Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Wall’ Category

Grid

Sally Eidman was recently described as having “the biggest heart in New York City.” Watch the videos of her gorgeous singing, and we dare you to disagree with that description!

Picture

This place is perfect geometry, painted plaid in blazing squares of light.
Streets dance with tiny blinking orbs, delighting in their own brightness. I think
tonight they’re doing the fox trot. Or was that last Tuesday?

When darkness falls, the band begins to strum, insisting the metropolis
move with the music. The rhythmic pulsing of a million feet on pavement: it’s
the heartbeat of the electric grid, lending its drumming bass to the screeching
soprano of taxi tires, the scatting of babies’ cries, the pitter patter of chitter
chatter that floats on the stench of the air in every season’s breeze.

To these vibrations, the town twinkles. Now I see that stoplights two
step, headlights jive. And is it true that lamplight does the Charleston up and
down the seams of the concrete jungle?

Sure, there are those that do not last the evening. Consumed by drunken
slumbers, turning in at half past two, some swollen digits just limber enough to
flip the switch OFF. Party poopers.

Or those who only drop by- think on lying crimeless nights when
flashing sirens offer scarce strobe interjection on the dance floor.

And, truly, who’s to forget the nuclear families who, tucked away in
the quiet of their box homes, color windows black the moment the sun tiptoes
past the horizon with her party shoes on.

Not to worry. The blue white beams of the imperial ballerina? Those
pas de deux the whole eve long. For she is constant in her devotion to the city’s
dance, repeating the tourists’ cheer like a record player on the skip: I Love New
York.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Talia Corren is a special events associate at the Signature Theater Company. According to The Birthday Book, she was born on The Day of the Big Picture. She’s also our first guest contributor, which makes her the best Wall Person we’ve met so far.

Picture

There is a phrase in the Russian language that translates to “in a suitcase mood.” I have always loved this phrase, although I always forget how to say it (please avoid reading into the psychology of that). There are many phrases in many languages that talk about change and voyages, but few have captured my deep appreciation the way this one has. I think this love stems from the fact that the suitcase mood speaks to the moment of a journey that feels most precious to me. Wedged snugly between the twitchy restlessness of longing and the fleeting plunge into the beyond lives the moment when the quickening becomes undeniable. The fantasy of change becomes practical. We pack our bags and enter the Suitcase Mood.Obviously, there is a lot to unpack in the idea of the Suitcase (I’m sorry, but the temptation was too great). There is obviously Baggage, with all its practical and metaphorical meanings. Probably enough has been said on this particular topic. There are now all kinds of trendy designer luggage lines – as though having a “Starry
Night” carry-on changes the fact that you are flying to Boise (no offense, Boise). And Freud could certainly have a fun Friday night analyzing why and how various people pack: from the neatest t-shirt rollers to the rumpled bag-crammers. Not to mention the suitcase-centric scenes playing out this moment at airports around the globe as the drama of ownership and possession plays out on the Samsonite scale.Yes, suitcases are fascinating. But there are two aspects of our Suitcase that interest me the most. The first is the selection. We pack our bags for all kinds of moments that do and don’t necessarily have anything to do with the TSA and passport stamps. It happens whenever we cross from the world that we know into the world that we believe exists. Whether we seek a new job or end an old habit, explore the cold of the arctic or the warmth of a new body, we perform a fundamental act of faith. Stepping into that uncharted void, we are ultimately unprepared. And yet, we step. And we carry with us our Suitcase. However inadequate it may prove to be on the voyage ahead, it was packed with care for this particular occasion.When we are in the Suitcase Mood, we lay everything out on the floor and evaluate. We think, “I cannot take it all – what might I need in this unknown place?” We think take the sparkly top, leave the shoes that give me blisters, take the photo of Mom at the beach, leave the resentment, take the deep breath, leave the sad songs on repeat. We survey the landscape of our cluttered selves and attempt to impose some kind of order, some kind of structure. Something that can fit easily under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. We shed the skin of excess and slither into something sleek, efficient, timely.

The second key to the Suitcase Mood is the value of the suitcase as a symbol. Our pets recognize it. When we take down the suitcase, it means something – an adventure or doggy day-care. Our friends and family know it. They ask how the packing is going. They feel the trembling underneath the surface as our movements gain purpose, we wind the spring before we release ourselves into the crossing. Strangers know it. Wondering “where is she headed?” “where did he come from?” They know a voyage starts or ends there.

Because here’s the thing: we are always in motion. We slip and dart and weave and wander – always in motion. (I am not a physics major) But motion does not equal movement. To truly move oneself, there must be a choice that says I am going Here, and not There. The choice requires a selection and a shedding. The choice that knows that where I am going is not like where I have been. And this is what a Suitcase means. The Suitcase says not only I am Going. I am Going Somewhere.

Read Full Post »

It all started with this stamp.

Last week, we threw a party to celebrate the launch of this blog. The project is still new and its intentions a still unfocused, so as much as wanting to celebrate I think we wanted to catalyze more action, and propel ourselves to keep developing it. (Also we just really like parties.)

a temporary tattoo, sorta.

So the three of us got together and made jello shots and hand-made business cards, and invited everyone we liked from our respective lives/phonebooks.

jello shots jelling.

Wall People cards, stamped and ready for battle.

The result was an exuberant and unusual mix of people from different walks of life, all of whom had interesting things to say about the direction of this project, and all of whom we enjoyed drinking with until the wee hours.

the party begins, and Alyx wears our insignia on her shoulder.

friends and strangers, all hanging out at Alyx’s place as the party gets going.

Emily and an old high school friend, catching up in the kitchen.

Alison camped out by the snack table.

Contributions to our “wall” came in fast and furious.

jello shots = destroyed.

It was lovely. A big thank you to everyone who came, and keep your eyes here for future developments!

All three wall ladies, basking in the glow of a successful launch. More to come soon!

Read Full Post »

[photo of Salvador and Gala Dali by Brassaï, found via Vic]

“What I feel about these photographs derives from an average affect, almost from a certain training. […] it is studium, which doesn’t mean, at least not immediately, ‘study,’ but application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general enthusiastic commitment, of course, but without special acuity.” (p 26)

“The second element will break (or punctuate) the studium. […] it is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me. […] I shall therefore call [it] punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole – and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).” (pp 26-27)

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, Hill & Wang, 1981

I have already on this blog made fun of my own tendency to refer to people such as Roland Barthes, so I am either demonstrating or completely undermining my earlier point. But people are complex and that’s what makes us interesting etc., etc., and the real point is that I love this photograph.

There are many things in the studium of this photograph that I love: Salvador’s steamy appeal, Gala’s timeless chicness, their closeness and confidence oozing out of the picture, the various pieces of artwork cropped by the framing of the photograph, the composition of lighter and darker areas in the image, and so on.

But the real punctum, the thing that pricks me, bruises me, keeps me begging for more, is the reflection of the photographer in the mirror on the left. He is out of focus, face bent into the camera, hand ready to make any adjustments to his machinery. He is maybe the third or fourth thing you notice about this image, but he is the part that stays with you.

To over-elucidate the punctum is to repeat a punchline or explain an inside joke; the re-articulation weakens or even ruins the magic of the thing. Instead, I hope that you are similarly pricked and bruised by this photograph.

Read Full Post »

When I was little, all I wanted was to be on Broadway. That is quite possibly the most un-original first sentence, but it’s true. I did the school plays, the intensive summer programs, and the BFA in musical theatre, all so that I could have a fighting chance to be a performer on the Great White Way. Now, after three years in New York, I’m not sure if I want to be on Broadway.

What!? Sacrilege! Do a timestep while singing “Send in the Clowns,” three times, and all shall be forgiven!

Now look, I’m not saying that I don’t want to perform anymore. In fact, I want to perform more than I ever have in my life. I’m just not sure that Broadway – America’s highest grossing tourist attraction – is where my artistic dreams will be realized. After the initial high of getting a job wears off, would I be fulfilled doing [insert trendy, long-running show here] for the next three years? Or being in a new [insert unoriginal pop composer’s name]’s show that will close after 30 performances? Aside from the paycheck, I can almost safely say, no.

But you’re just saying that because you haven’t gotten the work yet. Why are you giving up already?

Ok, two things. One, you’re right, I haven’t gotten that work yet. But maybe there’s a reason: all of the projects I’ve done since living in New York have been incredibly noncommercial. I did an all-Yiddish-accented opera. Japanese tourists were not standing in line for that one, but it was such a cool, weird, artistically fulfilling project. Maybe the projects that are drawn to me are noncommercial, art-for-art’s-sake endeavors.

That sounds like justification – you can’t be on Broadway because you’re not “commercial?” That’s the only reason?

Well thanks so much for leading me to my second point: I know all the right people. I’m a reader for many casting offices*, I work for a Tony Award winning actress, I babysit for Tony Award winning composers, I live downstairs from a Broadway conductor, etc. Excluding the possibility that I’m completely talent-less, I think it’s clear that I’m doing all the “right” things, it’s just that something doesn’t line up. I’m not very commercial – I’m not the gorgeous ingénue, I’m not the fat best friend, I’m very mothering, but I’m also pretty curvy – I don’t think it’s easy to put me in a definable, commercial box.

Ok, let’s say you’re talented (although the jury’s still out on that one) – three years is not a long time, and like I said before, why are you already giving up?

I’m not giving up! I’m just refusing to wait around until the stars may or may not align for me.

So what will you do?

I’m moving to Chicago.

Haha.

No, seriously. I’ve researched the Chicago theatre scene, and something about it really speaks to me. It’s like the time I went to a curly hair salon – for my whole life, I thought I was weird because I was the only one I knew with curly hair. Then one day, I walk into this salon, and there wasn’t one person with straight hair. I finally felt like I was home!

So you’re saying that no one in Chicago owns a brush either??

I’m saying that non-commercial theatre thrives in Chicago. Theatres survive because of subscribers, not tourists. Because of the community’s financial and cultural investment, Chicago theatres’ seasons must be diverse, innovative, and held to a very high standard of art. Shows have integrity, and actors are unconventional and ridiculously talented.

Well we’ve already established that you might not be talented, so if you don’t get theatre work there, what’s the benefit of Chicago?

It’s the standard for art there. I’m truly appalled at the number of substance-less, un-artistic, shoddily crafted shows there are today – shows that cost millions of dollars, that must answer to dozens of producers, and that must cast a movie star in order to last for a month. In the New York theatre scene, I feel like the curly haired girl, walking around in a sea of straight hair. No matter how often I flatiron my hair, my worldview is curly, and sooner or later, humidity hits and my secret is revealed.

Just say what you’re trying to say – no analogies.

I’m saying I want to do good theatre. I don’t want to sacrifice my artistic integrity just to get a job.

Wow, that was pretty concise for you. But isn’t that a little naïve? Doesn’t everybody have to make compromises, especially in the arts?

You’re right, and I’m not some Howard Roark-type who stubbornly only lives for my art. But I’m learning that there are communities out there – outside of New York, believe it or not – that embrace my set of artistic values. Look, I’m in my twenties, I don’t have kids, and knock on wood, New York will always be there. Why shouldn’t I try a new town?

Ok, go for it. Why not?

Because I’m scared that you, the little voice in my head, is the voice of everyone I know: “Why are you giving up?” “What are you doing wrong?” “Maybe you just don’t have what it takes.” I’m really excited by the prospect of moving to Chicago, and no matter how I phrase it, I feel judged by those around me.

That’s pretty lame. You’re excited, you’re moving, case closed. Anyone who “judges” you is either unclear about your goals, or is jealous that they don’t have the balls to change their own life.

Yeah, I guess…

Let me put it in terms you’ll understand: you’ve stopped flatironing your hair, and it looks really, really good. Your friends with naturally straight hair might see it as a threat – you used to want to be like them, giving them a certain level of power. All of a sudden, your friends with curly hair who also flatiron, are either encouraged by your boldness, or try to maintain the status quo with the straight-haired folks.

Ok, you win, it was a stupid analogy.

Point being: live your life with the integrity you wish New York theatre possessed. Move to Chicago, don’t move to Chicago, but make the decision for you, not the “dozens of producers” in your life.

Honestly, the decision has been made: Chicago. I’m moving to Chicago.

The Windy City? Great! I’ll bring the hair gel.

*When someone auditions with a scene, the reader is the scene partner. As a reader, I get to sit behind the table in many auditions and get to know the creative team.

Read Full Post »

photography -- both observation and action.

Watching a dance from the sidelines.

Every now and then, being an observer is inspirational. Watching something epic unfold means more than just being marked “present” on some cosmic roll call — in a way, you become a part of the event as it transpires.

But does it inspire you to be the agent of creativity yourself, next time around? Harder to say.

Take the NCAA tournament. People in our home state of North Carolina are absolutely crazy about college basketball. It’s more than just something you watch, it’s something you DO. It inspires people to paint their bodies, camp out for months in tents, hold high-stakes bracket competitions, and hate people who wear the wrong shade of blue. Some would even call it a lifestyle.

But at the end of the day, they’re still on the sidelines, watching the game. Making an awesome bracket isn’t going to make you an awesome basketball player.  No matter what the experience you’ve created around it, you’re still a spectator to the game itself.

This is fine (and in fact ideal!) for most people, who have neither the ambition nor the ability to step onto the basketball court. They don’t aspire to be a part of it personally, so being an active observer is enough to aspire to.

But for a high school kid who grew up loving the game, and dreaming of a spot on one of those teams, the month of March takes on a whole different significance. To him, it’s personal.

I’m that high school kid, but for art.

They look sort of lonely, to me.

Come on. Adjust them. You know you want to.

And Art (capital A) often feels like a spectator sport. You go to museums, you see a play, you go to a concert. You are expected to take it in without interacting.

Maybe, for most people, that is enough. Maybe they find it inspirational. But as an artist, I am partly inspired and more often agonized. I experience a strange restlessness when I go to a play. I enter and the ushers direct me to my seat, as they do with everyone, and I have to fight the urge to stand up and be say “Guys, it’s cool. I do theater too, I’m IN THE KNOW. Why am I sitting with the plebes?”

And what kind of  interaction can I have with it, from my comfy plush chair? I can comment on it, either to the date I am surely trying to impress, or to the internet via a blog or twitter, and if the gallery or theater is trendy it might have some events or talks regarding the work. And I can think about it, turn it over in my mind and bookmark it for some future use — but these are all forms of sideline interaction. I don’t feel like I’m more of an artist for having seen it.

There is an odd voicelessness that comes with standing in the same room as a famous work of art. I stand transfixed, perhaps in awe, or perhaps in distaste, but either way I can do nothing but make sideline commentary to the main event. My own voice is irrelevant here, overwhelmed by the enormity of the work at hand.

this is probably what they are playing

It doesn’t matter how hard you stare at it, Picasso, tragically, is not contagious. You will actually have to figure out how to make something this cool on your own.

And separate from my observations about the work itself are the direct comparisons to my own artistic experiences. Do I feel depressed about my own abilities? Hopeful? Exhausted? Do I wonder why the artist did it that way, and then realize that it sort of works, but that I would have done it differently, and then second guess myself because his work is hanging in a gallery and mine isn’t? Do I wonder if the endless meditations and comparisons to the works of others are pointless and in fact detrimental to my own creative process?

Because it has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my compulsion to create art, which probably comes from someplace deeply personal that existed long before I could even articulate the word “art”. That urge to create is innate, not external.

washington, washington. six stories tall, made of radiation.

This picture came from my own imagination. As well as Washington DC.

Understanding the work of others and feeding off the cultural environment are vitally important — but sometimes you need to just shut yourself up in your room and do whatever the hell you want to. Paint a really hideous mural in honor of Duke basketball on your bathroom wall, or whatever. Outsider art is the shit.

And this is what we hope to encourage with Wall People. Even as we scour the internets for the latest experimental art movies, and articles on the work of Rauschenberg and outer space, what we really want to do is inspire you (and ourselves) to create something in your own words.

So check out for a bit. Get lost in the hypnotic rhythm of this cool thing Alyx posted about, or maybe the meaningless buzz of the next NCAA game broadcast (now that all ACC teams are out of the running), and tune out the discordant sounds of the world around you. Cease to observe, and try to figure out what you have to say for yourself.

“My early films come from my very deepest commitment to what I was doing, what I felt I had no choice but to do, and as such they are totally unconnected to what was going on at the film schools — and cinemas — of the time. It is my strong autodidactic streak and my faith in my own work that have kept me going for more than forty years.”  — Werner Herzog

Read Full Post »

[via Kottke]

1. What would Breton and Masson think?

“SURREALISM, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, or in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.” – Andre Breton

“What Gertrude Stein called ‘the wandering line’ is probably a key characteristic of my work, But it wasn’t the line that was wandering, it was me.” – Andre Masson, as quoted by Gertrude Stein

2. For me, this is perfect creative lubricant. When I’m suffering from writers’ block, this is exactly the sort of rhythmic abstraction through which I can find a special kind of blank canvas. It is on this canvas, or so the hoping goes, that the idea for which I have been waiting will appear. What are your creative lubricants?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »