“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
We perceived things uniquely. How we see the world can never be identical to the way in which even those closest to us do. Our words and actions may possess one meaning when we create them and another when they are received. The inherent paradox this creates is both the beauty and peril of human interaction. Throughout history, societies have been built up and toppled over the meaning behind actions and words. Every day, we strive to make ourselves understood in a world where no one can ever truly understand anyone else. Living with this awareness is a good step toward opening our hearts and minds to the countless perspectives surrounding us.
Sophie Lapalu is a French critic and curator. Presently she teaches contemporary art and has just completed her Ph.D. focused on furtive action, a term coined by artist Patrice Loubier. Furtive action explores the paradox between an artist’s need to not be seen as an artist while performing an artistic action but at the same time to be recognized as an artist. A prime example of this paradox can be seen in the following pieces of Vito Acconci who required artistic anonymity in order to perform his action but needed to then translate this action into his artistic vernacular. One year after Acconci’s following work was completed, the art world demanded visual documentation. Acconci staged the pieces for photographs which appear to represent him in action but in fact are nothing but replicas of the work he did. This sort of representation requires faith from the viewer to believe that the action depicted actually took place. Lapalu is also involved in research about American artist Jeff Perkins. During military service in Japan, Perkins accidentally encountered Yoko Ono and her first husband, Tony Cox with whom he became friends. After military service, Perkins returned to New York where he lived as a roommate to Cox and Ono. Throughout his life, Perkins experienced many unusual and remarkable things including a friendship with painter Sam Francis. Eventually, Perkins became a cab driver. Another chance encounter with Nam June Paik led him to record conversations with his cab passengers. This work, titled Movies for the Blind became one of Perkins’ seminal works. Lapalau received a grant to research Perkins in New York and L.A. She met and recorded conversations with Perkins himself as well as others in his life. Much of Lapalu’s work now deals with oral narrative in this way.
Monika Bravo’s piece Duration was recently unveiled in Prospect Avenue Station on the R Line in New York City. The work is the result of a commission from the MTA. For the project proposal process, Monika worked with the concept of mosaic, a departure for the artist who primarily works with animation. The result was something of an archaeology of her past work, compiling six years of projects into a mosaic collage. Her intention was to instill a sense of presence in those viewing Duration. For the actual installation, Bravo used hand-cut glass pieces. The materials were fabricated by Mayer of Munich. Bravo has explored emotions for a long time and leads workshops in the manifesting of emotion. A Buddhist who studied for many years with a Taoist teacher, Bravo reaches toward an understanding of her own emotions through spirituality in this way. Through the Buddhist tradition, Bravo has developed the practice of observing a moment as it is rather than allowing it to influence how she feels. Following a difficult year personally, Bravo came out of the spiritual closet, so to speak. For the first time, she spoke openly about her own spirituality and began teaching workshops. Bravo’s work was on display at the Vatican Pavillion at the Venice Biennale for which she explored the Gospel of St. John. The work created questioned the idea of God in terms of meaning and the struggle to perceive divinity through words. Some of the shapes created for the Vatican piece are now incorporated in Duration.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
All we can do is speak and act with intention. Whether this translates is out of our control.
Additional interviews include: Martine Fougeron
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Sophie Lapalu is reading 2666 by Roberto Bolano. User Mari Shaw offers Words, Books, and the Spaces They Inhabit the first in a series called The Noble Art of Collecting.
Opportunities / Open Calls
NEF Animation in France offers residencies intended to foster artistic development in true incubator style. Deadlines vary. For more information visit the NEF Website.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.