Jan 14, 2010

Iannis Xenakis at the Drawing Center

Okay---it's 2010---and I've already had two extremely inspiring art experiences! First James Turrell, and now, Iannis Xenakis at the Drawing Center. Iannis Xenakis, for those of you who haven't heard of him, was an architect, musician, engineer, and amazingly inventive individual. In the way that Buckminster Fuller was a mad genius with geodesic domes, Xenakis's specialty was a parabolic shape, out of which emerged abstract sound pulses based upon mathematical formulas, as well as actual structures. I first learned about Xenakis doing research for my world's fair project; in 1958, he designed the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 world's fair in Brussels, Belgium, collaborating with Le Corbusier and the composer Edgar Varese. Essentially the first video installation piece, one can only imagine how blown away people in 1958 must have been. The Drawing Center will be hosting a curatorial discussion this Saturday the 16th, as well as a performance of Edgar Varese's Poeme Electronique.


James Turrell's Meeting at PS1 was one of the most transcendental art experiences I have had in quite a while. Imagine: you enter a small, simple squarish room. There is a wooden bench built around the perimeter, leading into simple wood paneling about 1/3 up the wall. The rest of the wall is white, and curves gently toward the ceiling. However, the ceiling is actually a square cut out of the roof, framed by a bit of white wall. The sky is the canvas. The room is the frame. It is perfect. Upon entering, one could see people lying on their back on the floor, looking up. People on the benches, looking up. When people look up, there is a beauty and innocence about their gaze. They appear meditative, in another realm.

The work itself was, quite simply, a wonderful experience. I gazed upon that blue sky just before dusk, and the first hues were of a gradually deepening cyan, until finally any traces of green were replace with a richer, more magenta hue in the blue. At one point, it was the exact shade of Yves Klein blue. EXACT shade. And the effect of the slight golden cast on the white walls from the subdued lighting and the Yves Klein blue sky was that of an actual canvas protruding from above. Space and time collided in that simple installation. It was magic. No matter how carefully you studied that opening into space, it was impossible to visually grasp the exact hue for more than a moment. Then----it was gone.


I have always felt there to be an integral connection between my photography and music---prior to shooting large format architecture and landscape, I studied classical piano for a mere 23 years. For the holidays, my darling esposo bequeathed upon me a piano. Every day, I play exercises rigorously, then get to work on two pieces: Debussy's Pagodes and Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13. No, it is nothing like Bohemian Rhapsody---although I'm sure Liszt was an arena rocker for his time.


Okay---this is a bit belated, I admit it. I'm a bad blogger. However, onwards and upwards. 2009 was a struggle. It was not a light-hearted year. My life mirrored that of the doomed art-economy, and the many ups and downs involved with such a thing. But through it all, I keep making work, staying in touch with my friends and colleagues who also keep making work, and hope for the best.