By Albert Goldbarth
That there’s a fun in funeral
is goofus etymology, but a sensible reminder
of the secret life in everything… how inside dear
is deer and, inside that,
the Sanskrit: “falls to dust and perishes.”
If we could hold a word
against our ear, like a shell,
we’d hear its sea— churning in its belly,
the size of blood in a mosquito.
The way inside us is
the genome’s part of its ongoing
conversation with the universe.
The way the ageless story of the seed is still
inside the Nile reed; and the song
of the reed, inside the sheet of papyrus
— under the tallies of sweet downriver wheat
and chariot wheels and waxy cones of floral perfume:
The ho’s, the speeders, and the married slappers
never stop, they pile up like autumn leaves,
but under the scurf of the forest preserve
the “cold case” is muttering patiently, and waiting
the creation of technology that will finally point
a revelatory finger. Forgetting is only remembering
thinned with foreign particles.
If the Neolithic village is ever excavated
out of its silencing earth, the wind
will still know the notes. One night
the woman lightly places her fingertips
one the head of the man asleep beside her:
somewhere hundreds of brain-equivalent miles down
inside him is a database
of fossils of earlier women. Later,
his turn: with his ear against her back,
between the shoulders: there, the whole script
of an alternate reality is being recited (someone
plays his part) in a drama
compounded of glial cells and electrical links.
Today I heard the radio interview
of someone who studies the sounds fish make;
her special focus is minnows, darters, sturgeon.
They’re noisy, it turns out, when you have
the proper equipment… thundering booms
and drawn-out kiss-squeak figure prominently
in these fierce displays of territoriality
and sexual welcome underneath
the still and quiet surface.
By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
From The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.
Everything in this photograph is utterly artificial, beginning with the painted backdrop. Its mottled forms create an impression of light, which complicates the shaft of genuine light that Groover has introduced from above on the right side of the composition. These effects enliven the somber beauty of the picture and participate in a visual balancing act that also includes the table and all the objects on and around it, which the artist has painted before arranging them. The imprudent red at the lower left adds to the impression of a voluptuous whole.
Since 1978, the still-life genre has been the focus of Groover’s photography, the arena in which she has tested her conviction that “formalism is everything.” That declaration may be understood to mean that the artist’s pictorial decisions-what color meets with what color, how shapes are seen in relationship to each other and to the space they occupy, the scale of forms within the picture-are enough to create a world of meaning. Pursuing this conviction in the closed environment of the studio, Groover has, in fact, created a seemingly infinite variety of visual experience, as rich and surprising as life outside.
(Text from MoMA)
Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present is an interesting exhibition which presents paintings of the great masters alongside photography from the 19th Century to the present. The exhibition allows and encourages the viewer to see how painting has influenced photography, and also serves as an introduction to the history of photography.
As well as paintings and photographs the exhibition also includes videos. “Still Life” by Sam Taylor-Wood, and “Big Bang” by Ori Gersht were, for me, the most memorable pieces in the exhibition.
The concept for this video is very simple yet very beautiful. The artist, Sam Taylor-Wood, has recorded a bowl of fruit slowly rotting. We observe the whole process of decomposition, from the first glimpse of fuzzy mould growing on the apples, peaches, pears, and grapes, to the end where all that remains are some small grey lumps. A fascinating video!
Israeli artist Ori Gersht froze a bouquet of flowers with liquid nitrogen and then recorded as it exploded and shattered into a thousand pieces. It’s shocking, beautiful, and mesmerising all at once. Gersht says, “I’m interested in those oppositions of attraction and repulsion, and how the moment of destruction in the exploding flowers becomes for me the moment of creation.” (Here you can see a slightly better version of “Big Bang”)
I’m also including another video I found by Ori Gersht, “Pomegranate”.
Seduced by Art is now showing in CaixaForum Barcelona and will be showing in CaixaForum Madrid from the 18th of June.
I love Weegee‘s photographs of embracing couples in the cinema. I first saw these images a few years ago in a Tate Modern exhibition, Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera. I’m not a fan of posed or staged photographs, I’m much more impressed by natural shots which capture what Henri Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment. He said, “photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”
Weegee (as well as other photographers such as Kohei Yashiyuki) used an infrared flash to take pictures in the dark without being seen. This way he could secretly photograph scenes which would usually be hidden from our vision. I like the element of surprise and chance in these photographs as Weegee couldn’t see what he was photographing. He literally took a shot in the dark, and succeeded.