naked sentence

I’ve taken these words from the opening paragraph of Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Paean to Aphrodite,” (Multiple Arts, Muses II). Taking one concept, one name—Aphrodite, he traces an intricate map of the goddess and her trajectory (physical, linguistic, mythic) through her various appellations and manifestations. He asks, “But why does the beautiful never let us go? When everything is ugly, all that remains of it is a memory.” I am interested in that phrase, “what remains.” Renmants— unsaid, undone, unknown, invisible. What remains?

The text in the image above, I’ve drawn directly onto my studio wall. The small pile of objects that form part of this installation are the renmants of the dried, inscribed, white rose petals I used for the magnificat  project that I did last year. (See my post of May 11, 2011, “re-inscription in progress”).

stuck to the tongue

I’m putting together and arranging images from my most recent drawings. Still working with fragments of text from Jean-Luc Nancy, stuck as they are in my imagination, I begin with one image and then build around it, working on a narrative and expanding the initial  text-idea. I’m borrowing from my Withdrawn:scribing Nancy series, from the Greek images, and from the even earlier drawings of birds. What is this? Drawing as a daily process and an eclectic search for form.

until

How much of one’s everyday life remains silent, that time-in-between?

I’ve changed the scale of these new drawings. I like the way that working on larger images engages the body differently, not only in the process of working, but also later in the viewing. Text fragments borrowed from Nancy are still here in these drawings. His words continue to engage me, and I find that as I continue to read, new ideas from outside, from other authors, attach themselves. But, I always feel that I have to go further, that until I finish this book, or that book, I won’t really have understood anything. And so it is with drawing, until…

falling

I am working with my archive of inscribed rose petals—the white ones, and with the classical figures, but as with the Nancy text, the figures are fragmentary. Dissolving into memory, they become distorted and removed from the original perfection of form.

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time

Some time ago, I began a series of drawings on vellum that play with the concept of time in narration. How the viewer interacts, completes and interprets the work is also a part of the exploration. In my drawings I want to see how layering the images one on top of the other on a translucent surface affects their reading. The translucent paper allows the images to be read from the front as well as the back, and thus the effect of layering works from both sides right up to the final image, which is on opaque paper. The viewer also has to turn the pages herself/himself in order to see all of the layers in a drawing sequence. Giving the impression of pages turning is rather a difficult task, I’ll get better at it as I work through the process of documenting the completed drawings.

what, then

“What, then calls me into question most radically?

These are the beginning words of a paragraph in Maurice Blanchot’s The Unavowable Community – one of the books on my Bibliography: the return project list. As I was browsing through the book, reading snippets, looking through the chapters and searching for a place in which to place an inscribed rose petal, Blanchot’s question caught my eye – especially as he asks this question under the subheading of “Someone Else’s Death.” Intriguing concepts Blanchot puts forward – that of death, of witnessing, and their relationship to identity and community.

Blanchot writes the first part of the Unavowable Community in response to Jean-Luc Nancy’s work, The Inoperable Community. The thought of literally ‘returning’ a fragment of Nancy text back into Blanchot’s book – in the form of an incribed rose petal, made me smile.

Chance

During my recent “return” to the Koerner library at UBC, I came upon a small installation in the foyer by the artist Luis Camnitzer. It is a collection of discarded objects Camnitzer found on campus, each mounted with a randomly chosen piece of text. The viewer is invited to make connections between the objects and the words. The pedagogical associations are inevitable, considering the location of the work – a major university library, and this aspect is underscored by the take-away card/advertisement, which lists a series of books available in the UBC libraries, related to the exhibition (even giving their call numbers).

I found the installation interesting and humorous and enjoyed looking at each object, reading the text and trying to make associations between the two. The installation plays with traditional theories of meaning, displacing direct relationships between object and word, and offering instead meaning produced in the moment, in an continuously changing and unstable relationship between the signifier and the signified.

(image: detail of installation by Luis Camnitzer).

This project brings to mind another art project, a superb blog posting, entitled “Daily Drawing Project” by the artist, Elizabeth MacKenzie. (check out the engaging drawing project Elizabeth gives her students). Art and pedagogy on multiple levels.

For “A” in loving memory

On Friday I had my first foray into the stacks at UBC, to start the process of returning the inscribed rose petals to the books in my “Bibliography.” (please see the page on this blogsite for further info on this project).

To say the least, the experience was  a delight –  enveloped in the smell of books, searching through endless rows, finding familiar titles and meeting new ones, pulling books off shelves and thumbing through their pages; looking for evidence of previous readers – marks, notes, underlining and anything else that might give away the presence of former touch. And,  there was that added thrill of knowing that I was there to intentionally add something to that collection of physical evidence.

I had no idea how long it was going to take me to find each book, search through its pages, make notes, place one inscribed rose petal somewhere into the book, photograph the page or book cover and return the book to its original spot on the shelf. I certainly could not anticipate how engaging it would be to read sections of the books – the heavily underlined and “used” pages especially.  What did other readers find important? What preoccupied their reading? Who were they? Truly, each mark, each trace, a “world…on the doorstep” to use one of the Nancy text fragments.  It’s going to take me a long time to get through my bibliography.

Of the books that I explored on Saturday, 3 discoveries stood out – one was finding Foucault’s essay on “The Meninas;” another was coming upon a receipt of checked-out books from 2007 which included the book that I was looking at, at that moment; and the third was the discovery of a lovely tiny dedication, perched in the corner of the first page of an essay written by Mieke Bal. The dedication reads, For “A” in loving memory.