Friday, December 17, 2010

Slate Article, MFA vs NYC

My friend Elisabeth Condon recommended this Slate article about the MFA in Creative Writing, found online at Excellent food for thought regarding MFA programs in the Visual Arts.

Passages I highlighted with a few thoughts below...

- analysis would be to lay to rest the perpetual handwringing about what MFA programs do to writers (e.g., turn them into cringing, cautious, post-Carverite automatons)

- ...even if the writer has somehow never heard of an MFA program...if she's read any American fiction of the past 60 years, or met someone who did, she's imbibed the general idea and aesthetic. We are all MFAs now

- lax and laissez-faire as to have a shockingly small impact on students' work

- ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market

- what percentage of the total income of American fiction writers comes from the university, and what percentage from publishing contracts—but it's safe to say that the university now rivals, if it hasn't surpassed...

- the diffuse network of provincial college towns

- each affords its members certain aesthetic and personal freedoms
while restricting others; each exerts its own subtle but powerful pressures on the work being produced

Regarding the article’s short story vs novel debate, perhaps it's ok to let the system evolve as it will. I do, however, have a problem when the explosion of MFA programs cultivates artwork that is didactic and too burdened with theory. If the MFA programs could support their faculty, giving them ample time off for studio production that seeks breakthroughs with formal-conceptual synergy, the quality of artwork in our country would be improved. Germany, with a strong safety net of basic social service and belief in the value of cultural production, is an excellent role model.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rip Hopkins - Another Country

Rip Hopkins - Photography : Another Country

Expat interiors. Constant quest for something better.

Left Behind - Slide Show -

Left Behind - Slide Show -

Since desire for the right home (expat quest) in these tough economic times translates to the desire for any home at all, my research in foreclosed homes continues. Excellent related article about the US Housing crisis:

Image above by Ellen Brownlee

BLDGBLOG: The Migration of Mel and Judith

BLDGBLOG: The Migration of Mel and Judith

Looks my tangled home fragments in a lamp. Brilliant.

Excerpt from Always a good read:

Like the spaceships in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001, the walls of their representational frame simply turn and turn, bringing us over and over again back through the same space, as if unwilling to let go of what's come before...retired into this deliberately over-nostalgic world of their own making, constantly cycling back in memory through their shared past. They have built a frame to fit themselves within, as if to give their lives narrative completion.

Sometimes nest-building feels like this. It's fascinating to me when expats do this, even in temporary homes as Bachelard described the home—the I that separates from the non-I.

For this reason, I'm currently collecting photos of expat domestic spaces. If you have a moment, please email a photo of any part of your home overseas, particularly an interior room, to Thanks!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Exhibition Next Month at CSU


For more information, contact:
Joelle Dietrick
Reichenberger Straße 149
10999 Berlin
home: +49(30) 70221305
cell: +49 (174) 6481271
skype: jdietrick


Curfman Gallery, Colorado State University

Fine Arts, F101, Colorado State University

The Curfman Gallery at Colorado State University is pleased to present The Sherwin Series, an exhibition of recent work by JOELLE DIETRICK, on view from November 11 through December 13, 2010. A lecture about the work will be given by University of Colorado, Boulder Film Professor Melinda Barlow on November 10 at 5:30p at in Fine Arts, F101. An opening reception will be held in the Curfman Gallery on Thursday, November 11th, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.


The Sherwin Series is a group of paintings, prints and animations that remix foreclosed homes and Sherwin-Williams 2007 Color Forecast paints. Sherwin-Williams chose the colors during the height of the housing bubble before the foreclosure epidemic began. Dietrick developed the series of paintings in 2010 with the end of the housing crisis not in sight.

Color forecasts have always been inextricably linked to commerce and politics. As Greg Castillo explained in his recent talk at Columbia University’s conference, Architecture and the State: 1940s-1970s, color choices of post-war domestic interior walls and appliances exported overseas to sell the American way of life that were not always well-received. For example, a sunshine yellow kitchen came to embody the clash of civilizations between Soviet consumer austerity and Western consumer excess.

Likewise, Cornell West in the film Examined Life (2008) questions the sustainability of last century’s American prosperity. The subtitle of the series, Rejecting Romanticism, evolved from West’s ideas and foregrounds the psychological impact of a bubble bursting. West suggests that rather than lamenting paradise lost, we “ride the dissonance.” Designed harmonious color palettes filling fragmented structures mirror this updated approach to beauty.

The paintings’ process, acrylic on canvas from computer-generated studies, mimics micro to macroeconomic shifts. The animations behave similarly, using the blur of scraped data from foreclosed home websites to make more memorable visuals resonate. As global trends continue to affect local jobs, contemporary ideas about our relationship to place continue to shift. Reflecting our struggle to maintain identity in the face of tough economic times, the resulting artworks—full of domestic architecture stretching and morphing, adapting to a new era—revisits the American dream to obtain and maintain basic necessities.


From Melinda Barlow’s essay “Embracing Contradiction”

Conceived in Salzburg, created in Florida and Pennsylvania, and animated in Berlin for exhibition in Colorado, the twenty-eight prints and four paintings in The Sherwin Series by Joelle Dietrick attest to an artistic process invigorated by travel, and an abiding concern with the notion of home. Featuring shattered house forms in the harmonious hues of Sherwin- Williams’ 2007 Color Forecast, the roofs, beams, doors, and windows flying skyward in this series evoke a housing market sent into a tailspin by widespread foreclosures, an effect even more striking when the images are set in motion.

Transformed into a restless mass of colored shards held in check by shifting text scrapped from websites listing foreclosed homes by state, and punctuated by the rhythmic scrape of a desktop drive’s degraded media, this “data house cloud,” as Dietrick calls it, is at once a barometer of our current anxiety, and a vision of how to stay afloat.

From Denis Wood’s essay “Balanced Living”

When Leonardo da Vinci wrote – in his notebooks, “Of Representing the Deluge” – “Let the dark and gloomy air be shown battered by the rush of contrary and convoluted winds bearing hither and thither numberless branches and the ruins of mountains collapsing above the rivers and blocking the valley, the pent up rivers bursting forth, the disintegration of the high buildings raising dust that like smoke or wreathed clouds rises through the descending rain,” he did not have in mind the collapse of the housing industry whose waves we’re still struggling to ride these three years later.

Yet it is precisely this face of the collapse – we say the word with so little attention to its figurative implications – that Joelle Dietrick confronts in her Sherwin series, not just the weight of the collapse and the debris cloud invariably raised, but the way the ensuing torrent catches everything up to take it for a ride.


Webpage with small images:
Hi-res images for print:
Pdf of catalog:
Animation with link to HD Video:
Quicker loading video on Vimeo:


Joelle Dietrick is an American artist and DAAD grant recipient based in Berlin, Germany. Her current research into housing extends her interest in our complicated relationship to place. With attention given to ever-evolving divisions between public and private space, she combines digital and traditional art media to echo the fragmentation inherent in contemporary global economic systems. Selected exhibitions of her work include MCA Chicago, MCA San Diego, Long March Space Beijing, ARC Gallery Chicago, Soho20 New York and upcoming installations in Prague and Venice this fall 2010.


Melinda Barlow, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she received the Boulder Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, the Gold Best Should Teach Award, and was the Dean's Senior Honors Teaching Fellow in 2009-10. The editor of Mary Lucier: Art & Performance (JHUP, 2000), Professor Barlow researches the work of contemporary women film and video makers and is currently writing a memoir on film, female identity, and art collecting titled My Museum.

For further information, please contact the Curfman Gallery at +1.970.491.2810, or email

Lory Student Center
Colorado State University
T 970.491.2810

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exchange! Congress Berlin

Exchange! Congress Berlin
20 October 2010, Berlin

Exchange! Congress Berlin

10:00 PECHA KUCHA BRUNCH with Wolfgang Krause (art boys, Berlin), Joelle Dietrick & Owen Mundy (Florida, USA), Lilia Dragneva (KSA:K, Chisinau, Moldova), Solvita Krese (LCCA, Riga, Latvia), Barbara J. Scheuermann (Babusch, Berlin), Louise Taylor (UK), Andrew Stooke (Oliver Holt Gallery, UK), Jörn J. Burmester (Performer Stammtisch, Berlin), Club Real (Berlin).

14:00 VIDEO SCREENING (Highlights from Attitude Festival Bitola, Macedonia)

14:30 PERFORMANCES (Liverpool Performance Artist and Drag-”Queen of Culture” Mandy Romero, Sound Artist Alex Decoupigny, Performance Artist Dovrat ana Meron)

15:00 ROUND TABLE TALK with Artists and Exchange Radical Moments! Co-organizers

16:00 TEA TABLE TALKS, an encounter scenario with 12 tables and 24 chairs. Come, sit down and talk to artists, curators and organizers.

Free entry! We ask for registration. Please send email with name and subject “Exchange! Congress”

RSVP on Facebook

19:00 – 22:00 PMC EXPERIMENT: Performance Art Meets Constellation Work (this is with invitation only!)

GLS Campus Berlin
Sprachschule, AULA
Kastanienallee 82, D -10435 Berlin

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Among the Believers - New York Times

Among the Believers - New York Times

My friend Denis Wood was just interviewed by The Believer, and I am embarrassed to say that I was not aware of the magazine so I thought I'd share. Like the author of this 2005 New York Times article about magazines that insist on printing in the age of blogs, I remain fascinated. Excerpt from the article:

These, at least, seem to be among the ambitions driving The Believer and n+1. Their editors are young, and their circulations are not large. (It may, indeed, be hard to find these publications outside of independent bookstores in larger cities and college towns.) The names of the writers who contribute to them are, for the most part, not well known: first- or second-time novelists, graduate students and moonlighting academic mavericks, with an occasional celebrity professor or foreign writer thrown in for good measure. Modest though the magazines are in scale and appearance, there is nonetheless something stirringly immodest - something "authentic and delirious," as e.e. cummings once wrote - about what they are trying to do, which is to organize a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism, to raise once again the banners of creative enthusiasm and intellectual engagement.

Indeed there is something precious about getting away from this computer, kicking up my feet, and thumbing through the pages of a good magazine...or having it handy and light-weight to be taken on Berlin's u-bahns. Glad to see that The Believer is still going strong.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back from Prague!

More about Prague Project in cooperation with Tina B Festival and Exchange Radical Moments. Maybe thanks to all who contributed lamps.
- Website about project + Twitter feed at bottom:
- Photos from installation

More soon...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Off to Prague for our project at the Nostic Palace.
More at

If you live in Prague, stop by October 3 and bring a lamp.
See details on the flyer above.

Craig Kaufmann

Craig Kaufmann at this summer's exhibition Primary Atmospheres
at David Zwirner.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gallery Run Before Prague

We're off to Prague this Friday to do an installation in the Nostic Palace. Call for participation soon.

In the meantime, two highlights from yesterday's quick gallery run.

Tim Eitel. Reflektion. 2010. Oil on canvas. 205 x 250 cm | 80.71 x 98.43 in

Choi Jeong Hwa. Happy Together. 2010. Site Specific Installation.

Original 2009 at LACMA, this is a portion reinstalled at Aando Fine Art in 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Glenn Kaino

Nice quote from Glenn Kiano's 2010 LAXART show, In a world that is truly upside down, the true is a moment of the false.

Not at Home

Yesterday I made my first visit to the library Bauhaus Archive Berlin. Below is a list of expat related books encountered during my research into the importance of color in the manufacturing of consumer desire and political ideology in Cold War Berlin. I’m still fascinated by expatriates’ inclination towards nomadism. The following quote from Christopher Reed’s 1996 book Not at Home helps to clarify related history.

The notion of domesticity itself an invention of the modern age—the home, the family, privacy as comfort as opposed to the workplace—has been challenged and ridiculed by modern artists, architects and designers. From 1859, when Charles Baudelaire’s The Painter of Modern Life casts the modern painter as a man of the crowd who curses the hours he must spend indoors asleep when he could be out recording ‘the landscapes of the great city,’ domesticity became the anti-thesis to modernity.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kirsi Mikkola and Wolfgang Betke

Thinking about paintings from tonight. More risk-taking...

Kirsi Mikkola. Untitled, 2010, Construction of painted paper. 58 x 41 cm
Seen at carlierge bauer

Wolfgang Betke. Suche, 2008, Öl, Abschliff/ Lwd. 80 x 60 cm
Seen at ScheiblerMitte. Also

The Difference Between Then and Now

October 7-24th, 2010
TINA-B Festival, Nosticuv Palace, Prague

In the October 2010 TINA-B Contemporary Art Festival in Prague, Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick will re-stage their 2006 project The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn. Originally developed in York, Alabama, USA, Owen Mundy and Joelle Dietrick borrowed lamps from the residents and installed them in an abandoned grocery store. Each lamp was set to turn on every night, and because of the inexactitude of the timers chosen, did so in an organic fashion, one by one, reflecting not only the participants in the community, but also the history of Alabama’s social movements. In an area where a nearby hazardous waste landfill caused the water undrinkable, the artists and the community collectively revived the vacant commercial space, removing roomfuls of damaged post-Katrina FEMA water boxes and transforming the downtown with the lamps, pulsing at their own pace, human in the imperfections and variety, and more powerful as a collection.

As if a scientific study with controls, the re-staging of the project in Prague and Venice studies the nature of site-specific and community-based art. Both cities provide unusual cross-cultural comparisons about domestic settings and the cultural, geographical and political structures that affect private space. The 2006 installation developed before the U.S. housing crisis, and these 2010 installations will develop as the global economy still recovers from the impact of the current economic downturn. In this context, the simple gesture of gathering of everyday objects and spaces can yield unusual insights into common assumptions about micro-macros shifts—the individual and the state, private spaces and public concerns, local and global.

More information

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Economic Downturn in Dortmund: Impact on Living Space

Above is a picture of vacant building Jack Stenner, Patrick Lemieux and I visited in Dortmund. Locals often describe it as haunted because occasional night lights from local squatters. Svenja Noltemeyer showed us the space and is part of an initiative to open industrial spaces for use by the communities including artists in Dortmund. More at

Please let me know if you hear of similar buildings in Berlin.

Jack Stenner at University of Florida and Patrick Lemieux at Duke University just finished work on Open House. At the center of the project is a foreclosed home in Gainesville, Florida that you can control remotely. I love the idea so I downloaded the software to interact with the house from Berlin, Germany, but the interface seems a little slow. Maybe I'm the one that is slow... Although I love the magic realism of the intro on the front page at, especially considering recent conversations with Patrick about zombies, I wish that the interface was more streamlined and immediate without the need to download the application. Again, this may just be my learning curve, not issues with the project. More soon...

House in Berlin

A friend asked me to post this call, related to expats in Berlin. Please contact Michelle James if you are interested.

If you are currently looking for or have recently bought a home in Berlin, House Hunters International would like to put your story on TV!

The hit show is looking for energetic individuals, couples and families to share their story about moving abroad. Participating in our show is a lot of fun and a great way to document your exciting search for a home and new life abroad. Contributors should be fluent in English.

If you are interested in participating with the show or learning more, please send an email to Please include your contact information, the locations you are moving from and to, and a picture of your family and your property.

Looking forward to speaking witth you soon,


Michelle James
Associate Producer
127 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010.
+1 212 843 2821

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1:1 - Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibition - Victoria and Albert Museum

1:1 - Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibition - Victoria and Albert Museum

Home Sales Fell 25.5% in July, Renewing Economic Anxiety -

Home Sales Fell 25.5% in July, Renewing Economic Anxiety -

Interesting read especially as we're at the ISEA conference at Dortmund, Germany where we've heard rumors that 30% of our host cities buildings being empty.

Relatedly our friends Jack Stenner and Patrick Lemieux are promoting their related project Open House where you can virtually control a foreclosed home in Gainesville, FL. More here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kavi Gupta's Adult Contemporary - Dirty Black Summer

Kelly Sears. The Body Besieged (2009, 4:30)

Last night we went to Kavi Gupta's screening of film and video works. Biking over to a new neighborhood felt divine. Lots of exercise and fresh air after a day stuck in front of the computer. A nice size crowd gathered and felt approachable. Slowly getting to know this art scene, full of Americans. We are the what?...5th or 6th major wave of American expat artists to flock to this affordable city? And we're ok with that. Others worked hard, building a foundation, and we benefit from that labor. It's comforting to know everyone is so approachable.

Highlights from the films like here.

Lindsay Lawson. Das Ding (2010, 3:39)

Deanna Erdmann. Donut (2008)

John Kilduff. Let's Exercise, Make Smoothies, and Paint a Supermodel (2007)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Danny Jauregui

8709 Bath, 2010, Gouache on canvas, 96 x 60 in

Danny Jauregui

My friend Danny's work at Leslie Tonkonow, opening Thursday, September 16 at 7:00pm. Some of the same ideas I'm thinking about in The Sherwin Series, but how heartbreakingly powerful in the delicate rendering...

Disguised Ruin #6 [Crumbled Corner], 2010, Gouache on hand-cut paper, 14 x 11 in

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

BLDGBLOG: Building Storm

BLDGBLOG: Building Storm

This Bldgblog post (link in title) is from 13 months ago but is fascinating, especially as it relates to the paintings I'm currently developing. In the spirit of Velocity Girl, the Smiths and countless other bands whose pop rhythms belie anger, so the colors from a pre-bubble bursting 2007 forecasts sooth the splintering content in the image above (study for a painting to be started tomorrow).

The houses grows out of my complicated history to home—my own tendency towards wanderlust, my curiosity about other nomads, and my father's history as the builder of homes. With the upcoming year yet again overseas, we'll see how this imagery evolves...especially as I leave Florida where emergency specialist express concerns about hurricanes transforming vacant homes into violent projectiles. Yikes.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Herzog & de Meuron

Architecture Photo Gallery: AD Special: Herzog & de Meuron by Duccio Malagamba – ArchDaily

Finally painting all day. The Vitrahaus reminds me of the housing forms I'm creating ...although Herzog & de Meuron's creation looks a little more barnacle buildup where mine are definitely exploded, reconfigured balls of grace.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Advertising - Speaking to Imagination and Emotion to Sell Paint -

Advertising - Speaking to Imagination and Emotion to Sell Paint -

As I continue to prepare The Sherwin Series for my Colorado State University exhibition, Denis Wood brought this NY Times article to my attention. Spot on.

Does anyone know the German equivalent to Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Franklin paints? I need the local pop culture references on top of my color research at the Bauhaus Archives.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Expat Artists: The Creative Life Abroad � Expat Arts

Expat Artists: The Creative Life Abroad at Expat Arts

Another report on artists living overseas as we're about to spend a year in Berlin. Of course, there's a long history of this.

One example—Cy Twombly lives half his year in Lexington, Virigina and half in Rome, Italy and has done so for decades. I could totally do that. By the way, the Museum Brandhorst in Munich open May 2009. It has the most impressive Cy Twombly room I have seen, second to the the front room of the Cy Twombly Museum in Houston. Above is a picture that I took of the outside of the Museum last winter holiday break. Go visit!

UCSD Open Studios: James Enos

James Enos, The 2-Towers / Clairemont Erasure

UCSD Open Studios: James Enos

Reminds me of my housing forms...

Dance Review - Trisha Brown Dance Company - Melding Art, Architecture and Dance at Dia - Beacon -

Dance Review - Trisha Brown Dance Company - Melding Art, Architecture and Dance at Dia - Beacon -

What is BlogThis! ? - Blogger Help

Helps you blog about anything super-easy.

What is BlogThis! ? - Blogger Help

Expat Early Returnees Survey

A professor in Canada just asked me to post this survey. Hopefully you'll have some time to help her out.

Expat Early Returnees – Please Help!

Have you and your family ever returned home early from an international assignment? Do you know someone else who has? Dr. Nina Cole, an Associate Professor from Ryerson University in Toronto is inviting early returnees to participate in her study of early returns from home from the perspective of the families involved. This information is critical in order to help reduce the often-painful circumstances behind early returns through better pre-assignment preparation. Please visit before June 30, 2010 and click on ‘Expat Questionnaire’ (short, anonymous and confidential). Questions can be directed to Dr. Cole at Your participation would be very much appreciated.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Katamari Damacy + Heinz Galinski School

I'm at the stage in my current project where mid-process, similar forms + unknown influences come to the foreground. Noting the following:

Katamari Damacy (Brian Alfred suggest it. Thanks Brian!)

Heinz Galinski School, Berlin, 1995, Zvi Hecker (1st Jewish school to be built in Berlin since WWII)

New work, Study for Sherwin's Virtual Re-Mix 05

Writing at
Draft(!) of catalog for Colorado State University solo exhibition (fall 2010) at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Owen Mundy and I sent images this week to two international group shows at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K. and the Raccolte Frugone Museum in Genoa, Italy. We were invited to submit proposals that “could not be realized” to Sean Miller, who curated the exhibitions as part of his John Erickson Museum of Art project.

Our process involved first constructing a 3-dimensional model of the space. Owen did this using Google SketchUp.

Then we filled this template with our proposals. Two variations resulted.

JEMA.3333, 11×8.5″, archival inkjet on paper, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask, 11×8.5″, archival inkjet on paper, 2010

Exhibition card

Museum All-Over
June 4-August 29, 2010
John Erickson Museum of Art: Next Chapter and
Raccolte Frugone Museum
Genoa, Italy

Little Wonder
June 4-June 17, 2010
John Erickson Museum of Art: Next Chapter and
Golden Thread Gallery
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thin Cities: New Favorites

I have to bring Bldgblog to my readers' attention yet again. Look at these photographs by Bas Princen. They are in the same spirit as my Thin Cities series, but all the more powerful because they are real, on the outskirts of cities in unlikely arrangements. The Storefront for Art and Architecture writing about the photographs says it best.

Although it is the result of extensive travels and research in five cities of the Middle East and Turkey—Istanbul, Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Dubai—it could just as easily pass as the pictorial record of a dérive through a single, imaginary city: a city without a center, populated by extraordinary and at times implausible architectural artefacts; an urban laboratory whose physical traits are defined by migratory flows, spatial transformation and geopolitical flux on a continental scale.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Global Relocation Trends Just Released

Thanks for Andrea at highlighting the latest trends in Brookfield's Annual Global Relocation Trends survey.

Monday, March 08, 2010

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity | Video on

Comforting evening lecture...
Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity | Video on

Bldgblog Book

Phil Steinberg has been kind enough to lend me the Bldgblog Book, and I can't get enough of Geoff Manaugh's writing. Since the book consists of his blog posts on since 2004, you can easily dive into the book wherever you are inspired. I skipped ahead to and fell in love with the chapter called Redesign the Sky.

Although generally inspired by architecture, his approach to content is refreshing. As he describes in the intro:
In other words, forget academic rigor. Never take the appropriate next step. Talk about Chinese urban design, the European space program, the landscape in the films of Alfred Hitchcock in the span of three sentences -- because it's fun, and the juxtapositions might take you somewhere. Most importantly, follow your lines of interest.

Soon to talk about my own artwork in St Louis, I'm aware that leaps between seemingly disparate topics often drives my own practice. I hope I can communicate my brain's logic with the same convincing elegance as Manaugh.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tallest Skyscraper by a Woman

Aqua by Jeanne Gang

Friend / blogger Jenn Mowery Marsh brought this New Yorker article and gorgeous piece of architecture by Jeanne Gang to my attention. Favorite bits from article in case you are in a rush...

- A lot of attention—in Chicago, at least—has been given to the fact that Aqua is the tallest building in the world designed by a woman. That’s nice for Gang, but beside the point, and dwelling on it leads too easily to predictable interpretations of skyscrapers as symbols of male identity...
- balconies on every floor, all the way up. Usually, condominiums sixty or seventy floors above the street don’t have balconies, because it’s just too windy up there to go outside...
- you might think it’s a gigantic version of one of those “blob” buildings of the past few year
- In an age in which so much architectural form—even, sometimes, the best architectural form—has no real rationale beyond the fact that it is what the architect felt like doing, there is something admirable about the tower’s lack of arbitrariness. It reclaims the notion that thrilling and beautiful form can still emerge out of the realm of the practical.

Read more at...

I see my revisitation of practically placed, undulating forms in my artwork's future.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hans Bellmer + Hysteria

Today I’m reading about Hans Bellmer and seeing parallels between his photographs and my recent paintings bulging with balls of figures and objects in domestic spaces. Therese Lichtenstein’s writing about Bellmer in a chapter called “The Hysterical Body” in her book Behind Closed Doors easily links Peter Kilborn’s Relos and expatriates’ nomadic tendencies. These commonly reward lifestyles appear normal but are often only seem slightly less frenetic and prone to emotional, animal-like behaviors. From page 108:

Once again, as in so many of Bellmer’s photographs, this body is riven by inner conflict...both trapped and out of control in the claustrophobic space. And once again, this headless hybrid creature (like octopus and a human combined) suggests the condition of hysteria. By portraying the doll as headless and flailing, Bellmer seems to collude with class nineteenth-century stereotypes of hysterics as woman who have lost their minds, who are emotional and animal-like in nature, and who are literally out of control.

Although the interpretations of hysteria and many of its symptoms have changed in various ways from Greek times to the present, and it has affected both men and women, hysteria has been consistently characterized as a female malady. What we call hysteria today is a psychosexual abnormality that manifests itself through an assortment of physical symptoms. The word hysteria derives from the Greek hyster (womb) and was used in ancient Greece to designate a pathology presumed to result from a displaced or “wandering” womb. The Greeks believed that in cases involving an insufficient amount of sexual intercourse or even sexual abstinence, the womb would become uprooted and wanter around the woman’s body, producing negative behavioral side effects. Women who did not conform to the conventional roles assigned in patriarchal culture—namely, wife and fertile mother—were pathologized...

In most Western cultures in the nineteenth century...according to diagnostic science of the period, the female hysteria registered her symptoms across her body through a nonverbal language f gestures that expressed her unconscious anger and rebellion. These passionate physical tremors, like the pent-up energy of an earthquake rocked her otherwise contained and controlled body.

Such antisocial characteristics were first “documented” in photographs taken under the direction of the famous French psychologist Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpetriere clinic between 1875 and 1880...hysterical fits were induced by electrical shock, loud noises, pressure on the ovaries, the use of ether, tying women down, or placing their heads in a brace in order to hold a pose for the long exposure time. The cultural historian Sigrid Schade points out that it is not a coincidence that many nineteenth-century hysterical poses resembled epileptic fits, because after 1870 Charcot place epileptic patients and hysterics in the same ward. Many gestures, especially the “hysterical” arched back, resembled depictions of women possessed by demons or images of exorcism found in earlier medieval and Renaissance paintings. Charcot, who was married to a wealthy widow and wa sa patron of the arts, closely connected to Parisian art circles, collected these works and hung them on the walls of the Salpetriere clinic, where patients had visual access to them.

More about Lichtenstein's book at
A 2006 New York Times article with a painting of Charcot talking about the "disappearance" of hysteria, a fashionable syndrome of the Victorian era...or the changing of its name.