Shells

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Kaigara danmen zuan (Album of Cross-sections of Shells)
貝殻断面図案
Japanese, Taisho era, 1913

On Wednesday, I visited the NY Society Library, bought a day pass, and began assembling my thesis. My thesis is something I have been calling the shell of my book, but when I say the word shell I don’t mean an eggshell, where everything is neat, suspended, and contained within a thin, fragile layer, I mean the other kind of shell. A conch or maybe a broken piece of coral, where the elements can flow in one way and flow out another.

As I sit at a table on the fifth floor of this library, assembling the parts and pieces of this shell—my shell-that’s due to my advisor in less than a month, I realize how fully addicted I am to the float-feeling: the feeling that some writers call being in “the zone”, where after I finish tweaking a word, or restructuring a sentence, or writing a memory, I have forgotten where I am for a moment, where everything around me has fallen away and it’s just me and the edges and curves in front of me. And then, as soon as I realize I feel disoriented, my surroundings rush back. I am again inside the room among other writers on the fifth floor with the sun casting a glow on the wood table and the white noise of the shuffling of papers and the tap-tap-tapping of keys.

Collage and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

“I shall derive my emotions solely from the arrangement of surfaces, I shall present my emotions by the arrangement of my surfaces, the planes and lines by which they are defined.”

Excerpt from sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, written in the French trenches during WWI. The rest is here.

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“Water’s Edge” by Louise Forbush

Andre Wagner, Photographer

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From his site: “Wagner’s photography explores the poetic and lyrical nuances of daily life and everyday people. He develops black and white negatives and makes silver gelatin prints in his personal darkroom.” Photo from @photodre 

I’ve been following Brooklyn photographer Andre Wagner on Instagram for a while now. I don’t remember how I found him, but I think his photos are spectacular. Much of what he posts are high contrast, black and white photos he’s taken of humans being human. When I describe his photos to friends, I call it street photography, but to me, the photos are so much more than that. When I look at his photographs, I feel a connection to each one of his subjects. He has a book, too.

Library Post: David Hammons and His Blizzard Ball Sale

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David Hammons’ performance piece, Bliz-aard and Ball Sale, 1983

While flipping through the Jefferson Market Library’s copy of Art Forum, I came across an article about David Hammons entitled “The Snowball Effect.” Art Forum has a paywall, so if you don’t have a subscription, you can read a little more about Hammons’ piece here.

Reading that Art Forum write-up reminded me that advertisers steal from artists—not the other way around. It reminded me that anything can be commoditized, and anything sold by an artist of color is viewed as less valuable. The best art is art that holds traditionally-held beliefs to task. The best art is political.

PS – Some photos of the Jefferson Market Library in case you’ve never been. It’s something special.