petit maison
April 23, 2009, 9:43 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: ,


Loan Nguyen

Petit Maison



thiago rocha pitta
April 23, 2009, 9:25 pm
Filed under: departure lounge, unseen world | Tags:


Thiago Rocha Pitta’s Heritage project.  From Andersons Contemporary.

gadawan kura
April 22, 2009, 1:19 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,


Pieter Hugo’s photographs of hyena handlers in Lagos, Nigeria from Museo.

He was originally led to believe they were — “debt collectors, drug dealers, and thieves who enlisted hyenas as muscle in support of their criminal activities.”  But by traveling with them for two years found they were, more accurately — “itinerant minstrels …  a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons,” who subsist by staging performances and selling traditional medicine.”

They remind me a bit of the macho guys in New York walking their pit bulls – only more extreme.  

Lagos is one of the largest cities in the world and the object of scrutiny as planners watch to see how the issues of urbanism and population play out in unprecedented ways.

itinerants of mumbai


Photographs from David & Charmayne de Souza’s book “Itinerants, the Nomads of Mumbai.”

From airoots.

bob dylan how to stay within yourself
April 15, 2009, 11:36 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

Here’s Bob Dylan talking with Bill Flanagan.  He learned freedom and dignity and how to stay within himself from itinerant preachers, quasimodo, the people from circus sideshow acts, the outcast.

BF: Does that mean you create outsider art? Do you think of yourself as a cult figure?

BD: A cult figure, that’s got religious connotations. It sounds cliquish and clannish. People have different emotional levels. Especially when you’re young. Back then I guess most of my influences could be thought of as eccentric. Mass media had no overwhelming reach so I was drawn to the traveling performers passing through. The side show performers – bluegrass singers, the black cowboy with chaps and a lariat doing rope tricks. Miss Europe, Quasimodo, the Bearded Lady, the half-man half-woman, the deformed and the bent, Atlas the Dwarf, the fire-eaters, the teachers and preachers, the blues singers. I remember it like it was yesterday. I got close to some of these people. I learned about dignity from them. Freedom too. Civil rights, human rights. How to stay within yourself. Most others were into the rides like the tilt-a-whirl and the rollercoaster. To me that was the nightmare. All the giddiness. The artificiality of it. The sledge hammer of life. It didn’t make sense or seem real. The stuff off the main road was where force of reality was. At least it struck me that way. When I left home those feelings didn’t change.

April 14, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , ,


Tourisms: suitCase Studies, 1991. Mixed-media installation with 50 suitcases and fabricated ceiling, 10 x 60 x 30 feet. Installation view, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (Photo: Glenn Halvorson)

soma free love and the feelies
April 10, 2009, 9:20 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

I subscribe to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time newsletter.  In Our Time is a culture radio program on the BBC.  He tapes his show with scholars talking about a given topic in literature or the arts and then walks through central London back to his office where he puts down the newletter.  Here is an excerpt from this weeks on Aldous Huxley’s distopian novel Brave New World.  What I find interesting, and disturbing, is Bragg’s thought that many people today would actually want the distopian life described by Huxley.  I think he is absolutely right.

From the newsletter –

A central argument of our programme was how this hugely acclaimed dystopia would in fact, in some respects, be a utopia for many people today. The notion of a life without physical pain, the notion of death made painless, the notion of being employed in an area where you were secure even though you were confined to that area, the notion that pleasure of certain sorts was always readily available. For many I think that would not be considered an entirely bad deal. There is a large dollop of snobbery in Huxley’s dismissal of the masses – vide John Carey’s magnificent book The Intellectuals and the Masses – and yet, in the final argument between John Savage and Mustapha Mond, the claims that Savage makes for art and religion are powerful and in my view, and I suspect in the view of many of you, conclusive. Yet it’s not an entirely one-sided thing. It presupposes a hierarchy of tastes which is perfectly acceptable. But it also presupposes that that hierarchy ought to be imposed which is not at all acceptable.

— Melvyn Bragg, In Our Time

mappa mundi
April 7, 2009, 3:10 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: , , , ,

mappa mundi9.2outlines

I find the description of this project by artist Lize Mogel much more compelling than the map, or at least what she has determined important to map.  According to her description, maps could be more real than they are, hyperreal, by layering on new dimensions.  So it’s no longer just some deterministic, positivistic, rational laying down of lines and coloring in those lines and raising and lowering to surveyed altitudes and counting actual people.  That’s the start of a much richer matrix which will include the indeterminate.  Mogel calls them associative geographies.

From the website –


Mappa Mundi is an ongoing project that explores two kinds of popular representations of the World—the iconic world map and the international spectacle of World’s Fairs. As technology and commerce blur more and more geographic boundaries, the ubiquitous world map becomes inadequate to describe the intricacies of globalization. Mappa Mundi is an attempt to remake the world map, relying on associative geographies rather than physical ones.

These experiments within the confines of the specific form of the world map reconfigure it to create new geographies which represent contemporary global situations. Familiar borders are denied, and new connections between places are brought to the surface. These map mash-up are more conducive to narratives of globalization, but more difficult, disorienting.

mappa mundi refers to medieval world maps that sometimes conflated real and imaginary geography, made at a time when the complete picture of the physical world was still being formed.

failure to imagine
April 7, 2009, 8:46 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , ,


pity you’re not like us
April 1, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

Another excerpt from Kapuscinski’s book The Other.  Here he describes the tendency for strong cultures/nations to become self important with results that range from narcissism to aggression.  We see this tendency living here in America, in conversations, glazed over looks, refusals to engage.

The next problem in contacts between us and them, the Others, is that all civilizations have a tendency towards narcissism, and the stronger the civilization, the more clearly this tendency will appear.  It spurs civilizations into conflict with others, triggering their arrogance and lust for domination.  This always involves contempt for Others.  In old China this arrogance took on a very subtle form — it was expressed through pity for anyone who was not born Chinese.  This narcissism was and is masked by all manner of rhetoric — usually to do with being the chosen race, or having been summoned to a salvation mission, or both combined.

-Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other