June 22, 2004

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog...

My gracious friend JP helped me to transfer my blog to my very own domain name. The right brain in me is trying to figure out the HTML/CSS of it all, so bear with me for a few days...

And in other, fantastic news, I'm getting married on 23 April 2005. Woo-hoo...

Diversions! Diversions! Must concentrate! I'm going to need and IV infusion of Ritalin to make it through the next year...

Posted by Sarah at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2004

You Are Beautiful

A global proposal from You Are Beautiful slept quietly in my inbox, waiting for me when I arrived at work this morning. The premise as I understand it: I (and many others) will 'host' this sketchbook for the next year, filling it as I see fit by whomever I choose to collaborate with. (I could do it all by myself, but I have a feeling that I'll become too attached to it, as I am to my own journals, sketchbooks and diaries) My immediate reply--"sure, why not?" I'll carefully courier the baby cross-country to SF, before shipping it back to Chicago, where it will be displayed in a gallery along with its brethren.

For some time now, I've been interested in so-called 'catalogue' exhibitions, as first initiated by Seth Siegelaub in 1968 with his Xerox Book. Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Dennis Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, and Lawrence Weiner each contributed 25 black-and-white xeroxed pages; the resulting book was displayed in the closet of Siegelaub's NYC apartment, on view 'by appointment only.' Siegelaub's goal was to subvert dependence on the gallery system--on the need for exhibition space itself. He sought to transcend the preciousness associated with the art object, hence the most down-and-dirty means of independent book production to this day: the Xerox. Time did tell, however, and Siegelaub's efforts (of which there were many) were eventually consumed by the gallery system that he so studiously avoided. The Xerox Book is now a 'collector's item.' The World Wide Web brought another opportunity for defiance, but even net art works are now sold to or affiliated with galleries, musuems and collectors (note the partnership between The New Musuem and Rhizome.org as an example of this...and here's some fallout from the net community, while we're on the topic).

Alexander Alberro's most recent publication is devoted to Siegelaub, his projects, their contribution to conceptual art, and the aftermath of the whole huzzah. Rather than yammering on about the historical significance of Siegelaub and his contribution to conceptual art via regurgitation of my undergraduate art history reading, I'll instead pay some respect to the artist-produced publications that accompany so many art shows. I'm not referring here to standard hard-bound exhibition catalogue, complete with introductory essays by the curato and 2.3 other 'colleagues' deemed 'experts' in 'the field.' No, I'm referring to publications like Hollywood: The Remix, as mentioned a few weeks back, or Montreal's petite enveloppe urbaine, the sorts of publications put out by Paris' Palais de Tokyo or Hans Ulrich Obrist's DO IT and other collaborative projects. In these examples--divergent as they may be--there's a meeting of artists' skilled labor, manual and intellectual, to produce a 'document' that somehow represents a physical exhibition or space. Exhibition catalogues are too often approached as historical documents, with less concern given to their ability to transport the show out of the actual space and into reality --to render our memories as actualities, bent by time and place. And while scholars will always need footnotes to reference, I find that artist-produced catalogues pay more attention to the matter at hand--the actual ART. Regardless of how they're played out or in what quantity, artist-made publications seem to carry a different kind of weight. I usually view them as autonomous projects in themselves, and despite the theoretical gobble-de-gook that might dispute that vision, I feel closer to Siegelaub than art history trusts me to feel when digging one of these rags from the depths of my bag. My very own version lies between my open palms then.

Posted by Sarah at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2004

Secret Gardens

Someone out there, please come to my aid: When, in the history of comics/comix, did it become fashionable to purge one's inner soul in the frame? Was Robert Crumb the first to go balls-out as such, in that gut wrenching and wince-inducing-yet-heart-hurting sort of way? Catholic as he was raised, and in Ohio at that, I still suspect that he wasn't the sole pioneer of the 'confessional comix' vein. Who was, specifically? I feel a research topic coming on, promising hours of googling and photocopying...

I think the propensity toward autobiography in comics is what I find most interesting. While I didn't, unfortunately, spend a childhood immersed in comics, I did take refuge in other illicit literary places. My favorite books as a kid were Anne Frank's Diary and Frances H. Burnett's 'The Secret Garden.' Both were about girls with very intense interior experiences--Anne and Mary each lived deeply within her own head, and both girl's cryptic imaginations played out in their exterior, or 'real' lives, which were filled with secrets. Secret gardens, keys, rooms, passages, diaries, crushes--I was and still am enthralled with the idea that I am the sole owner of my thoughts, and may do with them as I see fit. Anne and I, we kept diaries. Mary flitted about the English moors, breaking the heart of that poor, secluded, crippled boy, Dicken. Us girls, we played it pretty private...

And yet the clandestine nature of reading somebody's diary of sneaking around someone else's richly-furnished mansion is most definitely what kept me so enraptured by both books, even though the mere thought of someone reading my own personal missives mortified me. As such, it's no surprise to me that some of R. Crumb's work really does fascinate me--it's the opposite of my own largely non-public approach to my innermost demons. Crumb fills me with the sort of adrenaline rush I felt as a kid while being chastisized after delivering some back-talk to a priest, in front of the entire Catholic school girl's playground. I was the bad-ass for one fleeting moment, and it felt good and right and glorious. But everyone was watching, witnessing my awkwardness, as the tears misted up from behind my eyes and chased my hauteur into shame. Robert Crumb's work forces open the pandora's box of feelings that bungle up our childhoods, teenager years--OK, our entire lives. We get the full, relentless monty each and every time.

Though certainly one of the strongest, Crumb's work isn't the only fine example of sefl-reflective tendencies in comix. Debbie Drechsler's Sixteen , featured in her book 'Daddy's Girl,' kicks us in the teeth, again and again, with a coming-of-age story squelched by rape. Dreschler lays the pain out forthright, with a poignancy that relegates this story to the deepest part of the brain, the lobe reserved for the fear of irrecoverable loss. Just as I felt a bit guilty for reading Anne Frank's Diary as a kid, I sometimes feel as if I'm looking at something that wasn't meant for me while reading the comics of Crumb, Drechsler and others...so many others to come...

Ofcourse, I also found the Christmas presents--all of them--every single year as a kid, and though I was supposed to feel like a sneaky bastard for digging through the attic, under the bed, and through mom's envelope of orderly reciepts, I didn't. Not one bit. I felt cunningly triumphant for having successfully raided every secret hiding spot. And ultimately, voyeuristically, that's what draws me to the interior aspects of Anne Frank, Mary the orphan, and my comic buddies.

Posted by Sarah at 12:20 AM | Comments (4)