WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK: 28th Aug
oi, tell u wot: these little WISLW culture diary blog entries have made me really think about the way i consume culture, the kinds of culture i consume, the kind of culture i value as i consume it, and the kinds of culture i feel a bit more cheap n fast n loose about. it’s nice to be thoughtful about these things. i think even as a critic (someone who is meant to think about culture in excruciating detail and for extensive periods of time!) sometimes things slip past u, go unnoticed. the wider pattern of urself and the cultural landscape u r in, big ol gaps of uncharted territory that u simply do not understand within urself or the wider world and society u r in!
like, why do i never talk about the nice little restaurants i go to? food is a kind of culture, arguably the first and foremost expression of something as expansive as culture, food is the basic, the universal culture we have to come together round as humans? and cinema is biggggg gap for me bc i simply cannot sit still long enough in one place, in a dark room, without a cigarette or a moment to plod around and look at something different. i don’t get it! how are people ok with sitting in one place for like 90 minutes, that’s my idea of TORTURE! i can barely manage my 30 min commute and even then, when i get off the tube i’m literally ready to elbow tourists out the way just so i can look at the sky and feel at ease again.
i say this all bc i feel like i have a couple things to talk about with this entry. maybe not all formal actual exhibitions and art and things that are very clearly Tax Deductible Business Expenses for me as an actual art critic. but also things that have made up my cultural world around those big obvious things, and i’ve been as taken in by them as the big bois, and i want to talk about them and give them my attention too. so ok! if u will bear with me i will tell u about them :)
BIG BITS FIRST
- Hilma Af Klint @ Tate Modern
i posted about this Hilma show on ig last week so, briefly – i did really like this show, just because i do actually really like Hilma’s paintings. i think she had a little online resurgence a couple years ago as part of the Look, I Found Her art history revisionism wave, where loadsa girlies just started rummaging through the archives to find Lady Painters they could be really into, in a feminist way. and icl! i got caught up in it, reposted some hilma on my secret tumblr where i get to keep track of the paintings and art i love in the moment. the love lingers, of course, and sticks with me as i travel thru the world. bc hilma’s got a compelling story! kinda outsider-vibes, she sits apart from the big male canon, spiritualism in her paintings runs parallel to the astrology-meme fascination. i GET it, i LOVE it, i SEE it.
i had and still have my suspicions about how n why her work was doubled up with Mondrian into a duo show. like, i see the parallels and the way their work and practices mirror each other, compliment each other, the way 2 artists doing things differently but similar allows for a curatorial vision that actually covers more ground. i also think tate didn’t reall bank on hilma’s ability to pull a crowd in the same way a big man name like mondrian would – or maybe it wasn’t as severe as that, just hedging their bets. that’s a preconceived idea i went in with but never really shook. (i think it’d be hard to shake that notion properly).
my main takeaways were: love the little details in Hilma’s big pink paintings. in those, she is a woman after the hearts of every instagram user, but she is also working across scale and detail in a way i can’t help but find personally deeeeeelightful. and i didn’t know mondrian had such a huge range of work. he did a bit of everything! from those cubist-y grey tree paintings, which i was mostly ambivalent about. to actually his early landscapes, which i was really into, really loved and loved more than the rest of his work. i think he feels like a good example of – practice isn’t about a straight line, it’s about bopping around and trying things on for size, rejecting the idea of linear progress or singular final outcome, just have a go, see what happens, get really invested and the change ur mind. he felt like a good foil to hilma’s obsessive pursuit of one specific interest that developed and deepened over time. but in that, he felt like a good fit (foil!) and also the worst fit possible! so i still don’t know what i think, but who cares. next time i’ll be sure to take u around in my pocket so i can focus group my thoughts.
landscapes from hilma & mondrian!
- went to ACTUAL PARIS!
ok only a minor complaint: i am obviously very lucky to get another little holiday, esp since i’ve j been to turin – very lucky and grateful for that good luck. but i felt so bad taking the time off last week. as i was packing i had this terrible anxiety like ‘i’m forgetting something important!’ and it was j bc i wasn’t taking my laptop w me (!!!) isn’t that insane!?!?! i need to get a life, get a grip, get back to work when i’m at my desk rather than feel guilty when i’m away.
ok, PARIS! paris seems too close to go on holiday, too expensive to pop by on a whim – so i haven’t been since i was like 18? but yeyeye, went on a little fancy holiday w my fella and we had such a nice time! stomping around, eating croissants, pointing at things and holding hands! only went to 2 galleries and only the basic ones: l’orangerie & the musee d’orsay. so no inside scoop on the parisian art scene from me anytime soon (& good! bc that’d be so presumptuous of me anyway lmao)
the monet room @ l’orangerie! lovely! sorry, sometimes things are popular bc they’re actually really good! it’s not cool, but it IS good!
we walked up the eiffel tower (and then got the lift bc wow that’s so many steps) – but, did u know there’s a toilet at the top? so all the poo and wee in that toilet have to travel back down to ground level in a pipe or a chute of some kind. i find that so funny. the eiffel tower’s pee and poo pipe. ha ha ha! — i actually have so much to say about the eiffel tower toilet. but yeah, never actually bothered to go up the eiffel tower before and i love being high up in a city. love being able to see things.
also! went to sainte-chapelle — it’s an old royal chapel from the 13th century, on that litle island, that sliver of land in the middle of the seine. and i have literally always wanted to go. obviously, it ticks a lot of my special interest boxes bc it’s from my favourite: medieval times, big gothic vibes, lots of history to excitedly bore my bf with. (the chapel is home to relics of the passion of christ, it was built as a kinda medieval power play so the king of france could make paris this religious centre of gravity.) but it has a really crazy, like truly astounding stained glass window situation. it’s not that big of a space, but this tiny chapel is like two thirds stained glass window and it towers up so high, wraps around you so you feel like you’re actually IN a kaleidoscope. the windows narrate whole chunks of the bible, they are detailed and tiny and they glitter in the sun.
i remember watching a documentary about sainte-chapelle when i was younger – a teenager, i think it was that long ago — and the presenter welled up bc it was j such an overwhelmingly beautiful space to be in. and i j knew it’d be crazy, like i knew it was a space that would blow my fucking mind. and it fully did. icl lads, i welled up too! bc it was such a beautiful thing. not just visually / aesthetically – as a space, to be in and to experience. all those centuries ago people were making something so precious and special and beautiful! i thought the craft of those windows was so rare! to care so much, to be so committed, it was so human! – idk, that was the way i understood that, and it made me so emotional. i love artists! i love humans and the way we just love making things! it’s so human! to make special spaces, to make beautiful images, to want to affect people in that way. the pieces of the window were so tiny and would’ve required such care and precision. to do that, all those centuries ago when they didn’t even have like fucking UNDERPANTS? to care that much about a window, when you personally cannot conceive of something like a linda mccartney sausage?? idk, for me that is a kind of magic. art is magic! bc human beings have been making things they don’t actually NEED to make since human beings have been human being-ing! you know, making things is, i think, the true human universal. we all make things we don’t NEED, but that we WANT – for some unknown ridiculous reason we can’t understand, that we can’t even talk to ourselves about. like — i can’t really pull a good string of words out of myself about why this chapel made me well up. it is just magic, art, so private and beautiful!
:') :') :') :') :') :') :') :') :') :')
here are some good paintings i saw:
i love henri rousseau, one of my actual favourite painters!
icl idk who painted this but this is a reminder to check horse for paintings in paris!
seriously also, been getting very Into(TM) Gustave Courbet, for reasons that may or may not eventually become apparent, depending on how a specific edit turns out. but this was one of my art-year highlights —- seeing this enormous gustave courbet painting IRL! it’s called the artist studio and it is an enormous allegory! it is enormous in size and importance! i was so thrilled to see this big one and next to it, the burial at ornans! god, i’m a fucking nerd. i was genuinely so excited to see them. gustave courbet, i love you!
ok and now some holiday pics!:
- articles of interest: american ivy
came across this podcast on the recommendation of mina le, the youtube girly i love the most! n i was scrolling thru on a satdy morning looking for something to listen to while i cleaned my flat. american ivy had 7 episodes – perfect! it’s about that preppy style that feels american, english, transatlantic – clean, default, professional, just classic – normal! where did it come from where did it go? where is it now? how did it get there! it is abercrombie and it is aime leon dore, it is also, HUGELY uniqlo. it’s brookes brothers, the birth of american style — the way preppy little students in ivy league schools dress. hence the ivy!
i thought: yeah, 7 episodes? i would have something to keep me company the entire time, kitchen to bathroom, maybe i would put it on the shower speaker when i washed my hair mask out too! lovely! i was still listening while i did my bouncy blowdry. on the bus, on my way out, i got to where i was going and i was actually pissed off at having reached my destination bc i was still in the middle of an episode and i didn’t want to fucking stop bc i was fascinated, so interesting!
i think i clearly have an interest in fashion history and the way fashion can be written about, understood, held up at a distance and contemplated. i like mina le’s big quick video essays and the way she weaves actual fashion and clothes up against a history — like, yeah! gwon, tell me the historical context that lead us to bimbocore? balletcore too. i’m an engrossed audience. love that die workwear guy mostly bc he talks about fashion or style in a way i find really satisfying. i’ve heard him say that fashion is a social language, and an outift is like a sentence – and we need it to be coherent both to ourselves and other people in what it is trying to express! god that’s like an incredibly clear and true thought, brand new, but it’s the kind of newness that puts something i actually knew deep in my bones into words !!! i love it! i do really like workwear tho, so i can’t agree w him all the time. but ye, was really glad to listen along to this series on american ivy — it was fascinating, i haven’t stopped thinking about it. it makes me want to dress really preppy bc i want to carry on chewing the thoughts this podcast series made me think — and isn’t that high praise? when you enjoy something so much it leaks out?
- my bf gave me HOMEWORK
for some unknown and secret purpose, he wanted to know what my top 10 favourite paintings ever were. i still don’t know what this man is up to with that, some scheme or the other. but it was a rly hard list to put together! there are so many paintings i love and the entirety of human history to choose from! how could i possibly whittle it down to 10!? ONLY 10???! like are u crazy??? i tried my best, but in pursuit of this task, i remembered so many lovely paintings i love so much!
this fra angelico »>
so i have j been thinking about it a lot! the colours and the composition n how much i love the way the shapes all twist around each other. it’s a really good rewarding image to look at i think!
- been doing a lot of reading!
for writing purposes ! which i cannot necessarily talk about here, but one that i do want to mention IS!
i re-read guy debord’s society of the spectacle and – now i am a couple years on from art school and feeling like i have to read things like this for the greater good of my education, the pressure and ridiculousness of that, i actually really enjoyed it! it was written in a really interesting way, that i didn’t appreciate when i was 19. it’s like. i felt like it was theory that took place through a series of conceptual or maybe completely abstract frameworks. it could almost be science fiction. or normal fiction. but it was also like, real, true, actual rather than entirely abstract. this weird pull between reality and scenario-fantasy-dream. i thought that was so interesting, theory aside, like as a way of writing. i wonder if i tried re-reading some more theory now, how would it go down w me? what if i did a complete re-run through my entire art school reading list!? we make something of a virtue of the fact that we haven’t read baudrillard’s simulation, but what if I ACTUALLY READ IT? what owuld i think? what if i love it? what if it changes my life??!?! i should give it a go. maybe when we hit the big time and we make so much money we can retire in our 30s (fingers crossed lmao) i can take a year off and lock myself in a cottage and just read all the french theory i turned my nose up at. i would emerge from my cottage a new woman. maybe i’d do an MA. maybe i’d be unstoppable. maybe i’d hate it, but u never know until u try baby! what a dream! an unattainable fantasy! god i love those.
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ok, ok! that’s all! thank u for ur patience! see u next time, whenever that is! i’m not too fussed about making sure these are regular bc honestly some weeks the only culture i have to report back about are like… weird youtube videos i watch w my lunch or interesting articles. if u made it this far lmk if they’d be interesting, if regularity feels important to u or if ur happy to get these as they come.