Friday, January 30, 2015

my best letter of recommendation

Applying for various positions I stumbled on the letter below:

Anitra Haendel, CAA
275 7th AVE. 18th fl
New York, NY 1001
212.691.3893 ext. 204

March 22, 2010

Dear Mrs. Kidney,

Tereza Swanda is a superb candidate for the position of Faculty in Visual Art at Northern Essex Community College.

I know firsthand the joy teaching brings to Tereza. I have witnessed Tereza teach in the Bronx. I saw the attention and respect she earned from her students. She makes certain that her eyes are being met, and that her words are getting through. She says that students are her teachers, and that teaching is an exchange. At the same time, she works very hard at preparing syllabi, thinking about her students needs and gearing the lessons to them. She has complete respect for each student no matter what age or background. She believes that art is essential to every person’s life. Not only will she teach the students technical skills, she will impart values of self-determination that will carry over into other parts of their lives.

She has a very professional manner that makes her easy to work with. I have seen her interact with a wide variety of people from many different settings. When she and I studied together in South Africa, we met teachers, political activists, and artists. Tereza maintained a dignity throughout. She is not afraid to share her own experiences, which makes her able to connect with people from all walks of life. This ability also makes her an exceptional teacher, one able to interact professionally and personally with both students and colleagues.

For Tereza, art and education are inseparable. As her résumé will show, she has extensively studied and practiced them both. Yet her research is ongoing, her perspective is always broadening. She is constantly looking to improve herself, her teaching, and her art. Even while currently away from an institutional position, she is teaching painting and drawing to adults from her neighborhood, as well as organizing exhibitions for them. She has helped these students establish goals and made them excited about their work.

Along with an expertise in more traditional art techniques, Tereza is savvy with computers, and can teach Photoshop and other visual applications. Her background is in the fine arts of oil painting, sculpture in clay, stone and wax, and charcoal figure drawing, which we studied together in Florence, Italy. I then shared an art studio with Tereza for three years in Brooklyn, and I have seen how she develops her artistic skills through practice and exercise, as well as how she experiments and plays with different mediums and methods.

As an employee at the College Art Association who interacts on a daily basis with art instructors and practitioners, I can attest that Tereza is someone who works according to the highest professional and ethical standards. Her knowledge, passion, generosity, and friendliness will be enormous assets to your program. I recommend her wholeheartedly.


Anitra Haendel

Thursday, January 29, 2015


When is there enough information in a work when one can "read" it?
What is the minimal amount of information needed to achieve that understanding?
Questions for today - thinking about my crit with R & C...

Changing one thing

Grandmother's tools

Pradelna Bohelnice, show OTEC (FATHER)

The gallery is on the grounds of a mental institution in Prague. Hospitals themselves are very disturbing, I can't imagine a mental facility, (thinking of Anitra and her suffering while I was in Prague.)

The space is large, cold with very high and unpolished walls. (You can see the state of the building here: Video translates well, as do smaller pieces perhaps in the nooks of particular alcoves. Paintings would also do well, if we could hover them perhaps off the wall. Lighting is ominous.

Here was a letter I was going to submit to a group show at this gallery. The idea was to write a letter to one's father. (I believe it was tied to unresolved problems with the so-called "father" figure.) The show never happened and was canceled due to the curator's illness.

I wrote to my grandfather:

To a father (once removed)

Dear Grandfather,

The ragged, stern brutality of your youth has all but faded.  The angle of your jaw loose, your fingers, soft and light. Your strength once upheld the pillars that constructed your home, the imperialistic architecture of Vienna. How I dreaded visiting the place. The short cut phrases of unfamiliar German, the continuous cloud looming over the already gray buildings, a place that tucks away its mistakes.  Those swept - away - under - the - carpet particles that none -the - less permeate one, whether we choose to accept them or not. So much of you accepted and even more, identified with, the Austrian facade.

All of that faded last November. The outer shell melted as you faced inhumanity in a hospital. You consciously fought to reclaim some sense of dignity while defecating into a portable toilet instead of the given diaper. To me, what was most amazing was your utter release; your release of hard edges, your release of proscribed manhood, your softening. Your whole self, altered.

No longer were there remnants of “father” proclaiming himself law by corporal punishment. No longer was there the strength of deceit that made you tower over those of smaller stature.  

There was just you, without a filter; you, the frailty that was your dying body; you, with your empathy for the struggle of life.  I was so privileged to be in that with you, to have been your witness, to have seen a side to you that so many missed.

As you let go and in your dying lay limp, the hours passed without notice. Your skin was so delicate. There was stillness and a pause.

The last conscious moment we spent together, you humored me with a logistics puzzle; one of the same ones you amazed yourself with when I was a young child. This time I did not feel foolish at my mathematical incomprehension, but marveled at your brilliant mind writing and solving the problem in midair.

My respect and love for you quadrupled that last month. I am honored to have known an emasculated, soft and gentle man like you.


Your granddaughter

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

insomnia also

Last night I was up from 2AM - 8AM. Awake, but not really present.
Today was somewhat of a bust because of it, with some moments of clarity.
I'm beginning to see what needs to be done in studio. I swept the floor in there today, and took out the ashes.
Sorry to hear you were awake as well.

Here's what I'm thinking about, in relation to your list
Exchange: Red Library
Proposal - for our No Is Yes New Mexico show, and also for Prague. A little bird told me that location is really important for the Apex Art grant, which is great coincidence for us and the gallery in Prague. It seems strongest to focus on the Feminist aspects of the proposal in relation to the location - the history of Feminism in the Czech Republic, the silencing of women's voices, etc. They only want a written proposal at this point - no images. So let's craft a winner!

Videos: -A Not So Sure Aristotle and the Ocean
 -"Good" Bar from Wholefoods, Soap cheese grating and melting, in relation to cooking, soap as cookie dough, soap as Parmesan and the wooden spoon
(research artists making soap locally, buy their soap)
- Washing Hands- Paint and wash hands daily with the Nickle, Thomas Jefferson bar until it is used up.
- Washing Hands, Grandmother washes with portraits of family, as they fade in and out of memory with Alzheimer's.

I'm just beginning to see what needs to be done - with the painting I zip-stripped, and the other one I erased. There are charcoal drawings in my tomorrow, perspective shifting slightly. Oddly (and perhaps embarrassingly), I am inspired by those FB "post 3 artworks in 5 days" posts by other workshoppers. 

Produce box of soaps: Capital Cleanse, Antioch University, and throughout the town of Swampscott
- Press Release in the Swampscott Reporter
-research how to 'kindly' leave soaps in museums/spaces that do not "accept unsolicited artist submissions."
-research soap and things made with the purpose of disintegration

Projects related to the above that have been on my mind for a while:
- Awakening- Clay busts from a mold of my face- eyes closed to opening (looking at Anitra coming out of the sand in SA after her burial.)
-Install this project at the banks of Walden along with drawings ink and pencil
-Install Classical busts, hollow shells, pit fired, on the beach to roll in the tide. (Rolling Classics?)

I don't have anything so formally focused, but rather am trying to understand the connections between all the threads of my work. It's happening slowly, but it is happening. xo

Parallel worlds

Parallel worlds exist and interact with our world, say physicists

New theory explains many of the bizarre observations made in quantum mechanics.
Do parallel worlds ever cross paths? (Photo: Martin Brigden/flickr)
Quantum mechanics, though firmly tested, is so weird and anti-intuitive that famed physicist Richard Feynman once remarked, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." Attempts to explain some of the bizarre consequences of quantum theory have led to some mind-bending ideas, such as the Copenhagen interpretationand the many-worlds interpretation
Now there's a new theory on the block, called the "many interacting worlds" hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics, reports
The theory is a spin-off of the many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics — an idea that posits that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual, though parallel, world. One problem with the many-worlds interpretation, however, has been that it is fundamentally untestable, since observations can only be made in our world. Happenings in these proposed "parallel" worlds can thus only be imagined.
MIW, however, says otherwise. It suggests that parallel worlds can interact on the quantum level, and in fact that they do.
"The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957," explained Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and one of the physicists to come up with MIW. "In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese."
"But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all," he added. "On this score, our "Many Interacting Worlds" approach is completely different, as its name implies."
Wiseman and colleagues have proposed that there exists "a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds, which tends to make them more dissimilar." Quantum effects can be explained by factoring in this force, they propose.
Whether or not the math holds true will be the ultimate test for this theory. Does it or does it not properly predict quantum effects mathematically? But the theory is certain to provide plenty of fodder for the imagination.
For instance, when asked about whether their theory might entail the possibility that humans could someday interact with other worlds, Wiseman said: "It's not part of our theory. But the idea of [human] interactions with other universes is no longer pure fantasy."
What might your life look like if you made different choices? Maybe one day you'll be able to look into one of these alternative worlds and find out.

Read more:

Monday, January 26, 2015


After Goya's little ink drawings of nursing women, one titled something like "She seems like a good mother," and the other was of a bearded lady.

(This last one was the one I spoke of on the phone, where the brushstroke was forced and 'off'. It still makes me uncomfortable. Sanding it brought in more of that feeling.)

calm, before the storm

It's the peaceful baby sleeping, that can cry out at any moment. The sky is a moving gray. I hope to stand still and video whatever natural phenomenon comes. The anxiety is in the air.

But there is work to be done: (I hope to get to some time even as we have another weekend where everyone is home under three feet of snow.)

Here is the list from last night's insomnia:

Projects I have right here, right now:

Exchange: Red Library

Videos: -A Not So Sure Aristotle and the Ocean
 -"Good" Bar from Wholefoods, Soap cheese grating and melting, in relation to cooking, soap as cookie dough, soap as Parmesan and the wooden spoon
(research artists making soap locally, buy their soap)
- Washing Hands- Paint and wash hands daily with the Nickle, Thomas Jefferson bar until it is used up.
- Washing Hands, Grandmother washes with portraits of family, as they fade in and out of memory with Alzheimer's.

Produce box of soaps: Capital Cleanse, Antioch University, and throughout the town of Swampscott
- Press Release in the Swampscott Reporter
-research how to 'kindly' leave soaps in museums/spaces that do not "accept unsolicited artist submissions."
-research soap and things made with the purpose of disintegration

Projects related to the above that have been on my mind for a while:
- Awakening- Clay busts from a mold of my face- eyes closed to opening (looking at Anitra coming out of the sand in SA after her burial.)
-Install this project at the banks of Walden along with drawings ink and pencil
-Install Classical busts, hollow shells, pit fired, on the beach to roll in the tide. (Rolling Classics?)


Impending snowstorm today and tomorrow
I have my first Drawing class tonight at 6pm- wondering if it will be cancelled?
Feeling a little anxious about the whole thing

Friday, January 23, 2015

WSW August

Here is another something I just saw online. I have some ideas about it. Thoughts?
au·gust art festival is envisioned as a visual arts extravaganza with presentations by video artists, sculptors, performance artists, and/or installation artists. Throughout the month of August, artists will be presenting their work along the WVLT Rail Trail from WSW to the trestle, on Main Street, and/or in town parks. au·gust art festival is designed to present exciting contemporary work and to highlight the economic impact artists have in our community. Throughout the festival, there will be opportunities for conversation and dialog about the work.
All installations are temporary and must withstand natural elements for the period of the festival. The artwork must not, in any way, interfere with the daily use of the Rail Trail.
The festival will take place August 728.
Installation Dates: August 1–7, 2015
De-installation Dates: August 28–September 4, 2015
While WSW will be able to provide some assistance, artists will be responsible for installing and de-installing their work.
Selected artists will receive $500 – $750 honorarium. Additional funding will be available for artists interested in proposing a project-specific interaction with the community during the festival (i.e. workshop, performance, etc.).
Proposal Deadline: March 2, 2015
Application Checklist
  • A 300 word or less description that include the media, scale, and possible site location
  • Resume
  • Up to 10 images of recent work with an image script, which should include title, medium, dimension, and date. Check our FAQ sheet for digital specifications.
  • Video samples should be uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube, and the URL included on the application form.

apex art

Franchise Program 

Applications open: February 1–28, 2015

291 Church Street
New York, NY 10013
apexart announces our 8th annual Franchise Program open call, an opportunity for anyone to submit a proposal for an idea-driven, group exhibition to be presented anywhere in the world—except New York City.

Due to increased funding, apexart is adding an additional Franchise Exhibition to our 2015–16 season for a total of four winning projects, selected by a jury of over 100 creative professionals who vote online using apexart’s anonymized crowd-sourcing voting system. Winners receive a budget and administrative support to produce their exhibitions.

Proposals must be 500 words or less describing the central idea of the show. No links or images accepted.

Submit your proposal on the Franchise Program page starting February 1.

For apexart- they question the show in connection to the space. Where would we want our exhibition?

  • Submit your proposal for an idea-driven, group exhibition to be presented anywhere in the world – outside of New York City.
  • Submission are 500 words outlining your idea, where it will take place, and why the idea and location are connected.

  • What location would be appropriate for our work??
    Pradelna Bohelnice in an alternative space in Prague- an interesting space on the grounds of a mental institution. (I walked through that space as well as the mental hospital. The walls are very unpolished.)

    Any other ideas? Halfway between the city of my birth and yours??

    For what we've been talking about and thinking about, Pradelna Bohelnice sounds like it could be a good place to propose for this. I'm interested in intervening in a place where The Red Library was born.  But I'm not Czech and I don't know what the ramifications would be in that context. Does it matter? Let's go for it. 

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Studio: Christian Boltanski

    From the Tate. There is a good slide show of his work that I can't seem to embed here

    The big problem when you’re an artist is that the times of creation don’t come often. Most of the time I stay here in my studio and groan, and after that I go to my room, look at the TV.

    One of the beauties of my life is that I never work. I’m lazy and I have no other way to work. I teach this to my students: you must wait and hope – there’s nothing else you can do. And when you have an idea, you can do it in ten minutes.
    Nobody comes here – I don’t like it when people come here. There is nothing to see – most of the time I give interviews at a café in Paris, and it’s good. I’m so far from Paris, here in Malakoff, people don’t know where it is. I consider this room to be my studio, but really there’s nothing here. It’s like a place where you live. The only useful thing about the studio is that after some time you can imagine something, a forest, for example: I walk in it and today it is nothing for me, but perhaps in two weeks it will become something.
    I began to work as an artist when I began to be an adult, when I understood that my childhood was finished, and was dead. I think we all have somebody who is dead inside of us. A dead child. I remember the Little Christian that is dead inside me.
    I stopped going to school at about age 12, and I was very crazy, and I stayed at home. One day I made a little object in plasticine and my parents said it was good. So I started to make more, and to make drawings, and I began to make large paintings in my bedroom. I have a sweet brother who said to me then, ‘You must learn something and you are going to speak English doing your work.’
    So all the time I painted, he spoke to me in English, and that’s the reason I can speak a little English. I was actually painting a large portrait, with plenty of people and stories, so there was plenty to talk about. My brother is now a professor of linguistics.
    I come to my studio every day at 10.30, and I stay and do nothing. I go to Paris sometimes. I have a few ideas. To be very pretentious, sometimes I believe it is mystical. Sometimes you find nothing, and then you find some-thing you love to do. Sometimes you make mistakes, but some-times it’s true. In two minutes, you understand what you must do for the next two years. Sometimes it’s in the studio, but other times it’s walking in the street or reading a magazine. It’s a good life, being an artist, because you do what you want.
    Something like 60 per cent of my work is destroyed after every show. And if it’s not destroyed, it’s removed, or I’ll mix one piece with another. When I make a show it’s like when you arrive at home and you open your fridge at night and there’s two potatoes and one sausage and two eggs, and with all that you make something to eat. I try to make something with what is in my ‘fridge’.
    What drives me as an artist is that I think everyone is unique, yet everyone disappears so quickly. I made a large work called The Reserve of Dead Swiss(1990) and all the people in photographs in the work are dead. We hate to see the dead, yet we love them, we appreciate them. Human. That’s all we can say. Everyone is unique and important. But I like something Napoleon said when he saw many of his dead soldiers on a battlefield: ‘Oh, no problem – one night of love in Paris and you can replace everybody.’
    I’m always a beginner, and the most important thing is always the next piece. We artists never know if we can do it again. You have done something – and most of the time I hate what I have done a few years ago – and you don’t know if you can do something now. The good artists are usually the very young or the very old. The ones who are very young are so stupid that they have no fear. And when they are very old they aren’t afraid any more. In the meantime, you are always, always, afraid.
    Being an artist does not make me happy. You have no reason to wake up in the morning. That’s my big problem. Why don’t I look at the TV all day? I’ve made no reason to come here. But if I stop totally, then nothing happens. I always hoped to open a bakery in Bratislava – with a very fat wife and ten children! – but I shall never do that. This is a lonely life. Some of my friends love to make gardens or have cars, and I understand that. But for me I want to do nothing, to have no distraction. I love to eat, I love to drink, I like to see friends. I’m not always alone. I am not a good cook, but I love to cook. I occasionally have this dream that I am a teacher, but I am a bad teacher and I don’t go to my school very often! And what is very lonely is that nobody else can say anything useful to you about your work. Even Annette [Messager] never comes here. She never looks at my work. There is a beautiful story in Proust: A sad man whose wife has just died sees a friend going to commit suicide. They pass through a garden and he says to his friend, ‘Look at these flowers, so beautiful. Look at the blue sky.’ Seeing these things, the friend forgets to kill himself. He survives because he forgets. Sometimes we need to forget. For this reason, I do nothing, and I only wait to die. We must be friendly with dying. To be alive is to be honest.
    Christian Boltanski, blue tent in studio
    Christian Boltanski, blue tent in studio
    Photography: Michael Sanders
    This blue tent here is something I am working on for a show in Mexico. The shapes are going to be different, there will be ten of them, and there will be dark shadows, and this blue material. This thing I’ve built is one way for me to try something out in the studio, but for the actual installation I’m going to send a letter. That’s all.
    It’s a 600-metre-square space, and I’m going to send nothing. I’m sure they can find enough pieces of wood, and I’ll need balls. I shall stay for one week or ten days and I’ll make it there. And then I will have the thing destroyed. That’s something I like also. They give me money and I give them nothing.
    When I make a large show, I often try to have a beginning and an end, because emotion comes from time. But it’s a different kind of time than theatre or cinema. I mean, when you read a book, you have, say, a young girl who is happy on one page, and you turn the page and now she is dying. That quality of emotion comes when you have some kind of a shock. When I make a picture, I try to create different kinds of space, and even different kinds of shock, to have a beginning and to have a sweep of emotion. My work is a little like theatre, but it’s also always so different. I’m like a musician, I can play my work and I can play my work better, or worse, depending on the place where I am showing. It’s theatre without text, without spectacle. What I wish to do is something between theatre and installation.
    I’ve never stopped painting. I’m a painter. Absolutely. I’m a very traditional artist. Making paintings and doing nothing. The big difference between painter and artist is that some art is to do with space and other art is to do with time. Music, literature or theatre, these things do something with time. Painting does something with space. When we see a movie, there is a beginning and an end, most of the time. When you see a painting, you can look at it for ten minutes or six hours, and you can move around. The big ‘cut’, in terms of media, I think, is time or space. There are some artist videos, like Bruce Nauman’s, which are more like painting, really, because they are a space product, like sculpture. But there are also artist videos that are more like cinema, because they have a beginning, an end, and we sit down to watch them.

    About the artist

    Christian Boltanski was born in Paris in 1944. His artistic career began when he left formal education at the age of 12, at which point he started painting and drawing. Since the 1960s, he has worked with the ephemera of the human experience, from obituary photographs to rusted biscuit tins. Several of Boltanski’s projects have used actual lost property from public spaces, such as railway stations, creating collections which memorialise the unknown owners in the cacophony of personal effects.
    Boltanski has exhibited internationally at museums including: Musée d’art modern de la ville de Paris; Kunsthalle Wien; Stedelijk van Abbemuseum. Eindhoven; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angelis; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Malmö Konsthall; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Museum Ludwig Köln; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Regina Sofia, Madrid.
    His work has been featured in Documenta (1972, 1986) at the Venice Biennale (1993, 1996), and at the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (1991). Boltanski lives in Malakoff, a suburb of Paris, with equally renowned artist Annette Messager.
     This article was originally published in Tate Magazine issue 2.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Yes to everything

    Yes to our conversation earlier today - yes to starting to form our exhibition. Yes to the red books. Yes to casting them in wax, yes to casting them in bronze, yes to casting them in soap, yes to intervention, yes to editions, yes to our catalogue, yes to that third thing that's created between us, because of us, that's not there when we're not there. Yes to hearing your voice - were you about to cry earlier? I was. It's been a rough few weeks. Yes to your the upcoming residency application - apply, apply, apply. You're always welcome to come here for  a long weekend or week or however long you'd like. We have enough room for the family, and my studio would love your company. I would too. Winters are pretty tough. A lot of times I feel really alone. It's cold. Yes to the next seven years on this blog. Yes to accepting the tough-ness of being a parent and artist and partner and and and. Mostly I mean yes to resigning oneself to it, giving over to this inevitable state (that we chose!). Yes to energy - I need more of it. I have incredibly low blood pressure maybe that's why I'm tired and cold all the time. Yes to your energy - thanks for helping me work through difficult times even though by all comparison my life is amazing. Yes to our coloring book show via Catherine. Yes to $peak Out and your work with Anitra. Yes to Anitra, wherever she may be. Yes to Eva Hesse and Sol Lewitt's love letters to each other, and their influence on one another's work. Yes to painting because we know how to paint. Yes to our work together and getting it together and getting together and working together and yes. Yes!