or Single: Single

B: Best Friend: Breann Hewitt (since high school!), Jessica Brothers (collegiate)

C: Cake or Pie: PECAN PIE! unless it's really a good funfetti cake...

D: Day of Choice: Sunday, with Saturday as an honorable mention.

E: Essential items: Bowls of cereal, cell phone, BLANKIES!, oil-blotting sheets, metro card, and Money (boo...)

F: Favorite Color: Green and Grey

G: Gummy Bears or Worms: Sour worms!!!

H: Home Town: Las Vegas

I: Indulgences: Overpriced, exotic meals/outings with friends. That's where my money goes. You only live single once, that's my excuse.

J: January or July: July, easy.

K: Kids: Once I find them a choice daddy, yes.

L: Life is incomplete without: The Gospel, my family, sunshine, bodies of water, something to learn about, adventures.

M: Marriage Date: hahahaha- well, my freshman year of college I decided I'd like to be married on 7/7/07. My conciliatory prize was a study abroad to Europe that summer, so I'm not too upset about missing that boat :) I guess I'll shoot for 11/11/11 now.

N: Number of Siblings: 2 little brothers, 2 little sisters

O: Oranges or Apples: Yellow apples. Oranges are a hassle.

P: Phobias: Ledges (I'm not scared of heights, I just get scared being on the edges of things... is there a name for that?)

Q: Quote: I love them. Here's a few:
“Expect nothing. Live frugally/on surprise.” -Alice Walker poem, and
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." -Wayne Gretzky, and
"Just heard news. No more bobby sox! Girls dresses to grow decidedly longer! Dignity everywhere." -I found this line in a letter from Minerva Teichert to her little sister in 1946. I don't know why I find it so funny!

R: Reasons to smile: SUMMER APPROACHING, boys with broad shoulders and rakish hair, cute little people on the metro


T: Tag: No. I'm not that girl.

U: Unknown fact about me: I just quit Facebook!!!

V: Vegetarian or Meat Eater: Vegetarian, if only because meat is expensive. When I get back to getting a paycheck, I shall return to being an omnivore.

W: Worst Habit: According to two very irritated brothers, I talk in a shrill baby voice sometimes. I swear I don't know when I'm doing it.

X: X-rays: Multiple head ones from breaking my nose while longboarding and undergoing sinus surgery; also from going to the dentist regularly.

Y: Yummy favorite food: I love sugar so much. I fear diabetes worse than death. :) Movie theater popcorn, peppermint ice cream, and oatmeal cookie dough round out the top 3.

Z: Zodiac sign: Cancer. Go crabs.

Yes, I picked up an all-about me list from another blog. I normally never complete these... but this one was cute, with its little ABC twist. So there you go.

Art? Ok.

This is a new acquisition by the Hirshhorn, now on display in the Strange Bodies exhibition, which chronicles the various ways modern and contemporary art has manipulated the age-old subject of the human body. The show illustrates how 20th and 21st century artists have changed the body to express their own inner emotions, to diagram some "truth" about the human experience, to portray a political or social wrong perpetrated by and inflicted on humans, or to capture the irreverence and hilarity of modern life, and the changing notions of things like beauty, heroism, and the individual.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (which stands for Member of the British Empire, a title he was recently rewarded). The Age of Enlightenment- Antoine Lavoisier. 2008. Before I tell you what this piece is made out of, just look at it for a second, and take note of what stands out to you. Any questions arise?

"Fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, mixed media." That's the official media tag line, as copied from The Age of Enlightenment's label in the gallery, four floors below me. Yinka Shonibare, the artist, who was born in England and raised in Nigeria, likes to re-imagine famous scenes from Western art and history... but he includes certain media and sculptural characteristics that hint at something more than just a portrait, something that reveals his "post-colonial hybrid" outlook on life (his words, not mine). The above work is his 3-D adaption of a famous portrait of the French chemist, politician, and economist named Antoine Lavoisier. The original portrait was painted by the French artist-to-the-aristocratic-stars, Jacques-Louis David, seen here ->

The brightest standout for me, when I first started researching this work back in Januray, was the costume the mannequin is wearing. Turns out, Shonibare's signature style is his use of Dutch wax batik textiles, which you might have mistaken for traditional African garb. Historically, those bright, crazily printed fabrics were originally manufactured in Holland, and shipped for trade to Indonesia. After meeting with low consumer demand there, the fabrics were consequentially exported to (aka dumped on) the poor African colonies, from whence most people assume they originally came. Shonibare replaces the stately fabrics of his aristocratic subjects with the materials his ancestors would have been wearing at the same time, thanks to the domineering economics of European colonialism. Hmm...

Another feature you might notice is the wheelchair. Antoine Lavoisier the chemist was never crippled; Yinka Shonibare likes to give all his historical figures some type of disability, as a shout-out to today's level of awareness for disabilities, and as a call for further accessibility. One month into his first year at art school, you see, Shonibare contracted a rare viral disease that left him paralyzed, and only after three years of physical therapy did he regained use of his right side. He remains disabled to this day, and contracts out the actual sewing of his costumes to a costumier. Learning all of this, I immediately wonder how history might have been changed, and what other stories we might have grown up with, if people with disabilities back then could have had the opportunity to function as equals, like he does now. How would they have changed the world? (I love how this work unfolds as you learn the story.)

The mannequin is headless, another typical feature of Shonibare's tableaux. In the Hirshhorn's work, however, this has special consequence, as Antoine Lavoisier was guillotined in the French Revolution. It becomes to me a marker of violence, of politics, and of the anonymity of crime.

Now, you know me, and how I have strong opinions about modern art. I tell you when I don't like it. I tell my bosses, too. It has been a joy to study and consider this piece, for not only does it speak out in bold, playful, and unassailing terms about race, colonialism, and disabilities, it does so with flair! It's a beautiful, arresting work. I've been waiting all five months of my internship to finally see it (I researched it in January, they didn't display it until last week!). Here's two more examples of his works, I get such a kick out of them:

^The artist himself, with a miniature mock-up of his ship-in-a-bottle, with Dutch wax-print sails, that will occupy the presitgious fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, outside the National Gallery in London. *Because mom asked for clarification: there are four plinths, or big statue bases, the lie by the big steps that come down from the National Gallery into the Trafalgar Plaza (Yes, the plaza with the lions we tourists love to climb). Every year, they select one British artist to design a work to go on the fourth, empty, plinth. In 2010, Shonibare's giant ship will take over that spot, the first time a black British artist has been given this honor.


MOM said...

I can't believe the fabric came from Holland! I remember painting my "Ghana" page in my children's book, and studying the fabric. Of course we think it originated in Africa! So many of their beautiful "wrap" dresses and head pieces are made from it. Hmmm...the little things I learn on my little girl's blog. So, did Shonibare "make" the clothing here, the two girl's dresses too? That'd be amazing. But yes, I love the colors and textures and the interesting story behind his works. I wish we could see his big boat in Trafalgar Square!! You'll have to tell the Barratts. :)

Jayci said...

the fabric is beautiful! And what a cool story... a little gruesome as soon as I read the guillotine, but hey! that's history. And lots of art is inspired by history; I love artists' interpretations of history and their own opinions through the beauty they can create. AH! I love it. Thanks for sharing all this fun stuff with us readers. :) mmmm oatmeal cookie dough! my favorite! if you ever come to Anchorage, you'll have to remember the little restaurant called Pad Thai. I don't EVER want to try another thai restaurant because it is so SO dang good. And pecan pie?!?! Have you tried Costco's? It is the BEST and I can eat almost a whole one (I almost did last fall... it was embarrassing).

maggie said...


Thanks for keeping me connected to the Hirshhorn! you're my only source to know what's going on there anymore.

I wish I could explain the Strange Bodies exhibit as well as you have done. I LOVE Contemporary and Modern art but I'm so bad at defending its value. All I know is that I like something and it's hard for me to explain why. I'm glad you're able to do some research while you're there. I miss that!


Ashley said...

And you don't think a recipe would go well on here... well you know... it is culinary art :) I'll be the silly young mormon if I must!

And... I love my appellation as your original blog friend... can we be real life friends too?!?


Summer Lewis said...

I didn't know that about batik fabrics! I'm telling all my costuming friends!

jessie said...

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