I’m going to post the dark side of tricksterism soon, that of corporate tricksterism, when the fine art of creative chaos is turned against unwitting populations. As an intro to this please view the scathing, but hilarious video on the BP Oil Spill below.
This is subversion at its best.. US comedian Stephen Colbert has joined forces with the United Farm Workers Union to poke fun at anti-immigration activists by tackling the issue of immigration reform through the satirical campaign ‘Take Our Jobs’.
‘The union launched a campaign called Take Our Jobs, showcased on the website www.takeourjobs.org, to highlight the reality that illegal immigrants in agriculture are not taking jobs away from U.S. citizens and other legal residents.’
Tom Karst – The Packer.com
Julie Mehretu is an Ethiopian-born artist (from Addis Ababa -coincidental link to a quick post on Freerange on Mulatu Astatke also hailing from Addis Ababa), who advanced her studies in Fine Art in the US and now works and lives in New York (generally).
I am continually drawn to her work, which is not accidentally architectural: she speaks very well on the subject of her work as studies/cosmologies/maps of cities and other tectonic and cultural spaces/structures. I danced with the idea (and still do, often) of using this work in my architectural research, but whether or not I weave this into an academic enquiry, it remains a formative series of works in my worldview of architecture, and the greater ‘expanded field’ of things/worldliness.
I’ve recently acquired a monograph ‘Black City’ which is the first to publish a substantial collection of her work, past and present, and it is simply amazing. I’ve selected a few of my favourites here, but you can view some of her work here, at White Cube who represent her, and here is a video/interview with Mehretu in Berlin, where her latest exhibition ‘Grey Area’ was shown (at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin) which has now travelled to the Guggenheim New York if you’re there, go see it!
An interpretation that I dallied with for a while, and hope to re-animate in the future, is the notion of syncretism, which refers to an ‘attempt at reconciliation of two opposing or different principles, practices, or parties…’, in my reading and understanding (or at least the part that I enjoy about it) is the idea of an equilibrium which nontheless sustains its aspects of tension. This idea not surprisingly was something that I was reading in architecture schools –my subject of interest– how an academic is responsible for simultaneously critiquing a body of knowledge, whilst disseminating it, or how an architecture student grapples with the hypothetical studio project (with all its fantasy, experimentation, failure, risk etc etc), whilst knowingly attempting to replicate and learn principles of the real world. They are contradictory objectives, but they have to be maintained.
This is clearly not an idea exclusive to architectural education or architecture or architects, which is why I mentioned my deep interest in this work as a framework or doorway into an expanded field of thinking and being. The obvious subject of some works in particular address the City, and it is immediately obvious that these works are grappling with the coded, multi-layered, crumbling, ghosting, dynamic, etc etc, representation of the City. They are both fragmented, but approach wholeness; they surround the void with speeding and violent (or beautiful) mass and lines and points; they are architectural, but never building; they are constructed, of deconstructions; they attempt new meaning by obfuscating prior meaning… and they are huge. The Seven Acts of Mercy (pictured here) is over 6 metres long, and nearly 3m tall.
I think these works probably explain more about me than I have been able to explain them to you about architecture (or the City), but I still wanted to share. I’d love to hear from anyone in NY who could make it along to her show, it’s open til October I think.
Have a watch of this interesting interview with Pro-Whaling representative.
Then read this article in the NZHerald.
The other day I was at a friends place and there was a strange little vice like contraption sitting on the coffee table. We all started hypothesizing about what its purpose might be. Something to do with honey extraction… a drill of some kind, a spool holder for threading wool or something… Until finally someone had the sense to go ask what it was and get a demonstration. It was far more specific and odd than any of us thought.
An apple corer and spiral cutter. Weird. It’s amazing to know that someone designed and mass produced these, maybe a good way to disprove the theory of supply and demand, who would demand this product?!
Check it out