Monthly Archives: January 2009

notes from louise bourgeois

I am kicking myself that I missed her retrospective at the Guggenheim this past summer (we were in NY for a wedding! We could have seen it!). Flying to London or Paris to see it at the Tate or Pompidou isn’t really an option–so I took advantage of some expiring Southwest credits to see the abbreviated version at the downtown MoCA.


  • LB’s Poeta en Nueva York moment, a small chap book of parable poems/engravings called He Disappeared Into Compete Silence:

“Once there was a girl and she loved a man.
They had a date next to the eighth street station of the sixth avenue subway.
She put on her good clothes and a new hat. Somehow he could not come. So the purpose of this picture is to show how beautiful she was. I really mean that she was beautiful.”

“Once a man was telling a story, it was a very good story too, and it made him very happy, but he told it so fast that nobody understood it.”

  • On a piece called “Persistent Antagonism”: “The macho bit is irritating. I have nothing against the penis. It is the wearer of the penis.”
  • From “Personages”: “Separate sections function as antannae as if the piece has an internal ‘radar’ which makes it sensitive to its surroundings.”
  • Spider as metaphor for matriarch: weaving, trapping prey, eating, laying eggs, protecting web
  • Directness of imagery:

a guillotine hangs over a beautifully sculpted in pink marble rendering of her childhood home.
prosthetic leg as symbol of emotional disability
hybrid eye/vagina

  • Unashamed of presentation of self:

when afraid, Bourgeois often identifies with animals
self portrait as gargoyle with multiple breasts
dinner table with oppressive father’s remains, being eaten by his children
nails in the heart of an old enemy
a woman’s upper half enclosed in a house–lower half naked–woman doesn’t realize what she is trying to conceal is what is exposed

  • Finally:
“It is not so much
where my motivation
comes from
but rather
how it manages
to survive”

in these troubled times, great news (orgs)

Some news orgs seem to be thriving and doing some outstanding work.

St. Petersburg Times:
Who knew that something other than freaky news stories comes out of Florida? I was a fan of their Flip-O-Meter during the election, and now, the Truth-O-Meter.

KPCC, 89.3, Los Angeles:
I was extremely, but extremely, impressed at their fresh, detailed (but accessible) news coverage that ranges effortlessly from the local to national: from corrupt Orange County police chiefs to the California State budget deadlock to the closing of Guantanamo, all up to the minute. Clearly it has some clout as a news org: the politicians almost ran on to (State Republicans fell all over themselves getting their word out; Jane Harman literally left the interview for a minute to run in, cast a vote, and run back on.)

for the love of pageantry

Big fancy ceremonies and pomp just thrills me. But of course this event meant more than most: I don’t know why I would share such a thing, but these are the things that made me bawl:

  • Pete Seeger, looking like a mischevious old commie elf, God love him, singing those particular worker verses from “This Land Is Your Land”
  • Elizabeth Alexander reading her beautiful poem–reading it like a poet, not soaring on emotional or rhetorical vagueness, but giving each word its due.
  • And, ok, watching Beyonce croon “At Last” to the First Couple on their first dance. Even B was overcome.

Also, from the day: I couldn’t turn away from the TV and start my day until I saw Bush not only get onto the helicopter, but fly away.

tyranny of authenticity

Ellen Sebastian Chang speaks of the idea of the “tyranny of authenticity” as an enemy of art–it’s an idea I’ve been thinking a lot about in the past few months. We went to the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the DeYoung today, which was smaller than I expected it to be but still quite overwhelming. In a video on his life, the following quotation from him about what is so important and glorious about fashion:

“A woman becomes bewitching when she cheats, when Artifice enters the picture.”

Just looking at his work–and thinking about fashion that way–fashion is not supposed to be about the tyranny of being perfect–just appearing so.

let the magic die

Look, Loretta Greco is great and it must suck to be hired to a theater which instantly goes bankrupt.

But perhaps, after too many years of financial and artistic mismanagement, the Magic Theatre has ceased to become a relevant entity, has ceased to respond to the needs of the Bay Area and the American theater, and maybe we should let it die. Theaters have their own life cycle, and perhaps the Magic has reached the end of its life.