Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prague shows its ass.

Officially out of the great slump, which the all knowing Max pointed out is mostly self induced and I decided not to do it anymore. Had a free day so I grabbed Prague by the balls and went to the Czech National Gallery. A treasure trove of old and new and completly bizzare, which seems to be a running theme for my art experiences here. I have noticed a trend of assemblage pieces that are overwraught with hot glue glitter fantasy...whole wall sized landscapes that look like my twelve year old self raided moms stash of puff paints and sparkles and hid in the garage until I felt like I had created a spirit portrait of the inside of a fairies magical asshole. I also saw an equal number of really well crafted and deeply felt pieces, im just saying...what an interesting phenomena, Im probably just jealous I didnt think of it first, and am not hanging in the czech national gallery. ANYWAY...this trip marks a very important personal first for me, and that is my first KLIMT live and in person. I have loved him since I made my mom buy me one of his books when I was young. I would pour over it and felt that first incling that maybe I could do this too, be an artist. A pivital moment commemorated in ink on my right arm. So to stand there in front of the real thing, see his brush strokes and little daubs of color, that no reproduction can ever translate...whoa, kind of a big deal. I gawked and marvled and paid homage the best way I knew how, with my pen and paper. Top ten experience for sure. The Czech National Gallery is a hulking behemoth, six floors, too much to really absorb in one go round. I dare say it bested me. Robin and I had to go find the nearest place with duck and beer for a much needed period of reflection, this happens to by my favorite cafe...where Dvorak came for a bite before heading over to the big music hall near by. Delicious pork and dumplings. So then we tried to go to see this Czech movie that is supposed to be really good, Alois Nebel ( but we got the time wrong because military clocks don't make no sense. So we saw the Soderberg virus movie instead, liked it. Especially the part when some government official tells Jude Law that blogging is like grafitti with punctuation. I guess it is in a way. So, I have been to a theatre in every country, Berlin of course had the edgiest indy theatre, but CR wins for luxury. The screen was big and the seats were comfy as hell, but the best part was the schwepps tonic water from the fountain and hand selected Haribo gummies. Now everyone knows Haribo makes the best gummies, but I feel we in the states arent being given access to their bredth of products like here in Europe. That little yellow bear in a bowtie is everywhere. Go to the grocery store, they have a WHOLE AISLE devoted to them. At the theatre there were drawers and you could tell the nice lady from which numbers you would like a scoop. Genius. I want all gummy cokes all the time. Was this as exciting as seeing Klimt? Almost. It was so good I went back for a double feature the next day. And now? I am on a train to Krakow. I love riding the train.

Monday, October 24, 2011

deep in the velvet haze...the low points of travel.

Its bone cold, I haven't spoken in two days, Im wandering the labrynthine streets of Praha alone. I have reached some kind of alternate universe of desolation. I went to some freak show art exhibit, had enough, and now Im sitting inside the worlds most gaudy gold encrusted church because I have nothing better to do. I am tired of only having a peice of shit sharpie to draw with, I miss sitting at my work table and having everything there in front of me, a buffet of materials waiting for my abuse. But all for naught because my artistic intuition is shot to hell. I miss talking on a fucking cell phone and driving a car, and having a place that belongs to me, not some strangers bunk bed. The end of this trip is some foggy finish line I have to live long enough to cross, a countdown until I can collapse in a heap and think about all this shit I am so oversaturated with. On the bright side the kraut is amazing and the beer is cheap and my pants are clean for the first time in a month, not to mention my roomie has a wellspring of xanax they are more than willing to share. And it is still strange and mysterious that I am here, or that I am alive at all. Ok there, Im done...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial)

During my weeklong stay in Istanbul I was suprised and delighted to learn it coincided with the Istanbul Biennial. What a fucking mind blowing privelage, what a life changing exhibition. It was held inside two very large bunkers, that were modified to recreate the feeling of wandering the narrow streets of Istanbul, the confusion and wonder of its mazelike design, makes moving through the exhibit an active and engaging experience. It was curated with the work of Felix Gonzales-Torres as a foundational element, he believes that the personal is political and vice versa (very feminist) and art is an important transmission of this idea. "His pieces probe issues such as traveling from one place to another, and the challenges of leading a settled life in this world...the visual identity of the exhibition are based on his minimal aesthetics. Most important of all, the philosophy of the show is based on situating the artists thoughts- his specific views and actions regarding politics, society, and the individual- in the context of Istanbul" (from The Companion text accompanying the show). Some of the subjects approached were difficult ones, AIDS epidemic in Africa, gun violence, bombings in the West Bank. But in equal measures there was also a great deal of works that were funny and touching and romantic. There is room in art to explore all of these things and thats why I think its so amazing, and powerful and important, as a transmition of the full range of human experience. Because it is always both/and. The things I really connected to were the simplest, I think. The things that are paper, cut out, taped together, inked up, the human touch still evident. It feels easier to approach, to understand. I like when the process is evident, when its not removed from the fact that these things are made by the hands of other people, and they have a life, and a particular viewpoint, and a politic. It has taken me a full week of rest in berlin to think about it and work up to even begining to talk about why this was so good, special, disturbing, life altering. But a good show can do so much to a person, change the very fibre of their being, the course of the rest of their life. I think I left knowing without a doubt that art is the most important part of my life, to make it myself as a means of expression, but more importantly to look at it as a language with which to understand the experience of others...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back to Berlin

Turkey is like a strange fever dream, I know I was there, wasn't I? Travel time suck. But I am back home in Berlin, and OH how it does feel so much like my home. I don't want to leave. I did some celebratory welcome home Kareoke last night and was suprised to find my bathroom graffiti undisturbed by the passage of time and other drunk assholes with a pen. Maybe here they have respect for the bathroom walls as a transmission of artistic ideas, not to be abused. Graffiti does seem to have an elevated position here, not like at home where everything is painted over immediatley and all perpatraitors will be hunted down. I saw one on my walk to the train station that says, "sill not loving the police." Funny. Its very in keeping with the anarchist undercurrent here, that graffiti is a viable means of expressing yourself, your discontent, as a way of reclaiming and repurposing the public space as you see fit. I would like to think thats why I do it, but the truth is if I have a pen I feel a cumpulsion to scribble on shit, to think of all the people my strange little creatures will see. They have an exciting life of their own that is far beyond me, or what I could imagine. Its my small legacy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spiritual revelations on princess island

Some days I dont know whats happening, only that I am supposed to meet everyone in the hotel lobby at 9:30am. Maybe thats not so much taking an active approach to this journey, but I like the element of suprise. This day we took a magical ferry ride to princess island, a suprise and a delight. Sailing along the mighty Bosphorus, on one side Europe and the other Asia, underneath the black glassy surface were constellations of jellyfish suspended like jewels. The Island is strange, like some long abandoned attraction at a rundown theme park. There are no cars, only bicycles and horse drawn carriages. It is mostly residential, so there are palaces and next door to them, haunted houses, boarded up and abandoned. It is crawling with stray cats and dogs, like the former inhabitants left and forgot their beloved pets. We walked the streets winding higher up to the peak of the island. Iveta tells us there is a church at the top and this is a pilgrimage that was made especially by mothers who had lost their children, jokingly I asked, "what about children who've lost their mothers?" But the joke hit too close to home. Suddenly I am thrust into a kind of contemplation wholly unprepared for. But there, climbing this beautiful mountain on an island in Turkey, I cried for how greatful I am to be alive, the gift my mother gave me. How unexpected and astonishing that I am in this far off place. I cried all the way up that big fucking hill, flanked by my two stray dog friends, feeling untouchable, limitless, capable of great things, as alive and in the moment as I could hope to be. I went into the church and kissed the saints, put wishes in a jar, sat under arc angel michael in his hammered silver boots and said silly prayers and incantations in hopes that some kind of divinity would intervene and lead me down an unforseen path to more moments like this one. Thinking that was enough revelation for one day I quit the scene and sat down at the cafe conveniently located on the top of this big hill over looking all of creation. I order a turkish coffee, and it just so happens that Serkan, our handsome translator, is an expert at reading the coffee grounds. It goes like this...drink the coffee, leave the sludge in the bottom, place the saucer over the cup and flip, letting the goods get all stirred up, let stand five minutes. Then this total stranger tells me some of the most painfully insightful things I have ever heard. Enter revelation #2. Heres the quick and dirty: I collect experiences and people, store them because I am affraid to forget anything (truth). I can seem cold to people I dont know but the few people I let in trust me deeply (generic truth). I want to do something in academics but I am affraid to (scary truth), and I am going to, but I will have to move to do it. I set my goals much lower than what I am capable of achieving, if I removed my SELF IMPOSED limitations I could do something great (maybe generic but soul crushingly accurate). He said a bunch of other stuff that freaked me out, but it was a lot about school and living the dream and not being afraid of doing awesome shit, which has been weighing heavily on my mind during this trip. I dont care if it is real or not, he felt like some kind of mouth peice from god sent to tell me to stop being a lazy baby, and go do all the rad shit I am destined to do. I mean I made it all the way to fucking Turkey, never thought that would happen. Makes me wonder what else I could do. Maybe it doesnt sound as epic and revelatory as it seemed to me, but my pilgrimage yeilded at least the inkling of a desire to transgress some of my perceived limits, and thats a start. Plus everything probably seems monumental when your under the powerful spell of Turkey and all its beauty.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Update: Anthony Bourdain edition

Ok, so we walk all over hell and creation through the narrow streets and underground markets to get to this place, headquarters of Mothers For Peace. These women are amazing, and so welcoming even though we dont speak eachothers language. They have all suffered great loss from the never ending battle between the Turks and Kurds, and came together to protest for peace. Really beautiful and sad stories. So we get a break for lunch and downstairs is this really cute street cafe and theres a ton of people and all their food looks really good, but for some reason I think, no...must have a look around at least. I walk for a few minutes but all I see are empty cafes and I turn to my friend and say, "fuck it, lets go back to the first cafe, Anthony Bourdain says eat where the locals eat, and thats where they're eating so..." A bunch of us sit down and Im explaining Bourdains unifiying theory on street food when the waiter comes up and says, "oh you know him? He ate here six months ago, come see his picture and I will show you the kitchen and introduce you to the chef!" Seriously off my titts excited. The chef is in there working the meat kebabs over a pile of hot coals. The waiter tells us he has Anthony Bourdains phone number if we want it. I ordered what he got...meat extravaganza and the most delicious rice and pita bread Ive ever had. Istanbul you've stolen my heart, Tony Bourdain...I owe you one!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I woke from my evening rest to watch the sun go down over the city and hear the call to prayer. Turkey is home to a great many Muslims and along the skyline you can see so many minarets towering above everything else, attatched to them are speakers and from them you hear the chanting five times a day. Istanbul looks like something from a movie or a dream, not anywhere I thought I would ever see for myself. I have never seen so many people in my whole life. The city throngs and pulsates like the ameobas still packed in my sickley lungs. It is itself a feast, to look at to taste. I am amazed.