Asiatische Adlernase; Thomas Jeppe / Edition Taube
BALDISCHWYLER – But you know this quote from Plato, where he is comparing the artist to someone who is building a table?
BARON – Maybe in Plato's time, it was easier to do something like this. Art now is different. I had the impression, especially in conceptual art, that so many charlatans are on the road with no ideas about what they are doing, but they try to give their work a very complicated and super intellectual look. And then you have along with it the word Adorno or something, and you think "Okay, maybe I don't understand it but it must be something serious." For me it got so confused in the end that it was not easy to say whether something was good or bad art.
BALDISCHWYLER – The effect is that there is no good or bad art.
BARON – No, it's not always possible to say. I believe in art still of course, but for me tea was a kind of relaxing idea of understanding things. To see this leaf here, and to have it in your hand, you can really feel it. A good high mountain tea, it's not falling apart so fast. If it's very bad, the structure is very thin, and normally it breaks very easily. In art, it's not so simple.
Several Clouds Colliding; Brian Catling / Iain Sinclair, Swedenborg Archive / Book Works.
Eyes No Eyes
Werner Herzog, at a loose end in San Francisco, breathless from the absent hospitality of his patron, Francis Ford Coppola, and suffering from malarial tremors, fever dreams of encroaching jungle, took himself to the rock bastion of San Quentin. He was soothed, as he noted in his journal, by the 'linden-green' walls of the gas chamber, where so many famous scenes of True Crime newsreels played out their final scenes, eroticised and dissolved by the grudging inevitability of an antiquated chemistry. Gross intimacies are witnessed by implicated voyeurs who cloud a studded porthole with the breath of fear. We have the censored gaze. And colour going out of the eyes like airmail letters sent from secure wards to dead presidents. We have a complex and shocking exchange in real time. The serpentine hiss of pellets falling towards, but never achieving, a red fire bucket. Last words mimed for a disconnected microphone.
Tea. Hills and mounds of drying leaves. Terraces and paddies of south London suburbia. An empire of crescents and fishbone tributaries branching and rebranching in dying winter sunlight. Denmark Hill and Forest Hill. Dulwich and Peckham Rye. Ceylon and Assam. Verandahs. Conservatories. Post-colonial villas. Frederick John Horniman. His illegitimate bounty sold in tins and packets. 'Pure and delicious.' His neighbour traded in whale oil, boiling blubber in reeking vats on Bugsby's Marshes, and used the profit to commission whaling-voyage art by JMW Turner. There was a thirst for bones, for carvings, feathers, Day of the Dead vodun wax and tin. Fortunes measured in salvage, in sacks of tribal fetishes, mummy cases, torture chairs of the Spanish Inquisition reassembled in Whitechapel smithies. A slogan for the times, for the trade: 'A Right Royal Drink!' Coded for initiates. A secret embossed for the verminous multitudes, the bankers' clerks and remittance men of Carshalton and Upper Norwood. Royal rite. Inebriated princelings. Rituals of the the Royal Arch. Tea and sympathy. Annie Horniman appoints Mathers to curate her father's cabinet of curiosities, the madness that overwhelms the family home, Surrey House, forcing them to relocate. Closed down, shuttered, demolished. The museum on the hill: its mural like the screen of a cod-Egyptian cinema, its succulent curves and pillars. A blunt tower carved out of buttermilk.
One of the funniest, sharpest satires I have read this year; dripping with all sorts of great stuff. Home homes in on, as it were, email spam for bigger, better, more satisfying Nigerian money scams and female artists, with the usual dose of soft core and razoring wit.
After Death: The Artist
I. Make Kara Walker Tremble with Desire for your Huge New Penis!
You know very little about the philosophical sources from which aesthetic theory was constructed. Instead you approach most topics from the perspective of Freud and diagnosis. You decide that Abstract Literature is a product of the subconscious and therefore can't be precisely defined... You don't know that you are already falling behind positions articulated nearly a hundred years ago by the Surrealists.
You imagine the Abstract Literature Manifesto you are attempting to write being played in the key of G major, and you attempt to visualise it as deep space; black with flashes of darker blackness. Your text is pornographic, its obscenity lies in the fact that it can't be imagined, it can only be experienced in its totality as a concrete form. Blackness. The void. too many light-years between stars.
You try to think yourself into a state of suspended animation. You worship waste and claim to be drawing on Bataille's theory of solar economics. If nature abhors a vacuum then nature itself must be a social construction, there is nothing at all in deep space. You want to add some colour to your text... Space is deep.
You've ended up mirroring the slow drift of an ice floe, the imperceptible passage of distant galaxies through hyper-space. At this point your words in their opaque nothingness literally become 'the ill-will of the people', the spongy referent that animates all post-democratic societies. The cold of interstellar space thousands of degrees below freezing. Abstract Literature: A New Movement in the Visual Arts!
Non-Euclidean geometries. Voices green, purple and red. Strange folds in the fabric of time and space. The universe buckled, bent and sent into reverse. Apocalypse postponed, time running backwards and in slow-mo. Your words have developed an intolerance to alcohol. They are overwhelmed by feelings of existential dread and can't bear to be separated from each other. They've arranged themselves into a single extended sentence from some eldritch dimension unknown to man, a slow stuttering echo of Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end of Ulysses.
Kahu, Mount Aspiring, New Zealand, 2009; Daniel Gustav Cramer, Berlin, 2010
Tales 01, Zeinigen, Switzerland, June 2008; Daniel Gustav Cramer, 2011.
These are small, adcinematic (neologistically ad 'toward, motion to, reduce to, change into' + cinema) photographic series composed of around 7 or 8 shots in sequence. I fell into them immediately, for their simplicity and their striking arousal of definite feelings; 'Ah,' I thought, 'yes, I've got it,' though you're not sure precisely what you have. Maybe a narrative, an echo of your own experiences, or the familiar desire to source mystery in other people, in looking at nuns and wondering, 'where are they going? Is the world sinister or sane?' They give away nothing, ask nothing, and so are replete with potential.