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robertogreco : insiders   5

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: David Hammons
"Spirits aren’t something you see or even understand. That’s just not how they work. They are too abstract, too invisible, and move too quickly. They don’t live anywhere, but only run by and pass through, and no matter how old they are, they are always light years ahead. They do what they want, whenever they want. And under specific circumstances, at specific times, in specific places, to specific people, for specific reasons, they make their presence known.

In the Congo Basin in Central Africa, they are called minkisi. They are the hiding place for people’s souls.

David Hammons is a spirit catcher. He walks the streets the way an improviser searches for notes, looking for those places and objects where dormant spirits go to hide, and empowers them again. He knows about the streetlamps and the mailboxes where the winos hide their bottles in shame. Hammons calls it tragic magic—the art of converting pain into poetry.

[David Hammons. "Spade With Chains," 1973.]

Much has been said about the materials Hammons uses in his work. Most are taken from the street and cost very little—greasy paper bags, shovels, ice, cigarettes, rubber tubes, hair, rocks, basketballs, fried food, bikes, torn plastic tarps, Kool-Aid. Some of them are (knowingly) borrowed from the vocabulary of other artists, while others are closely tied to his own life and chosen surroundings in Harlem. Much has also been said about the meaning of his work—its arguments, its politics, what it’s “about.” And while much of what has been said has been useful, it has also been partly beside the point.

Materials are something one can see, and arguments are something one can understand, and that’s just not what Hammons is after. He’s interested in how much those wine bottles still somehow contain the lips that once drank from them. He’s after the pun on spirit—as in the drink, but also as in the presence of something far more abstract.
Black hair is the oldest hair in the world. You’ve got tons of people’s spirits in your hands when you work with that stuff.

[David Hammons. "Wine Leading the Wine," 1969. Courtesy of Hudgins Family Collection, New York. Photo: Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART.]

If Hammons is suspicious of all that is visible, it might be because the visible, in America, is all that is white. It’s all those Oscar winners, all those museum trustees, and all those faces on all those dollar bills. Some artists work to denounce, reveal, or illustrate racial injustice, and to make visible those who are not. Hammons, on the other hand, prefers invisibility—or placing the visible out of reach. He doesn’t have a lesson to teach or a point to prove, and his act of protest is simply to abstract, because that’s what will make the visible harder to recognize and the intelligible harder to understand.

If Duchamp was uninterested in what the eye can see, Hammons is oppressed by it—it’s not the same thing.

[David Hammons. "In the Hood," 1993. Courtesy of Tilton Gallery, New York.]
I’m trying to make abstract art out of my experience, just like Thelonius Monk.

For Hammons, musicians have always been both the model and the front line. When George Lewis says that “the truth of improvisation involves survival,” it’s because improv musicians look for a way forward, one note at a time, with no map to guide them and with no rules or languages to follow other than ones they invent and determine themselves. It forces them to analyze where they are and forces them to do something about it, on their own terms. Doesn’t get much more political than that.

Or, as Miles Davis once put it, “I do not play jazz.” He plays something that invents its own vocabulary—a vocabulary that is shared only by those who don’t need to know what to call it or how to contain it. And just as Miles Davis doesn’t play jazz, David Hammons doesn’t make art.

[David Hammons. "Blue Rooms," 2000 (installation view, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowkski Castle, Warsaw).]
I’m trying to create a hieroglyphics that was definitely black.

Hammons goes looking for spirits in music, poetry, and dirt. He knows they like to hide inside of sounds, lodge themselves between words or within puns, and linger around the used-up and the seemingly worthless. He knows he’s caught some when he succeeds in rousing the rubble and gets it to make its presence felt. Like Noah Purifoy, he ignores the new and the expensive in favor of the available. Like Federico Fellini, he spends his time in the bowels of culture and makes them sing.

[David Hammons. "(Untitled) Basketball Drawing," 2006.]

There are the materials that make the art—those are the foot soldiers—but there is also the attitude that makes the artist. Hammons has his way of thinking and his way of behaving, which is once again not something one sees or necessarily understands, but is something that makes its presence known, the way spirits make their presence felt. There will be some who won’t recognize it and others who do—and his work is meant only for those who see themselves in it.
Did you ever see Elvis Presley’s resume? Or John Lennon’s resume? Fuck that resume shit.

Ornette was Ornette because of what he could blow, but also because he never gave into other people’s agendas or expectations.

What matters even more than having your own agenda is letting others know that it doesn’t fit theirs. “To keep my rhythm,” as Hammons puts it, “there’s always a fight, with any structure.” The stakes are real because should you let your guard down, “they got rhythms for you,” and you’ll soon be thinking just like they do. And in a white and racist America, in a white and racist art world, Hammons doesn’t want to be thinking just like most people do. His is a recalcitrant politics of presence: where he doesn’t seem to belong, he appears; where he does belong, he vanishes.

In short: don’t play a game whose management you don’t control.

[David Hammons. "Higher Goals," 1987. Photo: Matt Weber.]
That’s the only way you have to treat people with money—you have to let these people know that your agenda is light years beyond their thinking patterns.

The Whitney Biennial? I don’t like the job description. A major museum retrospective? Get back to me with something I can’t understand.

Exhibitions are too clean and make too much sense—plus the very authority of many mainstream museums is premised on values that Hammons doesn’t consider legitimate or at least does not share. He is far more interested in walking and talking with Jr., a man living on the streets of the East Village, who taught him about how the homeless divide up their use of space according to lines marked by the positioning of bricks on a wall. Those lines have teeth. In a museum, art is stripped of all its menace.

[David Hammons. "Bliz-aard Ball Sale," 1983. Photo: Dawoud Bey.]

The painter Jack Whitten once explained of how music became so central to black American life with this allegory:
When my white slave masters discovered that my drum was a subversive instrument they took it from me…. The only instrument available was my body, so I used my skin: I clapped my hands, slapped my thighs, and stomped my feet in dynamic rhythms.

David Hammons began with his skin. He pressed his skin onto paper to make prints. Over the subsequent five decades, he has found his drum.

[David Hammons. "Phat Free," 1995-99 (video still). Courtesy of Zwirner & Wirth, New York.]"
davidhammons  anthonyhuberman  art  jazz  ornettecoleman  milesdavis  theloniousmonk  material  rules  trickster  outsiders  artworld  resumes  elvispresley  johnlennon  insiders  race  racism  us  power  authority  jackwhitten  music  museums  galleries  menace  homeless  nyc  management  structure  presence  belonging  expectations  artists  fellini  noahpurifoy  availability  culture  hieroglyphics  blackness  georgelewis  improvisation  oppression  marcelduchamp  visibility  invisibility  souls  spirits 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2016 – Sarah Hendren on Vimeo
"Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers – Translators, impresarios, believers, and the heartbroken—this is a talk about design outside of authorship and ownership, IP or copyright, and even outside of research and collaboration. When and where do ideas come to life? What counts as design? Sara talks about some of her own "not a real designer" work, but mostly she talks about the creative work of others: in marine biology, architecture, politics, education. Lots of nerdy history, folks."
sarahendren  eyeo2016  2016  eyeo  dilettantes  interlopers  translation  ownership  copyright  collaboration  education  marinebiology  architecture  design  research  learning  howwelearn  authorship  socialengagement  criticaldesign  thehow  thewhy  traction  meaning  place  placefulness  interconnectedness  cause  purpose  jacquescousteau  invention  dabbling  amateurs  amateurism  exploration  thinking  filmmaking  toolmaking  conviviality  convivialtools  ivanillich  impresarios  titles  names  naming  language  edges  liminalspaces  outsiders  insiders  dabblers  janeaddams  technology  interdependence  community  hullhouse  generalists  radicalgeneralists  audrelorde  vaclavhavel  expertise  pointofview  disability  adaptability  caseygollan  caitrinlynch  ingenuity  hacks  alinceshepherd  inclinedplanes  dance  pedagogy  liminality  toolsforconviviality  disabilities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Steve Hargadon - The Future of Education | Connected Learning
"Questions Asked/Key Comments Made

(16:54) As we're having these national conversations with a lot of hand-wringing about [...] the state of our education system, I think that we need to have some serious conversations about 'What is the purpose of education?'

(19:07) If the conversation about the purpose of education takes place at the EduCon or Steve Hargadon level, is that actually going to create the kind of change that we're looking for? Or does the conversation need to be taken down to a much more grassroots level?

(26:52) The first question coming in is about another elephant in the room: the assessment system of testing. That really is identified by the questioner as one of the deficiencies that you're referencing, Steve. And the question is very simply, "How can this be changed?"

…"

[I mentioned the chat here: http://branch.com/b/what-is-the-future-of-education with the following notes.]

I just watched a chat on "The Future of Education" [http://connectedlearning.tv/steve-hargadon-future-education ] (with Steve Hargadon, Jeff Brazil, Audrey Watters, Bryan Alexander, Monika Hardy) and I think it's worth sharing. Steve Hargadon kicks off the discussion with a pair of stories and a list of his four core beliefs regarding education, all of which I agree with:

1. "the worth and inherent value of every child" as opposed to defining children by deficiencies, as is mostly the case with the system that we currently have

2. "agency: the ultimate goal of education should be to develop the ability for students to take responsibility for their own lives and become increasingly self directed"

3. "the value of learning in helping us lead better lives by overcoming our biases, by overcoming simplistic thinking, by overcoming cognitive errors"

4. "the value of participation" for learning, democracy, professional development, etc.

One of the important points made in the conversation that follows is that that future could (and I hope it will) be found in networks rather than institutions or *a* system, both of which imply hierarchical power maintained through standardization. That's why I'm also leaving a link to Tricia Wang's talk "Dancing with Handcuffs: The Geography of Trust" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TRKh4mdboM ], in which she gives a great description of the power of social networks while describing how they differ from social circles.

One final wish from me to add to all of this: I hope the future of education involves the elimination of age segregation. Networks can make that easy to accomplish.
us  society  lcproject  individualization  standardization  commoncore  autonomy  hierarchy  alternatives  future  generations  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  learning  purpose  economics  power  politics  schoolboards  institutions  insiders  deschooling  unschooling  assessment  technology  change  networks  education  2012  jeffbrazil  bryanalexander  audreywatters  monikahardy  stevehargadon  self-preservation 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Schumpeter: The curse of the alien boss | The Economist
"One of the few things that management theorists agree on is that recruiting bosses from outside is something that you should avoid if you can. Listen to über-guru Jim Collins: in “Good to Great”, he observed that more than 90% of the CEOs of his sample of highly successful companies were recruited internally. Or consult Rakesh Khurana of Harvard Business School: in “Searching for a Corporate Saviour”, he described how companies that invest their hopes in a charismatic outsider are usually disappointed. Or read the painstaking studies that come out of the Academy of Management: they show that even companies that are having a hard time are better off sticking with an insider. The curse of the alien boss is particularly potent in the high-tech sector: think of John Sculley’s disastrous reign at Apple or Carly Fiorina at Hewlett-Packard."
leadership  insiders  outsiders  jimcollins  nokia  strategy  outsider 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Cities and Ambition
"Even when a city is still a live center of ambition, you won't know for sure whether its message will resonate with you till you hear it...You'll probably have to find the city where you feel at home to know what sort of ambition you have."
paulgraham  cities  living  life  lifestyle  happiness  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  paris  entrepreneurship  employment  work  careers  demographics  economics  proximity  urban  geography  society  bayarea  boston  california  education  knowledge  universities  psychogeography  location  art  restaurants  technology  science  math  research  money  business  challenge  wealth  class  social  insiders  intelligence  culture  commentary  losangeles  washingtondc  berkeley  comparison  dc 
may 2008 by robertogreco

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