AHMED BOUANANI by Caitlin Murray

from The Shutters:

He fires the only bullet, one bullet is enough. And the sun felt dizzy. Morning no longer knows which way to turn. The entire city, the walls, the lights, the new sky where the stars barely had time to turn on. Everything falls in front of my bicycle.

Bouanani took a job at the Centre Cinematographique Marocain (CCM), the only national institution dedicated to film production. He also worked for two years at the Institut des Arts Populaires, traveling across the country to film disappearing local arts, customs, poems and songs…Like many of his contemporaries, Bouanani wrestled with how to close the enormous rifts opened by colonialism, and how to withstand erasures and distortions of the new regime.

In a 1974 interview, he said:

My only ambition—and it’s the ambition of all Moroccan filmmakers—is to get audiences used to seeing themselves on the screen, seeing their own problems on the screen, and from that, being able to judge themselves and the society in which they live. The screen must cease to be the privileged mirror of foreign countries.

Bouanani was a contributor to the avant-garde magazine Souffles. The artists who gathered around Souffles were struggling to define an alternative, indigenous modernity. They believed that a cultural revolution must necessarily accompany a political transformation.

[emma goldman’s les: 6 to 12 - (maybe with music by RM or CT?) - keep the heartbeat]

At the CCM, Bouanani himself was suspected (falsely) of being a Communist. His films were censored, and in 1967 he was banned from directing. He made the short film 6 et 12-a visual and acoustic portrait of Casablanca from the early morning until noon—but did not take credit as the director. Relegated to the basement of the CCM, Bouanani poured over footage from the French colonial archives and emerged with Memoire 14, a collage of Moroccan history. The title is shred with one his poems, which is read over the opening sequence of the film:

Happy is he whose memory rests in peace.
Whether the earth bears or does not bear,
whether the streams flow with honey or blood,
whether our gaze if blinded or cut off,
our memory endures—
may it regain the rhythm of our twenties

DANH VO: TAKE MY BREATH AWAY by Caitlin Murray

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 7.49.17 PM.png

David Salle
NYRB, May 10 2018

Vo makes art by taking objets from the world - a washing machine, a chandelier, a car engine, a pen nib - and bringing them, sometimes with minimal alteration or none at all, into the museum. As an idea, this is certainly not new, but to assume that Vo's work has anything to do with Marcel Duchamp's readymades strikes me as wrong. The impulse is different. Duchamp's snow shovel and bottle rack are anonymous and semi-ironic, idiotic even, in that amusing Dada way. Vo's objects are, for the most part, highly specific; they are the visual equivalent of poetry's "objective correlative." Everything in Vo's art comes with a story; his objects point to the way that things close to us - a signet ring, a marriage contract, or very ordinary things, like a cardboard box - are embedded in a web of connections with the larger world. 

It doesn't happen every time, but there is an aesthetic transference that can occur at the level of display. His best work refers to more than one thing, and even though transparent by design, still retains some mystery that can't be easily explained. 

the wall text / "leading the witness"

gen-press-DanhVo-InstallationView.jpg

the synecdoche / the objective correlative

 

THE GREAT NADAR by Caitlin Murray

 Felix Nadar and his wife, Ernestine, in a baloon, circa 1865

Felix Nadar and his wife, Ernestine, in a baloon, circa 1865

Felix Nadar, born in Paris in 1820
Expelled from college, abandoned medical school, moved to the Left Bank:

Felix hadn't stirred form his bed for two months, having no clothes to go out in. His mistress had pantaloons and yellow boots she wore to the Opera Ball. The two of them had a passion for oysters, and the discarded shells carpeted the floor of the room.

Lived hand-to-mouth for twenty years as a small-time journalist, political radical, cartoonist, and would-be novelist. 

In 1851 he produced over five-hundred individual caricatures. In 1854 he produced the Pantheon Nadar a literary lithograph featuring 250 jostling writers led by Victor Hugo. Only 136 copies were sold. 

DP143857.jpg

Then, celebrity photography.

 Félix Nadar (1820-1910)Charles Baudelaire in an armchair1855Unique salted paper print from a destroyed negativeH. 28; W. 16.5 cmParis, Musée d'Orsay© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Félix Nadar (1820-1910)Charles Baudelaire in an armchair1855Unique salted paper print from a destroyed negativeH. 28; W. 16.5 cmParis, Musée d'Orsay© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Nadar produced plain, large-format portraits with no props, for which he charged a princely 100 francs. He concentrated all his skills on posing his subject and carefully lighting the face, to achieve what he called "la resemblance intime."

In 1860, as the photography boom continued, Nadar moved to a new, large studio at 35 boulevard des Capucines, with luxurious ground-floor reception rooms, a two-story iron and glass rooftop extension (costing "a staggering 230,000 francs"), and a uniformed staff of fifty. Here the name "Nadar" became a true advertising logo, written in huge scarlet letters across the second-floor frontage of an early form of neon advertising designed by Antoine Lumiere, father of the famous Lumiere brothers. 

Nadar now boasted various technical innovations. He took studio photographs by electric arc light and transported his equipment underground with a set of massive storage batteries, in order to photograph the Paris catacombs and the monumental sewers beneath Haussmann's new boulevards. 

He also took his camera up in a ballon and claimed the first successful aerial photograph taken about Paris, in 1858. He patented all of his techniques. 

613513656.jpg

In 1863 he founded a society to further the cause of heavier-than-air machines, that is, true airplanes. Its secretary was the young Jules Verne. Nadar commissioned an enormous, two-hundred-foot hydrogen balloon ("The Giant") precisely to promote the very opposite cause, the superiority of airplanes over aerostats. He flew the ballon with nine passengers, including his wife, from Paris eastward into Germany. The appalling crash-landing that followed was reported in Scientific American. The flight proved his point about airplanes, but badly injured everyone and for a moment looked as if it had actually killed Ernestine with a blow to the throat. 

 Ernestine, 1890

Ernestine, 1890

The above photo: It presents her with monumental simplicity, propped against a pillow, silver-haired and huge-eyed, smelling a sprig and violets. Roland Barthes wrote an entire book, Camera Lucida (1980), that was inspired by this picture, a masterpiece of tenderness that for him demonstrated Nadar was "the greatest photographer in the world." 

JUDEAN DATE PALM by Caitlin Murray

1_EHW4G1cAXK3RLt7ifICMQw.jpg

During the excavation of Herod's palace at Masada between 1963 and 1965, a pottery jar was unearthed that contained a great many seeds of the Judean date palm, which had been extinct for some eight hundred years. The jar had been buried sometime between 155BC and 64AD. In 2005, after spending forty years in the archeological collections at Bar-Ilan University, three of the seeds were planted at Ketura in southern Israel. Eight weeks later, one sprouted, becoming the oldest seed to have germinated with human assistance and the only living example of this variety of palm. Methuselah, as it has been named, reached a height of nearly ten feet in 2015 and revealed that it was male when it started producing pollen. Similar seeds from other archeological sites around the Dead Sea have since been coaxed to sprout, but unless a female can be raised to produce flowers for Methuselah to pollinate, which would then make viable seeds, the Judean date palm's ressurection will have been sort-lived.

Carlos Magdalena's The Plant Messiah
"I believe that every species has a right to live without justifying its existence."

HETERODOXY by Caitlin Murray

Heterodoxy, a feminisit debating society for "unorthodox women" flourished in Greenwich Village from 1912 to the early years of World War II, meeting every other week except during the summer. Th club's membership was draw from women living primarily in Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Harlem. 

 Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934)

Marie Jenney Howe (1870-1934)

Marie Jenney Howe founded Heterodoxy in 1912. She had studied at the Union Theological Seminary in Meadville, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1897. She took a position as an assistant to Reverend Mary A. Safford in Sioux City, Iowa. Mary Safford was a popular woman's suffrage speaker and president of the Iowa Suffrage Association, as well as a strong advocate for women ministers in the Unitarian Church. 

Safford believed that "true religion must first of all be 'free' religion, free from irrational dogma that discouraged personal growth." She held that the human soul would evolve, not in solitude but, through community. People would make their common tasks divine "by doing them in the spirit of love and helpfulness." Throughout her many years of ministry, she worked to help her congregations be the kind of religious communities in which individuals could evolve together "in the spirit of love and helpfulness."

Howe moved to NYC in 1910 and lived in the Hotel Chelsea for a short time while working in the New York Suffrage movement. Howe moved into an apartment on West Twelfth Street on the edge of Greenwich Village.

Original group of 25 members, probably meeting at Polly Halliday's MacDougal Street restaurant.

Membership dues were $2 a year ($47 now) and members paid for their own lunches. By 1920 there were sixty members. In the early 1940s there were 110 identifiable members with about 35 to 60 attending meetings. 

Inez Haynes Irwin:

Heterodoxy members came from many states of the Union. Most of them had traveled with amazing extensiveness. Among them were Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, anarchists, liberals and radicals of all opinions. They possessed minds startlingly free of prejudice. They were at home with ideas. All could talk; all could argue; all could listen...Our occupations and preoccupations ranged the world. Many of our members were working for various reforms. A sizable portion were always somewhere else. During the First World War, when no Americans were supposed to enter Russia,...at least two members of Heterdoxy were there writing articles. 

{Fola La Follette listed here address as 20 Rue Jacob, Paris, the home of Natalie Clifford Barney - La Follette had also lived with Howe as a budding actress}

Howe asked members to prepare a "background talk" on their lives:

A member told whatever she chose to reveal about her childhood, girlhood and womanhood. They ranged in atmosphere from the middle-western farm on which Leta Hollingworth's childhood was spent, where all her dresses were made from flour bags which had the manufacturer's name printed on them, through a life of inherited rebelliousness, like that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman; from the cold, faded elegance of the great house on the Hudson, in which Alice Duer Miller was raised, to the fiery shadow of Emma Goldman, in which Stella Comen Ballantine (who was her niece and adoring partisan) lived...from the gorgeous gusto of Lou Rogers' childhood, deep in Maine country, to the quiet of Helen Hull's early life in the Middle West which was so like one of her own rich novels. 

 Leta Hollingworth (1886-1939) an American psychologist who conducted pioneering work in the early 20th century. It is generally agreed upon that Hollingworth made significant contributions in three areas: psychology of women; clinical psychology; and educational psychology. She is best known for her work with exceptional children.

Leta Hollingworth (1886-1939) an American psychologist who conducted pioneering work in the early 20th century. It is generally agreed upon that Hollingworth made significant contributions in three areas: psychology of women; clinical psychology; and educational psychology. She is best known for her work with exceptional children.

 

 

THE LADIES ALMANACK by Caitlin Murray

DJUNA BARNES
1928

 Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972) / 60 years of Fridays

Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972) / 60 years of Fridays

Introduction
Susan Sniader Lanser

If Djuna Barnes were still among us, it is not certain that a new edition of Ladies Alamanack would be seeing print. She claimed to have written it "in an idle hour," as a "jollity" for a "very special audience." Its first publication in 1928 was a private affair financed by friends, including the books own mock-heroine [Natalie Barney]; when its distributor Edward Titus backed out at the last moment, it was hawked by Barnes and her cohorts on Paris Streets. Forty years later, when Farrar, Straus issued her Selected Works, Barnes did not offer them Ladies Alamanack. To Natalie Clifford Barney, who repeatedly urged her old friend to "let that side of us" be memorialized, she wrote that the work was too "salacious" and "trifling" to be in print. 

[Ladies Alamanack] is mow recognized as a brilliant modernist achievement and the boldest of a body of writings produced by and about the lesbian society that flourished in Paris between the turn of the century and the Second World War. Apparently conceived to amuse Barnes's love Thelma Wood during an illness, the book has as its first readers its own cast of characters, women associated with the wealthy American Writer Natalie Barney, dubbed "l'Amazone" by the poet Remy de Gourmont, whose salon on the Rue Jacob was a center of both literary exchange and lesbian friendship for more than half a century. 

 Patchin Place is a gated cul-de-sac located off of 10th Street between Greenwich Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Its ten 3-story[1] brick row houses, said to have been originally built as housing for the Basque staff of the nearby Brevoort House hotel, have been home to several famous writers, including Theodore Dreiser, E. E. Cummings, John Cowper Powys and Djuna Barnes, making it a stop on Greenwich Village walking tours. Today it is a popular location for psychotherapists' offices.

Patchin Place is a gated cul-de-sac located off of 10th Street between Greenwich Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Its ten 3-story[1] brick row houses, said to have been originally built as housing for the Basque staff of the nearby Brevoort House hotel, have been home to several famous writers, including Theodore Dreiser, E. E. Cummings, John Cowper Powys and Djuna Barnes, making it a stop on Greenwich Village walking tours. Today it is a popular location for psychotherapists' offices.

Barnes managed to publish only one work (the verse play The Antiphon in 1958) during the second half of her long life; she lived in poverty, seclusion, and ultimately great physical pain in a tiny apartment in New York's Patchin Place. 

Barnes goes to Paris around 1920. 

The picaresque her of Ladies Alamanack is the aristocratic Dame Evangeline Musset, her last name evoking the Romantic poet Alfred de Musset, celebrant of love who was also, disastrously, a lover of George Sand; her first name recalling both her American origins and her missionary zeal. 

The book is structured as a monthly chronicle...within the frame of the calendar, Ladies Almanack, embeds both a picaresque fable of Dame Musset's life from birth to death and a variety of "digressions" that appropriate Western traditions and rewrite patriarchal texts, as if anticipating Monique Wittg's call to women in Les Guerilleres to "remember, or failing that, invent." 

Monique Wittig (July 13, 1935 – January 3, 2003) was a French author and feminist theorist who wrote about overcoming socially enforced gender roles and who coined the phrase "heterosexual contract". She published her first novel, L'Opoponax, in 1964. Her second novel, Les Guérillères (1969), was a landmark in lesbian feminism.

Ms. Wittig's novel, ''Les Guérillères,'' appeared in 1969 in France and in 1971 in English. Sally Beauman in The Times Book Review called it ''perhaps the first epic celebration of women ever written.'' In that novel women live as guerrillas, fighting men and seeking a new age. They engage in bloody, victorious battles using knives, machine guns and rocket launchers. In one scene they win by baring their breasts, stopping men in their tracks.

SERIOUS NONSENSE

 Renée Vivien, born Pauline Mary Tarn (11 June 1877 – 18 November 1909), was a British poet who wrote in French, in the style of the Symbolistes and the Parnassiens. A high-profile lesbian in the Paris of the Belle Époque, she was as notable for her lifestyle as for her work, which has received more attention following a recent revival of interest in Sapphic verse. Many of her poems are autobiographical, reflecting a life of extreme hedonism, leading to early death. She was the subject of a pen-portrait by her friend Colette.

Renée Vivien, born Pauline Mary Tarn (11 June 1877 – 18 November 1909), was a British poet who wrote in French, in the style of the Symbolistes and the Parnassiens. A high-profile lesbian in the Paris of the Belle Époque, she was as notable for her lifestyle as for her work, which has received more attention following a recent revival of interest in Sapphic verse. Many of her poems are autobiographical, reflecting a life of extreme hedonism, leading to early death. She was the subject of a pen-portrait by her friend Colette.

  Radclyffe Hall  (12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943)   Having reached adulthood without a vocation, she spent much of her twenties pursuing women she eventually lost to marriage.  In 1907 at the Bad Homburg spa in Germany, Hall met Mabel Batten, a well-known amateur singer of lieder. Batten (nicknamed "Ladye") was 51 to Hall's 27, and was married with an adult daughter and grandchildren. They fell in love, and after Batten's husband died they set up residence together. Batten gave Hall the nickname John, which she used the rest of her life.  In 1915 Hall fell in love with Mabel Batten's cousin Una Troubridge (1887–1963), a sculptor who was the wife of Vice-Admiral Ernest Troubridge, and the mother of a young daughter. Batten died the following year, and in 1917 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge began living together. From 1924 to 1929 they lived at 37 Holland Street, Kensington, London.  The relationship would last until Hall's death. In 1934 Hall fell in love with Russian émigrée Evguenia Souline and embarked upon a long-term affair with her, which Troubridge painfully tolerated. She became involved in affairs with other women throughout the years.

Radclyffe Hall (12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943) 

Having reached adulthood without a vocation, she spent much of her twenties pursuing women she eventually lost to marriage.

In 1907 at the Bad Homburg spa in Germany, Hall met Mabel Batten, a well-known amateur singer of lieder. Batten (nicknamed "Ladye") was 51 to Hall's 27, and was married with an adult daughter and grandchildren. They fell in love, and after Batten's husband died they set up residence together. Batten gave Hall the nickname John, which she used the rest of her life.

In 1915 Hall fell in love with Mabel Batten's cousin Una Troubridge (1887–1963), a sculptor who was the wife of Vice-Admiral Ernest Troubridge, and the mother of a young daughter. Batten died the following year, and in 1917 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge began living together. From 1924 to 1929 they lived at 37 Holland Street, Kensington, London.

The relationship would last until Hall's death. In 1934 Hall fell in love with Russian émigrée Evguenia Souline and embarked upon a long-term affair with her, which Troubridge painfully tolerated. She became involved in affairs with other women throughout the years.

 Natalie Clifford Barney and Romaine Brooks, ca. 1915, Brooks tolerated Barney's casual affairs well enough to tease her about them, and had a few of her own over the years. She could become jealous when a new love became serious. Usually she simply left town, but at one point she gave Barney an ultimatum to choose between her and Dolly Wilde—relenting once Barney had given in. At the same time, while Brooks was devoted to Barney, she did not want to live with her full-time. She disliked Paris, disdained Barney's friends, and hated the constant socializing on which Barney thrived. She felt most fully herself when alone. To accommodate Brooks's need for solitude, the women built a summer home consisting of two separate wings joined by a dining room, which they called Villa Trait d'Union, the "hyphenated villa". Brooks spent part of each year in Italy or traveling elsewhere in Europe, away from Barney. The relationship lasted for more than 50 years.

Natalie Clifford Barney and Romaine Brooks, ca. 1915, Brooks tolerated Barney's casual affairs well enough to tease her about them, and had a few of her own over the years. She could become jealous when a new love became serious. Usually she simply left town, but at one point she gave Barney an ultimatum to choose between her and Dolly Wilde—relenting once Barney had given in. At the same time, while Brooks was devoted to Barney, she did not want to live with her full-time. She disliked Paris, disdained Barney's friends, and hated the constant socializing on which Barney thrived. She felt most fully herself when alone. To accommodate Brooks's need for solitude, the women built a summer home consisting of two separate wings joined by a dining room, which they called Villa Trait d'Union, the "hyphenated villa". Brooks spent part of each year in Italy or traveling elsewhere in Europe, away from Barney. The relationship lasted for more than 50 years.

 

 

by Caitlin Murray

FLEUR JAEGGY by Caitlin Murray

9780811226875.jpg

THOMAS DE QUINCY

Umbrella in hand and the plays of Euripides in his pocket, he started walking. 
- the slightest geomancy sketch reveals -

Geomancy (Greek: γεωμαντεία, "earth divination") is a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand. 

Geomantic_figures.svg.png

JOHN KEATS

In 1803, the guillotine was a common children's toy. 

He walked through the gardens, a book in hand. 

 

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

Keats didn't have the money to travel the world but made a long walking tour of Scotland. 

The history of female beauty is almost always told in the negative. Even the Bronte sisters were talked about as plain, as was Emily Dickinson. 

His friends began to say their farewells. Farewells to dying people are often awkward. 

Keats dictated a list of books that he wanted to read: Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living and Holy Dying, and Madame Dacier's translation of Plato.

Inscribed on his gravestone: "Here lies one who name was writ in water." 


MARCEL SCHWOB

Over the course of his illness he was confined to bed in a shuttered room. During this time he went on many long voyages. 

"55 percent artist and 45 percent adventurer" 

It was a nuanced wandering through memories, leading toward the enchanted shadows. 

Istanbul: Memories and the City by Caitlin Murray

From the fifteenth century onward, Constantinople - Konstainiyye to Muslims, as ISIS propaganda never fails to remind us - was a wondrous place, heavily wooded and full of "cherry, almond, pear, plum, quince, peach and apple trees," as well as bounteous animal and marine life. The Ottomans saw nature as a sign of wealth and power. "Gardens were fundamental in the culture of Muslim Constantinople," Hughes writes (author of Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities). Western visitors identified on thousand gardens in the city, and one hundred imperial gardens around the palaces cared for by 20,000 gardeners. The city's Muslim inhabitants saw the garden design around the Sublime Porte as, in Hughes's words, "an outward sign of the harmony of justice, of the magnificence of the Ottoman dynasty." Sultan Ahmed III in the eighteenth century began enlisting tortoises adorned with candles to illuminate the thousands of tulips planted between the pathways. The Ottomans loved nature, trees, flowers, and beautiful women from the Caucasus; they also loved books, knowledge, art, and fireworks displays. No wonder the many Western travelers who game to gaze at Constantinople record it as a land of fantasy. (NYRB, Suzy Hansen, February 22, 2018)


Erdoğan's dream of a second Bosphorus is most commonly called, even by himself, "The Crazy Project." The idea is a canal that would extend from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, as much as the Bosphorus does. It would be around thirty miles long, twenty-seven yards deep, and anywhere between 120 to 160 yards wide, and would eliminate tanker traffic from the Bosphorus entirely. Many experts have warned of the environmental catastrophes the project would cause. A new canal would fundamentally transform the flow of the currents from the Black Sea to the sea of Marmara, changing the salinity of both and affecting the disposal of urban waste. The project might also destroy farmland and forests on the outskirts of tree-deprived Istanbul; set off a development boom along the canal, including houses, office parks, malls and roads; and affect the many lakes from which the city obtains its drinking water. 

"the great drive to westernize amounted mostly to the erasure of the past"


One of Pamuk's more controversial preoccupations in Istanbul is that the repression of Islamic culture also involved repressing, or blighting, the Turkish soul. The secularized people he knew, he writes, grappled "with the most basic questions of existence." But reading the memoir in its new edition, with Hughes's descriptions of Istanbul's beauty in mind, I was more keenly aware than I had been before of Pamuk's reports of the city's physical destruction - the tankers crashing into yalıs that modernizing Turks no longer loved or wanted, the popular Turkish pastime of watching the demolition, by fire, of historic buildings. His Istanbul was not necessarily a commentary on the wisdom of enforced secularization or on the benefits of religiosity. It could just be about the fact that human beings cannot understand so much loss. 


 Köprülü Yalisi

Köprülü Yalisi

The Amcazade Hüseyin Pasa seaside mansion (yali) is the oldest existing private residence in Istanbul. It was built in 1699 for Amcazade Hüseyin Pasa (1644-1702), a member of the Köprülü dynasty of grand-viziers in the second half of the 17th century, who was grand-vizier under Mustafa II from 1697 until his death. The residential complex he built on the Anatolian coast of the Bosphorus at Anadoluhisari consisted of three seaside mansions surrounded by gardens and orchards that extended landward. Only the assembly room (divanhane) of the men's quarters (selamlik) has survived, and is in urgent need of repair today after partial restorations performed in 1956 and 1977. 

The wooden assembly room raised only two meters above the water's surface sits on and projects beyond a stone retaining wall abutting the water. Its plan consists of a domed square central hall (sofa), with three iwans projecting over the waters to the west and south, and into the garden to the north. Supported on consoles like bay windows, the iwans provide extensive views of the surroundings through strip ribbon windows placed low at the eye level of a person seated at the window-side sofas. Each window had windowpanes for shading and seasonal protection that, when raised, reflected rays of the sun from the water's surface onto the interior walls. 

The interior of the assembly room is spacious and ornate compared to the modest exterior, which is painted in ochre. The walls are covered with wooden panels above the window level that depict floral arrangements composed of roses, carnations, jasmines, tulips and pomegranate branches in vases. A small pool, with a kiosk-shaped marble fountain, is placed at the center of the hall below the dome, which is decorated with elaborate arabesques. The doors and shelving in the assembly room are adorned with ivory. 

This stately room was once connected to auxiliary rooms and service buildings to the east, where a two-story structure was built in the nineteenth century that still stands today. The women's quarters (haremlik) were housed in a large two-story mansion located at the water's edge seventy or eighty meters south of the men's quarters; it was destroyed at the end of the nineteenth century. The complex also had housing for servants, kitchens and a private hamam, none of which have survived. 

 

 

CLAUDE CAHUN & SUZANNE MALHERBE by Caitlin Murray

Hence Farwell to the Muse, which follows five pairs of women artists from the late 1930s through World War II - no longer the muses or femmes-enfantes of Surrealist legend, but creators in their own right. Chadwick's fascinating account of Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe's wartime resistance on the German-occupied island of Jersey quickens the pulse even seventy years later. Although other Surrealists, like Paul and Nusch Eluard, engaged in subversive activities in France during the Occupation, these two middle-aged French lesbians in poor health elevated resistance to an art form, risking their lives in a small, isolated community in which even the natives had not quite accepted them. The women created collaged texts, leaflets, and banners in German to "sow doubt in the minds of German soldiers." Some of their messages (left in cigarette boxes for soldiers to find) were so oblique as to seem surreal: "Ohne Ende" (Without End) read one, alluding to a Nazi pre-war slogan, "Terror without end or an end to terror." They evaded discovery until near the end of the war, when they were arrested, held in solitary confinement, and condemned to death. In February 1945, the German High Command granted them a reprieve from execution. They were reunited in prison, where they organized a clandestine postal system among prisoners and made nuisances of themselves until the Occupation ended. (NYRB, Regina Marler, March 8, 2018)

Claude Cahun (25 October 1894 – 8 December 1954), born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, was a Jewish-French photographer, sculptor and writer. She/They adopted the gender-ambiguous name Claude Cahun in 1917 and is best known for their self-portraits, in which she assumes a variety of personas. Their work was both political and personal, and often undermined traditional concepts of static gender roles. She/He/They once explained:

“Under this mask, another mask; I will never finish removing all these faces."

 Claude Cahun, Self Portrait, 1927

Claude Cahun, Self Portrait, 1927

Taking the text of Jersey-based surrealist Claude Cahun’s incomplete personal memoir as its inspiration, this successor to Sarah Pucill’s Magic Mirror, is a sumptuous and passionate re-imagining of the artist’s life. It moves from childhood, through her politicisation and defiant activism, to her eventual imprisonment with her partner, Suzanne Malherbe, at the hands of the occupying Nazis force, along with the destruction of many of her precious photographic works. Pucill seeks to redress this violence against Cahun’s legacy by meticulously recreating vignettes and scenarios that trace her artistic practice, her lesbian relationship and her resistance to the occupation. She employs sound, movement and colour to connect Cahun’s personal yet radical practices with the themes and techniques of her own image making. Part-love letter to the artist, Confessions to the Mirror reveals the power of art as human communication, within in the most repressive of circumstances. (Helen de Witt)

2013, 16mm b/w, sound, 75min

Magic Mirror combines a re-staging of the French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux non avenus (1930, Confessions Denied). In Surrealist kaleidoscopic fashion the film creates a weave between image and word, exploring the links between Cahun’s photographs and writing as well as between those of the films of Sarah Pucill, as both artists share similar iconography and concerns.

Cahun’s multi-subjectivity as expressed in both her book and photographs, set the scene for the film, where she dresses and makes her face up in so many different ways, swapping identities between gender, age and the inanimate. Three women masquerade as Cahun’s characters: often it is hard to tell them apart. The splitting of identity appears as a double which persists throughout; as a literal double (through super-imposition), as shadow, imprints in sand, reflections in water, mirror or distorting glass. Likewise the voice is split between differently dressed voices, which sometimes speak at the same time and sometimes in dialogue. Part essay, part film poem, Magic Mirror translates the startling force of Cahun’s poetic language into a choreographed series of Vivantes Tableaux, intermixed with stagings from her writing.

 Revelations 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Revelations 21:1
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

SOME BOOKS (FEBRUARY 2018) by Caitlin Murray

Summary Block
This is example content. Double-click here and select a page to feature its content. Learn more

Limners of Colonial America by Caitlin Murray

The Beardsley Limner

The Beardsley Limner was an itinerant artist who worked along the old Boston Post Road, in Connecticut and Massachusetts, from about 1785 to 1805. He executed some of the most striking naive portraits in New England, and was given the name The Beardsley Limner based on his handsome paintings of Elizabeth and Hezekiah Beardsley, c. 1785-1790.

Recently it has been argued that The Beardsley Limner and a Connecticut pastelist, Sarah Perkins, were one and the same. While some stylistic similarities exist between the two, there are sufficient differences to raise questions about this identification. To date no documentation of The Beardsley Limner's identity has been found in any of the sitters' records.

 Charles Adams Wheeler c. 1790 oil on canvas overall: 107.3 x 76.8 cm (42 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.) framed: 118.7 x 87.9 x 5.4 cm (46 3/4 x 34 5/8 x 2 1/8 in.) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch 1953.5.57

Charles Adams Wheeler
c. 1790
oil on canvas
overall: 107.3 x 76.8 cm (42 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.)
framed: 118.7 x 87.9 x 5.4 cm (46 3/4 x 34 5/8 x 2 1/8 in.)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch
1953.5.57

 Girl in a Pink Dress c. 1790 oil on canvas overall: 101.8 x 72.1 cm (40 1/16 x 28 3/8 in.) framed: 112.7 x 83.2 x 4.2 cm (44 3/8 x 32 3/4 x 1 5/8 in.) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch 1953.5.24

Girl in a Pink Dress
c. 1790
oil on canvas
overall: 101.8 x 72.1 cm (40 1/16 x 28 3/8 in.)
framed: 112.7 x 83.2 x 4.2 cm (44 3/8 x 32 3/4 x 1 5/8 in.)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch
1953.5.24

The Conant Limner

Approximately eleven portraits can be attributed to this unidentified painter. His identification as The Conant Limner is derived from the last name of four sitters who constitute the largest family group by his hand. The Conants lived in Sterling, Massachusetts, where several of this limner's works remain. Although likenesses by this hand have turned up in other regions of Massachusetts, all may have originated in the vicinity of Sterling, in Worcester County.

The Conant Limner is not known to have dated any works. From the sitters' attire, consistent in style, it appears that the portraits were painted within a limited span of years. The National Gallery likeness of Sophia Burpee Conant, datable to about 1813 on the basis of her biography, forms a reference point for dating the other portraits and the period in which the artist was active.

Schematic shadows, such as those cast by lace collars, and simplification of form suggest that the artist, in addition to portraiture, perhaps painted signs or other decorative pieces. The artist has sometimes been referred to as "The Merrimac Limner," based on the single example in a private collection said to have been acquired in the northern part of the state in Ipswich. The existence of the greater number of works from the central region of the state, however, suggests that the designation Merrimac Limner is inappropriate and may be misleading. 

 Sophia Burpee Conant c. 1813 oil on canvas overall: 56.2 x 43.2 cm (22 1/8 x 17 in.) framed: 68.6 x 55.2 x 6.9 cm (27 x 21 3/4 x 2 11/16 in.) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch 1953.5.44  SOPHIA BURPEE WAS A SCHOOLGIRL artist, recognized for a needlework picture and several watercolors of pastoral subjects, as well as two hand firescreens painted with fruit and floral designs. She was the seventh child and third daughter of Revolutionary War veteran Corporal Moses Burpee and Elizabeth Kendall, and was born in the town of Sterling in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in 1788.  On 14 November 1813, Sophia was wed to Samuel Conant, Jr. (1780-1824), also of Sterling, whose brother Jacob had married her sister Relief three years earlier. Sophia died less than a year after her marriage, possibly from "typhus," which claimed the lives of Relief and Samuel's sister Polly the same year.  The artist who painted this portrait of Sophia also made Samuel's likeness. He is depicted holding a pink rose, a highly unusual motif in male portraiture, which suggests, along with the white roses in Sophia's hair, that their wedding may have occasioned these portraits.  At first glance, The Conant Limner's portraits of Sophia, Relief, and four other women seem nearly indistinguishable.  All wear the same lace-trimmed, Em pire style peach-colored dress and are identically posed. Upon closer inspection, however, slight differences in facial features become apparent and small variations in jewelry, props, and positioning of the hand emerge. The unidentified young woman whose portrait is also at Sterling, like Sophia, holds a fan, but unlike Sophia, her hand is not raised.  This painter's use of a formula in composition and body type from portrait to portrait was a common practice among even the best known itinerants, such as Ammi Phillips (q.v.) and Erastus Salisbury Field (q.v.). It suggests that the artist lacked formal training in portraiture, a suggestion borne out by Sophia Burpee Conant's awkward anatomy and simplified shading. The artist's greatest attention appears to have been devoted to the lace, which is delicately painted with slight impasto. With its saw-toothed border, this lace, along with Sophia's fancy tendriled hairstyle, imparts a decorative aspect to an otherwise plain Massachusetts portrait.

Sophia Burpee Conant
c. 1813
oil on canvas
overall: 56.2 x 43.2 cm (22 1/8 x 17 in.)
framed: 68.6 x 55.2 x 6.9 cm (27 x 21 3/4 x 2 11/16 in.)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch
1953.5.44

SOPHIA BURPEE WAS A SCHOOLGIRL artist, recognized for a needlework picture and several watercolors of pastoral subjects, as well as two hand firescreens painted with fruit and floral designs. She was the seventh child and third daughter of Revolutionary War veteran Corporal Moses Burpee and Elizabeth Kendall, and was born in the town of Sterling in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in 1788.

On 14 November 1813, Sophia was wed to Samuel Conant, Jr. (1780-1824), also of Sterling, whose brother Jacob had married her sister Relief three years earlier. Sophia died less than a year after her marriage, possibly from "typhus," which claimed the lives of Relief and Samuel's sister Polly the same year.

The artist who painted this portrait of Sophia also made Samuel's likeness. He is depicted holding a pink rose, a highly unusual motif in male portraiture, which suggests, along with the white roses in Sophia's hair, that their wedding may have occasioned these portraits.

At first glance, The Conant Limner's portraits of Sophia, Relief, and four other women seem nearly indistinguishable.

All wear the same lace-trimmed, Em pire style peach-colored dress and are identically posed.
Upon closer inspection, however, slight differences in facial features become apparent and small variations in jewelry, props, and positioning of the hand emerge. The unidentified young woman whose portrait is also at Sterling, like Sophia, holds a fan, but unlike Sophia, her hand is not raised.

This painter's use of a formula in composition and body type from portrait to portrait was a common practice among even the best known itinerants, such as Ammi Phillips (q.v.) and Erastus Salisbury Field (q.v.). It suggests that the artist lacked formal training in portraiture, a suggestion borne out by Sophia Burpee Conant's awkward anatomy and simplified shading. The artist's greatest attention appears to have been devoted to the lace, which is delicately painted with slight impasto. With its saw-toothed border, this lace, along with Sophia's fancy tendriled hairstyle, imparts a decorative aspect to an otherwise plain Massachusetts portrait.

The Denison Limner

The identity of the artist who created the Denison family portraits has long eluded scholars. His sitters are all from Stonington, Connecticut, and their portraits are part of the tradition of Connecticut portraiture that flourished from c. 1790/1810.

One of the first to suggest an identity for The Denison Limner was Ralph Thomas of the New Haven Historical Society, who concluded in 1956 that the Denison portraits given to the National Gallery by Colonel and Mrs. Garbisch (1953.5.35, 1980.62.26-28) were painted by Joseph Steward. Steward was an artist, clergyman, and entrepreneur who was born in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in 1753. He studied for the ministry under the Reverend Doctor Levi Hart of Preston, Connecticut, and subsequently settled with his wife and children in the town of Hampton. By 1797 the family had moved to Hartford, where Steward established a museum of "natural curiosities and paintings," which he operated until his death in 1822. Among the works he exhibited were portraits of American historical and political figures, some painted by Steward himself.

The most persuasive argument for attributing the Denison works to Steward is their similarity to a pair of portraits assigned to Steward on the basis of a notice in the account book of one of the sitters. In September 1789, Mrs. Steward settled a bill with John Avery of Preston for "2 likenesses [pound sign] 5/4/0." The portraits in question, Mrs. John (Lucy Ayer) Avery and John Avery are very similar in appearance to the Denison portraits.

The Averys' home town in eastern Connecticut is less than fifteen miles north of Stonington. Another pair of portraits of Preston residents attributed to Steward--Wheeler Coit and Mrs. Wheeler (Sybil Tracy) Coit-- also shares many characteristics with the Denison portraits. The Coit and Avery pairs have similar dimensions.

These earlier works (c. 1789/1790) differ from Steward's slightly later portraits; these exhibit a more sophisticated technique. This substantial change of style over a short period of time in itself does not discount the possibility that Steward was the maker of both types, because rapid progress is not unheard of in the careers of naive painters. One of Steward's friends, the Reverend James Cogswell, recorded in 1790 that the artist "improves in ye art of painting," although he gave no evidence of specific training the artist had. Around 1791 or 1792, but almost certainly not before, Steward would have crossed paths with the important Connecticut portraitist Ralph Earl. In 1792 he may have taken some lessons from John Trumbull, whose work he later would often copy. These influences therefore could have greatly transformed Steward's style between 1789 and 1793. He seems to have been a highly adaptable and flexible artist. Throughout his career his approach varied, almost chameleonlike, depending upon his subject, the purpose of the portrait undertaken, and which artist he may have been copying or emulating.

It has also been suggested that the painter of the Denison group might be Captain Elisha Denison, since the portrait of his son shows the young boy holding a card which prominently displays his father's name. Because the sitters are all from the same family, this possibility cannot be discounted. 

 Captain Elisha Denison c. 1790 Oil on canvas, 86.4 x 68.9 (34 x 2.7 Vs) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch   

Captain Elisha Denison
c. 1790
Oil on canvas, 86.4 x 68.9 (34 x 2.7 Vs)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

 

 Mrs. Elizabeth Noyes Denison c. 1790 Oil on canvas, 86.7 x 68.7 (34^8 x 17 Vie) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  PORTRAIT PAINTING FLOURISHED in Connecticut after the Revolution due to the emergence of new roads, towns, and a growing prosperous middle class. As these portraits suggest, sitters were interested in recording for posterity a detailed depiction of their life, possessions, and environment. Captain Denison is shown at his writing table in front of a landscape that probably represents his home and property in Stonington, Connecticut. In contrast, the background landscape in Elizabeth Noyes Denison is imaginary, probably chosen to give the sitter aristocratic status by evoking an eighteenth-century European estate.  Captain Elisha Denison was baptized on 3 November 1751 and died in 1841. On 26 April 1771, he married Elizabeth Noyes Denison (1750-1831) of Stonington, Connecticut, one of eight children of James Noyes and Grace Billings. They had four children, whose portraits were also executed by The Denison Limner: Elizabeth, Matilda, Elisha, and Phebe. Elisha Denison may be the captain who commanded a Cornet of Horses for the eighth regiment in May of 1775. One history mentions that Captain Denison was appointed to collect money for the families of officers and soldiers of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  In Captain Denison's portrait the artist offers a fresh, straightforward likeness of a self-satisfied, comfortable citizen of the newly independent nation. His wife's  tight-lipped, stern expression and direct gaze reveal a strong personality. The painter worked in a controlled, linear manner, carefully filling the canvases with objects and large areas of bright color. As in the other portraits by The Denison Limner, Captain and Mrs. Denison's figures are anatomically awkward, but their faces show a greater degree of naturalism. Although it is not clear how much communication there was among the colonial artists of Connecticut, it is certain that by the last two decades of the eighteenth century many knew each other's work. Similar techniques, compositions, and poses appear in their paintings:  The individualized, biographical landscape background seen in Captain Elisha Denison, for instance, was perfected by Ralph Earl (1751-1801) and is found in other Connecticut paintings such as Winthrop Chandler's portrait of Captain Samuel Chandler

Mrs. Elizabeth Noyes Denison
c. 1790
Oil on canvas, 86.7 x 68.7 (34^8 x 17 Vie)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

PORTRAIT PAINTING FLOURISHED in Connecticut after the Revolution due to the emergence of new roads, towns, and a growing prosperous middle class. As these portraits suggest, sitters were interested in recording for posterity a detailed depiction of their life, possessions, and environment. Captain Denison is shown at his writing table in front of a landscape that probably represents his home and property in Stonington, Connecticut. In contrast, the background landscape in Elizabeth Noyes Denison is imaginary, probably chosen to give the sitter aristocratic status by evoking an eighteenth-century European estate.

Captain Elisha Denison was baptized on 3 November 1751 and died in 1841. On 26 April 1771, he married Elizabeth Noyes Denison (1750-1831) of Stonington, Connecticut, one of eight children of James Noyes and Grace Billings. They had four children, whose portraits were also executed by The Denison Limner: Elizabeth, Matilda, Elisha, and Phebe. Elisha Denison may be the captain who commanded a Cornet of Horses for the eighth regiment in May of 1775. One history mentions that Captain Denison was appointed to collect money for the families of officers and soldiers of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

In Captain Denison's portrait the artist offers a fresh, straightforward likeness of a self-satisfied, comfortable citizen of the newly independent nation. His wife's  tight-lipped, stern expression and direct gaze reveal a strong personality. The painter worked in a controlled, linear manner, carefully filling the canvases with objects and large areas of bright color. As in the other portraits by The Denison Limner, Captain and Mrs. Denison's figures are anatomically awkward, but their faces show a greater degree of naturalism. Although it is not clear how much communication there was among the colonial artists of Connecticut, it is certain that by the last two decades of the eighteenth century many knew each other's work. Similar techniques, compositions, and poses appear in their paintings:

The individualized, biographical landscape background seen in Captain Elisha Denison, for instance, was perfected by Ralph Earl (1751-1801) and is found in other Connecticut paintings such as Winthrop Chandler's portrait of Captain Samuel Chandler

 Elizabeth Denison c. 1790 Oil on canvas, 85-4X 67.6 (33s/8 x i65/s) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  THE PROVENANCE OF THIS PORTRAIT suggests that its subject is Elizabeth Denison (1773-1849), the eldest child of Captain Elisha Denison and Elizabeth Noyes Denison. In 1793 the younger Elizabeth married Nathaniel Ledyard, in whose family the portrait descended. In style and dimensions the painting corresponds to the other five Denison family portraits.   This painting and the portrait of Miss Denison (1980.61.18) have the simplest compositions of the group, lacking the detailed landscape background that appears in the other Denison portraits. Elizabeth Denison is seated in a Chippendale chair, identical to the one in the portraits of her parents and sister. Her arm  rests on what appears to be a dressing table, draped with fabric that realistically gives way under the weight of her hand. The flowers that adorn her head and bodice are likely made of linen, as described in at least one late eighteenth-century account.  Although there is little penetration of character in this portrait, the artist has carefully rendered Elizabeth's facial features and attempted to give them a sense of volume. Her clothing, however, is painted less distinctly with broad, somewhat loose strokes, despite the inclusion of drapery folds and the attempt to show diaphanous material. Anatomical features such as her shoulders, breast, and hands are awkwardly depicted.  This portrait, formerly titled Lady with a Plumed Headdress,  has been published as a youthful work by Gilbert Stuart. This attribution apparently resulted from the Denison family's confusion between the similar sounding name of Joseph Steward and his more illustrious counterpart.

Elizabeth Denison
c. 1790
Oil on canvas, 85-4X 67.6 (33s/8 x i65/s)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

THE PROVENANCE OF THIS PORTRAIT suggests that its subject is Elizabeth Denison (1773-1849), the eldest child of Captain Elisha Denison and Elizabeth Noyes Denison. In 1793 the younger Elizabeth married Nathaniel Ledyard, in whose family the portrait descended. In style and dimensions the painting corresponds to the other five Denison family portraits. 

This painting and the portrait of Miss Denison (1980.61.18) have the simplest compositions of the group, lacking the detailed landscape background that appears in the other Denison portraits. Elizabeth Denison is seated in a Chippendale chair, identical to the one in the portraits of her parents and sister. Her arm  rests on what appears to be a dressing table, draped with fabric that realistically gives way under the weight of her hand. The flowers that adorn her head and bodice are likely made of linen, as described in at least one late eighteenth-century account.

Although there is little penetration of character in this portrait, the artist has carefully rendered Elizabeth's facial features and attempted to give them a sense of volume. Her clothing, however, is painted less distinctly with broad, somewhat loose strokes, despite the inclusion of drapery folds and the attempt to show diaphanous material. Anatomical features such as her shoulders, breast, and hands are awkwardly depicted.

This portrait, formerly titled Lady with a Plumed Headdress,  has been published as a youthful work by Gilbert Stuart. This attribution apparently resulted from the Denison family's confusion between the similar sounding name of Joseph Steward and his more illustrious counterpart.

 Miss Denison of Stonington Connecticut (possibly Matilda Denison) c. 1790 Oil on canvas, 87.7 x 68.7 (34 1/2 x 27) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  ALTHOUGH SHE WAS PREVIOUSLY identified as Phebe Denison, genealogical records and the apparent age of the sitter suggest that this may be a portrait of Matilda, Phebe's older sister.  Matilda, the second child of Captain Elisha Denison and Elizabeth Noyes Denison, was born on 5 September 1776 and died on 13 January 1842. In 1796 she married Samuel Hurlbut, a ship chandler, ship owner, and merchant, and the couple had ten children. Matilda's sister Phebe, Captain and Elizabeth Denison's youngest child, was born on 22 April 1781 and died 31 December 1853. She married W J. Robinson, with whom she resided in Morristown, New Jersey. They, too, had ten children.  As was common in eighteenth-century portrait painting, the sitter is pictured with her pets, a bird and a squirrel. The long-eared squirrel is, however, a species native to Europe, not America. It is likely that this  animal was copied from an eighteenth-century emblem book. One such volume describes the meaning of such a symbol: "A Squirrel taking the Meat out of a Chestnut. Not without Trouble. An Emblem that—Nothing that's worthy having can be obtained without Trouble and Difficulty."   Miss Denison appears to have been singled out, among her siblings, for this special reminder of the virtues of patience. While Miss Denison's figure is awkwardly drawn, her expression, with its direct gaze and hint of a smile, along with her intriguing plumed hat make this an attractive example of early American portraiture. The plain background helps to emphasize the decorative composition, concentrating on several sweeping curves, accentuated by the linear style and bright, contrasting colors.

Miss Denison of Stonington Connecticut (possibly Matilda Denison)
c. 1790
Oil on canvas, 87.7 x 68.7 (34 1/2 x 27)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

ALTHOUGH SHE WAS PREVIOUSLY identified as Phebe Denison, genealogical records and the apparent age of the sitter suggest that this may be a portrait of Matilda, Phebe's older sister.  Matilda, the second child of Captain Elisha Denison and Elizabeth Noyes Denison, was born on 5 September 1776 and died on 13 January 1842. In 1796 she married Samuel Hurlbut, a ship chandler, ship owner, and merchant, and the couple had ten children. Matilda's sister Phebe, Captain and Elizabeth Denison's youngest child, was born on 22 April 1781 and died 31 December 1853. She married W J. Robinson, with whom she resided in Morristown, New Jersey. They, too, had ten children.

As was common in eighteenth-century portrait painting, the sitter is pictured with her pets, a bird and a squirrel. The long-eared squirrel is, however, a species native to Europe, not America. It is likely that this  animal was copied from an eighteenth-century emblem book. One such volume describes the meaning of such a symbol: "A Squirrel taking the Meat out of a Chestnut. Not without Trouble. An Emblem that—Nothing that's worthy having can be obtained without Trouble and Difficulty." 

Miss Denison appears to have been singled out, among her siblings, for this special reminder of the virtues of patience. While Miss Denison's figure is awkwardly drawn, her expression, with its direct gaze and hint of a smile, along with her intriguing plumed hat make this an attractive example of early American portraiture. The plain background helps to emphasize the decorative composition, concentrating on several sweeping curves, accentuated by the linear style and bright, contrasting colors.

The Gansevoort Limner

The designation "Gansevoort Limner" was given to the unknown painter of a stylistically coherent group of portraits depicting members of the Gansevoort family. The majority of his sitters were children, and several of his portraits are inscribed in either Dutch or Latin.

Mary Black has identified The Gansevoort Limner as Pieter Vanderlyn, which some scholars accept. No signed portraits by Vanderlyn exist, however, and over the years controversy has continued over Vanderlyn's identity and oeuvre. Local tradition originally ascribed a number of The Gansevoort Limner portraits to Vanderlyn; descendants of the subjects believed him to be the creator of their family portraits, and the Kingston, New York, Senate House Historical Site owns several portraits that have been recorded as Vanderlyn's work. Confusion arose with the publication of articles ascribing a completely different series of works to Vanderlyn's hand. A group of portraits are now given to The Schuyler or Aetatis Suae Limner. Additional attributions were also made, all based on a "key picture," the portrait of Mrs. Petrus Vas, which John Vanderlyn, Pieter's grandson, reportedly represented to his biographer as a work by Pieter. However, these attributions are not documented and rest on uncertain, oral tradition.

Black first isolated a group of eighteen portraits by an artist identified only as The Gansevoort Limner. Later she published her conclusion that The Gansevoort Limner was Pieter Vanderlyn, based on the fact that a group of Kingston portraits by The Gansevoort Limner (including several from the Kingston Senate House Historical Site) were originally attributed by local tradition to Vanderlyn. She discovered a manuscript by Vanderlyn in handwriting that appeared to match seven of the eight inscriptions appearing on Gansevoort Limner paintings. This Kingston group and the National Gallery's portraits form a coherent stylistic group and are clearly by the same hand. Black disputed the attributions of the portrait of Mrs. Petrus Vas to Vanderlyn. Another family tradition held that a companion portrait of Dominie Petrus Vas was lost in the 1777 Kingston fire. Black speculated that the lost male portrait was the one painted by Vanderlyn, rather than the female one, engendering the string of mistaken attributions that followed. Black's discovery about Vanderlyn's signature is intriguing, but some scholars dispute the validity of attributions based on matching scripts, arguing that eighteenth-century handwriting was of a standard style.

Until further evidence comes to light, it cannot be said with complete certainty that The Gansevoort Limner is Pieter Vanderlyn. If this identification is correct, The Gansevoort Limner was born in Holland about 1687, coming to New York from Curaçao around 1718. He traveled frequently between Albany and Kingston until 1777, then moved to Shawangunk, New York. He died there in 1778.

 Susanna Truax 1730 Oil on bed ticking, 95.9 x 83.8 (37 }/4 x 3i7/s) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  Inscriptions At upper left: Susanna Truax / Gebooren den 8 1726, Geschilderd, Maart, 1730  ACCORDING TO HER DESCENDANTS, Susanna Truax, the daughter of Abraham Truax and Christina De La Grange of Albany, was born on 7 November 1726 (a day before the birthdate inscribed on her portrait). Her grandfather, Isaac, had settled in Schenectady, a prosperous Dutch settlement, around 1670. Susanna Truax, who never married, died on 4 March 1805.  This painting, executed when the sitter was four years old, is one of the most successful works by The Gansevoort Limner. The domestic interior, awkward but lively pose, suggestion of a smile, direct glance, and colorful striped dress and shoes make this an attractive  and approachable portrait. Susanna's earth-toned dress is an example of contemporary fashion in the Dutch settlements and is similar to the one worn in The Gansevoort Limner's Miss Veder. The necklace, or a variant, appears in several other portraits by the artist, for example, Miss Van Alen (1956.13.14). A similar interior setting is used in Helena Sleight Janson^ Susanna's spoon appears to contain a lump of sugar which she is about to use with her tea. An eighteenth-century Swedish traveler reported that the Dutch colonists " never put sugar into the cup, but take a small bit of it into their mouths while they drink."  Although the portrait is flatly painted with almost no suggestion of volume, typical of this artist's work, the carefully executed lace and diaphanous material in the sleeves and apron attempt to duplicate fabric textures faithfully. Susanna Truax belongs to the tradition of Dutch Patroon portraiture which flourished in the Hudson Valley from around 1700 to 1750. Dutch influence can be seen in the realistic depiction of the everyday setting and in the painting's informality and apparent simplicity. These contrast with the more stilted and courtly portraits derived from the English tradition via prints.

Susanna Truax
1730
Oil on bed ticking, 95.9 x 83.8 (37 }/4 x 3i7/s)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

Inscriptions
At upper left: Susanna Truax / Gebooren den 8 1726, Geschilderd, Maart, 1730

ACCORDING TO HER DESCENDANTS, Susanna Truax, the daughter of Abraham Truax and Christina De La Grange of Albany, was born on 7 November 1726 (a day before the birthdate inscribed on her portrait). Her grandfather, Isaac, had settled in Schenectady, a prosperous Dutch settlement, around 1670. Susanna Truax, who never married, died on 4 March 1805.

This painting, executed when the sitter was four years old, is one of the most successful works by The Gansevoort Limner. The domestic interior, awkward but lively pose, suggestion of a smile, direct glance, and colorful striped dress and shoes make this an attractive  and approachable portrait. Susanna's earth-toned dress is an example of contemporary fashion in the Dutch settlements and is similar to the one worn in The Gansevoort Limner's Miss Veder. The necklace, or a variant, appears in several other portraits by the artist, for example, Miss Van Alen (1956.13.14). A similar interior setting is used in Helena Sleight Janson^ Susanna's spoon appears to contain a lump of sugar which she is about to use with her tea. An eighteenth-century Swedish traveler reported that the Dutch colonists " never put sugar into the cup, but take a small bit of it into their mouths while they drink."

Although the portrait is flatly painted with almost no suggestion of volume, typical of this artist's work, the carefully executed lace and diaphanous material in the sleeves and apron attempt to duplicate fabric textures faithfully. Susanna Truax belongs to the tradition of Dutch Patroon portraiture which flourished in the Hudson Valley from around 1700 to 1750. Dutch influence can be seen in the realistic depiction of the everyday setting and in the painting's informality and apparent simplicity. These contrast with the more stilted and courtly portraits derived from the English tradition via prints.

 Miss Van Alen c.1735 Oil on canvas, 79.2.x 66.4 (31 x 26) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  THE S I T T E R ' S G R A N D F A T H E R , Lourens Van Alen, bought land in Columbia County, New York (then part of the de Bruyn Patent), in 1707. Two of his six sons residing in the area had daughters who could have been the subject of this portrait. Since neither the date of this painting nor the sitter's age can be determined exactly, it is impossible to identify which family member is depicted. Furthermore, ancestral wills and correspondence mention several family portraits. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center owns a nearly identical portrait of a Miss Van Alen (c. 1735, 33^4 x 2.6in.) by The Gansevoort Limner. Previously, the sitters had been identified as twins. This relationship cannot be confirmed, however, and genealogies do not record twins in the Van Alen family until later in the eighteenth century.  The Gansevoort Limner's  Young Lady with Ros e of 1731 (MMA) is also very similar to the two Miss Van Alen portraits. All three paintings exhibit broad, flat brushwork, thinly applied earth-toned colors, plain backgrounds, and an absence of modeling. The three sitters' costumes, poses, hairstyles, jewelry, and roses are almost identical. Thirteen of the eighteen Gansevoort Limner portraits identified by Mary Black in 1969 include a rose, a favorite flower of colonial artists.   Miss Van Alen  is one of The Gansevoort Limner's simpler compositions. The background lacks the curtain, interior setting, or landscape common in many of his paintings,10 and the sitter's unadorned dress is painted without modeling or drapery folds.

Miss Van Alen
c.1735
Oil on canvas, 79.2.x 66.4 (31 x 26)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

THE S I T T E R ' S G R A N D F A T H E R , Lourens Van Alen, bought land in Columbia County, New York (then part of the de Bruyn Patent), in 1707. Two of his six sons residing in the area had daughters who could have been the subject of this portrait. Since neither the date of this painting nor the sitter's age can be determined exactly, it is impossible to identify which family member is depicted. Furthermore, ancestral wills and correspondence mention several family portraits. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center owns a nearly identical portrait of a Miss Van Alen (c. 1735, 33^4 x 2.6in.) by The Gansevoort Limner. Previously, the sitters had been identified as twins. This relationship cannot be confirmed, however, and genealogies do not record twins in the Van Alen family until later in the eighteenth century.

The Gansevoort Limner's Young Lady with Rose of 1731 (MMA) is also very similar to the two Miss Van Alen portraits. All three paintings exhibit broad, flat brushwork, thinly applied earth-toned colors, plain backgrounds, and an absence of modeling. The three sitters' costumes, poses, hairstyles, jewelry, and roses are almost identical. Thirteen of the eighteen Gansevoort Limner portraits identified by Mary Black in 1969 include a rose, a favorite flower of colonial artists.

Miss Van Alen is one of The Gansevoort Limner's simpler compositions. The background lacks the curtain, interior setting, or landscape common in many of his paintings,10 and the sitter's unadorned dress is painted without modeling or drapery folds.

 Young Lady with a Fan 1737 Oil on canvas, 96.6x80.7(38 x 31 1/4) Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch  THE INSCRIPTION INDICATES that the unidentified young woman in this portrait is nineteen years old. Her delicate linear features, fine hair, stiff pose, and the portrait's muted colors are characteristic of the artist's work. The bright red touches in the bodice of her dress and the roses in the window enliven the otherwise subtle colors. Many of The Gansevoort Limner's female sitters are portrayed in similar costume, not only helping to distinguish the artist's work, but also documenting a type of dress of the period. The sitter appears to be wearing a "silk wrapping gown held at the waist with a decorative belt and buckle. She wears a very fine chemise edged with a narrow band of bobbin lace at the neck and cuffs and a very smart stomacher that is probably decorated with fine silk cords couched in a diaper pattern." The costly fabric, which appears to be silk, would have been imported from Europe or via the Dutch East India Company and her fan would have been specially ordered or brought over as a present.  Certain aspects of the young lady's appearance, such as the hairstyle and gold earrings, are clearly Dutch in origin.  What appears to be a contemporary Dutch Bible with brass mounts is seen on the table beside the sitter. Although the foreground space is rendered two-dimensionally, the receding row of trees and their shadows creates a sense of distance in the background.

Young Lady with a Fan
1737
Oil on canvas, 96.6x80.7(38 x 31 1/4)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch

THE INSCRIPTION INDICATES that the unidentified young woman in this portrait is nineteen years old. Her delicate linear features, fine hair, stiff pose, and the portrait's muted colors are characteristic of the artist's work. The bright red touches in the bodice of her dress and the roses in the window enliven the otherwise subtle colors. Many of The Gansevoort Limner's female sitters are portrayed in similar costume, not only helping to distinguish the artist's work, but also documenting a type of dress of the period. The sitter appears to be wearing a "silk wrapping gown held at the waist with a decorative belt and buckle. She wears a very fine chemise edged with a narrow band of bobbin lace at the neck and cuffs and a very smart stomacher that is probably decorated with fine silk cords couched in a diaper pattern." The costly fabric, which appears to be silk, would have been imported from Europe or via the Dutch East India Company and her fan would have been specially ordered or brought over as a present.

Certain aspects of the young lady's appearance, such as the hairstyle and gold earrings, are clearly Dutch in origin.

What appears to be a contemporary Dutch Bible with brass mounts is seen on the table beside the sitter. Although the foreground space is rendered two-dimensionally, the receding row of trees and their shadows creates a sense of distance in the background.

Superstudio by Caitlin Murray

Superstudio was an architecture firm, founded in 1966 in Florence, Italy by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. Superstudio was a major part of the Radical architecture movement of the late 1960s. The founders had gone to school at the University of Florence with Archizoom Associati founder Andrea Branzi and first showed their work in the Superarchitettura show in 1966.

Natalini wrote in 1971 “...if design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of bourgeois model of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalization of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities...until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then, design must disappear. We can live without architecture...”

Superstudio abandoned working as a collective in 1978, but its members continued to develop their ideas independently through their writings, via education, architectural practice and other design projects.

00.jpg

Twelve Ideal Cities - Twelve Cautionary Tales for Christmas
Utopian project, 1971
Architects: Superstudio (Alessandro Magris, Alessandro Poli, Piero Frassinelli, Cristiano Toraldo de Francia, Roberto Magris and Adolfo Natalini)

Superstudio evoke twelve visions of ideal cities, the supreme achievement of twenty thousand years of civilization, blood, sweat and  tears; the final haven of Man possession of Truth, free from contradiction, equivocation and indecision; totally and forever replete with his perfection.

FIRST CITY - 2,000 -TON C ITY

01_2000_2.jpg

Even and perfect, the city lies amid green lawns, sunny hills and wooded mountains, slim, tall  sheets of continuous buildings intersect in a rigorous square mesh, one league apart. The  buildings, or rather the single, uninterrupted building consists of a cubic cells 5 cubits each way; these cells are place one on top of another in a single  vertical stack reaching a height  of a third of a league above  sea  level, so that the relative height of the building varies  in relation  to the level of the ground on which it rises. Each cell has two external walls.  

SECOND CITY - TEMPORAL COCHLEA-CITY

02_cochlea.jpg

The city is an endless screw 4.5 km in diameter, completing one revolution a year. Its lower extremity, facing the centre of the earth, consists of  an excavating apparatus (a kind of turbine with blades) that, in revolving, crushes rock, forcing all matter towards the centre of the  cylinder and through a duct up to  the  ground. Above the turbines, the propulsion apparatus an atomic power centre set to last 10,000 years, and the automatic plant and electronic computers that control the city.

THIRD CITY - NEW YORK OF BRAINS

03_NY brains_01.jpg
03_NY brains_02.jpg

In the most charred, devastated and molten area of that grey space that once was New York, and, more precisely, where Central Park once was, at about 81st, there stands the city. When the others realized that the explosion had irrevocably contaminated all the inhabitants of New York, and that their bodies were rotting without recourse, it was decided to build the city. It is a cube, with a length, with and height of 180 ft, covered in quart tiles measuring 10 x 10 inches, in each of which there is a lens 9 inches in diameter. This covering condenses light onto the photo sensitive layer behind, which transforms it into energy necessary for the functioning of the city.  

FOURTH CITY - SPACESHIP CITY

04_space.jpg
04_space_2.jpg

If a city can be considered a place where a group of men are born, live and die; if a city is a mother who looks after her  children, furnishes them with all they require  and decides how they shall be happy, if a city is all this, independent of its physical and demographical dimensions, then a spaceship, which for centuries has been following a precise route towards a planet thousands of light-years away, is also a  city. This spaceship is a huge red wheel 50m in diameter. The central nucleus 8m diameter,  contains a computer programmed at the time of departure, to guide the ship, the propulsion apparatus, and all the equipment necessary for the life of the  spaceship and the crew.

The city is a dazzling sheet of crystal amidst woods and green hills, On nearing it, one realizes that it is made up of the covers of 10,044,900 crystalline sarcophagi, 185 cm high, 61 cm wide and 61 cm  deep. The walls separating the sarcophagi are transparent; the bottom however is shiny white.  Inside each  sarcophagi  lies an  immobile individual, eyes closed, breathing conditioned air and  fed by a bloodstream - in fact, the blood system is connected  to a purifying and regenerative apparatus which, through toxin elimination prevents ageing. A series of electrodes applied to the cranium control a n external sensory apparatus of hemispherical form, diameter 30.5 cm;  this hemisphere of silvery metal is capable  of moving and remaining immobile in the air and on the ground thanks to a propulsion system which emits no gas and no noise, and has an unlimited life. One might think that the hundreds of thousands of hemispheres that continually crowd the  air and are suspended  over the city or its surroundings are moved by telekinesis.

 

SIXTH CITY - BARNUM JNR.'S MAGNIFICIENT AND FABULOUS CITY

06_magnicient.jpg

The city lies beneath an enormous red and blue striped circus tent.

The tent, suspended by the traction between the aerostats and the thousands of cables anchoring its perimeter to the earth, has a diameter of 2 miles, 205 yards; at its centre stands an enormous cylinder with a diameter 1 mile and a height 100 yards, made of sheet metal nailed and painted silver; in this cylinder lies enclosed a city built of a scale five times smaller than reality; this is a city with about 2 million inhabitants; it has all the characteristics of a modern city, but also contains reproductions of all the major monuments of the world, from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower, from the Coliseum (reconstructed in its original form) to Sunset Boulevard.

Here's how to visit this fabulous city: after arriving and parking buy a ticket - 50 cents for every minute of your visit to the city. Then pay a deposit for any eventual damage you might cause. This deposit is fixed at $1 for every minute of your visit, but may not, in any case be less than $900 (if you haven't got, you get a loan at the bank next to the ticket office by simply handing over your driving license and the papers of your car: this loan will cost you 5% of the total). At this point you receive the "key to the city".

SEVENTH CITY - CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION CONVEYOR BELT CITY

07_continious.JPG

The  city moves, unrolling like a majestic serpent, over new lands, taking its 8 million inhabitants on a ride through valleys and hills, from the mountains to the seashore, generation after generation the head of the city is the Grand Factory, four miles wide, like the city it continuously produces 100 yds high, the Grand Factory exploits the land and the underground materials of the territory it crosses, and from these marvelously extracts all that it requires for the construction of the city. The Grand Factory devours shreds of useless nature and unformed minerals at its front end and emits sections o f completely formed city, ready for use, from its back end.

EIGHTH CITY - CONICAL TERRACED CITY

08_conical_01.jpg

The  city rises in the midst of a great plain, surrounded by a canal 600 ft. wide. It is formed of 500 circular levels one above the other, each one of which has a diameter 32 ft. less than the one beneath. Each level is 8 ft. high, thus the total height is 4000 ft., while the diameter of the lowest level is 16,000  ft.

In the circumference wall of each level are doors 2 x 7 ft. At ground level there are 6,500 doors, each successive level has 13 doors less. The 500 th level has only 13 doors, and above this, at the center of the diameter terrace, rises a silvery metal cupola with a radius of 8ft.

NINTH CITY - THE "VILLE-MACHINE HABITEE"

09_ville machie.jpg

The  city is a machine, such a large machine that not even its inhabitants know its size, its pipelines, its rows of gear-mechanisms, conveyor belts, connecting-rods, stretch away out of sight whichever way one looks, in the din half-light, grey and foggy which fills the cavern it occupies, and whose walls have never been seen.

The inhabitants live in the machine, endlessly dragged along by conveyor belts, by chutes and pneumatic tubes from the time of birth to the time of death. The machine  takes care of everything; along the innumerable routes which intersect, unite and divide according to the incomprehensible programming of the machine. The inhabitants find food and fear, sleep and joy, sex and hope.

TENTH CITY - THE CITY OF ORDER

10_order.jpg

The city has, apparently, nothing strange about it: it has streets, squares, gardens, new houses and old; it is in fact a city like any other. The only thing is that it has been governed by the same mayor for forty-five years. The reason for his long stay in office is simple: he had an exceptionally good idea. Instead of trying to suit the  city to its inhabitants, like everyone else, he thought of suiting the inhabitants to their city. Now, 45 years later, things are starting to go really well; the citizens that  jump the lights, damage city properly,  complain about unpunctuality of the buses or the lack of water at the times it is most needed, etc are ever fewer.

ELEVENTH CITY - THE CITY OF SPLENDID HOUSES

11_splendid houses.jpg

The city has no connection with the countryside because it contains in itself everything that please its inhabitants. It is certainly the most beautiful city in the world, because all its inhabitants, at every moment of their existence, move towards the single goal of possessing the most beautiful house.

The city gives all its citizens the same starting points, that is, it grants every family nucleus the same amount  of space for building a house. In fact, the city consists of a network of parallel roads 10m. wide, which form 6 sqm blocks, each of these 36 sqm blocks is occupied by a single family house.

TWELFTH CITY  - CITY OF THE BOOK

12_book_02.jpg

The book that all citizens wear hanging on a chain round their necks is the spirit of the city. Lefthand pages lists the moral norms righthand pages, codes of behavior on which the citizen bases his life.

The city consists of a series of parallel buildings 10m.  high, 30m. wide, and 10 km. long, with a distance of 3m. between them. Inside each building is a tunnel 10m. wide, 9m. high, and the length of the building.

Every 30m, smaller transverse tunnels (3x3 meters) join the longitudinal tunnels and the external streets between the buildings. The longitudinal tunnels are completely dark, but each citizen is equipped with infra-red visual devices which enable him to see perfectly in the dark.

IN PART writings by JULIE AULT by Caitlin Murray

2009_PSU_Ault_960.jpg

from "The Double Edge of History", p. 40, (Springerin 3, no. 3, Fall 1997: 57-59, published in German)

The dangers of taking pleasure in the past and the benefits of remembering in order to reinvent are not clearly posted. There is the risk of peddling nostalgia, of getting lost and/or paralyzed in emotionally inflected territory in which re-creation of the past obscures and replaces (or displaces) the present. To aid critical understanding of past specificities, and their effect in the present, it seems more productive to consider loose continuums of production than to provide a form of periodization as punctuation. 

How to balance multiple relations to history? Alternatives to traditional historiographic practices might trace spatial and temporal configurations of interconnected events, activities, and associations of ideas nested in cultural circumstances, and by design provide spaces for multiple meanings, conflicting imaginations, conflicting "facts," and partiality. Historiography might be approached akin to artistic methodologies, utilize juxtaposition and artistic license, render ambivalently rather than declaratively, and ultimately acknowledge, not only in principle but as part of a historicizing method itself, that historiography is a creative as well as an interpretive practice: that it is a form of production. 

The list of group entities, alternative spaces, and organizations that have dissolved or closed their doors seems to signal distress and dysfunction for certain critical strategies, as well as the disintegration of nonprofit networks. Although some organizations that wanted to were unable to survive, many that are now gone were strategic and time-based by purpose (i.e., protest strategies are usually one step in processes advocating social change). Other endeavors have become institutionalized, incorporated into large entities, reconfigured, and so on. But facts always have multiple meanings. For a less bleak panorama, one should register the fact that critical alternative activities have altered accepted notions of possible functions and definitions of art. 

page 77, From Julie Ault and Martin Beck, Outdoor Systems, indoor distribution, n.p. Ed. Julie Ault and Martin Beck. Berlin: Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst (nGbK), 2000. Exhibition catalogue.

OS, id was laid out as a series of overlapping arenas suggested by density and content, composed with preexisting as well as newly produced materials. For example, the arena entitled grid included a table designed in 1970 by the Italian collective Superstudio. On the table, plexiglass sign holders contained information about Superstudio's Supersurface project, one manifestation of which is the table's gridded laminate surface. The table was itself situated in front of an outdoor-size vinyl billboard showing a photograph we shot in 1999 of an uninhabited California desert landscape that nonetheless is marked by street signs at the intersection of Avenue D and 170th Street. This coordinate within the territory that has long since been mapped in anticipation of capitalist development was juxtaposed with a video monitor that continuously showed Superstudio's 1972 film Supersurface: An Alternative Model for Life on Earth. Also integrated within this arena were aerial photographs of sprawling suburban residential developments that were commissioned from a Los Angeles-based photographer. Finally, panels with images and texts on the adjacent walls provided information about Superstudio and their conceptual project 12 Ideal Cities

In such ways, historical and contemporary elements could be read in varied forms and arrangements as a network of interconnected references to assist viewers in simultaneously making connections and grasping the contradictions between, for example the utopian underpinnings of Superstudio's grid project and the dystopian facts of suburban land development. Viewers could engage with the dialogue of images, objects, texts, and sound in an environment in which interpretation was neither predetermined nor prematurely foreclosed. 

pp. 167, From "Case Reopened: Group Material." In Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material. Ed. Julie Ault, p. 216. London: Four Corners Books, 2010. 

Group Material should not be reduced to memory or record but can most constructively be articulated and elaborated by the dynamics between multiple bodies of information. Somewhere between the representation of lived experience of events and their contexts and the nonjudgmental multiplicity of the archive, historical representation gets complex and exciting. The history of history is fraught with what Derrida calls "an incessant tension between the archive and archaeology." He continues, "They will always be close the one to the other, resembling each other, hardly discernible in their coimplication, and yet radically incompatible, heterogeneous..." Perhaps imprint and memory are not mutually hostile, and the conflict between archive and memory is overestimated. What if we understand History and Memory as inseparable, accept their apparent coproductive roles, and refuse to regard this as a predicament? 

pp. 185, From "Ever Ephemeral." In Ever Ephemeral: Remembering and Forgetting in the Archive. Malmo: Signal Center for Contemporary Art and Inter Arts Center, 2011. Exhibition handout. 

It is difficult to identify where an association of ideas or interests begins, and it is just as complicated to pinpoint ending. Chronology is not much help. A chronology can start or end anywhere. It can extend in either direction indefinitely, depending on the scope of its frame(s) of reference. Storyline. Lifeline. Timeline. History. All open to reformulation. The linear appearance of chronology is deceptive, as is the perception that time flows from one direction to another. Physicists and philosophers widely agree that "the flow of time" is a creation of consciousness that we rely on for order. 

Chronology and tense are inspected, analyzed, disarranged, and played with in Ever Ephemeral. A labyrinthine set of frictions that unfold in the archive is awakened here as well: between past tense and present tense, between remembering and forgetting, between completion and continuance, between the enduring and the ephemeral. The diffusion of Ever Ephemeral across two venues is meant to infuse its experience with recollection. A game of tag is set in motion as the exhibited constellation lays open innumerable relationships between archiving, memory, history, and narrative. 

From Not only this, but "New language beckons us." Ed. Andrew Blackley. New York University Fales Library and Special Collections, New York, 2013. Exhibition vitrine text. 

Gentrifying real-estate machinations go hand in hand with the growth, decay, migration, and conversion of NYC's art districts - SoHo, the East Village, Chelsea, Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, and so on. By the time [Martin Wong's] The Last Picture Show took place at the legendary Semaphore Gallery's final short-lived incarnation on Greene Street (1986-1987), director Barry Blinderman had closed both his original gallery on West Broadway (1980-1986) and Semaphore East (1984-1986) on Avenue B. Martin Wong had held a solo exhibition in each. Were his powerful storefront paintings also metaphors for yet another dying environment he held dear?

A series of places and the lived experiences in and around them. A context of concurrences. An era. Eras end constantly. Sometimes an era comes to an end because of a massive change, sometimes by degree, and sometimes inconspicuously. Now and then it happens with the death of a single person. 

ault book.jpg

pp. 223, From preface to Tell it to My Heart: Collected by Julie Ault. Ed. Julie Ault, Martin Beck, Nikola Dietrich, Heinz Peter Knes, Rasmus Rohling, Jason Simon, Scott Cameron Weaver, Dahn Vo, and Amy Zion, p. 154. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2013. Exhibition catalog. 

I must admit I feel a bit uneasy about the notion that the art I am fortunate enough to live with constitutes, potentially, the "Julie Ault collection." Accumulating artworks, artifacts, ephemera, books, and so on has been an organic process rather than the reflection of a conscious archiving instinct. Such constituents do, however, act as building blocks of identity, as well as the tracings of relationships and work contexts. Over time, the responsibility to protect the material traces of ideas, people, practices, and contexts, even as they shift or disappear, has clarified into an active motive. The works in "my collection" confront me continually, just as the artists they are made by do, and have in the past. They stand for relationships and for personal and public histories. And there is the pleasure of it all, the everyday delights and challenges of living among the voices of those I most respect and attend to. 

pp. 229, From "Active Recollection: Marvin Taylor in Conversation with Julie Ault," New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2014. Exhibition handout for Afterlife: a constellation, Whitney Biennial, 2014. 

Julie Ault: I regard you as the author of the Downtown Collection. I read the boilerplate description of what constitutes the collection, but I'm longing for a kind of director's cut about your intentions, purposes, and conceptual framing, and discussion of the implicit as well as explicit criteria you used to both formulate and shape the collection. Do you consider yourself the author of the collection? 

Marvin Taylor: For me, it's been a project: how can we take a scene that was deeply invested in institutional critique and document that scene in an institution without letting the institution completely take over and do all the things that institutions do once they get hold of material that is on some way critical of their very existence? Most repositories would just bring the materials in, catalogue them in the traditional ways, and the collections' energies and spirit would die the death of cataloging, just like dried butterflies. 

I chose note to do that. Instead, I chose to modify what archivists call the "documentary strategy" as much as possible. (Transgressive is a word many people don't like, but the materials we have ask constantly, "Why are you doing this?" "What structure is informing how this is done?") I guess I would like to be thought of as an author who questions his authorial intent while actually building the collection; to be very conscious of every step of the kind of decisions I am making and the implications of those decisions.

pp. 241, From "Questionnaire: Julie Ault." Frieze 163 (May 2014): p. 224. 

What should stay the same?

A moratorium on gentrification would be good. The thorough gentrification of New York cannot be reversed; the extent of cultural demolition inflicted is disgraceful. We've been brainwashed to think nothing can stay the same, but that isn't really true. The collective and corporate expansionist mind-set that has infected society and so many institutions is profoundly destructive. Downsizing seems to me a more valuable agenda. 

DON'T BE YOURSELF
pp. 191-194, From Draw it with Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment, pp. 88-89. New York: Paper Monument, 2012.

In 1991, in need of change and disillusioned with what I perceived to be the art world's shallow relationship to sociopolitical issues, I enrolled at Hunter College. I wanted to go back to school and believed that as a returning student I might get something deeper out of it than I did when I was a teenager. Also, I was beginning to teach on the merits of my art practice, but I lacked a college degree.

I had been working as an artist for over a decade and had no interest in studying art. Instead, I gravitated toward political science, fueled by the fantasy of transitioning into politics proper, where I imagined I would find a more rigorous context of ideas as well as a keener sense of cause and effect than the one I experienced as an artist engaged with social issues. My outlook entering school that year was ridiculously idealistic. 

DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST by Caitlin Murray

dofd-big.jpg

Director: Julie Dash

YEAR: 1991

FORMAT: 35mm, color

Julie Dash’s 1991 masterpiece was her first feature, and the first American feature directed by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release. It announced a formidable talent, and in the grandeur and intricacy of its formal construction and themes, powerfully emblematized its director’s purposeful commitment to cinema.

Abounding with surprise, the film transports us to a little-known setting to unfold a universal tale. The year is 1902, in the home of an extended family off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where they maintain strong connections to African linguistic and cultural traditions. Here, many members of the Peazant family are on the verge of a planned migration to the U.S. mainland, where American modernity seems, vaguely, to offer a better life.

However, family members clash over the meaning of this move. Viola, who has lived up North and returned as a Christian convert, views the crossing as a step out of bankrupt African superstitions into a kind of light. Scandal-tinged “Yellow Mary,” returning to the family from a long self-exile, still asserts her independence but fears losing the touchstone of home. Nana Peazant, the aged matriarch, refuses to migrate and frets over the possibility of broken family ties and lost traditions. Eulah, young and with child, fears that the family’s plan represents a futile flight from intractable legacies of pain. 

A brilliant cast enacts these negotiations with exceeding depth, befitting the weight of the decision the Peazants face: to embrace the land that other Africans once fled. Dash constructs their home as a rarefied world, possibly soon a “paradise lost,” through a masterful interplay of mise-en-scène, symbolic markers and magical realist gestures. All of this is graced by the luminous cinematography of A. Jaffa Fielder and John Barnes’ stunningly original score. Named to the National Film Registry in 2004 by the Library of Congress, Daughters of the Dust eloquently frames concerns that have preoccupied many independent filmmakers of Dash’s generation: the place of family and tradition in ameliorating historical wrongs, the hope of spiritual escape from a history of trauma, and the elusive possibility of finding deliverance together.

—Shannon Kelley

New, fully timed second answer print struck from original 35mm color internegative.  Laboratory services provided by Janice Allen, Cinema Arts, Inc.

Available for research at UCLA

Film Credits

IndividualRole(s)

Julie Dash

Director
Producer
Writer

A. Jaffa Fielder
Cinematographer

Amy Carey
Editor

Joseph Burton
Editor

Cora Lee Day
Cast

Alva Rogers
Cast

Barbara O. Jones
Cast

Adisa Anderson
Cast

Kaycee Moore
Cast

Cheryl Lynn Bruce
Cast

Tommy Hicks
Cast

TNEG by Caitlin Murray

WORDS: GABRIELLE RUCKER

THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU SOME OF THE MOST POWERFUL MOVIES IN BLACK CINEMA ARE TEAMING UP TO PUSH THE DISCUSSION OF BLACKNESS FURTHER.

Elissa Blount-Moorhead has an impressive and ever-growing résumé. When she isn't tending to the demands of motherhood, the 45-year-old wife and mother of two, Mahsati “Sunny” (11) and Ziggy Sayeed (6), is a Brooklyn- (soon to be Baltimore-) based curator, lecturer and exhibition designer. Blount-Moorhead's experience and ideas on art, music, and the everchanging role of blackness have led her to explore race through a number of personal and professional curatorial projects. She just snagged a new position at the Contemporary Museum Baltimore’s curatorial advisory council; co-runs Tandem, an arts and social practice team, with Rylee Eterginoso; and entered a partnership with film studio TNEG.

Meeting in her spacious and well-lit brownstone apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn just a few weeks before her move to Baltimore, Blount-Moorhead and mater mea talk about her most recent projects and furthering black cinema in a “post-blackness” era.

Q&A

WHAT IS TNEG, AND HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?

TNEG is a film studio formed by my two partners, Arthur Jafa [cinematographer of Daughters of the Dust and Crooklyn] and Malik Sayeed [cinematographer and director of photography of He Got Game and Belly respectively] that is designed to create black independent film. The goal is to push what we understand to be new black cinema and to create not just new narratives and but also new aesthetics and technical parameters within black cinema.
 

WHEN DID YOU FIRST BEGIN WORKING WITH TNEG AND HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED?

Officially it has been almost a year now. AJ [Arthur Jafa] and I briefly connected almost a year ago in NY and then more concretely at his opening at the Institute of Contemporary Art  in Philadelphia. Kara Walker curated an exceptional exhibition that included AJ and Khalil [Joseph]. I initially spoke with him about my documentary project and he started telling me more about his bigger ideas about a formidable black cinema. He and Malik have spent decades talking about what that would look/feel like, and the impact it would have on the film and the representations of the black image politically, aesthetically, technically. I was beyond intrigued. It was masterful.

[Eventually] the three of us were able to sit down together in L.A. and I felt like I had been reconnected to missing limbs. Intellectually and metaphysically, these are my brothers. I knew some of their work in film obviously, and AJ shared with me work I hadn't seen, like Deshotten [a short film created by AJ and Malik]. It blew me away. The audio was so present and haunting. It was like nothing I had experienced. I could see a  deeper conceptual framework for TNEG as a film studio. I knew within hours of our discussion this team would create work, produce projects, and really support a radical cinema. They felt that my background in curation and institutional building was what they had been wanting/needing to get TNEG off the ground and concretize these ideas.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS TNEG HAS BEEN WORKING ON?

The documentary that TNEG has put out, Dreams Are Colder Than Death, was recently at the L.A. Film Festival and is going to the NY Film Festival in 2014. We’ve been basking a little bit in the success of Dreams Are Colder Than Death. We are in the process of of negotiating a distribution deal for that now. My film—working title Children of the Revolution—is on the TNEG slate and in the midst of being put together. We have also been focusing on a couple of scripts that are being developed and written.

 

WHY DO YOU THINK AVANT-GARDE BLACK CINEMA IS STILL SUCH A FRINGE GENRE?

I don’t know. Black people’s financial and executive role in image making and image representation is relatively new, so there’s not been as much work to understand or critique or compare. Also there’s just not been as many opportunities, [or] platforms really, so that’s a gap that TNEG is trying to close.

In critical mass I’m not sure that people understand black film as a black cinema—they understand one-off efforts, I think, but the larger context seems to be lost. In terms of it being on the fringe, I think all independent film is still on the fringe and that might have to deal with fiscal issues or distribution issues or a host of many other behind-the-scenes things.

I feel like independent film in general is becoming more well-regarded and more supported. If you just think back 20 years there was no IFC, or things like that. There are more alternative platforms now, like Netflix, that are now commissioning and financing work that will go directly through their channels—those are the ways you are able to provide an outlet for people and to hopefully allow filmmakers to create a voice that is not contingent on mainstream and Hollywood expectations.

 

WHERE DO YOU SEE BLACK CINEMA GOING OR WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO SEE IT GO?

I guess from a business standpoint ideally there would be more alternative revenue streams so that people are able to access tools and personnel, and resources to get work done in a faster way. [Hopefully], through places like TNEG, access to creative peers would also be available. From a creative standpoint, my dream is that it’s about MORE. A multiplicity of black aesthetic, of representation, of narrative that extends to rom-coms to horror. For me what’s most important is that it is not operating in the context of the white gaze. That it is something that is self-determined and is created in the context of everyday black normalcy.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR MOVIE, CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION?

Essentially, the film looks at—and I am one of them, so it is very, very specific and personal—where children who grew up in alternative environments in the '60s and ‘70s have ended up today. “Alternative environments” include activists, artists, [Black] Panther kids or, you know, commune kids and people like that.

Obviously, it is a cathartic piece that I was obsessed with because of my upbringing. But the real interest for me is looking at it terms of where we are as a society. We were raised by the baby-boomer generation, and they were pioneers is a lot of ways. A lot of what they were doing in terms of parenting was new. They were the first generation using African names or trying a new health food, creating co-ops [and] communes. I mean, all of these things are things that obviously happened at different points in history, but for the black community in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a lot of these things were really untested. I’m really interested in what that creates in a child raised within those scenarios [and] curious about the consistencies among those children. People assume that they must be feral or crazy because they had such a nontraditional upbringing, but that’s quite the opposite in my experience. .

This film is not about the parents; they already get a lot of light. Everyone knows who Amiri Baraka is, but who is Ras Baraka and what is he really about in connection to that movement? Because that movement doesn’t exist anymore, but that spirit is still there. A lot of them are pioneers and tastemakers; they’re interesting, fearless people and intellectuals. They have a lot of similar threads, but in a context that is wholly different than when there was  a critical mass of people trying to do it together. Whether they are movement people now—and most aren’t—they all carry this very interesting thread in terms of self-determination and audacity, but also some of the same maladies: you know, maladjustment, misfit syndrome. There are all of these things that happen when you grow up in a place where you are not the mainstream.   

 

AS A “CHILD OF THE REVOLUTION” YOURSELF, HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOUR PARENTING STYLE?

(Laughs) I’m still trying to figure that out! It’s funny, I started to do the film a few years before I started having kids. A lot of my friends were starting families and I was becoming aware that, “Oh God, I am responsible for the next generation,” even before I was directly responsible.

Having kids has made me really focus on just appreciating the laissez-faire parenting of the last generation. I’m raising kids now in a “helicopter generation.” It is the direct antithesis of what our parents were doing. Even though they were purposeful and intentional, they were also trusting and gave us a lot of space—I think that sort of comes along with the fact that they were more or less going with the flow. I see a lot of parents nowadays that are really tied to what their kids are doing, what they will be, what they know and what they don’t. My kids go to the store on their own; I know parents who can’t even fathom that, but it’s something I used to do all of the time.

I have a lot of conversations with other parents about letting our kids be contemporary. A lot of my friends who are sort of into controlling their kids experiences are giving them what we grew up with. I mean it’s good stuff—it’s Nina Simone, it’s Stevie Wonder—but at the same time are we extracting them from a contemporary experience? There was a point in my adolescence where I had to say to my dad, “OK, Sly [and the Family Stone] is your music, but I listen to hip-hop now.” I’m sure there were things I grew up with that could be considered as trivial or bubblegum but I was very possessive of them and my parents supported me. I try to let my kids live in their own space, within reason. I try to stay open, I try not to be critical, and I try not to be invested in the outcome. My kids are interesting people, but they are not me.

One of the things I think about most as a parent and even within my work, is the future of blackness. What is blackness nowadays? This “post-blackness” thing is not real for me. I think we are highly racialized right now. Post-Obama racism is intense, more intense than anything I have experience in my life. Growing up I was very much steeped in a global black community; I don’t know if that exists in the same way. I feel like I have to put my kids in blackness. Other than what happens in their house, I’m not sure there is still that critical mass that I felt growing up [for them].

 

HOW DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A BLACK WOMAN AND A MOTHER INFORM YOUR THOUGHTS AND EXPERIENCES WITH CINEMA?

It’s funny, I actually took my kids to see Fruitvale [Station] and people were like, “Are you crazy?!” (Laughs) As a parent I am constantly thirsty for representation and it does not have to be beautiful. We don’t have to be coiffed and flawless. I’m really interested in those spaces that are less heralded, but more representative. I’m always concerned about polarization, because blackness is a myriad of experiences and beauty. I want my [kids] to have gobs and gobs of access to the multiplicity because then they can work it out. They’ll go through it and they’ll say, “Oh, this was a disturbing image,” or “Oh, this isn’t really representative of what I understand,” or “This really is [representative] of my experience,” and through their process of understanding, blackness becomes normal and ambitious.

There is a film, Mother of George, that represented what [Arthur Jafa] and I call this euphoric moment where you’re there and you see something that absolutely reflects a thought or an experience that you know to be real, that you know is inside of you and vibrating inside of your people. It is so seldom that that [feeling] happens to me and I think it should happen all the time. I think every day you should be able to have a euphoric cultural experience. That sort of stuff  is what I think gives kids confidence and knowing and authority—it is a necessity. Blackness has a million stories and I want [my kids and I] to hear [and] see all of them.

Kahlil Joseph's Wildcat by Caitlin Murray

Kahlil Joseph's Wildcat

Wildcat is a state of mind; an experiment inspired by the composition and performance of jazz music. 

The characters that populate this world are actual – cowboys; and envisioned – angels. 
The town they all inhabit is real – Grayson, Oklahoma.

Directed and Edited by – Kahlil Joseph
Cinematography by – Malik Hassan Sayeed
Produced by – Omid Fatemi, Paul Chang, Ebony Brown and Daniel Tarr
Original Music by – Flying Lotus
Additional Editing by - Luke Lynch
1st AC – Wayne Goring
2nd AC - Jon Jones
Steadicam by - Stephen Wymer
DIT - Jason Wietholter
Sound Operator - Jon Roman
Wardrobe – Ebony Brown
Production Assistant - Kevin Kisling
Titles - Osk Studio

Featuring – Lundon Torrence, Wildcat Ebony Brown, Elvert (Nooksie) Celestine

Special Thanks to – L. Onye Anyanwu, Daniel Song, Tamytrea Celestine, Oliver Williams, Wendell Williams, Veronica Armstead and the Armstead Family, Mayor Leon Armstead, C & W Rodeo Arena, The people and town of Grayson, Oklahoma
R.I.P. Aunt Janet Celestine.

Otto Prinz by Caitlin Murray

Otto Prinz (1906–1980) was born in Hollabrunn, in Austria. He worked as a butcher for several years. When he was mobilised during the Second World War, he began to show signs of mental disturbance and was finally admitted to the psychiatric hospital at Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, in 1942. Otto Prinz believed he was invested with divine omnipotence and was destined to live the Passion. He kept away from the other patients but openly proclaimed his mystic beliefs. During his first years in the hospital, Prinz wrote poems, played the piano, and went for long walks. One day he started to draw, procuring his own art materials. 


He set great store by his works, mostly landscapes with symmetrical buildings and flourishing vegetation. In several drawings he has depicted just the façade, reducing the building to a single flat surface with rows of rectangular windows. Otto Prinz quickly developed a highly personal style and technique: graphite pencil was his favourite medium and he smudged the pencil strokes to obtain a nuanced rendering close to modelling. The variations in tone contrast with the geometrical lines of the architectural motifs. Prinz thus articulates a tension between architecture and nature: the plants and animals sometimes seem to invade the constructions or, on the contrary, are hemmed in by fences, another recurrent motif in his work. 

d398664aa490dd9e2068a7dc2d263f9e.jpg
376a2fe6747e609534e08025ffa067e1.jpg

F. Kouw by Caitlin Murray

F. Kouw was born at the end of the nineteenth century. He was a patient in the Sainte-Anne hospital, in Paris, where his works were conserved by Dr Auguste Marie. The doctor was one of the first to collect and show art works by mental patients. A note jotted in the margin in 1912 says: "F. Kouw believed himself to be a great artist and a scholarly creator of a new kind of art.“ 


Kouw created landscapes by combining straight or curved lines and circles. These environments were usually symmetrical and seem to obey mysterious mathematical rules. Some landscapes have several points of view and show great inventiveness. He drew with graphite and coloured pencils and occasionally added watercolour. He sometimes also used the back of his drawings. 

All images between 1900-1912.

8f6fe4898a3f8b3d784f097b9733af9e.jpg
f724fbbfa332dd0db938b6a6bb641853.jpg