What We Feel and What We Mean
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Category — Potpourri

Alternative Media and Why it Matters Now

On Thursday, November 10th the Wolfe Institute invited DeeDee Halleck to speak about alternative media. Without a clear image of what the event was, I went on the notion of, “perhaps they’ll talk about how alternative media is effecting the way people express themselves or report things.” However, it was not so.

The first hour and a half consisted of stories. Stories of different radio programmes in different countries and how they came to be. They ranged from a communicative Bolivian Miners’ Radio to an empowering Honduran Teenage Radio. Each came with a little historic context and then, almost formulaically, their current success and influence. Despite the almost universal fact that these stations were representing the demands and preoccupations of “the people”, I felt that Halleck, for some reason, did not mention places that one would assume have much to do with rebellion, protest, and freedom of speech, namely, Egypt and the rest of the Middle-Eastern countries. The utter lack of any mention of the “Arab Spring” seemed odd and detrimental to the lecture because of their importance in the movements of Occupy Wall St. and the related causes.

Despite this, Halleck covered many different movements that while not inciting global occupations brought about practical and immediate change in there conditions. For example, the group that Halleck focused on the most was one of illiterate, rural, Indian women. Trained by a local university professor and given A/V equipment, these women were about to document their farming practices and related process to illuminate the damage certain government changes had caused and also to fight against the establishment of Monsanto terminator seeds. Their reports, sent to the government, helped pass legislature that benefited them and eased their woes.

But they are not alone, along with them were many others that worked in what Halleck called, “community media.” It is this resurgence of alternative media as a way of empowering and unifying the community that Halleck believes will be able to accomplish the dreams of movements like Occupy Wall St.: liberté, égalité, fraternité.

November 12, 2011   No Comments

Dia: Beacon

The view heading North was actually one of the most striking works of art I saw today.

That being said, the following are some other notable experiences.

Sol LeWitt’s Drawing Series was amazing because of the dramatic irony. In Wall Drawing #136, the viewer thinks the scribbles (arcs, straight, not straight, and broken lines) on the wall are haphazard. Which is an interesting assumption int he first place, considering that even those who don’t appreciate modern art and its ambiguous lines and shapes cannot fail to recognize that the artist very carefully orchestrated a piece. It is not just a random assortment of lines, or if it appears so to the viewer that is only because the artist wanted it to appear so. LeWitt elevates this reality by showing the viewer exactly how precise his randomness is. The writing is (literally) on the wall. Each “random” line is numbered and each sequence planned. No one sequence is repeated.

Wall Drawing #248, too, looks random. Elementary shapes drawn on a white wall. However, LeWitt also writes exactly where each shape is placed. His “not-straight” line is not randomly but rather exactly placed. He writes so finely, one could almost miss it altogether.

Another favorite exhibit of mine was Franz Erhard Walther’s Work as Action. On first inspection, the room is strangely silly. Pieces of canvas line the walls on a raised part of the floor. They are sitting, neatly folded. It’s not art. It’s not pretty. It’s not striking. Then one reads figures out this is art waiting to be made (In my case it was Maryam who figured it out) The canvas pieces are meant to be turned into art. In doing so, the viewer becomes the creator…or the art itself. When we were re-enacting the positions and formations photographed by Walther, the other visitors to the gallery were watching us with curiosity. We were the exhibit, as novel as the item with which we were “playing”. It was a pretty powerful moment. And it was fun.

Another interesting exhibit was was the strings. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes. There’s nothing there…or is there? The outline is the artwork. Or maybe the art is the outline.

My other favorite was the twisted metal sculptures. They were made of solid metal pieces crushed as one would a piece of unwanted paper. They sit on the floor as if tossed there. The in-congruence here exists in the sturdy nature of metal and the form into which it has been molded. It is treated as if it was a flimsy notepaper.

And on to Yvonne Rainer‘s dance ….um….. (I’m not sure what to call it)


Crazy as it may sound, the most amusing part of the performance was the third “act” in which the initial performer, Patricia Hoffbauer, throws a temper tantrum replete with strangled screams and a wrestling match with a coat-covered lump of gauzy material. Everyone has a moment when s/he wants to scream like a banshee and throw a real two-year old temper tantrum. I don’t know if this was the response Rainer hoped to elicit, but I found it hysterical. Startling, granted, but then, I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for a temper tantrum.

I also found Hoffbauer’s overall performance to be very emotional and expressive. When she drags herself across the “stage” in a way that suggests she is being pulled by strings or is otherwise made of rubber, she is depicting lethargy in an explicitly tangible way. She is enacting typical ballet “moves”, butchering the exaggeratedly precise and subtly energetic nature of ballet dancing in the process.

To be honest, the silent, slow motion “dancing” (or, more accurately, movement) was interesting but far too long.

To backtrack, the stage itself was fascinating because it wasn’t actually a stage. The performance was on level ground. In fact, the only elevated object was the stands on which the viewers sat. In a funny way, that makes the viewers the viewed. They are raised on a stage, not the dancers. I cannot guess what Yvonne Rainer meant by this, nor do I think I am qualified to understand her piece in its entirety.

October 24, 2011   No Comments

The Bleu House in Rotterdam

This house in Rotterdam was scheduled to be demolished before the local government hired a firm to “spruce it up” a bit to temporarily keep the house standing. All they did was add 2 microns of blue paint to the house and it transformed this tiny part of Rotterdam. This house is especially important for me because it shows how magnificent an effect such a miniscule change can have. The tiny amount of paint that was added to the house has reverberated throughout the community, a place that was before overlooked entirely. Since these photographs were taken however, unfortunately the building has been demolished due to its age. The Bleu House in RotterdamBefore the paintAfter the paint

September 18, 2011   1 Comment