The New Artist People Series focuses on six contemporary Japanese artists; giving insight to their practice and a wider scope to art occurring in Japan. For their second installment they document the eccentric life of eighty year-old avant-garde artist/poet Yayoi Kasuma entitled Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me. Truth be told, I am not generally a very big fan of Kasuma and have only experienced her work twice in person; one being her permanent installation at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh and once at the Tate Modern in London.
Shot over the course of a year and a half in and around 2006 we follow Kasuma as she creates her monumental series Love Forever. Consisting of fifty paintings Kasuma puts most of her efforts into completing the series and often works her self to exhaustion. I have never been much of a fan of the art as a vessel for the artist approach but for the first time could buy it when Kasuma accounts her bouts with depression and suicide while keeping an active studio practice. We do not hear very much of her personal life and only a little of her childhood, which included following her adulterous father around town to having her paintings destroyed by her vindictive mother, but, it is unavoidable not to notice Kasuma’s own infatuation with her own work/self. It appears that Kasuma loves herself.
One aspect that struck me was the thought of originality. It has been a long time since I had thought of the idea of originality or being an original but the idea came up several times in the film. Kasuma herself describes herself as “an original” and often compares herself to other artists both of her time and now. When looking through some magazine articles on her work (this appears to be a favorite past time of hers) she asks her studio assistant how her and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami compare. She asks, “My works are so much better don’t you think? It’s so obvious.” Kasuma later finds herself on Murakami’s comedy show which I must say might be the cutest dance sequences I have seen in a long time. When asked who her influences have been she says that she has none but that Jackson Pollock is good and that Picasso was not bad. Her deadpan delivery of such grandiose statements somehow makes Kasuma ever more endearing. In the documentary we catch her at times when she is rather frail but, when in the public eye she dons her brightly colored wigs and plays the eccentric grandmother of contemporary Japanese art. [Read more]
On this week’s video pick we bring you Siggi Eggertsson’s Supernova. You will probably recognize his work since he is a pretty popular Illustrator based in Berlin. He has done cover work for Gnarls Barkley’s Odd People, Wired magazine, and most recently for Microsoft’s Zune.
Check out Siggi’s site for more info
Emory Douglas will be speaking tonight, Tuesday, December 1st, at Columbia College. Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party and recently has received a resurgence of interest after his touring retrospective. I had a chance to catch Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center in 2007 and am looking forward to hearing Douglas speak.
Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Ferguson Auditorium, 600 S. Michigan Ave., 1st Fl.
via Columbia College:
“After working in a prison printshop while incarcerated as a teenager and more formally studying commercial art at San Francisco City College, Emory Douglas took on the role of Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, creating the group’s visual style and iconic representations of the Black Power Movement. Through the party’s newspaper The Black Panther, Douglas’ graphic work helped motivate the disenfranchised to action throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Colette Gaiter has describer him as the “Norman Rockwell of the ghetto” portraying the strength and dignity found among even the most harshly oppressed. This lecture is presented as part of the Scraping the Surface Lecture Series. Presented by Anchor Graphics, in conjunction with Critical Encounters: Fact & Faith.”
Guest post by Damien James.
I heard all about what made the ancient Romans laugh (an inordinate amount of what were essentially absent-minded professor jokes), where Wittgenstein and Buster Keaton converge, the bathroom habits of insects, and Jewish humor. I heard clips of what is considered to be classic comedy, saw unreal films made and animated by Bob Sabiston, witnessed people actually slapping their knees while experiencing John Hodgman’s charmingly eloquent bullshit, and others share stories about themselves without the least bit of encouragement simply to pass the time while waiting in line to have a book signed.
It was such a bustling couple of weeks that I really didn’t have much time to do any actual and focused thinking about laughter, though. In hindsight and when I seriously put my mind to it (not necessarily easy for me), I began to consciously appreciate just how loaded laughter is, how there is a laugh for every emotion, how easily and naturally laughter is used to cover embarrassment, anger, self pity, contempt, all of which had passed through my thoughts at various times throughout my life, but had never featured prominently for any appreciable amount of time. [Read more]
Make sure and check out the Chicago Tribune today for an article about Deb Sokolow’s current residency project with Daniel Boone Elementary School, which is part of Chicago Public School’s “Crossroads” program. Sokolow is helping 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students create a wall mural that will become a permanent part of the school’s hallways. As is typical for Sokolow, the wall mural will contain a combination of text and images that tell the story of the school’s 80 year history in an idiosyncratic and detour-laden fashion, including, for example, an account of the 1932 murder of Mabel Chenoweth, a woman who owned a candy shop a block away from the school. [Read more]