louise bourgeois on the difficulty of expression

How are you going to turn this around and make the stone say what you want when it is there to say “no” to everything? It forbids you. You want a hole, it refuses to make a hole. You want it smooth, it breaks under the hammer. It is the stone that is aggressive. It is a constant source of refusal. You have to win the shape…

Gaston Bachelard would explain this by saying that the thing that had to be said was so difficult and so painful that you have to hack it out of yourself and so you hack it out of the material, a very, very hard material.

I read Bachelard when I was over seventy-five. If I had read Bachelard before, I would have been a different person, I would not have been divided inside since I would have taken the materials, with their different characters, and I would have been more friendly towards them. In the past, every time somebody asked me about materials, I used to answer, “What interests me is what I want to say and I will battle with any material to express accurately what I want to say.” But the medium is always a matter of makeshift solutions. That is, you try everything, you use every material around, and usually they repulse you. Finally, you get one that will work for you. And it is usually the softer ones–lead, plaster, malleable things. That is to say that you start with the harder thing and life teaches you that you had better buckle down, be contented with softer things, softer ways.
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Excerpted from Louise Bourgeois’ Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews 1923-1997.

Louise Bourgeois with soft head sculpture, 2009.

Louise Bourgeois with soft head sculpture, 2009.

More about Louise Bourgeois’ soft sculpture faces and the restorative act of joining things together HERE.

lumumba’s ghosts: immaterial matters and matters immaterial…

peerenThe Archive & Public Culture Research Initiative (where I work) has invited Esther Peeren, author of The Spectral Metaphor: Living Ghosts and the Agency of Invisibility (Palgrave, 2014), for a week of intense discussion, academic exchange and engagement around the theme of the ghost/spectre both as archival metaphor and as conceptual figure in post-colonial and cultural studies.

Peeren is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Vice-Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS) and senior researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). Her current research projects explore global spectralities and rural globalization.

On Tuesday, 26 August, she will deliver a lunchtime lecture, Lumumba’s Ghosts: Immaterial Matters and Matters Immaterial in Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres, in the Jon Berndt Thought Space (A17, Arts Block, Upper Campus, University of Cape Town). In her analysis of Belgian artist Sven Augustijnen’s 2011 multi-media exhibition, Spectres (which focuses on the mystery of the 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the independent Republic of the Congo), Peeren argues that a focus on immaterialities-as-spectralities prompts the viewer to take seriously that which is not immediately apprehensible, or deemed inconsequential. At the same time, it transforms our understanding of matter itself, since immateriality is inevitably implied in materiality, both metaphorically (materialities may be considered immaterial, insignificant) and literally (over time, materialities may transform, decay or even disappear).

Appealing to Jacques Derrida’s concept of spectrality, her analysis shows how Augustijnen’s work, especially the feature-length film included in the exhibition, moves the materiality of the immaterial and the immateriality of the material centre stage, and lays out the consequences of this double imbrication for individual and collective understandings of history, memory and the archive.

If you’d like to attend pn 26 August, RSVP to APC-admin@uct.ac.za.

sounds of silence

sos
LABEL: ALGA MARGHEN (ITALY)
CATALOG #: ALGA 046LP
RELEASE DATE: 21 JANUARY 2014

Sounds of Silence is an anthology of some of the most intriguing silent tracks in recording history and includes rare works, among others, by Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Maurice Lemaitre, Sly & The Family Stone, Robert Wyatt, John Denver, Whitehouse, Orbital, Crass, Ciccone Youth, Afrika Bambaataa and of course, Yves Klein.

In their own quiet way, these silences speak volumes: they are performative, political, critical, abstract, poetic, cynical, technical, absurd. They can be intended as a memorial or a joke, a special offer, or something entirely undefined. The carefully-chosen silences of this anthology are intrinsically linked to the medium of reproduction itself and reveal its nude materiality. They expose their medium in all its facets and imperfections, including the effect of time and wear. At the most basic level, these silences are surfaces. And it is in their materiality that they distinguish themselves from the conceptual experiments of John Cage with “4’33”.

Since the 1950s, silence has found a place in the economic structure of the record industry and since then it would increasingly be appropriated by a vast array of artists in a vast array of contexts. Indeed, the silent tracks seem to know no boundaries. The LP presents the silences as they were originally recorded, preserving any imperfection that the hardware conferred upon the enterprise, without banning the possibility of being satisfying to the ear. The liner notes provide historical background for each track, revealing the stated (or presumed) motivations for these silences, while providing novel sound correspondences or interferences.

This album is meant to be played loud (or not), at any time, in any place: a true aural experience. Only 250 copies available for distribution, in a gatefold iconic sleeve. ORDER THE LP HERE.