Archive

Tag Archives: art

Read the interview here.

 

david

David Krippendorff: Without wanting to sound naive, first and foremost I hope that my work has a strong emotional impact. Every initial idea I ever had for a piece always started with an emotional reaction to something, be it a film or a piece of music. Throughout the process, I then conceptualize it and parse out the various political subtexts and interpretive layers. I do think that all art is political, but I am also a great believer that art should be more visceral. We live in times in which nobody trusts their feelings anymore; our society is becoming increasingly cerebral. I think this is a very dangerous trend, because remaining in touch with one’s feelings is also the first step toward empathy. When we’re detached, it becomes much easier to turn a blind eye to injustice; we fail to see the humanity in a homeless person we pass by on the street. I strongly believe that the role of art should be to help people get in touch with their feelings. To me, this becomes political, and it’s the only way that it can have an impact and make a change. We have enough “interesting” art, but how often does somebody go to a show and say: “That was really moving,” or “That was beautiful”?

New essay up on 3QuarksDaily.

alyssa

 

“Letting You in on a Secret is a work that reflects on this very depletion of language and mass imagery, a work that proposes and articulates new and surprising ways to recalibrate our perception, to shake ourselves and our stunned senses awake. DeLuccia’s formal reference to Dada provides us with an important clue to the work’s subtly subversive nature: in citing a movement that would presage and then endure the advent of fascism, mass extermination, and world war, she is pointing to the necessity of encoding explosive cultural commentary in humor and visually appealing imagery, of going underground with it, as it were—both to protect one’s powers of perception and to counter the effects of the spellbinding that numbs us to the dangers facing us.”

A conversation with Patricia Thornley published on 3QuarksDaily

08still from The Western, 2018

From November 17, Patricia Thornley’s work The Western, part of her series THIS IS US, is on view as part of the group exhibition “Empathy” at Smack Mellon Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. The project is the latest in a seven-year series of installation and single-channel video works consisting of interviews and performances. Previous videos of the series are An American in Bavaria (2011), Don’t Cry for Me (2013), and Sang Real (2015). As a whole, THIS IS US  formulates multiple parallel inquiries into the collaborative fantasies Americans enact through popular media. In the current political climate, as the escalation of social and economic forces impacting millions of lives is cast into increasingly sharp relief, these fantasies take on new urgency and, in many cases, a new absurdity.

The Western’s cast of characters consists of these Civil War-era archetypes: Indian Scout, Beast of Burden, Frontiersman, Savage, Deserter, Justice, and Drifter. The work is conceived as a two-part installation in which the cinematic trope of the Western is used as a framework for inquiring into the American psyche. In the exhibition space, a projected “movie” is installed opposite a wall of screens playing a series of interviews with the seven participating characters.

Andrea Scrima: Patricia, a few years ago I conducted an interview with you about a previous work of yours, Sang Real (2015), for the online poetry magazine Lute & Drum. Now, with The Western, the overall structure of THIS IS US is coming more and more clearly into focus. The last time we spoke at length about your series was a year and a half before the last presidential election. How have recent changes on the political landscape affected your approach to the themes in your work?

Patricia Thornley: From the beginning in the THIS IS US series, one of the questions I asked in my interviews with the people who featured in the individual videos was “how do you feel about being an American?” Historically, there’s always been a certain political disconnect at play with Americans, due to less armed conflict on our own soil and a certain comfort level.

I didn’t ask this question because I was trying to be instructive, but because one of the most important aspects of my work is to observe opposing and conflicting states of consciousness and to create situations that attempt a kind of uncommon reconciliation of these states. So in terms of what has changed I would say that what I was perceiving as a state of unconsciousness (pre-Trump) has been pushed to the surface by outrage and fear.

Read the interview on 3QuarksDaily here

 

Read the full review here. 

Andrea Scrima’s brilliant debut novel, A Lesser Day (Spuyten Duyvil), creates a realistic psychological portrait of an artist’s life (…). The narrator and the reader are haunted by the unseen, the unspoken, the uncaptured, the unconscious forgotten details lurking in the vivid portraits of the artist’s memory. (…) A delicious unease slowly builds through the pages, suggesting that in every described detail there is a hidden meaning—a meaning often hidden even to the narrator. The fact that the narrator can remember so many minor details and the fact that even such a reliable, careful memory could be wanting is as terrifying to the reader as it is to the narrator. One of the delicate disturbances of the novel is the sense that if one’s memory can’t be fully trusted, no one can be trusted, even the self. (…) In a sense, each short chapter is like snapshot, the snapshots the narrator takes with the camera in her hand and the camera in her mind, wanting to capture some specific detail of each and every day—even the “lesser days,” when the washed-out details are so challenging to capture that even the most carefully framed photographs are unlikely to develop a vibrant image.

– Aimee Parkison

Rail review

I had the pleasure of talking again to Brainard Carey of the Praxis Center for Aesthetic Studies—you can hear the full interview here at Yale Radio. We talk about writing and art, my book A Lesser Day, memory, place, becoming an artist in post-gentrification New York and Berlin, the critical distance of a foreigner, Joseph Beuys and his performance I Like America and America Likes Me, Sophie Calle’s The Detachment, an essay I wrote for The Millions, and more — and I read from two sections of A Lesser Day.

 

How to go back in time; one would have to subtract everything that has come after, shed the skins that have accumulated since: peel them off one by one and forget them. To undo all that has occurred, to have found oneself in none of these situations, to lose entire parts of oneself; to forget. To disappear, to undo oneself. And when my mind carries me back, it is as another.

 

Yale Radio

 

 

Radio interview with Joachim Scholl at Deutschlandfunk Kultur

(in German language)

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 16.36.49

Scholl: Sie haben, wie ich finde, eine ganz intensive Sprache gefunden. Ich lese mal einen Satz vor, es ist mein Lieblingssatz. Da erklärt die Erzählerin, dass ihr Hund davongelaufen ist. Sie sucht ihn, findet ihn nicht, kommt dann mit einem anderen, der ihr zuläuft, wieder nach Hause. Und dann heißt es, Zitat: “Und so waren wir heimgekehrt mit einem Hund, einem nassen, hungrigen kleinen Hund, der mit einem tiefen, erschöpften Seufzer in meinen Armen zusammenbrach, als ich sein klatschnasses Fell mit dem Handtuch trocknete.” Ich weiß jetzt nicht, ob es daran liegt, dass ich mit jedem Jahr sentimentaler werde, aber ich habe so entzückt und tief geseufzt, als ich diesen Satz sah, diesen wunderschönen Satz. Ich habe mich gefragt, wie haben Sie diese Sprache gefunden?

Scrima: Das kann ich nicht beantworten. Man schreibt nicht mit einer Schreibstrategie im Hinterkopf. Ich glaube, es geht vielmehr darum, dass man versucht, den Zugang zu sich selbst möglichst intensiv zu ermöglichen. Und ich kann das selbst nicht unbedingt sagen, wie ich das gemacht habe. Das ist für jeden anders. Für jedes Buch ist es anders. Ich arbeite noch an einem Roman, der mir das Leben sehr schwer macht.

Scholl: Sprachlich kann ich mir das nicht vorstellen bei Ihnen, Frau Scrima. Vorhin sagten Sie kurz, dass Sie das Buch geschrieben haben, als Sie Ihr Baby gerade hatten. An einer Stelle, glaube ich, zieht das Baby unterm Tisch den Stecker aus dem Computer, und dann schreibt sie “Alles ist verloren”. Da dachte ich, ist das hoffentlich erfunden, oder war das so?

Scrima: Das ist sozusagen die Metapher für die Mutterschaft in den ersten paar Jahren. Wie das Kind einem immer einen Strich durch die Rechnung macht. Das ist in erster Linie auch als Metapher zu verstehen.

I’m reading tomorrow evening from the German and English editions of my book Wie viele Tage (Literaturverlag DROSCHL) / A Lesser Day (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing) at Buchlounge Zehlendorf, Clayallee 343, at 8 pm. Here’s a radio broadcast the wonderful Michaela Gericke did with me a week or two ago in the studio for RBB Kulturradio (in German).

Listen here: 

And the drawings we talk about in the beginning can be seen here. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 13.30.58

PATTERNS OF EROSION: 

A Conversation with Andrea Scrima on A Lesser Day and the new German edition, Wie viele Tage. 

“She sees a slip of paper lying on the street at the point of projected convergence, and she picks it up with a feeling that retrieving it is somehow necessary and crucial. That’s a key passage in the book, and it comes close to describing a relationship to meaning, in the way that you’re living in an insentient world, in a world of natural phenomena, man-made phenomena, trains and buses and buildings and streets, yet things are constantly happening that can suddenly seem to be saying something to you. The phrase I use in the book is ‘a language of happenstance […] in the din of occurrence.’ Searching for meaning in these chance occurrences—the superstitious see signs in coincidences, but you could also think of them as constituting a kind of language. But whose, and to what purpose?”

Read the full interview online here

M&Lcover

“A linear narrative is sacrificed in favor of a porous, associative composition that blurs dimensions through its mantra-like ‘but that came later.’ History becomes palpable as a background murmur. The reconstruction of the turbulent decade in which the narrator’s vagabond life takes place is achieved through newspaper clippings, which she appropriates artistically. What remains is an inquiry into the time-space continuum: to what degree is the artist today the person she encounters in the layers of her painting surfaces, her texts, the layers of her past? These are things Andrea Scrima writes about wonderfully in her autobiographically colored debut.”

— Senta Wagner, Buchkultur 177  2/2018

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 19.46.14

“Respekt ist das erste Gefühl, dass sich bei der Lektüre einstellt: man hat Respekt vor der unbeirrbaren Widerständigkeit einer Frau, die ihren Lebensort sucht und ihre Identität als Künstlerin entschieden verteidigt. (. . .) Leben konnte die Malerin von ihrer Kunst nie.  Aber die Erzählerin, die sich immer wieder an ein wechselndes, aber vertrautes Du wendet, nutzt die Unsicherheit ihrer Künstlerexistenz und entwickelt daraus eine beeindruckende Freiheit des Denkens und Handelns.”

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 13.08.31

Ein Leben im Pendelflug zwischen New York und Berlin. Heute hier, morgen dort, zerrissen zwischen zwei Welten und beheimatet immer nur auf Zeit. Die Amerikanerin Andrea Scrima erzählt in ihrem ersten Buch “Wie viele Tage” aus dem Leben einer Künstlerin in den 1980er und 90er Jahren. Sie gehe zwar von persönlichen Erinnerungen aus, lasse sich dann aber zu weiteren Fantasien anregen, sagte Andrea Scrima im Interview. Die Struktur des Buches orientiere sich vor allem an Marie Luise Kaschnitz’ Aufzeichnungen “Orte”.

Kaschnitz ordnete ihre eigenen Lebenserinnerungen in Form von Selbstbefragungen und Momentaufnahmen nach den Wohnorten ihres Lebens. Nach diesem Prinzip blickt auch Andrea Scrimas Protagonistin zurück auf ihre ersten vierzig Lebensjahre. In Berlin erlebt sie den Fall der Mauer und in New York verändert der Terroranschlag auf das World Trade Center die Skyline ihrer Heimatstadt.

Scrima collagiert Rückblicke mit Skizzen von Wohnorten, die wie Polaroidfotos kurz aufblitzen. Vom Elternhaus auf Staten Island über den Umzug ins New Yorker East Village und in das geteilte Berlin bis zu Zwischenstationen in Brooklyn folgt die Autorin den Ortswechseln einer jungen Amerikanerin in prekären Lebensverhältnissen. Respekt ist das erste Gefühl, das sich bei der Lektüre einstellt. Man hat Respekt vor der unbeirrbaren Widerständigkeit einer Frau, die ihren Lebensort sucht und ihre Identität als Künstlerin entschieden verteidigt. Die Wohnungen und Fabriketagen, in denen die Protagonistin lebt und arbeitet, sind billig, zugig und kalt. Leben konnte die Malerin von ihrer Kunst nie. Aber die Erzählerin, die sich immer wieder an ein wechselndes, aber vertrautes “Du” wendet, nutzt die Unsicherheit ihrer Künstlerexistenz und entwickelt daraus eine beeindruckende Freiheit des Denkens und Handelns. Sie lässt sich Zeit für Beobachtungen und die Gefühle, die sie auslösen. Schichtweise legt sie in alten Notizen die verlorenen Lebensträume ihres verstorbenen Vaters frei. “Und dann der Moment des Erkennens, dessen betäubende Wirkung”, erinnert sich die Protagonistin an erhellende und beängstigende Augenblicke. Sie will Erkenntnis schöpfen über den Sinn unserer Existenz und den Umgang mit Vergänglichkeit und Verlusten. Die assoziativen Notizen folgen keiner Chronologie, es gibt weder Handlung noch Dialoge in diesem Buch. Die Erzählerin misst die Zeit am Trockenprozess von gepressten Teebällchen, die sie auf dem Fensterbrett zu Kunstobjekten arrangiert, sie vertieft sich in das Muster der Abnutzung auf dem Küchenfußboden: “Wie zuerst das Weiße des Vorstrichs unter dem Lack sichtbar wurde”, schreibt sie, “wie dann die nackte Platte durchschien, jedes Jahr ein bisschen mehr.”

Die unerfüllte Sehnsucht nach Beständigkeit inmitten von Umzügen und Kurzzeitjobs ist bedrückend und bringt doch Kontinuität in den Roman. Forschend blickt die Protagonistin auf ihr jüngeres Selbst, fragt sich, was sie damals noch nicht wissen konnte, verweist auf zukünftiges Wissen, ohne dies aber zu enthüllen. “Dicke Schwaden Vergangenheit” hängen schwer in der Luft, kriechen im Empfinden der späten Mutter, die sich allmählich zur Textkünstlerin wandelt, aus allen Ecken des Zimmers, wo sie den Nachlass ihres Vaters ordnet. Der Überseekoffer ihrer Urgroßmutter, die einst von Deutschland in die USA emigrierte – “wohin führt mich all das?”, fragt sich die Erzählerin. Es führt sie und den Leser zu unvergleichlich intensiven Momentaufnahmen und der Gewissheit, dass jeder Tag, jede Minute es wert ist, festgehalten zu werden — in Bildern und in Worten. So wie der Augenblick, als die Strahlen der Spätnachmittagssonne auf Hunderten von Taubenflügeln flackern und sie in ein leuchtendes Orange tauchen. Andrea Scrima malt mit Worten und entreißt den Moment der Vergänglichkeit durch ihre Alltagspoesie. Das alles braucht Zeit, viel Zeit, um zu reifen. Es ist das Glück des Lesers, dass Andrea Scrima sich diese Zeit genommen hat.

— Claudia Fuchs

THIS IS US: Sang Real

Andrea Scrima talks to Patricia Thornley about Sang Real, her third multi-media work for This Is Us, an ongoing series of interview and song. The series, begun in 2011, consists in highly mediated encounters the American artist stages in different environments.


AS:
 Patricia, there’s a strong sense of place in this piece that I’d like to ask you about. Perched on a stool on the banks of Port Medway Harbour, with domestic objects scattered in the sand and the tide rising rapidly around him, a rugged man stems himself against the cold and speaks about his connection to the landscape of his birth: “most people stayed within five miles from where they were born.” Surrounded by what appears to be the detritus of a life, he adds: “it wouldn’t happen today; there’s no work … you’ve got to go where the work is, I suppose.” As you question him off-camera, and as he offers his laconic answers, I find myself thinking about uprootedness and what it means when people lose the economic ability—and by extension right—to stay in the place they come from. The socio-political undertones in all the works of the series This Is Us probe questions of individual and collective identity; here, one of the themes is displacement, a fate this man has managed to defy.

PT: Yes, people seem to leave home for different personal or economic reasons now, as a matter of course. In the different pieces in this series, the notion of moving “forward” is key. In both the interviews and the songs I try to be inclusive of what exists on the back and the front of that movement.

AS: In each of the pieces in This Is Us, the people you interview are people you know personally, people you admire for a number of different reasons.

PT: Yes, the subject of this piece is a friend, and someone I hold in high regard; he lives in the community and takes care of property and houses there, mine included. I’m dependent on him in that sense. We often work together; I’m an outsider, and I’ve learned quite a lot about how to be in the landscape there, and how to be, through him. He has a way of coping, and laughing, and thriving. I’m interested in the way our lives and worlds cautiously, respectfully collide. It was a big step to ask him to participate in the piece.

AS: You mentioned to me that the title Sang Real comes from the Old French and combines the meanings of holy grail and royal blood. I noticed that at the end of the piece, as a kind of spontaneous afterthought, the man—who has been sitting on a kind of throne as the wind picks up and the waters rise alarmingly around him—fishes an object from the water, an old lamp that could be understood as a metaphor, a sort of grail. To an English-speaking reader, an entirely different meaning presents itself, of course.

PT: Actually, late medieval writers devised a false etymology for sangréal, an alternative name for “Holy Grail.” In Old French, san graal or san gréal means “Holy Grail,” whereas sang réal means “royal blood.” The objects placed on the beach were pulled from an old house that he no longer lives in and now uses for storage; they’re a combination of domestic objects and tools that he no longer needs. In keeping with the theme of home and place, I do imagine my subject as royal, and the harbor as a center, a life force erasing the detritus and then offering up what he is owed, a birthright retrieved in a casual gesture that speaks of essential instincts of survival.

AS: As the waves come in, themes of danger and mortality emerge; lost in his own thoughts, the man seems circumscribed in a very particular space, the space of his life, in a sense. And then, in a kind of superimposition or even violation of that space, you appear in the frame and approach your subject with a microphone attached to a boom pole, which has something almost weapon-like about it, or you wander about in the distance in a somewhat predatory manner, carrying a large round reflector. These are stark moments in which different levels of reality collide, where life and art seem to hit up against one another in an uncomfortable way.

PT: Yes, there’s always a deep ambivalence involved in casting a friend in a piece. On one hand I’m paying homage; on the other, I’m making them an object of scrutiny. The impositions are inevitable and endless. Inherently, my “contribution” can only exist apart from real experience, and in counterpoint to my subject. We play what’s wrong with this picture as soon as I introduce my tools—my ideas, branding, props, equipment, music—into what implies or refers to a clean and honest inquiry.

Going in, we knew the shoot would be cold and awkward, but of course we didn’t know that the wind would kick up like it did that afternoon, that a storm would be rolling in. You can’t see it in the footage, but it’s snowing at the end of the shot. To the work’s advantage, this underscores the sense of danger, of human frailty in the piece, but it was nearly unbearable for the subject and crew. The harbor did give it back to us that day.

AS: There are several distancing devices used throughout the piece: you enter and leave the frame; off-camera, you discuss elements of the footage that can be changed, post-shoot, on the computer. Though I have seen incongruous props in other works in the series, I now find myself wondering about the false eyelashes.

PT: I’m interested in showing impulses and gestures rather than outcomes, in embracing contradictions that are present. I think of the shots of the crew at the end as a kind of nightmare hallucination from the point of view of the subject. The lashes are meant to be a gesture of submission to him, but they’re also a discordant detail that may reek of insincerity, especially in this landscape. In the song the repeated phrase I’m Your Man is sung in earnest, but it’s the chorus of a song about money. The crew and I have feminine decorations glued to our faces, but they are mangled by the weather in the end.

Published in Lute and Drum, issue 1

Researching a quote from Nietzsche’s posthumous writings, only some of which have been translated into English, I call my friend Rainer, expert in all things Nietzsche. He points me to a “non-book” that I actually have at home, The Will to Power, edited by Walter Kaufmann. I retrieve it from a shelf high up in one of my bookcases and wipe off the dust. In it I find several passages marked in red by the person I was thirty years ago:

On the genesis of art.— That making perfect, seeing as perfect, which characterizes the cerebral system bursting with sexual energy (evening with the beloved, the smallest chance occurrences transfigured, life a succession of sublime things, ‘the misfortune of the unfortunate lover worth more than anything else’): on the other hand, everything perfect and beautiful works as an unconscious reminder of that enamored condition and its way of seeing—every perfection, all the beauty of things, revives through contiguity this aphrodisiac bliss. (Physiologically: the creative instinct of the artist and the distribution of semen in his blood—)

The demand for art and beauty is an indirect demand for the ecstasies of sexuality communicated to the brain. The world become perfect, through ‘love’—”