Amelia Jones: Queer Feminist Durationality

Queer Feminist Durationality: Amelia Jones

On Tuesday, April 17, I attended Amelia Jones’ lecture on the subject of her new thesis about Queer Feminist Durationality.  It was a very provocative lecture, which gave me some insight on how to look at feminist art.  The lecture itself was a little difficult for me to follow, because she was just reading off of a paper she had already wrote, so in consequence she spoke pretty fast.  However, the work she was showing and some of the quotations displayed under the work helped me follow what she was trying to get across a little better.  I am not an art major so some of the concepts were completely over my head, but overall I enjoyed listening what she had to say.

Amelia started off her lecture with showing some of the work of Valie Export.  The work was called Genital Panic, and it was a series of photographs of the artist in a huge fake wig, sitting down, with her legs spread wide open.  The artist was also holding a gun, striking a pose that suggested the viewer to focus between her legs. This was a very strong image that to me suggested the attitude of the Feminist Movement that was about to take place.  Amelia stated that this image “Opens radical rationality through a hostile.”  What I take from this statement is that this photograph is making a rational statement via hostile imagery.  There is nothing discrete about this photo, and yet all vulnerability is present.  She has her legs spread which make her seem vulnerable, but the hostile nature of the picture can’t be denied wither with the gun, and one could even argue that the wig is hostile.  Over all I think it was one of my favorite feminist works shown, because it was probably the mildest of the lecture.

One section I will briefly talk about is this notion of “cunt art” in feminist pieces.  Amelia kept bringing up this idea of fetishism with the female body inside western culture.  Amelia then stated that one of the points of Feminist art is to play around with the idea of feminism.  It seems to me that these different ways of depicting the female sex is one aspect of imaging feminism, though should not be the only way.  In the later part of the lecture there were some artists that had a very unique way of looking at this subject.  One artist that fell under the category of “cunt art” that made an impact on me was Mira Schor.  This piece was made in 1994, and it is an extremely simple, less detailed image of the female sex.  It is pretty much a split on a beige backdrop.  Inside the spit, there is a semicolon which further suggests the female sex.  What separated this piece from the other artists under the “cunt art” movement was the simplicity of the piece.  Amelia states that feminist “cunt art” opens a hole in fetishism with its specializing structure of objectification.  In Mira Schor’s piece, the painting can be considered fetishism because it does portray the female sex.  The way the artist plays with the object was striking because she made a semicolon do the detail for her, which when left to the imagination of the viewer; it does all the work it needs to.

The final aspect of the lecture that I wanted to discuss was the photographer named Catherine Opie, because I can’t get her work out of my head.  Her portrait titled Pervert really stuck with me, because it offered a violent inside look into the feminist world.  Opie is topless with a leather mask covering her face, and needles are pierced throughout both of her arms.  On her chest is the word pervert scratched or branded into her skin, and the reader can read the word because her blood is what forms the image.  This was a more violent way to express feminism than the other artists had offered.  The object was either the word or the Opie herself, and the violence of the image is what strikes the viewer to not look away.  This image is a complex identification that opens out temporal relations with the viewer, something that Jones had elaborated on.  In this image, there is no simple context to put this portrait under.  The complexity of her identity is imbedded in her pain, her blindness, and her perverted nature of the image.  Overall it was a striking image, but striking in a good way.  It is good to feel uncomfortable sometimes when viewing new works of art.

Overall I enjoyed the lecture and learned a lot about a subject I had known next to nothing about before I attended the lecture.  Amelia Jones is a bright artist/professor and it was good stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing something new.  I look forward to researching more about feminist art and possibly looking deeper into Amelia’s new book that was just released this week.

Denver Art Museum

Yesterday I visited the Denver Art Museum.  It is always a refreshing experience, but yesterday it was kind of dull because of the temporary exhibits that they were featuring.  On the first floor, they were exhibiting the pins from previous Secretary of State Madeline Albright.  I did take a quick look around the exhibit but did not pay too much attention because of lack of interest and it really wasn’t the kind of medium that I wanted to talk about.  On the second floor, there was the main temporary exhibit that was attracting a large crowd, which was displaying the fashion from Yves Saint Laurent.  I was a little disappointed with the selection of temporary exhibits because I am not a fashion person in the least, and I don’t want to write about pins.  Even though the selection of temporary exhibits was not up to par in my opinion, admission to the museum was free so I could not complain.  I proceeded up to the third and fourth floors where they held their contemporary art galleries.  The pieces that I chose were not from the same galleries, but rather I selected ones from several galleries.  I did this because there were several pieces that struck me and grabbed my attention right away.

This piece was the first painting that caught my attention.  It is titled “Surveying the Siberian Explosion” by Roger Brown.  I was entranced right away.  The way he paints the perspective is really intriguing because it feels like the viewer is looking right down on the subject in the middle.  The collapsed trees encircle a perfect canvas of destruction around the subject.  The contrasts from the black trees to the white, snowy ground is remarkable.  The vibrant colors of the horizon also add a new texture to the piece as well.  The symmetry of the way the trees have fallen down was an interesting and simplistic way of depicting the actual event.  The simplistic nature of the painting gives off the vibes of a cartoon to me, but the artists pulls off the devastation as well.  I really like this piece because to me it is easy to comprehend, and gives off an almost nonchalant charisma to a serious event.  In this piece, there is no suggestion as to what caused all of the trees to collapse, but the main theory is an asteroid exploded over one of the remote forests inside Siberia.  My love for astronomy feeds into this piece, as well as the next piece I will discuss.

This piece is called “Four Sons in Space” by Vance Kirkland.  I feel like the artist really captured the feeling of glancing at actual stars because the colors of the dots and fluidity of them really play with your eyes when observing from a distance.  There is a fluidity to this piece, and the dots appear to move when one glances at the piece, almost making it hard to look at.  I feel like this is intentional because it is very difficult to view our own sun, which translates well into this piece.  As the viewer begins to step closer to the painting, the image is easier to see and you can see the artist’s technique as to how he created the image.  I almost feel like the space between the stars is the gravity that is pulling them or pulling them to their ongoing paths through the cosmos.  The gravitational pulls are represented by the dots, hence their fluid like nature.  It is an overall great piece, which was only one in several pieces in his collection.  This one was the largest and the one that demanded the most attention in the room, since a viewer could see it from a far distance away.

This piece was in the African Art Exhibit, and was one of the few contemporary pieces.  It was by an artist that our class looked at.  His name is El Anatsui, and this piece is called “Rain Has No Father?”.  This is the only installation piece that I am featuring, and it was also my favorite in the museum.  He made the piece by collecting bottle caps from liquor bottles, and then flattened them and stitched them together.  I think what this piece accomplishes is that the artist proves that there can be a liquid nature to anything.  In this case, it is metal.  I think this is the best photo that I took from my visit because the way the light hits this piece really shows in the picture.  There are many different aspects of this piece that all show up at once.  The way some parts shine, and the dark crevasses in other spots are two different places that are competing for attention.  Some parts are really smooth, and other lids have more space between them, creating a net like presence.  I also wonder if there was a distinct reason why he used liquor bottle caps and not water bottle caps.  Maybe it was chance.  Maybe he had a certain motivation.  I find it interesting he makes his piece out of liquor bottle caps and then the subject in the title is water.  Maybe the caps from the bottle doesn’t mean anything except that any kind of bottle can contain water, which then makes it its’ father or master.  This is a really great installation which can create a lot of conversation.

This piece is without a doubt my favorite painting in the entire museum.  It is called “Second Day Nothing” by Jonas Burgert.  It is a massive painting and probably one of the largest in the contemporary collection.  There is just so much going on in such great detail it is almost hard to analyze everything.  What is really interesting is that in this entire piece, there is only one character that is looking at the viewer.  This is not the best photo taken, but he is visible on the bottom middle, to the left of the guy who is showing his back to the audience.  I’m not sure if this character is a self portrait, but it definitely comes to mind since he is the only one that is addressing the audience.  What confuses me about this piece is the theme, or the story behind it.  Everybody in the middle is working with this glowing goo that is a bright gold color.  I’m not sure if they are trying to clean it up or move it outwards.  I don’t know if this goo is an accident or something that was planned.  No matter how hard I look into this piece, I do not find any answers to my own questions.  I feel like that is the purpose of this piece; to confuse any and every observer who looks at it.  I have seen this piece many times and still I can never find any kind of resolve.  The mystery behind this piece will always remain a secret I feel.  The man in the plaid pants is holding some sort of bar, and he appears totally clean of the goo.  He could possibly be the one who is controlling the event that is taking place.  It is not present in the photo that I took because this piece is way too big, but in the back there is a huge man that is laying lifeless on his back.  He is much bigger than anyone else in the picture, so maybe there is some kind of revolt against him.  Every time I look at this painting, there is another question that pops into my head.  Maybe the artist has released a statement of what his meanings were behind this piece, but I don’t think I would want to know.  It is the mystery behind this piece which holds all the intrigue.  If I knew exactly what was going on in this painting, than I feel like a lot of the beauty would vanish from this piece, as the magic dies when a magician reveals his trick behind the illusion.

Overall, I did enjoy my experience at the Denver Art Museum.  I am aware of the next several exhibits, and they seem to be really exciting and interesting.  I enjoyed involving myself with new art, as it is always a joy to see new creativity.

Robby Gomez-Clyfford Still Paper

Robby Gomez

The Clyfford Still Paper

The Cyfford Still Museum is a very unique phenomenon among the art world with how it became into being.  In Clyfford’s will, he sated that he did not want to leave his works for an individual or to be sold to museums, but in fact he wanted to donate most of his works to an American city.  When Denver was chosen, the establishment that came to be the Clyfford Still Museum received 94% of Still’s works.  Many of these pieces had not been seen for 25 years.  It’s location right next to the Denver Art Museum makes it very accessible and the city of Denver has a rare gift that few cities experience.  The layout of the museum is very simple.  The first floor is dedicated to teaching the audience about the painter and his life.  Videos and interactive computers allow audience members to see what was going on personally in his life, as well as the world around him.  It discusses his influences of his work, as well as the utensils he used to create his paintings.  These displays even have cloths and baseball gloves that belonged to the artist.  The second floor is dedicated to show his work and his evolution from his early work to the paintings made right before his death in 1980.

If one is familiar with Clyfford Still and his work, it is very easy to spot an early piece of his to his later pieces.  When Still first started to paint and sketch, he would depict landscapes and cityscapes.  What I like about Still’s early works is that they would not focus so much on the detail as much as the emotion of what he was portraying.  Many of his works would focus on farmers and their struggles with living off of what the earth provides them.  During the 30’s, the depression was in full swing and farmers were struggling with the dust bowl.  Many of Still’s subjects of his pieces are distorted, bloated, their faces are elongated, and their arms and backs are portrayed with such a heaviness that his viewers really get a sense of the darkness that surrounds these people trying to survive.  In PH-77, the paintings subjects are two farmers that are bent over picking up wheat from their harvest.  Their arms are stretched out and bloodied as they handle their product, while their faces are left with exhausted expression.  The sky above them is dark while the horizon behind them is empty.  I found myself staring at this painting for a while because my attention was drawn to it from the moment I stepped into the room.

The next section of his work was focusing on his paintings from the 40’s.  In this period of his works, Still begins to move away from noticeable subjects and starts to depict shapes and colors that play with the canvas.  This was period was marking the start of Still’s abstract art, but was not yet his definitive style of his color field paintings.   A lot of his pieces in this section of the gallery were dark and haunting, while few of them had bright colors and recognizable figures.  Some I even found a little disturbing.  There was one work that really caught my attention however.  In PH-553, I immediately thought of impressionistic works of Monet because of the texture of the piece.  Still’s brush strokes are light and crisp.  It almost looks like a figure sitting on a bench, and I feel like I can see a source of light in the image.  The gold or yellow crescent shape seems to radiate the white paint surrounding it, but then the piece fades to a darker grey, and even black on the bottom.  I love this piece because I can see they way he worked his brush on the canvas, almost unveiling how he created this image.

The Gallery after his works in the 40’s started to depict his early works of the abstract expressionist viewpoint, and even his color field style. During this time, he has abandoned all possible subject depiction, and now he is in full experimentation of using colors, canvass, and how to interact them both to make his final image.  The evolution of his style is starting to create larger pieces, and most of these paintings from this point to the time of his death are really large, leaving a commanding presence on the viewer.  What I love about his style during this time period is not just the immensity of his work, but the way his work spills outward as if it wants to leave the confinements of the canvas.  The texture of his pieces really show and the thickness of his paint.  In some areas the paint has been smoothed, but in others the paint is left in gobs adding little imperfections that give more character to his work.  PH-247 was the most unique among the collections in this gallery.  Almost the entire surface was smooth, which left a resilient shine to the piece as the light hit it.  It reminded me of a Barnett Newman style, because it was primarily one color, with lines of different colors running down the dominant color.  Standing close to these paintings is really a really helpful way to get swallowed by the image.  There seems to be no end to the flowing contrast of the dark blue.  I felt like it was expanding constantly, an illusion brought on by the size of the painting.

The final two galleries of the museum focused on his work from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.  The transformation of his first abstract work and his works from this period are astoundingly different.  You can see how he liked to leave the canvass bare in some parts, or even in most of the painting.  The colors are more expressive because they are used less in comparison to his earlier works.  In some pieces, his colors are playing with each other in the sense that they will not cross paths, almost like they are stuck in their own boundary.  Other paintings do not use much paint at all, which is shocking how Clyfford Still can have a monumental piece, and not have much paint on it at all.  I look at it as he is making the canvas make more of a statement than the paint he puts on it.  I have never seen another artist create such an allusive relationship between the canvas and the paint.  Since I have already discussed three paintings, I will simply insert a painting from his latest style before he died.

Clyfford Still had a lot of impact on the art world not just because of his impressive style, but also because of the attitude he had towards the art world itself.  He often shied away from exposing his pieces in galleries, and had tremendous pride in his work.  He clashed with fellow artists, which eventually led to his dismissal of his work being shown in many galleries.  He was fed up with the art word and eventually moved to Maryland on an estate where he could focus entirely on his work.  Clyfford hated his work being categorized and one aspect that really shows up in his pieces is his confidence of himself.  When I looked upon his paintings, I see his brilliance, his arrogance, his genius, but above all, I see his passion of what he loved doing most.

Robby Gomez on Smith’s Article

After having read Smith’s article on contemporary art, I have a new understanding of what modern art is, and where it could possibly be going in the future.  Smith defines contemporary art as “a network through which the art of today presents itself to itself and to its interested audiences all over the world.”  Contemporary art is not just a visual presence, but an emerging and evolving subculture that has been growing since the 50’s.  It is a force that is in the very fabric of society hitting all aspects of life and not just in the galleries.  An important aspect to note about contemporary art is that it is not dominated by one type of style.  Smith later in her writings says that contemporary art will not be dominated by just one style.  Any styles that do last for some time will be anachronisms.

One key point that Smith makes is that even though the word contemporary did not come into discourse until the 90’s, artists some 40 years before had already started to experiment with the contemporaneity of their styles.  The descriptions of what kind of art matters today was a really interesting section of the read.  German critic Diedrich Diedericthehson says “A reexamination of the basic ideas of modernism in the light of the very contemporary cognizance that every detail of presentation and production is already contaminated by specific histories.”  What I got out of that quote is that contemporary art today has to have two types of moods; one mood which can accurately reflect the past styles that will be recognizable, and the other mood which will have to capture the essence of  the now without looking for the past.

What do I expect from contemporary art?  That is a most enticing question.  I expect a lot of pieces that I will be looking at in the near future to be difficult for me to comprehend, but the beauty of art is every viewer has their own interpretation.  I do not know how the art critics feel about computer imaging, but I think if used correctly, that focus could have an impact in the contemporary art world, but to say it is an expectation would be a strong statement.  I expect some artists will ascertain a simplistic style while other artists will be more vivid and complex.  Ultimately, I expect contemporary art to keep evolving new ways and ideas to convey messages through a multitude of mediums that will speak to its audiences.

Questions….

I joined the class two days ago and am having trouble exactly finding out what I need to write about for the Smith article.  From reading other answers, is it Smith’s definition of contemporary art and then my own definition? Any response to this would be greatly appreciated!!!

Robby Gomez’s Intellectual Profile

I am going to have a lot of fun with this assignment, so I hope the people that do read this profile will enjoy themselves in the process.

1)  I am a senior at this great university, and I have many areas of interest, but only one major.  I am majoring in Anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology.   I love studying the past and how ancient civilizations lived and died.  Although I am an anthropology major, I almost went to music school at CU Denver.  I have been playing the drums for 11 years and it is probably the most defining thing about me.  I am very active in live music around the Denver area.  I love studying art history and have taken many courses in it before at other colleges.  Besides art history, I love studying astronomy.  I would love to be an astronomy major but i am extremely bad at math…which is a good thing I am an anthropology major.

2)  The first art exhibit that comes to mind would be located at the Denver Art Museum.  The Asian art exhibit really impressed me not only because they had many different collections from many different countries, but also the history behind these pieces is really incredible.  They had ancient Indian art dating back hundreds of years, which really rocked my boat.  They also had a display case of Tibetan Sand Art which was really amazing to see in person.  The Chinese ink drawings are my favorite aspect of Asian art, which I find completely beautiful and unique compared to classical western art.  I wish that Asian art was taught more in art history classes, because the unique style and cultural aspects of Chinese ink paintings really describes their historical culture which goes back thousands of years.  If you have not been to the Denver Art Museum, and judging alone by the course you probably have, i highly recommend it.

3)  Oh this will be one of my favorite questions of the profile.  Honestly, I have not read much for fun in my adult life.  Only a couple of books here and there.  As of late, I have completely lost myself in a series of addicting fantasy novels.  The series is called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.  If any of you have HBO, I’m sure you have heard of this series.  It has become immensely popular since HBO made a series out of it, which is how I came across these books.  When I do read novels, I usually don’t read fantasy.  I have tried that with Lord of the Rings, which I found completely boring.  I also tried reading Harry Potter when I was young but could not finish the sixth chapter.  When I started this series, I checked out the first novel, A Game of Thrones, from the CU library just in case I thought it would be like the previous books.  I absolutely loved it and now I am on the fourth book called A Feast for Crows.  The reason why I like these novels is because they are fantasy novels geared towards adults.  There are many complex, adult themes that Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings lack.  Also, among many of the brilliant characters, it is hard to tell who are the protagonists vs. the antagonists.  The author is not afraid to kill off main characters which will infuriate his readers.  These are very dark novels but extremely well written and very entertaining.  The most that I will say about these novels is that they are medieval fantasy novels that focus on the viewpoints of several different characters that are knights, queens, bastards, dwarfs, noble lords and their kin, and exiles.  I highly recommend that you pick up the first novel and read away, you will not be able to stop yourself from turning the pages!

4)  My main interests besides art are music and anthropology, which was stated in the first answer.  Besides academic interests, I love the outdoors and exploring new places.  I am convinced that Utah is one of the most beautiful states.  I camped in Moab and completely loved it.  I felt like I was on Mars.

5)  The only blogs that I have been checking regularly are sports blogs since I love most sports.  Lately I have been reading NFL blogs since my brother writes them so I can keep up with the most current NFL news since I do not have cable television….go netflix!

6)  I will have to write about a concert since I have not been to any sports games or exhibits lately.  My favorite show that I have seen this year was performed by an artist known as Mimosa.  I saw him at the Filmore on Halloween, and he completely impressed me yet again.  This was the eighth time I have seen this youngster and his music is a big part of what I have been listening to recently.  He was my first electronic concert and before I went I had not even heard of him.  8 shows later he is one of my favorite artists and live performances.  This show he only got better.  The thing I love about this guy is that he keeps creating new music during tours which is not released, so the whole concert is mostly new songs I have never heard before.  His style is really unique among this electronic renaissance that is dominating Colorado.  He mixes break beats, hip hop, reggae, and other styles into his music, and his live performances are filled with high energy the whole show.  I would definitely check him out if you haven’t heard of him.

7)  This question will be really hard to answer since I do not read magazines are newspapers.  Most of the reading I do is for school, and when I’m not reading that, I am reading the fantasy novels I described above in the fourth answer.

8)  This is a hard question for me, but the only thing that pops up into my head is the website reddit.  I have been a member for 6 months and I think it is the best website on the net.  I know that is a pretty strong statement, but it is the most addicting website and you can really learn a lot just from visiting the site every day.  This is a website where people post things to reddit, and only the posts with the most upvotes reach the front page.  Many of these posts are funny, either being pictures of text messages of even an excerpt from yahoo questions, but people also post things that are going on in the world such as politics or interesting facts.  It is also a great place to look for art since a lot of members post their artwork and photography.  It is similar to digg if you have visited that website.

9)  I have been to the Denver Art Museum as well as BMOCA.  I loved both museums very much and have described an exhibit from the Denver Art Museum in a previous answer.  I’m sure while taking this class, I will visit them soon again.