“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
-William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Dare to stand at the edge of the precipice. Look over the edge and see, below and above, the vastness of the universe – the infinite nature of things from which we hide our heads. A few among us have leaped from the cliff’s edge, allowed themselves to swim in the open waters of infinity. These are the philosophers, the artists, the world-changing scientists, those who are unafraid to stare into the void without expectation or need for comfort.
Jeffrey Say spoke to us from Singapore where he reports things have improved since a year ago. The country went into lockdown like much of the world, and despite an outbreak among foreign workers living in dormitories, Say says the government has managed to get things under control. For him personally, life began to get better around August or September when he was allowed to return to face-to-face teaching. Singapore is now in phase three, masks are still required as well as social distancing, and there are some capacity limits, but many normal events and venues are beginning to blink back to life. In terms of his work, Say runs the Master’s program in modern and contemporary Asian art history at LASALLE College of the Arts. He was the designer of this program which focuses on art from the 19th century to today. Before the pandemic, Say gave many talks at libraries, museums and galleries. He is also working on two publications, one of which is a children’s book about Asian art and culture to be published by Penguin Random House next year. To hear more about Jeffrey Say’s work, listen to the complete interview.
Janet Biggs has spent the pandemic at home in Brooklyn, NY. She jokes that she doesn’t have a studio practice, she has a travel practice. That said, the pandemic has seriously changed how Biggs works. Directly before lockdown, Biggs found herself in Florida where she launched three minerals to the International Space Station. Since then, she has ebbed and flowed through periods of stillness and activity. Lately, Biggs says she has begun to be more consistently productive. To hear more about Biggs’ current practice, as well as a conversation about her minerals launch including details about her grandfather who, even as he succumbed to dementia, was able to identify minerals, listen to the complete interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
The only way to know what lies beyond our vision is to let go of the fear holding us inside the fence.
Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Histories, Practices Interventions: A Reader in Singapore Contemporary Art was co-edited by Jeffrey Say. Janet Biggs is reading a number of books related to physics including Einstein’s Dream by Alan Lightman.
The Missoula Art Museum invites all artists to submit their work to an open call for the upcoming exhibition The Space of Hope: A Collective Response. This is part of a larger project in conjunction with the CODEX Foundation. In their own words, the project “aims to produce a multimedia and multivenue art intervention, which investigates extractive industry (any process or businesses associated with removing materials and natural resources from the earth) in all forms. Examples include coal mining, oil drilling, commercial fishing, deforestation, and more.” The title of the exhibition in Missoula comes from a Rebecca Solnit quote. For more information and to submit, visit the website. Deadline is April 25.
Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius, and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius.
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