Aug 26, 2002

my body is my medium
While in Vienna, Chiara and I went to see the TABLEAUX VIVANTS exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wien. Two observations that I can make about contemporary art: (1) you can put anything you want in a plexiglass cube, label it and call it art. (2) most conceptual artists are marinated in a narcissism that leds towards melancholy and subseqentially towards the making of an art that is often very, very depressing. The universal has been dumped for the self-referential.
The work I most liked was that of Christiane Seiffert, an artist I'm not at all familiar with. Seiffert uses humor to make fotos that imitate pre-existing images. Unfortunately, I am unable to find any documentation on this artist.
Chiara, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the fotos of the dying Hannah Wilke and kept asking me why someone would allow themselves to be photographed when in such a horrible state.
Feminist conceptual artist Hannah Wilke began her artistic career with performance pieces that consisted of her unwrapping and chewing sticks of bubblegum and shaping them into vaginas and sticking them all over her body.
Hannah had been madly in love with Claes Oldenburg. The two lived together for several years. One day she came home and found that the lock on the door had been changed. It was Oldenburg's way of telling her that the relationship was over because he had married someone else earlier in the day. Hannah tormented Oldenburg for awhile by sticking her bubblegum vaginas on his mailbox.
Eventually she went from gum to latex and ceramics. But the dust from these materials eventually caused her to develop lymphoma. She died at the age of 52.
For years she kept on trying to make contact with Oldenburg. Uselessly. Oldenberg, instead of calling, served an injunction to the publishers of her retrospective catalogue against the inclusion of any words or images pertaining to their seven-year relationship.
Erase me, erase me, she said.

Hannah continued to "perform" having herself photographed nude, as always. However, this time no longer as an attractive femme fatale, but rather, as a cancer patient. She even made drawings out of the hair she lost in chemo. Even dying she used the self as a narrative tool.
my body body is me so look at it

HANNAH WILKE: Hannah Wilke's political and art historical tenor, blended with the underlying hum of a dirge, was the result of "Performalist Self-Portraits" -- hannah wilke-- Hannah Wilke.Born 1940, New York, USA. Died 1993. -- Hannah Wilke shows her own swollen body that has deterioated with cancer-- BODIES: HANNAH WILKE, KIKI SMITH, ANA MENDIETA-- The well-visited grave of artist Hannah Wilke.-- "Private Parts, Public Women" -- Sontag’s work, two short films (“Body Beautiful” and “Cancer in Two Voices”), and the photographs of Hannah Wilke forced discussion of how illness fails and succeeds as an interesting object of artistic study. -- Hannah Wilke was the youngest woman in Green River Cemetery when I first went there, in both grave and body. -- She, too, was involved with a big power artist of her generation, Claes Oldenburg-- Hannah Wilke Picard Piece-- Hannah Wilke Teasel Cushion -- Body Art/Performing the Subject-- So Help Me Hannah (Snatch Shot with Ray Guns) -- a fusion of gossip and theory --BODY ART:body art, marks of identity-- body artt Resources-- body art-- Flesh Art: Performance and Body Art In Post-Mao China-- Translated Acts: Body and Performance Art from East Asia--
Body art-- The Power of Feminist Art -Decaying beauty viewed from the inside out--In the 1993 exhibition, the images appeared in larger-than-life-sized chromogenic super-gloss prints, shot by her husband Donald Goddard, but selected by Wilke for her final show
CLAES OLDENBURG: "I make my work out of my everyday experiences, which I find as perplexing and extraordinary as can be." Claes Oldenburg, 1960."-- Oldenburg was born in 1929 in Stockholm--
Oldenburg has created some 250 editioned prints-- [Claes Oldenberg:] "I think that this is a wonderful event-- Oldenburg, Claes Thure-- Icons in a Smoke-filled Room-- Claes Oldenburg has demonstrated the power -- Claes Oldenburg in the Gallery of Contemporary Art-- Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen -- Oldenburg's representation -- Claes Oldenburg: Multiples in Retrospect 1964-1990-- The really big art of Claes Oldenburg-
TABLEAUX VIVANTS-- The art form known as tableaux vivants, or living pictures, originated centuries ago in Europe. -- TABLEAUX VIVANTS-- TABLEAUX VIVANTS

Tomorrow is Chiara's 18th birthday and we're leaving for Aix-in-Provence tonight because Chiara will be going to school there for a month to study French. It's the first time she'll be on her own for so long and I'm a bit nervous. But I will be staying with her for a week so she can ambient herself. A' bientOt!


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