Monthly Archives: August 2009

Autumn

Edward_Hopper_Road_in_Maine (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Today it feels like autumn. Early morning chill, leaves turning golden. Kids buying notepads and pencil sharpeners. Laptops as well, I guess. This is definitely my favourite season. Rich and mature. Honey-coloured sunlight that comes from the side (not straight down as during midsummer). The atmosphere is alert, bittersweet.

The autumn honey light makes me think of Edward Hopper. Not his most melancholic paintings, but the brighter ones.

Off to the Arctic

I’m a bit fired up tonight. The reason: an upcoming 5 day camping trip, starting tomorrow night. My friends and I are going way up to the Arctic Circle. More specifically, to an area called Salla in Northeastern Finland. I’ve still got a lot of packing to do…. 🙂

Project freedom / untitled nr 2 continues

Remember the project freedom? For those of you who might have forgotten, project freedom refers to  hanba’s and her friends’ attempt at producing art in order to get money through art scholarships. The project is still going strong. In fact, the latest bits of art were produced today!

We chose freedom as a topic, since it is pretty contemporary and vague. It sounds like a theme an artist should be concerning him- or herself with. Lots of juxtapositions to be expected. The nature of art itself and society around us can easily be portrayed through this theme. Since we are essentially ironic and try to be witty, we identify ourselves with the postmodern movement. In order to merge in with the postmodern artist jargon, we have named the project “untitled nr 2”. (By using this name we tell the audience we understand some of the rules in the “art scene”. )Nevertheless, since our primary goal is to ironize the postmodern movement (and not the modern project itself), our art style may be referred to as post-postmoderism. We are every bit as annoying as you may think we are after having read this. We understand that an artist has to be annoying to get by.

So what do we do, then? Here’s an excerpt from project freedom:

Life is an open highway (photo: mrtnkllsn)

Life is an open highway (photo: mrtnkllsn)

“Life is an open highway”

The subject has placed herself on a racer bicycle, implying a desire for speed.  She wants to ride fast, to feel the exhilaration of speed; she believes in the myth of life being like an open highway. She wants the freedom of the long, straight roads and the wind on her face. Ready to pedal as fast and far as she can, she resembles a falcon ready to dash off!

(Now comes the juxtaposition..) Meanwhile, she is visibly uncomfortable with the biking shoes that bind her feet down, anchoring her feet on to the bike pedals. In order to achieve the freedom of speed, she has chosen to lock her feet to the pedals (you know this type of fancy biking shoes).  She is not enjoying the view, she has no attention to spare at the world. The heavy  feet call for all her attention. Her focus is selfish. She is only seeing herself; she is not free enough to even look at the world around her!

Furthermore, her indoors surroundings do not imply freedom. The white walls and floor resemble a jail cell. Why is she not outdoors? Perhaps safety regulations have denied her access to the roads themselves? Or perhaps it is her own insecurity keeping her indoors? – Her lack of ability to handle freedom?

Project freedom on flickr (still a bit of a stub…)

The weather

Olafur Eliasson The Weather Project (photo: coda)

Olafur Eliasson The Weather Project (photo: coda)

Hiking on the fjords of Norway earlier this summer I was reminded of how powerful the weather is. This sounds like a boring, flat statement for us living in the cities. There is, however, a great power in being at the mercy of the weather. Being away from where the weather matters, I believe, is one of the causes of our existential problems. It is comforting to submit yourself to the weather. A higher power without complex metaphysics.

Here are a few photos from the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition in London’s Tate Modern 2003. Titled The Weather Project, the installation meditates on our relationship with the weather.  All of us have a relationship to the weather; it is powerful, it is universal and it affects us. Eliasson managed to create a space and an atmosphere that touched our common human denominator of being exposed to the weather.  The people visiting the exhibition could connect with each other through experience; the experience they had there and then as well as the multitude of weather-related experiences they had ever had.

The huge Turbine Hall was dominated by a “sun” and mist with a mirror on the ceiling. The installation shifted from moment to moment. The mist formed small cloudlike structures that altered the scene bit by bit. There, in the exhibition hall, as well as in real life,  the weather acts as a great object to meditate the nature of change on. Everything changes from moment  to moment. The impermanence of every moment is reflected on the constant change in weather.   I think it’s such a shame we don’t really observe this amidst our lives in the cities any longer. It’s a shame we need to be reminded of it like this, sublimed in an art installation.

I find it interesting how us modern people have castrated the weather and placed it among trivial things. Rain is nothing more than the need to bring an umbrella along. Sunshine at least may mean a pleasant barbeque dinner with friends, but not really too much more. Even talking about the weather is considered  superficial, pointless. There is something interesting in our denial of the weather that reminds me of our denial of our mortality. (Which I’ve written about in a post called an experiment).

Perhaps our illusion of ruling the planet and choosing our fates, our desire for all sorts  “freedom” has “liberated” us from both our mortality and the weather. Other things we are “liberated” from feature the possibility of the unpredictable affecting our carefully timed lives (as illustrated by our need to obtain insurance policies for everything), the impermanence of our selves, as well as depending on our wit for survival. Hmm I see I should elaborate and give justification for the last sentences, but I’m just gonna leave it at that. A tickling thought in the brain.

There are a myriad of people complaining about the modern world. What to do, then? How to live an unmodern life and still live in the modern one? I don’t know the answer, but I’m going camping again next week. This time, up to the arctic circle.

The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern (Photo: Simiant)

The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern (Photo: Simiant)

Crime stories

Sorry for the radio silence. Hanba has been busy watching crimes being solved on dvd. This particular genre, crime fiction, has never been one of my favourites. However,  I have recently become addicted to one particular show.

I do not really get why crime stories are so widely popular. The murderers are often portrayed as psychopaths, child molesters and rapists. The general setting is to have an innocent everyday guy meet a brutal, violent destiny. The message is: IT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU! The tortured kid could have been your child. The raped girl could have been your daughter.

Again, I repeat a statement I’ve made before; the multitude of stories we are exposed to, the stream of fiction around us, has changed the way we view reality. The perceived danger is greater than the true danger.

The following hanbaposts also deal with this issue:

Happy Endings

Literary Devices