Monthly Archives: January 2015

The third and last phase [of repression] is the ‘return of the repressed’ in the guise of symptoms, dreams, parapraxes, etc. What does repression act upon?

From the definition of repression,  The Language of Psycho-Analysis, J. Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis

The fact that an idea’s emphasis, interest or intensity is liable to be detached from it and to pass on to other ideas, which were originally of little intensity but which are related to the first idea by a chain of associations. 

From the definition of displacement,  The Language of Psycho-Analysis


Piene, Otto, Heinz Mack, and Howard Beckman. 1973. Zero. Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T. Press. Manfred Tischer “mouth” images.

Censorship takes many forms – juridical, personal, cultural, economic, authoritarian, legislative, social (within which resides the religious). Recent world events exposed, as always, national biases for defining acceptable censorship in a democracy. Satirical cartoons defying authority: acceptable; linguistic venting of reactions to events or groups of people: often a crime. But into what does something like so-called “hate speech” transform when it’s sent underground? How does it travel? Who does it meet along the way? Onto what is the censored expression displaced? And does the original object of uncensored hate speech suffer less as a result of censorship? In the short run? In the long run?

Without welcoming a return or increase of the blatant misogyny of decades past, for example, in some sense I found it easier to navigate earlier obvious misogyny in the world in which my work as an artist circulates, than to navigate the more insidious version that exists now, intended and unintended. I have yet, among other issues, to see significant effacement of the masculine as the privileged artistic “type.” And yet little mention is made of the resiliency of such types. Misogyny, though rife and palpable to many, is no longer so easily turned into evidence, other than when played purely as a numbers game.

Yayoi Kusama preparing for a performative event, 1967.

Yayoi Kusama preparing for a performative event, 1967.

Walking through the Zero exhibition at the Guggenheim recently, I blinked and missed the work of the one woman considered to be related to the group, Yayoi Kusama. From the online synopsis, it seems the curatorial intent was to look at the group directly, and indirectly. To identify materials and processes used, general as they are. To locate the aim of the artists as that of “transform[ing] and redefin[ing] art in the aftermath of World War II.” The exhibition is organized around “points of intersection, exchange, and collaboration that defined these artists’ shared history.” Would this online description of the show rule out tangents and associations that are historically readable but were perhaps not historically overt? Must a shared history always be interpreted literally? Curatorial parameters are not set in stone, but they are shaped by conventions that appear to be reasonable and incontrovertible. As much as I love the Guggenheim building, that ramp can become a schema for a particular kind of curatorial approach. You can move forward; you can move backward. Sideways is more precarious.

Photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times.

Photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times.

This from the one of the exhibition’s wall texts: In 1958 Heinz Mack and Otto Piene held a one-night exhibition in their Dusseldorf studios and released the second issue of their coedited magazine, ZERO – both revolved around the idea of vibration. The publication’s mesmerizing frontispiece, with nine irregular columns repeating the word vibration, illustrates the concept and speaks to much of the art of the emerging ZERO generation. …For Bury and TInguely, electric motors offered a means of activating elements affixed to the surfaces of wood boards…Soto’s preferred technique involved superimposing forms to generate the optical impression of vibration…Like Mack, Gunther Uecker and George Rickey recognized metal’s viability for creating the impression of vibration. …exploring dynamism in art.

There was something about walking through that show, after reading that comment, with its scintillating vibrations…

More scintillating vibrations…

Its pliable rhythms…

Its strokings…its strokings…

Well, somehow something of the female and feminine seemed to have come through after all.












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