February 27, 2017

Isabelle Huppert for Artists

Last November I went to the premiere of Elle at the French Film Festival in Cinéma Paris in Berlin. I see everything that has Isabelle Huppert in it. I’m always confused after watching her play and that’s what I like about it. There is a great interview with her in The Guardian and a lot of what she says can actually be used for art. I made a list: 

- Avoid a statement
“I would never turn a character into a statement,” she says, “statement” sounding like something distasteful held between her fingers.

- Don't leave a message
A film must be taken for what it is. There is no message.” “Message” sounds worse than “statement”.

- Don’t bother too much
Would she describe herself as post-feminist? “I wouldn’t describe myself. I wouldn’t bother.” 

- Don't be afraid
“I think women are the product of previous fights. Every woman should have equality with men. That should not even be a debate.” She sits again. “And men are not afraid of women the way women are afraid of men. Of course.”

- A little bit ... free 
She rarely talks politics, at least publicly. “I don’t think that’s the type I am. I don’t have much rebellion in my soul. I’m just a little bit … free.”

- Withdraw 
“Acting is imagination more than observation. I could have been locked in a room all my life and still been an actress.” 

- Wink 
She seems so sociable. “Not hysterically sociable. I told you, I’m curious. Everything is like a little piece of fiction to me. I like to peek into people’s lives. I meet them, talk to them, then step back and see them like a story. People are funny. Don’t you think so?” It takes me a moment to realise Isabelle Huppert has just winked at me.

February 19, 2017

The Number 10. Or How To Sail on the Wrong Boat in the 21st Century

“There are only male artists in this group show,” I said to the gallerist, feeling in a generous feminist mood to teach males how to do it better next time. “How many women artists do you have in your gallery?” “Two,” he said. “Out of how many?” I asked. “Out of ten.” I smiled: “How did that happen?” “I just didn’t come upon the right female artists,” he replied. I was surprised, not expecting to hear that argument still in the 21st century. I mean, who doesn’t know by now that some structural discrimination is at work, by which some art is considered to have more authority and value than other? “Thinking of expanding some more?” I asked him. “No, ten seems to be the right number.” “Are you serious? Ten? Take nine, or eleven, but ten?" We hadn't talked about whiteness, but I can just say to all these gallerists out there that if they aren’t starting to be more self-reflective about their choices, they are definitely sailing on the wrong boat in the 21st century. It's gonna be sinking and that’s that. 

February 14, 2017

Because the Night. About Love in Art, Etc.

Grace Jones talks in her memoirs about singing the song La Vie en Rose in Studio 54 in New York at the end of the 1970s while wearing almost nothing: “It was a song that belonged to Paris, and now it belonged to disco.”

When in 2014 Paul McCarthy installed his huge inflatable sex toy sculpture, the butt plug, in the color of green on a Paris square, the world was surprised to see that Paris, the city of love, didn’t like it. As soon as it was installed, somebody unplugged it and although it happened during the night it wasn’t done out of an act of love. 

Intermezzo: here I'd suggest you listen to Patti Smith’s “Because the night belongs to lovers / Because the night belongs to us”. [maybe the MTV unplugged version]

“Ganz schön doof!” [quite goofy!] so said gallerist J. while admiring the work of artist C. at the exhibition opening. Indeed, it’s refreshing when art doesn’t try so hard to be clever. 

To keep up a same level of bad taste over years is an achievement one could call success. 

“I personally don’t think I’m good or bad. I oscillate, I'd say.” So Erik Satie in his Memoires d’un amnesique

Satie, a known solitaire, fell in love only once and that happened from January 14 till June 20, 1893. He himself wrote those dates on a piece of cardboard together with a lock of hair that belonged to his object of love, the trapeze artist Suzanne Valadon. 

Art is essentially loving, ethical and humanistic. But the language of love is poetry.

In 1914 Satie writes Trois poèmes d’amour: “The poet, smitten with dizziness, seems mad with love. His heart thumps, his eyelids tremble like leaves.” 

"Making love is not modern," Francis Picabia writes in 1950, "and still it's the thing I love doing most." 

February 7, 2017

Providence, Lullabies, and a Faint Memory of my Visit to KW

I resurrected today after having been sick in bed for four days in a row. My eyes closed on my sickbed, I did nothing else but listen to the podcasts of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries and I can say that, just like Miss Marple, I now believe in Providence, whereas Monsieur Poirot taught me that thinking is an admirable exercise.

Okay, admitted, I did get out of the house once or twice, I don’t remember why, and taking the subway I was surprised to read on the TV screen that galleries are now moving to Ku’damm - it’s the new thing to do. I couldn’t believe that the BVG (the German subway system) knew this before I did. But it might have been my delirium. A false fact of some sort. 

A man with a kid on his lap was sitting next to me in the subway. He was always talking to his kid about how “daddy” did this and that with the kid. I was confused for a moment, since it seemed clear to me that he himself was the daddy. But then I realized that parents often talk in the third person about themselves to their children. I find this psychologically very interesting. 

Alright, I even worked during those four days sick. Since I didn’t want to talk too much during my guided tour, I asked questions for the visitors to answer (we learnt that from good old Socrates, didn’t we?). “So how do you like this art work?” I whispered. “Mmmm...” the visitor answered, “I’m intrigued.”

Listening to all these mystery stories during my sickness, I was reminded of how artists often think that making art is about obscuring things, about making things so-called mysterious, whereas some artists (the good ones) manage to create mystery by simply showing everything on the surface. 

There is an incredible optimism going on in the Agatha Christie novels. The inspector states that there are many smart people in the world who commit murders that will never be found out. Strange, I always thought there were a lot of stupid people in the world. 

I remember something W. told me that our friend D. had told him: there is good noise and there is bad noise in art. D. had been at an event and it had definitely been the latter kind of noise. 

Bored out of mind I thought back of my visit to KW two weeks before, which had opened under the new direction of Krist Gruijthuijsen (by the way, if he can make a career with his surname, then I can do so too!) with new shows of Ian Wilson and Hanne Lippard. KW has been disappointing for many years, it got so bad people have started to call it The System. The shows always seemed so boring because they tried so hard. That’s why I did like the move of Krist Gruijthuijsen - he had the guts to open with two very uneventful shows, that were just boring for the sake of it. There is practically nothing to be seen of Ian Wilson, just a paper on the wall saying the discussion is starting or has started - I don’t even remember. And for Hanne Lippard’s work one has to wait in line before ascending the beige stairs, then waiting some more, in a low-ceiling-space with a carpet in the color of flesh, for the audio to start,which text is quite uneventful too. It was boring and I liked it. 

Some last Agatha Christie wisdom: when somebody says "You're looking particularly alive today" - it might be that you won't look that alive anymore the day of tomorrow.