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Posts Tagged ‘Quotes’

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Attraversiamo! Let us cross!

Not knowing where to start, we can start from here, from tonight.
Of all the nights, why not tonight?

I picked up my electronic pen, my fingertips, so many times, only to put it/them back in the drawer.
Fragile, breakable souls…we get overwhelmed so easily…we take so much time to process.
Life is always a zero or thousand percent experience to an artist…we know no ‘efficiency’ or safety…and we crave intensity because, for some of us, that is what art and life is made of.
I tend to store moments, spaces, bodies, souls, words, in mental collages as white-hot and dangerous as rocket turbines.
Fuel for the winters of life, emotions that could only be collected in tranquility.

Yet, what if life moves so fast that there is no time to process it through artwork?

The real life of absorbing work, passionate friends, culture, travel, service, relationships, often happens faster than art, words, and poetry…and demands to be lived with our heart on ‘fingertips and tongues’, as Fernanda Pivano writes.

To be an artist, which is never a choice –or at least not a choice than any sane person would make– requires that not only we live life at its fullest, but that we show up to our craft, that we transform the energy of our life, entropically, into artwork.

As soon as things get a little off- balance, that is, too much time passes without creative outputs, the feeling of being overwhelmed begins. Because the storing of information and experiences that will translate into artwork never stops in an artist.
Sacrifices need to be made…time-outs need to take place for the alchemical crafting of life into art, yet that doesn’t/can’t always happen.

Where does one start, then?

Digging through more than a year’s worth of raw, brilliant life, stupendous falls and magnificent failures….when does collecting become hoarding?
When there is no sharing. Most of us are compelled ( condemned? ) to offer up our work. These words, these ideas, these posts, need to leave my mind so that I and them can be set free.

Then there is time, and guilt.
Time away from the craft that is transformed into guilt.
This is an evil cycle for artists, made worst with each passing day. It is a sort of paralysis, a mental block due not to lack of ideas, but due to too many — coupled with the most peculiar fear of success.

And muses, muses inspire, but also distract, and disrupt. It is in the nature of muses and we won’t fault them.

How many times have I promised myself the return of myself – in full glory? Is this it?

Then I read an introduction to an art exhibit in Rome, something about the concept of  ‘taking time’ — the fact that art is also made of the fallow time it took to process life, that the in-between time of silence is an intrinsic part of evolutionary works….

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Thank you to Carlotta Pisano for this photo and inspiration.

A work of art is not only what is visible to the eye, but the result of a complex journey, of going-away and re-compositions

The exhibit, which I will never see and exists as a sort of Borgesian riddle
( I have the instructions, yet no machine; this being the whole point of the instructions) aims to
“underline the value, priceless, of that golden moment which is the possibility of producing a kind of thought that looks at art , without the anxiety of having to furnish a product. These works ( we will never see them, therefore we can imagine them as we wish )  have a baggage full of the process that matured and realized  them. It is the difference between looking and seeing.”

In these two years, I learned the importance of chaos, and that one must respect it and love it as an akward child.

I learned of nesting, and of working on a home as a temple.
Without order, at least for me, there can be no art, just escapism.
I learned I solve myself by working on external harmony.
(Or maybe I was just avoiding myself, and procrastinating.)

I learned patience, which is not burning anymore, but peaceful. I learned that forgiveness is part of the creative  process. And so is letting go.

I learned I am not reading enough books.

I learned that, when I am too tired to do anything else, and sleep does not come, words are there, images are there…and I can go into my vaults and cellars and create something to share with you.
I can write.
It is not academic writing –that will come in time–but something that likes to combines poetic prose or poetry with images. This is the sound my soul would make, if it could sing.

This output brings me immeasurable joy. More importantly, it keeps me alive.

I was recently, and repeatedly, reminded of the quote :

Find what brings you alive,
and do it.

The truth is that without showing up here, my soul atrophies. Simply put, it has become a matter of survival.

A lady I know and love likes to say, in matters of home organization,

You are not behind! I don’t want you to try to catch up; 

I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?

So I will start from where I am tonight, and work my way back, back through these past two years in images. As I said, I can offer more words and photographs than drawings and paintings at this point.
I decided to stop beating myself up for this.

I will jump in where we are too, with current (attempts at) drawn and painted work, back to using my hands everyday.
Consider this my artistic physical therapy after the most wonderful accidents.

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Above, my Christmas presents from my students.
The ‘one hundred small books’ were a project for the Advanced Presentation course I taught.

To start the conversation on small scale binding, I brought some of my mini books to show.
How did I end up with these? 😛


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My students could choose their own narrative and learned how to bind books using different techniques and materials.
We covered layout through a discussion on portfolio graphics and blog and website design –and used some color palette tools–
so for the final project I wanted to do something different and strange, inspired by an artist in the 70’s who created one hundred little books.

Some of them are portfolios, some poetry, photography…a couple are on love and music 🙂


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There is even Dostoevsky’s novella ‘White Night’ and a book entirely on coffee and quotes, both done by Anastasia, a fellow artist (someone knows me!).

You can follow her beautiful work here.

I will post more pages from the little books once school resumes. I also (shocking, I know) have a little book on coffee quotes at home, bought in Italy few Christmases ago. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it, and now I will share it with you – and Anastasia 🙂

Also there were lots and lots of sketchbooks from my History of Architecture students (!).

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I. love. them.


Before I go (get coffee), some coffee quotes from my little coffee book:

If asked: ‘How do you take your coffee’?
I reply : ‘Very Seriously’

Unknown


Coffee is a language in itself

Jackie Chan


Wake up!

Drink coffee…

Then think.

Unknown


Coffee is the favorite drink

of the civilized world.

Thomas Jefferson


Black as night,

Sweet as sin.

Neil Gaiman ‘Anansi Boys’


Deja Brew:

The feeling you’ve had

this coffee before.

Unknown Coffee


It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to

wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

Dave Barry


Black as the Devil,

Hot as Hell,

Pure as an Angel,

Sweet as Love.

Charles Maurice De Talleyrand


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My Bounty. Merry Christmas.

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Why is life worth living? It’s a very good question. Um… Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh… Like what… okay… um… For me, uh… ooh… I would say… what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing… uh… um… and Wilie Mays… and um… the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony… and um… Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues… um… Swedish movies, naturally… Sentimental Education by Flaubert… uh… Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra… um… those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne… uh… the crabs at Sam Wo’s… uh… Tracy’s face.

From Manhattan

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‘Habana is very much like a rose,’ said Fico Fellove in the movie The Lost City,

‘it has petals and it has thorns…so it depends on how you grab it.

But in the end it always grabs you.’


“One of the most beautiful cities in the world. You see it with your heart.”

Enrique Nunez Del Valle, Paladar Owner

Habana’s real essence is so difficult to pin down. Plenty of writers have had a try, though; Cuban intellectual Alejo Carpentier nicknamed Habana the ‘city of columns,’ Federico Llorca declared that he had spent the best days of his life there and Graham Greene concluded that Habana was a city where ‘anything was possible.’

ARCHITECTURE

Habana is, without doubt, one of the most attractive and architecturally diverse cities in the world. Shaped by a colorful colonial history  and embellished by myriad foreign influences from as far afield as Italy and Morocco, the Cuban capital gracefully combines Mudéjar, baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, art deco and modernist architectural styles into a visually striking whole.

But it’s not all sweeping vistas and tree-lined boulevards. Habana doesn’t have the architectural uniformity of Paris or the instant knock-out appeal of Rome. Indeed, two decades of economic austerity has meant many of the city’s finest buildings have been left to festering an advanced state of dilapidation. Furthermore, attempting to classify Habana’s houses,palaces, churches and forts as a single architectural entity is extremely difficult.

Cuban building – rather like its music – is unusually diverse. Blending Spanish colonial with French belle epoque, and Italian Renaissance with Gaudi-esque art nouveau, the over-riding picture is often one of eclecticism run wild.

Brendan Sainsbury


















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Dream before Nonno died. He was a fisherman. Ink on notebook paper, 2003.





Fragments {and a cashmere wrap}


The cashmere wrap finally arrived in the mail

so much weighs on this stole

‘opportunity a thief makes’

he said before giving me homework

— how we love.

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep”

Saul Bellow

A lot weighs on this stole:

conversation is rippled with diamonds

they tumble , heavy, they are words, quotes

…out of the mundane…

a pearl – grasp it and keep it.

Wisdom is the only jewelry I wear this season

and my greediness awaits

meaning.

He who grasps more than he can hold, would be better without any.

If a house is crammed with treasures of gold and jade,

it will be impossible to guard them all.

Lao Tzu

Did you hear the sound of wisdom, Heart?

The message you sought.

My only wealth is my memory.

Like a mendicant I gather precious words,

fragments of light that I bring back,

puzzles I spend days composing.

– You, collector of spirit, feeder of souls.

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, no-one wants to die.

The falcon, scarred wing, alighted the sill.


– the magpies, once they have caught the prey,

lose interest

and look around for the next creature to pursue-



Yogis come and go,

grasp their message

Catch leaves in the wind

take them home, make a nest.

Heaven is simple:

let go of anything that is not love or peace.


San Diego, December 15, 2011


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Architecture Depends by Jeremy Till Book cover

On April 08, 2011 I attended Till’s  provocative  lecture on his new book ‘Architecture Depends’. Here is a review from The Architects’ Journal (UK).

Here are some quotes from that day, from my notes, which i hope to be as faithful as possible:

The book was initially titled ‘Architecture and Contingencies’. The publisher made me change it to ‘Architecture Depends’. There are problems changing the title of a book once it is finished- and structured around a different title.

This book is a polemic. Architects detach themselves.  This detachment starts here in academia. Architecture students go in as humans and come back as architects.

Architects are separate from life. Autonomy in architecture is detachment.We witness the treatment of buildings as though they are detached objects, displayed in the media as something apart. This detachment is a dissolution.

All we got is Vitruvius: commodity, firmness, delight. Recycled through the ages!

Of all the impossible task that modernity sets for itself, order stands out. How does modernity achieve order? By exterminating ambivalence. Modernity is behind the Holocaust.

Corbu didn’t invent modernity. He was a symptom of it.

Modernity cannot get rid of contingency.

Contingency is getting rid of the idea that things may turn out differently. In architecture contingency is inevitable.

Architects would be banished by Plato.

Contingency makes us have to make choices.

Abstract vs. situated knowledge.

“All architecture is waste in transit.” Peter Guthrie

Le Courbusier tried to banish domestic inhabitation.

Parametric people are as conservative as the New Urbanists, the latter caught in an aggressive past, the former in a progressive future .

Modernity: concerned with purity, the color white…modernity is this gleaning table with this aesthetic of getting rid of dirt.

‘You don’t know how wonderful dirt is.’ James Joyce’s last words, from Gideon’s biography.

Architects ‘make space’…negative space…what does that even mean?

‘Social space is a social product’. Henri Lefebvre

The production of space is not the agency of architecture alone!

Sustainability=sustain the status quo. This word has become meaningless.

Elvis Costello and Lo-Fi architecture: I heard Elvis Costello once in an interview saying that when you record in the studio you get caught up in a certain kind of environment. He would ask to have the record played back on a cheap transistor radio, because that’s how the music is going to be experienced by most people. The same with architecture. We have to have in mind low-fi, transistor radio architecture as we stay in front of the computer, believing what we see. The more it looks real the less real it is.

Architecture cannot be about aesthetic alone: it deals with the social and ethical. It has to be alert to the context.

I don’t like to use pictures in my presentations because, as soon as I provide pictures, the argument becomes about aesthetic.

Professions set themselves apart by setting up problems they are the only ones able to solve. Professors do the same.

‘Architecture and Agency’ will be my next book.

Sensemaking vs. problemsolving.

In architecture we have created phony ethics, we have associated ethics with aesthetics, morality with beauty…God is in the detail, etc.

Doing good by doing beautiful buildings?

Professional codes of conducts are an example of phony ethics: these are not ethical guidelines, they are principles for relating to the client.

You can’t be ethical by doing beautiful buildings! You have to assume an ethical stance, a responsibility for the other. If we start thinking that every line on a piece of paper is an act of social responsibility, then every line assumes significance.

I am against ‘Anyone is Anyone’ conferences.

From the paper ‘Lost Judgement’ from the 2003 EEAA Prize by Jeremy Till – and referred to during the talk:

The Other for architects is the one or ones who will be part of the social space our buildings help construct. In this way we can be the architects Unger would wish us to be, “enabling people as individuals and as groups to express themselves by changing their situations. …(the architect) lives out his transformative vocation by assisting someone else’s.”

An ethical person is a person who gathers discordant opinions and makes the best decision. Hope is with given given circumstances. Stop investing in objects.

The next project I will do will be on scarcity. Scarcity is much more interesting to me.

Architects sold out the profession to the agency of Capitalism. In building Dubai they forgot it was going to be built by slave labor. If all you offer is commodity you have got nothing to offer. Spatial intelligence will get us away from the cul-de-sac we got ourselves into. We should be gathering contingencies and make the best possible solutions.

I like to think of architects as angels with dirty faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Day finds me in Amsterdam this year, on my way to Milano. Internet access may be intermittent the next few weeks, and while I plan to do art and sketch (well, as much sketching as subzero temperatures will allow), I won’t have my scanner so the quality of the drawings, collages and whatever else I may do will not be pristine, so bear with me. After all, this is the beauty of traveling: not having your usual environs, trappings and equipment leads to creative problem solving and a bit of experimenting (even though, judging from my luggage, it sure does look like I am carrying all my trappings :P). I plan to use a very nifty feature I discovered in WordPress: post by SMS (text). I am not sure my Italian sim card will allow me to use my Android phone as modem or that I will have internet on it, but I sure will be able to text so I am looking forward to post some impressions of Milano in winter, maybe even some life ephipanies (ha!).
For now I want to leave with some quotes I took down from the movie Eat, Pray , Love (don’t judge, it was playing on the plane and I happen to dig the author, as I mentioned before):
 
 
Italy:

Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure.

In Italy we have the expression ‘dolce far niente’ ; the sweetness of doing nothing.

Maybe you are a woman in search of a word.

Ruin is a gift. Ruin leads to transformation and evolution.

Bali:

Learn to see with your heart, not with your eyes, or with your head.

Meditate while smiling. Smile not just with your face, smile with your head. Smile even with your liver.

India:
You don’t have to be married or have children to have a family.

You have to learn to select your thoughts everyday, just as you select the clothes you are going to wear everyday.

God dwells within me. As me.

To live is to trust.

What if you had the capacity one day to love the whole world?

…..
A Merry, Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope is a good one
Without any fear.
(And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?)

 

Here is to new beginnings without old nonsenses.

Here is to lots of art and growth (and lots of good things to share)

 
 

 

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