Leonora Carrington, Wheel of Fortune, ca. 1955, oil and gold leaf on board, 6 1⁄4 × 5 1⁄2"
© Estate of Leonora Carrington/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Dear The Art Section Readers,
Where and how one experiences a work of art has changed in 2021 due to the pandemic. During this moment when life is like a dystopian text, transformation and illumination are the touchstones of experiencing art. Perhaps this is why Cecilia Alemani, curator of the 59th Venice Biennale, chose the title of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington’s (1917- 2011) book, The Milk of Dreams as the exhibition’s title. Alemani has said Carrington’s book is “a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination, and where everyone can change, be transformed, become something and someone else.”
Andrei Codrescu selected five of his poems for The Art Section accompanied by new audio recordings of his readings. Codrescu’s voice immediately transports the listener to another world; his words and the cadence of his voice embrace the listener, bringing one closer to the poet’s thoughts and ruminations. When I contacted Codrescu in December about making the recordings, Codrescu told me that he was walking down Atlantic Avenue needing to purchase water. The timbre of Codrescu’s voice took me back to Brooklyn where I spent the first third of my life; our short exchange allowed me to visualize his trajectory. It is a kind of magic when a few words can take you to a place. For TAS, poet Opal Moore introduces Codrescu’s poems and posed four questions that engendered a dialogue that touches on the past, the present, and perhaps the future.
Feminist performance scholar Tanya Augsburg lives in San Francisco and was able to attend Judy Chicago: A Retrospective at the de Young Museum and Chicago’s accompanying performance, which filled the California air with intensely hued smoke. Chicago, now 82, has created these colored smoke spectaculars for decades, but I must admit I did not know about these events until she performed A Purple Poem for Miami in 2019 at the ICA. Nebulas of color filled the atmosphere in an event that is somewhere between a spectacle and land art. Augsburg has given TAS a reading of this exhibition from a firsthand perspective.
David Regal has been a magician since he was a child. One of the key creators of contemporary magic, Regal invents tricks and performs what is termed close-up magic where the performer is in an intimate relationship to his audience. As in magic, intimacy, illusion and trust are the touchstones of making works of art, where the artist is a performer, a magician, and a seer. Perhaps it is the moment of belief when we truly see, feel, and listen to an artwork that transforms us.
Wishing all a very good 2022,