What i read…

Exclusive: Nadia Lee Cohen’s Powerful Portraits of Strong Femininity, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… Nadia Lee Cohen turns the idea of Male/Female gaze into something quite different…

Power is the key word here – these images vibrate with the stuff. They confront you. Command you. Compel you. Meet your gaze head on. And they are full of contradictions, too: simultaneously retro and modern, they draw on a legacy of British and American cinema, but feel new and current. Likewise they are staged and stylised, but at the same time real and irrefutably raw. Meanwhile, the women themselves display both a vulnerability and a strength, presenting a fictional character and also their true self, or at least a version of it. It’s hard to look away and even harder not to feel something.

… i read that this project took six years to accomplish… i admire the discipline of a woman in her 20’s… i imagine they have fierce ambition and incredible focus…

Inside Nadia Lee Cohen’s New Book of Chameleonic Self-Portraits, Ted Stansfield, AnOther Magazine… not a unique idea, but a unique execution of the idea…

Place: Ikea Parking Lot, Anelise Chen, Believer Magazine… i plunge in to reading the article and immediately like it… as i am reading, i get the strong impression that i am inhabiting the thoughts of a woman… i knew, without having seen who the author was, that it was a woman…

For me, extended time in parking lots has always signified an emergency, precise moments of narrative dissolution: one version of the good life has come apart irretrievably, and you must, humbly, construct another. Outside hospitals and motels, breakups and breakdowns. I paced because pacing feels like the good, primal thing to do when a body is penned in. It’s what lions and tigers do in their zoo enclosures. Back and forth, up and around, prowl, prowl, repeat. I organized my movements by row: up and down the parking rows toward the now-dim signs for exchanges, returns, exit, enter. The circularity of the movements, plus the weird, abstract commands, felt cosmic. I was in an undetermined space of pure matter, performing a ritual of eternal reincarnation, living many lives.

… didn’t love the way this piece ended, but i love the idea of pacing in super large parking lots to clear one’s head, and then, beginning to pay attention to what is in that lot, which is way more than one would think…

Stuff I’ve Been Reading: Rickie Lee Jones, Emma Dabiri, and More, Nick Hornby, Believer Magazine… a set of well written and compelling impressions of the books in question… impressions seems the right word, because i don’t read these as critical reviews, just an accounting of a book enjoyed thoroughly… also, in the course of reading these impressions i encounter the author referring to themselves as ‘he’ again… it happened in the article above, which led me to search for information on the author and confirm that they present as female and refer to themselves as ‘she’… so now i am wondering what is going on… is being gender confusing a thing and i am out of the loop? Hmmm…

… and now i discover that Summer Thomad is not the author of the articles i am reading, but for some reason comes up with the byline when the articles feed through to Feedbin… i circle back and follow the links through to the Believer Mag website and find the actual authors and switch credit accordingly and the pronoun mystery continues because it turns out i am right about the parking lot article, written by a (Asian) woman… her bio on Wikipedia refers to them as ‘her’ and ‘she’ while she self-refers as male in the body of the article… hmmm some more…

… by the way, i really like The Believer Magazine

Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity, Maria Popova, The Marginalian… i am a walker… i walk every day… my daily goal is at least 10K steps… right now, my weekly average is close to 15K steps… i walk, i think, i make pictures… this has gotten me through the pandemic in good shape… it turns out that Maria Popova is a walker too…

Almost everything I write, I “write” in the notebook of the mind, with the foot in motion — what happens at the keyboard upon returning from the long daily walks that sustain me is mostly the work of transcription.

Maria Popova’s recommendations on reading are always compelling… i have found so much of what i read through her…

Senator Blumenthal Delivered Speech at Communist Party Awards, Brittany Bernstein, National Review… red bating is a time honored tradition of conservatives… this reads like a political hit job… is there something wrong with what Blumenthal did?… why should his wealth-by-wife be any more of an issue than Mitch McConnel’s?… i am fine with socialist policies… not so much with communism… i also believe in freedom of association and speech…

Gone Too Far, Brendan Dougherty, The National Review… refreshing for this substantially right of center magazine to publish an article stating that:

But the riot at the Capitol happened because President Donald Trump simply lied, and lied, and lied. On that very day he lied about what the vice president’s powers were. “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people,” he told the crowd.

Lynn Hershman Leeson at Gazelli Art House in London

Lynn Hershman Leeson via AnOther Magazine

… this exhibition looks interesting to me…

… from an interview with the artist:

It’s really a series of humiliations, being an artist – but particularly a female one, and particularly at my age.

… what else was she going to do?… she tells us… you make the work… it isn’t make the work for the purpose of being discovered… its make the work and something will come of it…

… something i have to remind myself of all…the…time…

… from the Code of Arms exhibition website:

Over the last five decades, artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has been internationally acclaimed for her art and films. Cited as one of the most influential media artists, Hershman Leeson is widely recognized for her innovative work investigating issues such as the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. She has made pioneering contributions to the fields of photography, video, film, performance, artificial intelligence, bio art, installation and interactive as well as net-based media art. ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany, organized the first comprehensive retrospective of her work titled ‘Civic Radar’.

… her interest in the relationship between the human body and technology attracts me to her work… she was a pioneer in looking at that relationship and expressing it in her art… i am thinking i need to pull out my “What Intelligent Life is Made Of” talk, possibly update it and put it out there again…

… i would like to go see On the Basis of Art: 150 Years of Women at Yale

Watercolors of Hilma af Klint, via Hyperallergic

Hilma af Klint, “Tree of Knowledge, No. 3” (1913-1915), watercolor, gouache, graphite, and ink on paper, 17 7/8 x 11 5/8 inches.

… on view at David Zwirner Gallery

 Though little known during her lifetime and for decades after, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) has come to be recognized as one of the most important and inventive artists of the twentieth century. When she began making vibrant, symbolic paintings as early as 1906, her work was radically unlike anything that had come before, and preceded the abstract work of artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich by several years.1

Tschabalala Self

Tschabalala Self, “Love to Saarjtie” (2015)

… yesterday i posted about Vanessa Beecroft and two local-to-me artists, Debbie Masters and Judy Sigunick…

… today, Tschabalala Self comes to my attention as painting in a related primitive vein, with the subject matter being woman… i find the sexual frankness of some of this work”) interesting in that women are addressing their genitals openly and frankly which is new to me… a new trend or have i not looked at enough contemporary art beyond photography?…1

… i am also finding it interesting that i am frequently seeing work by woman rendered in a Venus-Earth-Mother-Goddess way… is this a sign that the matriarchal spirit is trying to reclaim it’s place…

… these are just reactions… much more study needed to accurately identify a trend and the meaning of it as well as discuss the ins and outs of the representation of women in art…


  1. … there is a similar trend in photography where women are photographing other woman in the nude, though not usually revealing their genitals… it raises the question of whether it is objectification if a woman is the photographer… the conclusion i have come to is that yes, it can be objectifying and that objectification is not always and forever a bad thing… it can take its place gracefully in an enlightened culture that does not automatically devalue women to mere sex objects… unfortunately, we have a long way to go in the United States on that score… [return]

Vanessa Beecroft, Artist

Vanessa Beecroft, Untitled, 2018, Photography by Joshua White

… despite this article opening with a rather sexually explicit painting (alright, because of it, sex sells god damn it!) i am compelled to have a look at the work and what i see i like a lot… i am reminded of Matisse and a couple of local artists i know, Debbie Masters and Judy Sigunick

Ghosts 2, Debbie Masters

Noble Elephant, Judy Sigunick

… worth having a look…

Judy Chicago

… feminist artist trail blazer…

… a really interesting artist and article about her written by Miss Rosen, another of my favorite reviewers of photographic art and art in general…

I never thought I would live this long,” says Chicago, who is now 82. “Understanding mortality at such an early age gave me an impetus to work. One of the reasons I produced so much work is that I never knew how much time I would have. The other reason is that every time I lost everything – like when The Dinner Party became the piece that nobody wanted to show, or when Congress debated it, or when I had to start all over again – I didn’t know what to do so I went back to my studio and made making art my reward.”1

… this quote inspires me… make the work, something will come of it… it’s the making of the work that is the important act… making it for its own sake, wherever the creative imperative leads you… i suppose this is what i want to do… make the work i am compelled to make, and let the rest take care of itself or not… this blog is part of that… my daily photo walks is part of that… this act of living and recording it is part of that…

… I will keep forging ahead…

 Maria Popova on Willa Cather

… as an artist, i found this Brain Pickings post on Willa Cather particularly welcome this morning… i think it gets at one of the reasons i like living in communities with a lively mixture of working and middle class people who go about their lives largely without the pretensions that wealth can bring, or so it seems to me… from another post on Cather by Maria Popova…

The creative spirit creates with whatever materials are present. With food, with children, with building blocks, with speech, with thoughts, with pigment, with an umbrella, or a wineglass, or a torch. We are not craftsmen only during studio hours. Any more than a man is wise only in his library. Or devout only in church. The material is not the sign of the creative feeling for life: of the warmth and sympathy and reverence which foster being; techniques are not the sign; “art” is not the sign. The sign is the light that dwells within the act, whatever its nature or its medium.1

05 Art Installation by Sarah Sze:

Image of Fallen Sky installation by Nick Knight

this article in Colossal catches my attention because Storm King, the installation site, is 15 minutes from where i live… we are fortunate to live near two major art installation sites, Storm King and Dia Beacon

03 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

… i’ve taken my first page by page tour through Afternoons, by Jenna Westra

… here is what i notice…

… the artist includes photographs of herself throughout and uses a cable release in several of the portraits which marks the portraits as self portraits and identifies her amidst the multiple women who are subjects of photographs in the book…

… thus, one woman in particular, the artist, has prominence in the book as the only individual with a name and a presence that goes beyond studies of form and the feminine… the choice to include herself without such clear identification for the other women is significant and shifts what the book would be without it… yes, the other women are sometimes identified in the title of a picture, all, i presume, are listed at the end… it’s not possible to be certain, as there is a list of names but only as individuals to be thanked, one wonders about these choices…

… keeping the female subjects of the photographs largely unidentified supports the feminine generalities of the book…

… there are full and partial nudes in the book… they are outnumbered by images of women with some kind of clothing on… only one of the nudes1 strikes me as being at all sexual, attractive to the male or female gaze… a woman’s sex potential is not an overt theme of the book, rather, it is feminine form, femininity and an intimate society of women together… it is not to be assumed that the women are lesbians either… they are there, with each other, as a sisterhood… or perhaps, as alter egos, different dimensions, of the artist herself…

… the book is well done, a mixture of black & white and color images, it has a nice pace…

… there are layers of intent and meaning to peel away, more is revealed with each pass through the book…

… a very nice photobook experience…


  1. Not surprisingly, this is one of three images used to represent the book, the idea that sex sells is alive and well, even in a non-profit store dedicated to the work of book artists. To say it promises more than the book delivers is an understatement. [return]

04 Barbara Krueger

… it seems appropriate to follow up the last post with something on feminist artist Barbara Krueger…

Wielding the power of art, Kruger went on to address conversations around feminism, consumerism and individualism, challenging how we think and behave. She has never been afraid to push boundaries.1

03 Women Artists from Salvador

Lilliana Castro producing “Temaquixtilitzli” (2019) (photo by Jesica Vasquez)

…this lead in photograph does pull me in, and apart from the fact that she is a young attractive woman, it is, for once, not my male gaze that pulls me in, but her earnestness… she is concentrating and creating and i fall in love with just that, a young, earnest woman creating a graphic, sending a message to the world…

… as i read the article, i realize it is by a woman, about a woman, creating artwork that is about the condition of women…

… all of the women in the article are LGBTQI… i don’t know what the I stands for…

… i wonder, to what degree is woman choosing woman to love physically about their rejection of the patriarchy?…

06 What’s in a name?

… interesting article on the problem with naming women artists, who’s histories are all too often tied up with men more famous then they during their lifetimes… and then there are the ways that the patriarchy patronizes women when it names them…

In 2017, French novelist Marie Darrieussecq’s succinct biography of early 20th-century German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker, Being Here Is Everything, was published in English. In it, Darrieussecq calls her subject Paula, while the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was her friend, is called Rilke. When asked about this disparity in The Paris Review, Darrieussecq was blunt, “It’s the truth about men and women. It still is. It’s hard to have a name when you’re a woman.”1