The past few weeks have flown by. Election euphoria gave way to economic meltdown despair, which vies for attention alongside holiday shopping and business as usual. Keeping one’s head above water as an artist seems not so bad when everyone else has been thrown into instability.
What I’ve been up to:
An art review. Forthcoming.
Reading about photography, and feeling out of sorts. From Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida:
What I want, in short, is that my (mobile) image, buffeted among a thousand shifting photographs, altering with situation and age, should always coincide with my (profound) “self”; but it is the contrary that must be said; “myself” never coincides with my image; for it is the image which is heavy, motionless, stubborn (which is why society sustains it), and “myself” which is light, divided, disperse; like a bottle-imp, “myself” doesn’t hold still, giggling in my jar: if only Photography could give me a neutral , anatomical body, a body which signifies nothing!
I was surprised to learn that the phrase “Camera lucida” is Latin for “lit room.” In a camera obscura, a room with a pinhole displays an image, functioning like the cameras we know today. But in a camera lucida — a drawing tool comprised of a mirror and a semi-silvered (or two-way) mirror — the lit room is the scene for not just an image, but for the artist, drawing substrate and subject. This emphasis on context — on the whole picture — resonates with my work, which has become less about discrete objects and more about the viewers’ engagement with the object in the gallery (another lit room, a space for viewing — a lucid camera of the mind?).
Consume; think again. This financial crisis/recession/whatever sucks. But I think a period of consolidation is not bad if it takes American hubris down a notch, and forces consumers to shift towards simpler, less toxic, more meaningful lifestyles. It seems to me that American consumers were in denial about the difference between what we want, need, and are entitled to (as are the auto industry giants — and see where that got them).
Like the Rolling Stones song goes: You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.
Consume with care. Ironically, Christmas muzak pervades but social institutions are likely to suffer this year due to the economic slowdown. As David Brooks pointed out on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer today, during recessions, memberships to social institutions fall. The tenor of the news suggests that consumers owe it to retailers to keep shopping as usual and to help major corporations stay afloat. I disagree. I’m trying to do my part by doing my holiday shopping at non-profits, alternative art spaces and local art sales.
There’s a gazillion ‘What to give’ lists out there, showing off precocious lamps and gratuitous gadgetry, but here’s a list of for arts-minded locals:
Memberships to cutting-edge art organizations.
Basic memberships start at $35-65; get a full year of free or discounted admission to gallery exhibitions and/or performances, film screenings, talks… e.g.,
Kearny Street Workshop
Intersection for the Arts
Headlands Center for the Arts
Recipient uninterested in art, you argue? Luckily, there are museums and organizations specializing in craft, design, photography, cartoons, cars, you name it!
Tickets to the opera or ballet.
(SF city arts budgets would be halved under Supe. Peskin’s budget proposal, warns SFGate. Boo Peskin! Yeah for Obama (read the Obama-Biden arts platform [PDF]) and Michael Chabon (read his postamble to the platform)!)
Not sure what seats to purchase? The SF Ballet offers gift certificates in increments of $25.
Single tickets for the SF Opera, which will feature Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess next summer, start at $16-18.