Tuesday, October 2, 2007
“Jesus Christ Clyde!! Busloads of blue hairs are attacking,” Santa turned to me then immediately whipping herself back around opened her trenchcoat- blocking my intimacy from the prying stampeding herd. I touched each image for the last time through the technique of imprintation through the act of a deep breath or seven deep breaths in rapid succession.
Before leaving Australia, an actor, a force and a woman had brought gifts for us. The wine that her family produces dates as far back as 1843. I am drinking the 1843 Freedom Shiraz as I write these thoughts. Synchronicity is what I live for. More poetic than the religious mantra, “a miracle,” synchronicity is the true music of the Universe, thoughts harmonizing with matter. Ideas and actions. Union. The Red Tree, a children’s book, somehow got mixed up in my things. Someone mistakenly had placed it in my travel bag. The fact that Tash and I have the same make of travel bags has, at this moment, dawned on me. On one of the pages, a striking picture stared back at me…letters spill out of a megaphone. Hidden surprises have been illustrated by Shaun Tan, the effect better than the best Easter egg hunt. The Red Tree has captured my doubts and given them a new job to do. Their new job is not to doubt but to faithfully find the magic imaging etched into every page. Faces form out of hundreds of leaves. Swelling to storm proportions inside the little girl’s room. Magic is still alive on something as simple as a piece of paper.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Pip of all people, voiced, “Let me do this Santa, I know what playing Sydney means to you.”
“Yes Pipster, but do you know what playing Brisbane means to me?” And with that she was off.
Pip hugged me and said, “Jesus Clyde you realize that Santa’s handed you the Opera House?”
I smiled, “She has hasn’t she… In this second, old friend, I have fallen in love with that compassionate tart.”
Pip actually gave me a husky grin, “In this moment old friend, I’d almost fight you for her.”
For me, leaving Sydney is almost like saying goodbye to a special friend, but we have to move on. I know that there are other places to experience on this tour. Still, I want to highly recommend Sydney as a place to spend some time if you just need a change in your life, but still want to be in a city. To all the friends that I made while I was there, you are treasured.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I told Santa about it and she rolled her eyes and said, “ Mon dieu, you can’t be serious Clyde. You’ve only been here a little more than a day and you who never makes an impulsive move is considering moving thousands of miles away from all of us?”
I smiled and drank the champagne that she gave me because it was her way of telling me that she would miss me.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Awake now since before 6am, I am in the midst of processing the past few days. Prague is a possible place to explore living in for a while, I had considered Paris but I am of the sound mind that Paris was the canvas for my mother’s adventure. Also my birthfather has laid claim to that city. Knowing all of this I had decided to allow a place to speak to me and possibly become my next destination once the tour comes to its natural conclusion. I write now of my experience of Prague from sweet memories as I sit in my hotel room in Budapest.
May I begin with the most important tip I was given. Walking is the only way to fully immerse yourself in the old section of Prague. Knowing what I know now would’ve saved me having to buy a pair of Adidas after naively setting off in a pair of flip-flops. Cobblestone streets are everywhere and truth be told you won’t want to stop exploring. I must have walked more in Prague than anywhere else in Europe thus far. I was on my own which may have been a blessing as I go over the events of the last few days. By being alone, Prague itself became my companion. Isabel had invited me to go with her and her trusty camera but I wanted to be a tourist and she needed to be a photographer and we both knew those can be two very different journeys. I’ve been giving Pips her space. We’ve known each other for so long that words aren’t really necessary. I can feel her and I know that she is on the hunt. When she’s ready to formulate all that she has been collecting there will be a knock on my door usually before daybreak with room service in tow and a dissertation of information. But until then she stays in the shadows gathering clues and clocking every player’s move. As for Santa….well I’m blowed. Pardon my French but what other expression can cover it? Gobsmacked, utterly speechless. A jaw dropper. We walked into the hotel in Prague and suddenly Santa stopped dead in her tracks. Across the lobby was a tall dark handsome staring back at her. Suffice it to say that Santa has not been seen since, not even in Bratislava. Word has it that the two of them are flying into today. I honestly know no more than that.
Monday, June 18, 2007
The last week has been beyond taxing as far as the traveling schedule goes. I watched quietly from a distance as everyone wrestled with the demands. You gotta figure that in a group of so many people there are the obvious professional travelers, they are ones that take to it no different than a duck to water and then of course there are the white knuckle vodka drinkers that are praying from the moment they walk into the airport to the moment they walk out of one. Out of the posse, I would say we’re all relatively decent travelers. With Santa it’s always about her bag limit, with Pip she wants to fly the plane, with Isabel there’s never a drama. Tori has to travel with her mom hat on and I, well I’d rather not be around so many strangers. After the Oslo show Santa went off with Isabel to explore the Norwegian coast. Apparently Isabel had some friends that have quite a spread there, so they drove spend the night and then would meet us in Berlin. The idea of Santa in the countryside is a 7 on the 1-10 shock scale, however, I have been noticing some pretty odd behavior form her lately. The party girl that glimmers as the lights of a city rise appears to be in a more contemplative mood. Oh of course there’s a passion for all that is alive and breathing and sensual, but there’s something else there now, a pinning that’s just me, that’s just conjecture on my part. A strange occurrence went down over the last couple of weeks. Essentially some pro footballer mentioning no names and that would be soccer for those Americans reading this just flies in to take Santa to dinner. How they met up I don’t know, probably at one of Nef’s crazy gatherings. As much as I can tell, it’s strictly platonic from Santa’s end. The last time he came in and took her to dinner I heard her door open at around 11 in the evening. I had been doing some research on my computer and something in me just decided to look. I don’t consider myself a snoop. I try and mind my own business, but I just had to see for myself if this guy was flying in because he was getting a whole lot of something that she wasn’t telling us or if the platonic show on her part was really for real. I heard a pertly click of high heels go past. I quietly opened my door and there she was all by her lonesome, happy as a clam, going into her room. Now as we all know, some girls pop up to their room do a quick spritz and the gentleman comes knocking within fifteen minutes with chilled champagne. So fifteen minutes goes by and of all things, my phone rings.
“Clyde would you like to pop in for a nightcap?”
I acted surprised, “are you on your own?”
“Of course I’m on my own silly.”
We had our nightcap, after a few sips I gathered up the courage. I said, “Santa baby a star footballer does not fly in more than once, bearing gifts just to be friend-sies”
“Clyde I swear, hand on my heart, I am not leading this geezer on.”
“What have you told him then,” I asked her.
“Well, I’ve told him that I’m not in a place to start a relationship and I’m not sleeping with anybody that I’m not going to have a relationship with.”
I looked at her with my hands up in the air, “And…”
“And he says when you are ready, I’ll be there. I’ve told him I may never be there. I’ve also told him that it’s best if I don’t see him until we’re back in London because there’s a lot to deal with.”
I looked at her and said, “Because we’re closer to St. Petersburg isn’t it.”
She was noncommittal and waved me a goodnight. We leave Deutschland and begin entering into Poland, once step closer to Russia.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
With that statement she was exacting her plans into place. The Black Forest if I hadn’t been before I’m certainly am now convinced is alive with stories, or tales, or legends. Can legends be real life happenings concurrent to this modern age, but always on replay if you can cross dimensional space? I’ve been pondering. On the way into the Forest, Isabel informed me about the many editions of folk tales or fairytales that the Brothers Grimm had compiled. They had been compiling since the early 19th century. What I found noteworthy specifically was that the brothers were linguists. They stumbled into this gathering of stories, which are now read slightly less than the Bible and Shakespeare. With all of this historical information being explained to me on our drive, I wasn’t positive where I was being led…after the picnic and sufficed to say with Isabel’s picnics you can’t pinpoint which herb or which root or which mixture of both is affecting you. For the most part it can be subtle- for the most part. But then there are always those times when you feel as if you’ve walked into a painting and the painting comes alive, well this was one of those times. There I was in a waking dream state and the Forest was holding all possibilities open for me. I’ve never had a fantasy of being on a game show, any kind of game show where you can pick to experience what’s behind a curtain or what’s behind a door or how much money is printed on the inside of the box. The idea of getting it wrong makes me hyperventilate. But here I was watching Isabel’s long graceful arms reflecting the moon in the full light of day, forming an arch and pointing to different paths that I could take in the forest. I asked her “Can you tell me what each path holds for me?”
“No Clyde I can’t tell you that.”
“Because I don’t know what each path holds for you. It depends on your choices at every turn.”
I looked around; there were seven choices. In retrospect I believe now that there were seven tales, or stories that I could have walked into. I walked onto one and then something in me thought- I need to choose a more complicated path. So I crawled over some fallen wood, silently Isabel followed me and I looked at her and said, “Can you tell me the path that I didn’t take”.
She smiled and said, “You chose not to walk into the story of Snow White and Rose Red.”
I was disappointed I must say I’ve always loved that story.
I looked at her and said, “Can I go back and have that one”.
“Do you really want to?”
I said, “No I’ve chosen this one”.
“Alright then you will know soon enough.”
Within about fifteen minutes or so, there was no doubt in my mind that I had walked into Little Red Riding Hood. Hour after hour we got deeper and deeper and deeper into the story, watching it all happen before our eyes. I began to consider with every step the word Predator. This word gets used a lot in the animal kingdom. It is a word that when I say it, I don’t see animals. There is a specific set of eyes. I didn’t see the wolf for one moment, as anything but a representation, a human predator and that face will be different for each person that walks into this story. With different twists and turns on the path, I began to figure out that my choices would play out different versions of the story. I never knew how many versions there were of Little Red Riding Hood. As I approached the final chapter of the story, I heard the trees whisper- there is nothing to be afraid of, girls will become women, and no predator can stop that. Many hours later Isabel and I sat under the stars talking about the experience. She reached out for my hand and then took both of them, looked me in the eye and said, “You made the strongest choice you possibly could Clyde. You didn’t walk the victim’s path. Do you understand how you took control of the situation”?
I looked up at the darkness of the sky, the trees were still swaying, there was a warm breeze. We were staying in a little town within the Black Forest. I had chosen a version of Little Red Riding Hood that I had never heard before. You don’t know what you’re choosing until it is upon you because you walk onto a stone or around a tree and all of the sudden you’ve walked into the next dimension of the fairytale itself. How Isabel finds these worlds, I don’t know. But once you’ve made your choice you can’t walk back through the portal when you cross over into another chapter of the story. Then the events play out before your eyes. In this way you are a participant although you’re not one of the characters themselves. Little Red Riding Hood was in front of me at all times, just by inches. And she couldn’t hear me, but I could hear her as well as all the other characters and creatures. In this version, my little red riding hood saw through the wolf’s disguise, tried to escape by tricking her grandmother with the excuse that she needed to defecate and did not want to do so in her “grandmother’s” soft bed. The predator grandmother allowed my little red riding hood this quick release if she promised to come back instantly, while tying a string from her devouring paw to the little girl, around little red riding hood’s wrist. Clever Red slips the string over something else and got away.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The opening has left me tired and feeling empty. The night it-self was buzzing with excitement. Was it a success? The reaction has been explosive… positive and negative. I was taught as a child from my grandmother that this kind of reaction, when you are the gallery, is never a bad thing. There have been lines of people wanting to see what all the ruckus is about. So, from that standpoint, there is no reason to be down. What bothers me, when I can quiet my racing thoughts for half a second, is the way some of these artists and their works have been mis-understood. When I read all the critiques, I am left feeling as if I have failed some of these women artists. “Maybe just maybe” I think to myself, “if I had helped to present them in a different sequence, maybe then the literal mind would have been more open to the abstract.” Of all people, my friend Santa was the one who actually predicted to me on the night of the opening what some of the papers and the online reports would say about some of these women. At the time, I was horrified when I saw her giving this well-known little man a mental dressing down. Only our friend Isabel saw this and as I stood frozen and shocked, I think I saw Isabel smile calmly almost as if to say, ‘Let her go she knows what she’s on about.’ So I stayed out of the way. What I did not know in that frame of a second was what Santa had already ferreted out…. What the critique of this little man would be about the exhibition. And I say the word “little” not because of his looks but because of his heart. But it was Santa who realized first that this critic was going to slice the work of the sensitive, powerful art and only praise one or 2 women in the whole exhibition.
Because he writes for such an influential paper, this does matter…. in our world, unfortunately. I had personally called some of these women artists originally when their agents had been reserved about such a broad concept. I explained how I would personally be involved. Having had some success over the years with exhibitions they chose to trust me and eventually they agreed. The gallery is happy. Business is booming. I have heard nothing from the artists or their agents since the reviews have been published. I woke up to a bird tapping on my window. I took it to mean, ‘Clyde come outside.’ Am I running? Maybe. I keep getting texts from Kyle, which is thoughtful. But I have nothing to say, not right now. This is not about him so I have to work through it myself. I realize the response from the reviews is out of my control but I was so sure, so positive that these artists would be understood because of the way that I conceived their presentation. Wrong. All wrong. How did I get it so wrong?....... If I didn’t have to be in the U.K. imminently I would be jumping in my car and driving. Driving where? It wouldn’t matter. I just have to get out of here.
Friday, May 18, 2007
and stills from their Live Performance was collected and then presented as documentation
of the original event. This is a retrospective. Therefore, no performance artists in "real time"
have been included. There was a panel of a few of us arguing the pros and cons and frankly I
felt that to subject a performance artists to masses of people who would not be focused on their art
form would be mixing still life and 3D.
The concept of this particular exhibition is "Visual Hall of Fame," if you will of the women form
the historical period of the mid to late 20th century and the
early 21st century.
But, and this an important but, the theme for this specific section of the exhibition was
designed around artists that create with the female body, their own or another woman's as the
As I walked Kyle through the intoxicating maze of the Body of Woman, I saw him in a new light.
He was humbled. He was entranced. He was disturbed.
First up was work represented by Valie Export… one of the early radical performance artists
that sent ideological shock waves through the patriarchal male-defined image of woman as object.
Whether inflicting pain, not as a masochistic act, but as "signs of history revealed in actions
involving the body"…. or tattooing a garter on her thigh in
1970 as a "sign of past enslavement," Valie Export was one
of the liberators of the female body (a woman who my
friend Santa calls a true originator).
We walked on. We stopped. There were moments of quiet as we stood in front of the paintings by
Marlene Dumas specifically from the series Strippinggirls
because there were no words as he drank in "Cleaning the
Pole", "Cracking the Whip", and "Caressing the Pole."
From a representation of one of Vanessa Beecroft's live installations (Show.1998) to
representations of Carolee Schneemann, Kyle was drawn to
the inspiration that Schneemann has clearly had on Body
Art as a medium. When we arrived at the powerful images
of Hannah Wilke , "I- Object", there were tears as he had to
sit and collect himself after having viewed Hannah's "Intra-
Venus" series which documents the artists' real life battle with cancer.
After Kyle's experience with Wilke's use of the genre, I dropped him smack dab into the Digi-
universe of Natacha Merritt. Some people have referred to
her work as pornography. My friend Isabel calmly
remarked, 'Stay neutral Clyde or else you can't represent
the artists equally.' Kyle cracked a smile, as I thought he
would, when I pulled my hands from his eyes after I had
gotten him in the perfect position to experience this artist.
Guys always smile when they view Merritt's photographs.
Women are on all sides of the fence on this one, that's one
of the reasons I wanted to include her. This work causes
debate amongst feminists who surprise themselves by their
reaction to these intimate sexual details.
One performance that I daresay Santa will be more than happy to have missed would have to be
when in 1994 the performance artist Elke Krystufek
masturbated in front of guests, even her mother, at the
opening of the group exhibition "JETZTZEIT." But the
question asked by a few that were actually there is what
resonates with me still. And that question is, 'Was I, the
spectator, the voyeur in this piece, or was it I who was the
object of desire for Krystufek?'
There is more to see than can be shown in a couple of hours so I decided to end the tour for Kyle
with the power house duo of Shirin Neshat and Ghada
Amer. It really is hard to follow the impact of them
together. He grabbed my hand and asked, 'Will you show
me more? I know there is more why stop?' I honestly
responded, 'There's always more art Kyle. Come back on
Saturday and if you really want to see more then you will
want to make the effort to show up.' 'I'll be here by 8
sharp,' was his declaration. I left him with, '9 sharp would
Friday, April 13, 2007
artists approach the naked female body. I am drawn to certain artists more than others.... that is
just being honest.
But I try to remain open so that the public does not feel my preference when they're walking
through the installations.
More than any other approach, when a female artist makes herself the subject and or the object
of her exhibition I find it confrontational. That is not a negative. In some cases the work
makes me feel exposed or upset. In others, I was made an accomplice without knowingly agreeing
to this. Once it turned me on. Once it made my skin crawl.
I welcome these feelings. This is why I wake up in the morning, to be moved to think and feel.
If a visual artist has no impact whatsoever on me, then I am sad. Because sexuality is at the heart
of this exhibition, lack of impact is not an applicable phrase
in this case.
I have been working constantly, basically sleeping at the museum so that the opening would be
perfect and make deadline. So, when Santa asked me to go
to see the live broadcast of a dance show competition, as
disappointed as I was, I didn't want to leave the paintings
or the photographs.
One night I found myself at the end of my rope, which is a place I don't get to often. The vibes in
the museum had been ignited it seemed by a poisonous
substance. Bitchy green monsters were oozing out of one of
the women that works here. That kind of manipulative
person can be wearing on the brain. Once she had left the
building, I began to calm down. I decided to walk around
and double check my reactions to the artwork without this
woman's snide remarks about a lot of the women artists.
Why we can't be more supportive toward each other as a
community of women, I have no idea. Then out of nowhere
I felt someone watching me. I turned around quickly, as
you do, and there he was... the Bitchy-Green-Monster-
Person's on and off boyfriend.
'Why do you let her get to you?' was the question he asked. I answered, 'Let's not give her more
credit than she deserves.' 'What do you mean by that' was
his comeback. 'Look, anybody and I do mean anybody,
who talks so viciously about other contemporaries, artist or
not, will get a reaction from me it's really that simple.'
He walked in without looking away and chose to stand between me and the paintings and
sheepishly requested, 'Will you give me a tour from your
perspective so that I can feel as passionate about these
artists as you do? I work here too Clyde and I need an
injection of this adrenaline that you carry for these artists.'
'What about your relationship with you know who?' I could barely say it. He looked shocked and
shook his head, 'What relationship? You've got to be
kidding. You-Know-Who is a psychopath and a stalker and
I'm not far from getting a restraining order against her.' I
had to laugh just because it is crazy how we all can over-
react to what one person says, not realizing that they live to
stir up trouble more than they need air. I remember folding
my arms possibly to protect myself saying, 'Kyle, I don't
need another stalker in my life, even if it's your one.' Out
of no where he gave me a hug and said 'you can't let
harmless envious people dictate your every move.' Out of
my mouth before I could stop came, 'This is not about my
every move Kyle this is about roaming around with you in
a deserted museum after closing except for security.' He
grinned that grin and said 'Sounds like one of the better
ideas I've come up with in quite a while.'
So I kept a slight distance for all kinds of reasons and began to walk him through the exhibition.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
different political party could have been frighteningly
erected through my whole internal system. The great divide, separating me from like-minded women, could have been fully operational even without me being aware of it at first. Just because of cultural differences, which we associate with an enemy.
That said, I have been moved by two women with such unique styles and visual voices yet
both brought up with strong Islamic influence.
They both address our complex modern issues and taboos as women who are a product of
the west as well as the east.
Shirin Neshat arrests your heart with her photo series "Women of Allah" where exposed
skin is covered in Farsi. Text by other Iranian female
writers, who cover the topic of female sexuality, is what is
written on the body of each woman in her arresting
Just a needle and thread is all Ghada Amer needs to shock and titillate, free you from
your troubles, and pull you into her world where you
cannot help but be aroused. Aroused no different than a
man can be with a female erotic object. Do you walk away
empowered by an expression of sexual feminism or do you
walk away having to come to terms with the picture of
women as erotic sexual objects as desirable? Herein lies the
massive difference between cheap thrill girly mags and art
with sex as subject. You cannot escape the effectiveness
that "toying with control" has, which some of these
women artists are addressing, as they tackle the
multifaceted subject of female sexuality. In the case of
Ghada Amer the viewer is agreeing to take part in viewing
women as erotic objects because her technique screams "a
modern chick can still knit" as you the viewer drinks in
these poses of pornographic women, poses that you will
find on a man's sex for sale wish list.
There are installations that come and go without me calling up friends and telling them.
"This is something you have to see." But I was curious on how some of my friends would
react as more women's art on this topic arrives for the
opening next week.
Monday, March 5, 2007
defences, but what's underneath. I get accused of refusing
to acknowledge who a person is choosing to be right now.
When that person is arrogant or rude or selfish then my
friends say, "Clyde!!!!!! THIS is what this LOSER is
about." But I say, hold on people..... this is only what this
person THINKS they are about. Some of my friends, I
know this for a fact, see this quality as a weakness.... a
naïve approach to life. But you see I don't think it is sound
judgement to close the window for change to anybody. So
this so called Loser person is confused. But if no one sees
their potential then they may not ever see it themselves and
that would be tragic.
I can get lost in a picture and found again. After a painting has revealed its secrets to me, I am a
woman changed forever.
The coveted job of working on the project "Women Artists: Late 20th and Early 21st Century" has kept me busy over the last many months. Featuring Minimal Art, Op Art, Performance Art, Media Art and Interactive Installations, and Artisan Handicraft to name but a few.
Although I have had the opportunity to work on women's installations in the past, the exposure I have had to the vision of these women has shaken me from slumber.
Paper strips coated with wax transparently hang.... covering a huge space and stops me in my
tracks. The drawings of
trains, a chain link fence, a cityscape rendered with precision. The order of Toba Khedoori calms
The merging of cultures in the paintings by Mona Marsouk brings together the future and the past the east and the west that proves there can be a synthesis of the global dilemma that we have to wake up to and face daily.
The love I have for art was bred in me by my grandmother, affectionately known as Gran. Her
father had taught her how to
look at art being an art critic himself and encouraged her study in painting. He of all people understood the plight of women painters. He would always take her to watch painters create and encourage her to take out her sketchpad that she carried everywhere. By the end of a workday he would come back and pick her up after she had been the mascot of that particular artist's studio for the day. This is how she really developed her stunning technique, by allowing the masters to tell her their secrets. Because this was before the second world war, Paris was teeming with painters and sculptors.... most of whom my grandfather got on with famously.
So the story goes, his uncle had been teaching at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
until the wave of the impressionists divided the art world in
France in the nineteenth century.
Apparently his allegiance to the new movement of Impressionism alienated him from many of his colleagues. Uncle Claude, as Gran would call him, secured a position eventually at the Salon des Independents which was established in 1884. He lived to embrace PostImpressionism
and Symbolism. Lots of isms...
Since that time someone in the family has been involved in the growth of independent galleries
A cousin of mine outside of Paris has most of Gran's work saved for the generations to come. A thought of Gran and her other female contemporaries enters my mind when I am surrounded by modern women artists. The struggles that these women endured remind me of how far the woman's art movement has come and how far it still has to go. When I think of Lizzie Sidel in her struggle to be recognized as an artist in the mid to late 19th Century, it reminds me of the inequalities that women painters and sculptors have had to endure. The wealth now of art from women has not solely been shaped by the desires of men but from a back catalogue of women artists of the past. Women expressing and reacting to different emotions being liberated even indirectly by WW II were artists the likes of Leonora Carrington, Meret
Oppenheim, Ithell Colquhoun, Toyen [Marie Cerminova],
Tamara de Lempicka to name but a few.
These women among others gave the world a new way of defining female sexuality.
I can see the inspiration that these artists have had on some of even the most controversial female artists that are in the present exhibition that is about ready to open. Soon now, very soon
now. Every breath of mine is devoted to this opening.
The museum has had all kinds of threats from different religious groups, (too many to name) from just pure ignorance. One of my best friends dropped by and security called me down. As I let
her in past the protesters she exclaimed in disbelief,
"Clyde, Dahling, can you imagine me, ME wanting an
invite to the museum, But HONEY, this is the bomb."
Nonononononononononono just rushed out of my mouth
louder than I intended, but security backed off as I pulled
my friend away whispering, "Just don't say the word