Archive for:May, 2012

Art of the Day — Song: “Mr. Magic” by …And the Native Hipsters (1979)

May 25th, 2012

Mr. Magic
   by …And The Native Hipsters, from LP There Goes Concorde Again (1979)

Hey you
Hey you
Hey you

Get up from my chair and rush across the room,
Throw the TV set out of the window
There’s a friend of mine out in the street
And I want to attract his attention

Out goes the table, out goes the carpet,
Out goes the lampstand,
Out goes the dog, three floors down to smash on the pavement
Then I’ll go AYY
Waving and screaming

Naked man and naked woman sitting in the middle of the woodpile
Will they bring back past impressions sitting in the middle of a woodpile?
Wood can make fire but it isn’t warm
Tongues in the next town waggle
Naked men and naked woman together for the good of the community

Tired old man and stinky (stupid?) old woman
Sitting in the middle of the woodpile
Can they start new generation sitting in the middle of the woodpile?
Two rotting corpses, two rotting corpses
Such a happy(?) woodpile, such a happy(?) woodpile
Red sail on the sunset, red ink on the red paper
Red clothes on red skins
Tomatoes, cherries, raw meats is just three things I can eat
Tomatoes, cherries, raw meat
Only one way to dress on the street:
Red hair on my red red boots, on my feet
Red red, red red
How I love the color red

Out goes the table, out goes the carpet
Out goes the lampstand
Out goes the dog, three floors down to smash on the pavement
And I’ll go AYY
Waving and screaming

There’s a lover of mine on the other side of the world
And I want to attract his attention

Hey you
Hey you

     I just heard the magnifishous “Mr. Magic” by the London-based late 70s/early 80s band …All the Native Hipsters, and almost immediately after my wriggling fits of ecstasy wore off, I went about transcribing the lyrics (partal transcription above). On paper the language is fun & brash & wild but people, hear thou me that you needst to hear the words sung and spoken to really get why this is all so wonderous; do it NOW:

     Singer’s peculiar way & enunciation remind me of Bowie (in the best possible way), but mostly I’ve just never heard anyone quite like her before. Just the way she keeps varying up the delivery of “Hey You” makes me happy. Oh and how she says “waggle”, yum. I also love the story here — or my cobbling together of one — narrator trying to woo someone, even unto suicide; fantasizes (from hospital bed, from afterlife) about the two of them getting together in a pyre amid gossip, uncertain of whether it would lead to anything; then grows despondent & apathetic imagining them old & their love unconsummated; then moves to celebration of anger and flesh and red and the sensual, of moving on & strutting on & putting the past behind her; but then cycle repeats as the old futile destructive urge respawns. AYY!
     So listen, if any of ye readers know for sure what singer is singing in the places I’ve indicated with a “(?)”, let me know. Couldn’d dig it up on the onlines. Happy weekend!

More about …And The Native Hipsters right here.


[posted by: C Way at 12:31 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Music ||| poetry]
Comments (2)

Art of the Day — Photography: Six by Naomi Fisher

May 19th, 2012



       Naomi Fisher (b. 1976 in Miami, FL)
       Assy Flora Suite of 3, Pink Hibiscus, Royal Poincettia, Orchid Tree, 1999, cibachrome print



       Naomi Fisher
       Sparkly Shirt, 2000, C-Print



       Naomi Fisher
       Untitled (White Dress), 1997, Cibachrome print



       Naomi Fisher
       Untitled (Green Pants), 1998, Cibachrome print



       Naomi Fisher
       Untitled (Hole in Ground), 2000, Cibachrome print



       Naomi Fisher
       Booty Bouquet, 1998, Cibachrome print

       Photos above courtesy of: The Rubell Family Collection (Miami, FL), The Moore Space, and Leo Koenig, Inc.
      I’m a big fan of Naomi Fisher’s work in general, but I especially love her 90s sex-subtropical work, five pieces of which are featured here. These pieces are lurid, cheeky, menacing and alive with dark provocative joy. They’re ripe with overlapping themes & suggestions: the human human body as subtropical flora (bringing to mind the ancient trope of male/female genitalia as resembling or bringing to mind petals, flowers, mushrooms, sap, nectar, seed, etc.); human intercourse with said flora (useful to remind ourselves that flora are essentially genitalia); humans taken sexually & against their will by said flora; flora growing up and through humans; humans presenting themselves for dehumanized sexual consideration just as the genitalia that are flora offer themselves up to pollinating insects; humans interacting with the density & fecundity of the subtropics in flirty romp, in perilous ritual, in wary tread, in engulfed paralysis. The master theme that emerges for me is the conflation or cohabiting of the human sex drive (coupled always with shame and tension) with the unselfconscious reproductive mechanisms of nature, and the danger & total liberation of that resulting relationship.
     Some personal context: Having grown up in subtropical florida, I’m used to its flowers trees & leaves, birds & bugs & shells and all things between being presented in the friendly visual language of a tourist economy. Billboards, tv spots, magazines, restaurant menus, schoolbooks: everywhere I looked I saw nature presented as safely lush & delightful & anthropomorphized: we’re talking laughing dolphins and winking toucans & endless washes of unnaturally-hued key lime green & sunkist orange. Or some ferns and fronds and bougainvillea and cabbage palms as backdrop for svelte models in magazine ads hawking jewelry or silken garments or something, always sweet & trimmed & charming & tamed. But that’s nothing to do with the southwest Florida nature I knew and loved (and held in awe) as a boy: nature for me was visceral, threatening, overwhelmingly fertile, annelid-wriggling, spider-crab gnarled & barnacled, horseshoecrab-alien & skittering. It was unstoppably teeming & heedless of humankind’s efforts to corral & contain it. Damp, rank, decaying, hiding stuff under leaves and within masses of over-vined thickets, mysterious & powerful. Fisher’s photos here tap right into this spirit for me, and it feels only right that their human subjects (“accessories” might be a better term) should appear variously or sometimes simultaneously as violently ravished playthings; dehumanized trunks and rumps existing only to present themselves for use (just like flowers; notice the floral print on the panties in “Assy Flora”); folks caught in some midnight ritual of reconnecting with the raw vitality of nature; lost bewildered captives in their mangrove-root cages & among throngs of phallic, flared lilies & birds of paradise & swordlike heliconia.
     My favorite piece of the five above is “Sparkly Shirt”. Those yellow pollen-looking smears on her legs, the unnatural pose as if she’s in the midst of being taken by flowers or ready to offer herself to them, the print of her shirt as if she’s an acolyte trying to appease some subtropical spirit. Her hair hangs across her features, further dehumanizing her — clear shots of faces seem almost impossible to find in Fisher’s subtropical photos of this period — and linking her to the non-human otherness surrounding her. The lighting is glared and tabloidish; the whole staging has this forbidden and not-meant-to-be-seen energy, making us feel like we’ve stumbled unwanted into this exciting interzone where humans and nature thrash and try to mix into one another in ceremony, ecstasy, pain, longing.

For more work in this vein by Fisher, please go here.

For more about Fisher, please go here.


[posted by: C Way at 6:04 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| photography]

Art of the Day — Sculpture: Keisuke Mizuno, “Forbidden Fruit with Leaf” (1998)

May 14th, 2012



       Keisuke Mizuno (b. 1969 in Nagoya, Japan)
       Forbidden Fruit with Leaf, 1998, glazed porcelain

      I unfortunately associate porcelain with sentimental Hummel figurines and cheap holiday ware. To see the material in the service of something this decidedly un-Hummel is a real treat. Of note right away is the outstanding craftsmanship: check the detail of the fruit’s chewed pulpy fibers; the intricate texture of the fruit’s stem.
      But it’s the tone and theme of this piece that really hits me: the beautiful despoiling, the raw viscera of our eating eaten world, the neverending cycles of consumption-destruction in nature (and, by extension, in us). Perfect forms of beauty spoiled: by necessity, impartially, forever. Watch those glistening slugs feasting on fruit scales. And that alarming exposed kernel of child tucked away on the inside, skulled and dead (zoom in to see), either already killed from the devouring of its eggfruit, or maybe gone from the start and not the prize the slugs thought it would be (notice the slug nearest the child turned away, its eyepods facing the viewer).
      But the slugs are in for a surprise perhaps? — check out the the hint of reddish nubbed pulpy backside of the redveined leaf. Feels almost like the whole leaf is itself flesh, calling to mind certain varieties of carnivorous plant, and like it could fold up its meaty lobes at any moment and eat the eaters & eaten. Without malice, without triumph. Just automatic innate drive to absorb, draw life essence from, excrete.

More about Mizuno, and more examples of Mizuno’s work at Frank Lloyd Gallery.


[posted by: C Way at 11:38 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Ekphrasis ||| sculpture]

Art of the Day — Sculpture: Harumi Nakashima, “Struggling Form” (1997)

May 12th, 2012



       Harumi Nakashima (b. 1950 in Japan)
       Struggling Form, 1997, glazed stoneware

      Saw this in person at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. Spent many lingering moments hovering near it, admiring everything about it. Of course right away you’re hit with the that Kusama-like relishing of the polkadot and the orbic. The fun asymmetry of its one mutant sphere foot. The scalloped, imperfectly-lined up seal; a bivalve’s maloclussion — which in person was even more rich and rewarding, with the way you could see & half-see into its creamy smooth interior and out the other side. And the liquid twisting yearning of the piece as it fulfilled its own name. See this in person if it comes to a space near you.

More about Nakashima, and more of his work at


[posted by: C Way at 10:25 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| sculpture]

Art of the Day — Two Poems by Yitzhak Laor

May 11th, 2012


Take Care, Soldier

Don’t die, soldier, hold the radiophone, don your helmet, your flak jacket, surround the village with a trench of crocodiles, starve it out if need be, eat Mama’s treats, shoot sharp, keep your rifle clean, take care of the armored Jeep, the bulldozer, the land, one day it will be yours, little David, sweetling, don’t die, please. Keep watch for Goliath the peasant, he’s trying to sell his pumpkin at a local market, he’s plotting to buy a gift for his grandkid, erase the evil Haman whose bronchitis you denied treatment, eradicate the blood of Eva Braun by checking on the veracity of her labor pains, silence her shriek, that’s how every maternity ward sounds, it’s not easy having such humane values, be strong, take care, forget your deeds, forget the forgetting. That thy days may be long, that the days of thy children may be long, that one day they shall hear of thy deeds and shall stick fingers in their ears and scream with fear and thy sons’ and thy daughters’ scream shall never fade. Be strong, sweet David, live long unto seeing thy children’s eyes, though their backs hasten to flee from thee, stay in touch with thy comrades-at-arms, after thy sons deny thee, a covenant of the shunned. Take care, soldier-boy.
The gunner who wipedout a hospital the pilot who torched a refugee camp the journalist who courted hearts & minds for murder the actor who played it as just another war the teacher who sanctioned the bloodshed in class the rabbi who sanctified the killing the government minister who sweatily voted the paratrooper who shot the threetime refugee the poet who lauded the finest hour of the nation who scented blood and blessed the MiG. The moderates who said let’s wait & see the party hack who fell over himself in praising the army the sales clerk who sniffedout traitors the policeman who beat an Arab in the anxious street the lecturer who tapped on the officer’s back with envy of the officer who was afraid of refusing the prime minister who eagerly drank down the blood. They  shall not be cleansed.
-- Both poems trans. Joshua Cohen

      I first met these two poems, among four others written by Laor (and translated by Cohen), in an issue 12 (Fall 2011) of literary magazine n+1. I was hit hard by their force, direct language, immediacy. So much published poetry today is content to skirt around meaning, dance about in a play of suggestion, or wink from within a pouf of neon neopostmodern bubbles. Too much delight in form disengaged from a pure instinct to directly communicate thought and feeling — poetry’s lodestar, always, always — to the reader. Some of that’s fine, but damn it gets old. No such trouble with Laor’s works, & lord what fresh air in that. Take “Balance” and its breathless indictment. Its biblical anaphora. Calling out criminals and their misdeeds one by one by one. I wish I could read this in its original Hebrew to see what I’m missing in terms of other linguistic characteristics/phonics. Something tells me not much — and that’s to the poem’s credit — the point here is elsewhere, it’s in a prophet’s clear and rising voice and unafraid willingness to expose wrongs. Poetry is many things to many people, but one thing it has always been and should always be is this: clear, economical language in the service of direct idea and/or feeling. And folks, it don’t get more direct than this: turn the tables, right the wrongs, fuck the blood-drinkers.
     ”Take Care, Soldier” goes a step further. Not just calling out who shall not be cleansed, but directly stating how they won’t. Poem starts with vicious sustained sarcasm. Reminding us how effective we can all be in sentimentalizing our soldiers. Especially so in unjust wars where sentimentalization is a way for one side or both or all to avoid the pain & trauma of realizing how one is at fault; how one has surrendered everything to nationalism, to fear, to tribalism, or allowed a small group of powerful men to do the same unchecked. The poem then goes further and moves to an ancient and biblical-formal form of address by the last stanza. This move is devastating. Because now indignant sarcasm and jeer — a tactic already potent enough as it is — have exploded to full prophetic curse.
“Take Care, Soldier” was first published in 2004 in a collection called Ir Ha’Leviyatan (“Leviathan City”). And if anyone knows when “Balance” was first published please let me know.


For more about Laor, please check out his profile at The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature.

For more about n+1, please check out their site.


[posted by: C Way at 2:48 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry]