Roni Horn and Michel Leiris are my companions through this second lockdown. They deepen and widen my curious.
“In any encounter with her art the feeling that what one is seeing is not necessarily what one thinks one is seeing leads to a heightened sensory experience and turns into a discovery, an adventure.” Exhibition magazine, 2016, Introduction, by Sam Keller, Director and Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Switzerland
I like that she has a piece called “We are the Weather”. That she works across all media and explores through drawing. She plays in language, which is also like weather, seems to me.
The crows have moved on to play elsewhere with the snow-laden wind; the trees still wave. Every once in a while a flock of pigeons sweep by in perfect curving formation, dancing the snowflakes behind them. I will go out and climb through the escarpment trees later, lie on my back in the big open Gage Park field.
With Leiris (1901 – 1990) I dive into the internal felt world that artists inhabit and pull their work from – the place where he focuses his intention and curiosity as both artist and ethnographer. Close friends with Miro, Giacciometi, Lam, Francis Bacon, collaborator with Sartre and de Beauvoir (among others), and for decades the director of the Department of Sub Saharan Africa at the Musee de l’Homme, he was deeply critical of colonialism, capitalism. Also a lover of Opera.
An interesting heart-mind, who “wanted to unfold speech that would be a live fabric, patient and revealing, of those very things that are true to the one who lives them, feels them and refuses to name them in an ideal conclusion.” (Hand, 2002).
I like that he lived and wrote at the heart of the ‘isms’ I’ve studied but developed a singular voice that informed all of them. I like that he played in language and loved Giacommetti and Bacon, whose work I also love.
I would not have met either of them save for this lockdown.
Now the snow is thick and the wind more visible. Birds have stopped playing in it – there’s enough in the air that it would be difficult to see; they’d be flying blind. From this side of the window it’s beautiful – winter magic I cherish.
This second lockdown has been tough for me, like blind solo flight through intense psychological weather. I feel a creeping worry that what I’m making is not relevant in the world, either because I’ve changed or because the world is now unrecognizable. Good days are me forgetting all of that and just enjoying the work that has come out of my little home studio but wow, I miss music, I miss human connections. Laughter, smiles. I miss interwoven stories at dinner tables, intense board games, post-prandial walks. I’m pretty sure we all have a version of this.
Also after eleven months of pandemic I’m having trouble imagining the world we re-emerge into, how this works, whether I’ll remember how to have a decent conversation, make new friends. It’s complex; Leiris and Horn are helping.
Andrew Simonet, who believes as I do that it will be artists who figure out ingenious new ways to bring laughter back upon re-emergence offers some suggestions in his Artist U blog (selection here):
WHY AM I NOT ECSTATIC? Collect stories and moments of the discomfort of getting back together. Wrap my arms around the complexity of lockdown’s end, the difference between what we should feel and what we do feel.
10 STEPS BACK TOGETHER. An incremental series of tasks/practices/rituals to readjust to in-person life. Baby steps.
1) Have lunch with one friend. Hug at the end.
2) Go to a public event (a concert, a talk, a game) and stay for 15 minutes.
The trees still wave, as do I.
Time for a walk.