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In Arthur Nersesian’s wonderfully freewheeling 2003 novel about a painter in New York, Chinese Takeout, there’s a paragraph I’ve never forgotten because it resonates so deeply with anyone who has ever wondered where creativity begins. At the beginning of chapter six the narrator offers this insight:
It takes two qualities to make a serious artist: an interesting aesthetic and a blunt trauma. The first is a method and the second is a reason to paint.
This passage popped into my head during the recently published Yayoi Kusama interview in Time Out London. Here are some excerpts:
Having suffered nervous disorders and hallucinations since childhood, Kusama has chosen to live in a Tokyo psychiatric hospital for the past 38 years, and has built herself a studio opposite.
[…] the marital infidelities of Kusama’s father had a lasting impact on his free-spirited daughter. ‘My father had lots of lovers and I had to spy on him for my mother. Because my mother was very angry it made even the idea of sex very traumatic for me. My work, including the naked happenings, is always about overcoming that bad experience.
[…] her nervous disorders have no doubt always fed into her art (in analytical terms she’s burying herself in the process of repeating what she fears, in order to obliterate both her fears and herself) …
[…] Few other contemporary artists have been able to accommodate a psychiatric nervous disorder (Kusama still receives medication at the hospital in which she lives) as part of a highly successful commercial career.
Kusama seems to reinforce popular notions of the artist who battles with some form of madness. Of course, Van Gogh is the poster boy of that popular myth.
After reading these personal facts about Kusama, looking at her “Obliteration Room” project in Australia does feel very very different.
Read the whole interview here.
Renty Taylor wasn’t only an enslaved individual, he was much much more, and his story should concern us all.
Legal Precedents or Reparations? Lawsuit Against Harvard May Decide Who Owns Images of Enslaved People
Tamara Lanier’s battle for the ownership of her ancestors’ images is forcing the law to contend with the the institution of chattel slavery in interpreting intellectual property parameters.
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Over the last few years, Hyperallergic has reported on the continuing quest of Tamara Lanier to retrieve daguerreotypes of her ancestors Renty and Delia Taylor. In March 2019, Lanier filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts to obtain rights to photographs in the collection of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, which were commissioned by…
Every utopia is a social experiment, the artist suggests in this commission for the Performa performance art biennial, and we’re ultimately the guinea pigs.
“You can’t live in a house that’s built upon your back.” This is one of the more memorable phrases spoken by the scripted lovers of Tschabalala Self’s Sounding Board, what Performa describes in its promotional materials as an “experimental play.” That phrase, uttered by one romantic partner to the other, operates as guidance, warning, dictate,…
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
A commitment to trans subjects, and their queer communities, is manifested as a holding environment made approachable by our concern, grounded in intimacy and legacy, enfolding any viewer who will stop, listen, and receive love.
Todd Chandler’s documentary Bulletproof looks at the many people monetizing the societal rot of school shootings.
As a free, powerful, and unpredictable woman, the witch has long been a crucible for mainstream society’s darkest fears.