Amen Thyself

Amen Thyself

Kids are we of One High God or other.
There are no atheists around a campfire.
Praise the spook that hankers for a crown.

An unborn baby drowned with its mother,
Tipped from a rescue boat into the flood.
Scream a prayer to the God-stinking mud.

Cosmic altar ego, slaughtered meat-hiss,
With such a fairy’s tail who needs a clown?
Toys are thee. As for my house and me,
We need a better God than this.

(c) 2020 JMN

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‘Uninvited Guests’

Carlos G. Navarro, curator of “Uninvited Guests,” the Prado’s first post-lockdown exhibition, says it’s “partly an act of self-criticism” for the museum’s complicity in neglect of 19th-century female artists.

Of 130 works displayed, 60 are by women. One wonders why not more.

The Guardian illustrates its article with two whole paintings by men and detail of one woman’s painting.

One wonders why not a whole woman’s painting. Or even two?

“I’d like there to be a debate about… how we represent the profile of 19th-century female artists in the museum,” he said…. What do we do with the pictures of the girls, or the ones of the slaves? Our stores are full of these kinds of images so what should we do with them?”

One wonders if an answer to the question is to take more of them out of storage and display them.

Navarro says that the 19th-century state “reduced [female artists] to decorative elements like still-life painters and flower painters.”

Yikes. One wonders at the reductive view of certain genres peeping out.

Ultimately, one wonders if the greater respect to be paid to woman-art by contrite museums is to free it from factitious gender silos and treat it simply as art.

(Sam Jones, “Prado’s first post-lockdown show reignites debate over misogyny,”, 10-18-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

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Backages & Shortlogs

The Guardian reports a crisis fermenting in South Korea: cabbage for making kimchi has run short. Its link to the intrepid cowpoke fleshing street-level USA will not be obvious, but an old snatch from Finnegans Wake helps connect the dots:

“Tee the tootal of the fluid hang the twoddle of the fuddled, O!”

(c) 2020 JMN

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Lightning Gauge

More than one Texas rancher weathering a drought has shrugged off a passing storm saying he got about an inch-and-a-half of lightning from it.

Language note: as an adjective, “Texan” is not heard much in Texas cities.

(c) 2020 JMN

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The Kiss

“I feel so powerful. I’ll walk into that audience. I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women and… everybody. I’ll just give you a big fat kiss.”
— At October 2020 rally

(c) 2020 JMN

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The ‘Tintanic’ Runs on Octopower

I have a fictitious acquaintance with the Chichester locale via Sir Alistair Chichester of Chichesterton-upon-Hogg.

There’ll always be a Britain in my fancies.

(c) 2020 JMN

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Protecting the Male

(c) 2020 JMN

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Slackoff from Windbaggage

Art Spiegelman’s comment below, encountered on the fly as if on zoom wings, has helped me realize that this latest painting is just wrong: grotesque in subject, torpid in execution, and the end of a line. Fury and disgust can be better spent.

Early on I realised I didn’t want to become a Trump caricaturist – that it was just playing into his narcissism, ultimately. I just backed off and I’m now trying to see what the hell’s been happening to us. It makes me recant something I rather cockily said back in 2001, which was when I found myself unable to move from September 11 to September 12. About three months later, my brains poured back in my head and I said: ‘I guess disaster is my muse.’” He recants: “Now disaster is just a fucking disaster.”

(Sam Leith, “Graphic artist Art Spiegelman on Maus, politics and ‘drawing badly’,” the, 10-17-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

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‘Blurred Stupid Dulled’

Hilma af Klint inspires a certain perfervid evangelism which is diluted in this article by careless editing.

The article cites a beautiful film by Halina Dyrschka about the visionary artist’s astonishing work.

The beguiled film maker contracted [sic] MoMA to find out why Af Klint had been “erased from art history.” The answer she received was even more beguiling than the question posed:

“They weren’t so sure Hilma af Klint’s art worked as abstract art. After all, she hadn’t exhibited in her lifetime so how could one tell?”

Science historian Ernst Peter Ficsher [sic] is quoted saying “… our world has become blurred stupid dulled [sic] unless somewhere out there there’s a Hilma af Klint painting it all so in a hundred years we will see what we’ve missed…”

The article celebrates Af Klint’s having eventually “got what she deserved” more than a century after she “arguably invented abstract [sic] and painted some of the most beguiling if neglected canvases in art history…”

It concludes thus:

Hilma af Klint’s paintings, just maybe, gives [sic] us the opportunity to escape the everyday and marvel anew.

(Stuart Jeffries, ‘They called her a crazy witch’: did medium Hilma af Klint invent abstract art?”, 10-6-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

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Amy Sillman: The ‘Facticity’ of Paint

… [Amy Sillman] has helped lead the charge over the last decade for a reinvigorated mode of abstraction, alongside colleagues like Laura Owens, Julie Mehretu, Joanne Greenbaum or Jacqueline Humphries. These painters, mostly women, have reclaimed the potency of active brushwork and visible gestures, which for so long had felt played out. Their work is smart as hell, but not afraid to laugh at itself. Conversant with digital media… yet committed to the facticity of paint.

… Ms. Sillman is in a thin crowd (with, let’s say, Andrea Fraser, Hito Steyerl, Matias Faldbakken, David Salle) of artists who can really write. The evidence is in “Faux Pas,” a just-published collection — her fourth — of her writings that display the same good humor and intelligence of her best paintings.

“It was the first time I cried at a museum,” she says, remembering the irises at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. “Because he was so tortured. The flowers were flowers of misery. Tears of dejection and tears of joy…”

(Jason Farago, “Amy Sillman’s Breakthrough Moment is Here,” NYTimes, 10-8-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

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