“Consciousness is a much smaller part of our mental life than we are conscious of, because we cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious of.” -Julian Jaynes
We do not know the mind. Perhaps we cannot know the mind. While it is a myth that only 10% of the brain is in full use by humans, our active minds do remain shrouded in mystery. We know they are the seat of all things, our breathing and ability to move through the world, our interface with everything and everyone around us. Indeed some believe that the brain is our very soul. Just as we can never know the mind of another, we can never truly perceive our own mind in its entirety. This wilderness of mind in which we continuously dwell may never be unlocked.
William J. Simmons has just completed a review of Jenny Saville’s exhibition at Gagosian Gallery. Simmons describes the review as “one of the most bitingly negative reviews I’ve ever written in my entire life.” The review is so critical that Simmons initially felt some apprehension about its publication. His concern was the reaction of the so-called Art World Mafia. Critical thinking and writing are an important part of art that have fallen by the wayside and Simmons believes this limits the available conversation. In the case of the Saville exhibition, Simmons found the work difficult to look at and felt that harsh words needed to be out in the world regarding work he considers an affront to art itself. His review comes at a time when “bubble gum write-ups” are the name of the game in many cases. Simmons says that young art writers need to write strategically, play the game, get in the good graces of the gatekeepers of the art world by writing fluff reviews. The art world, Simmons says, is an unkind place. He stands apart from the majority of art writers and exercises his freedom to write his truth. Simmons is currently at work on a chapter for a book by Oxford University Press about queer video art in the 21st century. The book covers work from the 90s to present day. Simmons sees a narcissism present in the genre that he does not believe was present 30 years ago. Being “thin and pretty,” he says, have defined avant garde within the last few decades. For his chapter he draws on his art history background to trace the zeitgeist. Simmons is focusing on artists he likes for the chapter. At the same time he is writing a book about The Neon Demon a film by Nicholas Winding Refn. To hear more about Simmons’ take on art writing as well as his other work, listen to the complete interview.
Sol’Sax is a born and bred Bushwick, Brooklyn native. He is currently exhibiting in a group show at James Fuentes Gallery on Delancey Street. His work for the show traces African American culture and ancestry. The piece itself was made for many complicated reasons. Sol’Sax believes there is only one religion and that the world’s religions are merely facets of this one religion. He considers the Bible as a spine for this singular human religion and perceives that all religions ultimately define themselves against Judeo-Christian and Islam culture. He believes that God blesses his chosen people with hardship. Sol’Sax says, “Just as God had chosen the Jews to go through slavery…the new Jew, or the modern Jew, is the African American community that has once again gone through slavery.” The piece represents male and female figures holding smaller versions of themselves. The work is made in such a way that it reduces in scale representing the way in which our children are ourselves through time. His work revolves around the repetition of slavery and the idea that those peoples who are allowed by God to be enslaved will ultimately be stronger and blessed with adaptability. “Europeans have been living a lie since the 1600s,” Sol’Sax says. Their insistence on clinging to slavery has depleted their descendants of soul in the way that the enslaved possess. The tables are turning, he says. Popular culture is dominated by African American influence. To hear more from Sol’Sax, listen to the complete interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
We live within the scope and boundaries of uncharted grounds. At once familiar and elusive, our minds are self aware and yet ignorant of their own abilities.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. William J. Simmons is reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Sol’Sax is an avid read of John Mason’s books and strongly recommends reading Black Gods-Orisa Studies in the New World.
Atlantic Gallery in New York City’s Chelsea Art District invites artists to submit to the juried show WHO. ARE. YOU. The theme asks artists to question how they represent themselves. Grand prize winner receives a solo exhibition at Atlantic Gallery. For more information, visit the website. Deadline for submissions is June 24.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.