Ramblings of a drunkard..

Cherry Pits

The pit of my heart
trails off into the dark
like the back of my throat coated so many times

1 ounce

You can’t feel it, but I’m clenching my jaw
opening my mouth to tell you more
you don’t want to hear about my problems
squirt it out all over my face
don’t you say shit
don’t you ruin this for me
just fill me up again with
1 more ounce

“Get off of me”
Thanks, I love you too.

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Entering the Sixth Dimension: An extended review of Golden’s Fireplace, 2013

Golden, Baudrillard, and the Sixth Dimension

French theorist Baudrillard once said, “Digitality is with us. It is that which haunts all the messages, all the signs of our societies. The most concrete form you see it in is that of the test, of the question/answer, of the stimulus/response”2. We live in the age of information. With the rise of technology saturating nearly every facet of our lives, one work in The Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Room to Live” exhibition, Samara Golden’s The Fireplace, 2013, addresses and brings this phenomenon to light. The frenetic three-channel video installation houses items including make shift vintage 3D glasses and a loveseat constructed entirely out of Rmax foam insulation. The artist then utilizes these elements to encourage the audience to form the eventual perception of simultaneously existing within numerous spaces while still remaining within a singular space.

With the projection of Golden’s face shielding her eyes, the attempt to hide from the overflow of outside information seems to maintain its relevance in a society where, as Baudrillard states, “there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” As with many of Golden’s other works, such as her Bad Brains, 2012 installation, the space introduces an unshakable sense of displacement, or what Golden has dubbed as “entering the sixth dimension1”, a realm that exists on a plane entirely separate from our own reality. The installation seamlessly allows its virtual elements to coexist with the tangible, resulting in dual realities that occupy a single space in both the work’s modestly sized room, as well as within the viewer’s mind. Through this, and because each viewer is influenced by their own varying life experiences, any number of realities can, and do, exist.

The exploration of Golden’s sixth dimension seems to be most clearly understood through the lens of Baudrillard’s perception of the hyper-real, where the existence of these separate realities muddles the viewer’s ability to differentiate between what is real and what is a simulation. With the mind-numbing glare of perpetually flickering images, the viewer is transported into the infinite void of the virtual, an interesting predicament considering the imagery utilized in the hovering screen photo collage are all photographs depicting aspects of Golden’s personal life. With each layer of reality presented, even certain tangible aspects of the installation exist as a sort of pseudo-reality. The best example of this is the chair in the center of the installation. Upon inspection the chair seems sturdy enough to support quite a few people, but after some pressure has been applied to it, the seat proves to be nothing more than a flimsy replica, negating its perceived purpose.

Enter the sixth dimension. The real is no longer the only real and the technology is consuming. The viewer is sucked into a vortex of information where illusions become reality, leaving behind a confused mass of jumbled remnants of what was once initially perceived as the only reality. “The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is already reproduced, the hyper-real2.” This notion seems to fall perfectly in line with Golden’s intent to create a space where multiple times and multiple realities exist, while all simultaneously true. This in turn reroutes any perceived certainty of previously held conceptions of truth, resulting in an ever-present cyclone of reality. Always turning, always changing, and always inhaling any outside information made available to it with a complete disregard for those caught in its path.

-April Baca

 

  1. MOCAtv. “Samara Golden on The Fireplace – MOCA U.” Online video clip. MOCA, 10 February 2014. Web. 11 February 2014.
  1. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. New York City: Semitext(e), 1983. Print.

 

Samara Golden, The Fireplace, 2013 Review

ImageSamara Golden
The Fireplace, 2013
Three-channel video installation with sound
dimensions variable

The Golden Rule

We live in the age of information. With the rise of technology saturating nearly every facet of our lives, one work in The Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Room to Live” exhibition, Samara Golden’s The Fireplace, 2013, addresses and brings this phenomenon to light. The frenetic three-channel video installation houses items including make shift vintage 3D glasses and a loveseat constructed entirely out of Rmax foam insulation, all remaining neatly contained within the space’s bed sheet covered walls. And yet, the subtle nuanced charm of Golden’s obvious sincerity permits the viewer to move past the never ending whirl of information and instead experience Golden’s own alternate dimension.

Upon entry, the viewer is immediately confronted by hundreds of Golden’s personal photographs, flashing continuously within milliseconds of each other and contained only on the screen that floats above Fireplace’s mantle. The barrage of this repetitive imagery is accompanied by the silhouette of Golden’s featureless head, which periodically turns from side to side in what can be interpreted as a feeble attempt to digest the flickering images surrounding her, while trapped in asphyxiating digital space. In front of this, a projection of Golden’s pale face graces an urn, occasionally singing or humming along to a lucid mix of swan songs and 80’s rock. Each of these media projections is appropriately displayed through Golden’s use of anaglyphic 3D, a 3D effect achieved through the use of cyan and red filtered lenses, which are then applied to an image with two opposing, colored filters.

Consequently, the artist plays on these elements to permit the installation’s audience to form the eventual perception of simultaneously existing within numerous spaces while still remaining within a singular space. As with many of Golden’s other works, such as her Bad Brains, 2012 installation, the space introduces an unshakable sense of displacement, or what Golden has dubbed as “entering the sixth dimension”1, a realm that exists on a plane entirely separate from our own realty. With the projection of Golden’s face shielding her eyes, the attempt to hide from the overflow of outside information seems to maintain its relevance in a society where, as French theorist Jean Baudrillard states, “there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.”

-April Baca

 

  1. MOCAtv. “Samara Golden on The Fireplace – MOCA U.” Online video clip. MOCA, 10 February 2014. Web. 11 February 2014.

Designer Mutilation

ImageMarina Santana, Designer Mutilation, 2013

Acrylics, Ceramics, and Human Hair

The Intimate Details of Vaginal Variations

Recent Cal State San Bernardino graduate Marina Santana cleverly brings to light society’s misogynistic categorization and blatant objectification of the female anatomy with Designer Mutilation, 2013, one of the artist’s two installations on view at the university’s Dutton Family Gallery as part of the Winter Quarter 2014 exhibitionIntimate Details. Seamlessly fixed, as if afloat on the expanse of stark white walls, Designer Mutilation is comprised of a small variety of delicately painted ceramic forms resembling close-up views of female genitalia. Each is roughly 5 inches in length and candidly reflects the vulva of one of twelve women,including the artist. The subjects, which Santana sourced through Frannie Adam’s Pussy Portraits, 2009, a 96 page photo book featuring full page juxtapositions of each women’s portrait and vagina, range from their mid-20s and up in age and are all exhibited anonymously alongside Santana’s more openly disclosed self-portrait.

The twelve modestly sized eye-level protrusions stand before the viewer utterly exposed, eliciting an in-your-face veracity comparable to that of Finnish sculptor Mimosa Pale’s 8-foot tall Mobile Female Monument, 2007, or even the infamous vaginal chewing gum body lesions of Hannah Wilkie from the 1970s. Santana’s bold utilization of the vulva presents an air of comfort and vague familiarity that remains in dialogue with other contemporary works of iconic feminist conceptual art. With each delicately crafted mound, riddled with dissimilarities, protruding out towards the viewer, the piece literally beckons the eye to draw closer for thorough inspection.

Ultimately, Designer Mutilation seems to construct its provocation within a neatly presented, multifaceted experience; it illuminates, it examines, and it provokes. Calling to mind the many works of art crafted throughout history created solely to depict the female anatomy according to a more desirable male fantasy,Designer Mutilation reconsiders the female anatomy from the context of a patriarchal society, consequently eulogizing the form without idealizing it by illustrating in intimate detail the individual nature of each woman’s body.

Mounted, spread out, bare, and limbless, Designer Mutilation invites the viewer’s eyes to careen inside of the sparingly or generously haired gentle painted folds, each existing as a metaphorical portal of ascent for the woman who may find herself struggling with insecurities about the aesthetic structure of her own genitalia, insecurities that society has defaulted to as a cruel result of the senseless barrage of explicit and implicit mass media propaganda. According to The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, this phenomenon has prompted nearly 5,200 women annually to consider cosmetic surgery in their pursuit for vaginal transcendence, or, the genital norm. Santana’s piece responds to this call by obliterating the preconceived notion of a singularly “ideal” female aesthetic.

-April Baca

Marnie Weber and a Giggle of Clowns

ImageMarnie Weber

Giggle of Clowns, 2009

Mixed Media/Audio Installation

A Wake of Giggles

“To be happy is a very dark journey.” – Marnie Weber

Currently on view at MOCA Grand Avenue as part of the museum’s Room to Live collection, Marnie Weber’s Giggle of Clowns introduces to its audience a modestly sized, somewhat clustered group of clowns loitering near a central female figure at heights wavering around 6ft. tall. Giggle of Clowns, aside from its initially macabre presence, presents its viewer with a sort of comedic melancholy that lingers long past its audience has since moved from the ever present glare of the sculptures’ piercing glass eyes. In her MOCA Art Talk, Weber briefly discusses each of the character’s histories that played a part in the ultimate creation of the giggle, or group. The incredible range of these stories spans anywhere from impaled circus workers to the ever lingering presence of the Spirit Girls, a group of female rock musicians who normally don lightly spray painted masks (indicative of their lifelessness) and wigs vaguely reminiscent of a cheaply made Victorian doll while never actually speaking (as seen within Weber’s film The Sea of Silence, 2009), on a mission to fulfill a never seen through theatrical rock and roll career. The installation of these clowns seems to stand as a reflection of a period prior to the resurrection of the Spirit Girls, as the group appears aimlessly static, surrounding what Weber dubbed to be the lead spirit girl, whose eyes remain eternally pried open, while her body lies bald, mute, and exposed. The central Spirit Girl, caringly positioned atop a table strewn with moss and flowers, lies still while slowly being engulfed by her surroundings, fixed in a state of embalmed purgatory while being put on display for her clown followers through what the viewer can only assume to be some sort of transcendent wake. Interestingly, when a clown dies, it’s customary for his and/or her fellow clowns to attend the funeral service(s) while outfitted in their clown regalia. Giggle of Clowns blatantly, yet effectively, utilizes this by placing a twist on the recreation of the traditional “clown wake”. The background audio Weber’s installed then reverberates the soft crying and laughter of clowns on loop atop a base of circus music. The 11 clown sculptures surrounding the central Spirit Girl, each maintains his/her own identity, while simultaneously conforming to the overall group identity of a circus clown. The material of the clown sculptures themselves, as Weber explains, are mannequin bodies, the majority of which are outfitted with clothes that have either been thrifted or purchased through specialized clown apparel retailers. The faces molded atop each of the eleven mannequins are heavily painted masks of the elderly, each holding within it two glass eyes. Each clown existing as an extension of Weber’s own alter egos, the clowns range in personality from the standoffish, worn mother clown outfitted with tightly wrapped hair curlers and a loosely fitted floral pastel bath robe to the more playfully interactive clown outfitted in a frilled blue dress, actively participating with the presence of the Spirit Girl corpse by coyly offering a bird cage containing a sickly grey rat. Interaction with the clowns, however menacing their mere presence may be, stands, oddly, less daunting than standing before the perpetually wide eyed face strategically hidden within the expressionless flesh colored mask of the lead Spirit Girl. The blank demeanor of the corpse alternatively serves to reflect that which gazes upon it, which may largely account for the unnerving sense of dread that arises from standing so close within its gaze. In relation to the Other and our own sense of identity, “if we are not faithful to ourselves, approaching the other proves to be impossible. What we could then experience would only be appropriation, leading us astray from what it proper to each world as well” (Irigaray p.8). Because of this, each interaction with the Other, or the corpse/giggle of clowns, differs greatly for each individual. While some may come to view the piece and proceed to distort its implications by confusing it with something only relative to themselves, others may come to find a sense of homogeneity between the sculptures and themselves, permitting the world relative to themselves, as well as the world relative to that of the work, a sense of cohabitation.

-April Baca