Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Existential Thoughts, and What I've Been Up To

I'm sorry I have not been around much lately.  As I said when I started this blog, we'll see how good I am about maintaining fresh content.  Life has kept me busy with work, trips, and events.  Last month I celebrated my birthday and took a family trip to NYC. This month has been filled with local outdoor festivals, more birthday parties, and lots of good food and climbing.

Supposedly the best burger in NYC.
Working a 5.9 at Earth Treks
In New York we took our what is becoming an annual trip to MoMA and viewed both the Björk and Yoko Ono retrospectives.  While the Björk exhibit has received much criticism in the press, I actually found it thoughtful and impacting.  I had listened to Björk a lot during her first few albums, but had not kept up with the musician for the last decade.  It was wonderful to be reminded of her incredible talents vocally, as a composer, and as the artistic director of her persona.  While some critics felt that the exhibition did not give enough credit to Björk's many collaborators, what they fail to remember is that she is still the storyteller and artistic director of  her life's work. In fact, the artists she has worked with got much more credit than anyone who ever worked for Jeff Koons or Da Vinci.  In fact, the musician deals with this very issue (albeit more in relation to her music) in a recent interview she did with Pitchfork. In any case, I wish I had had more time to fully experience the section of the exhibit called Soundlines as it was intended.  My son kept asking the rest of the day what had happened to the girl in the story.  Makes me smile.

What truly moved me though, was the video experience created for her song Black Lake, from her new album, Vulnicura. While you can find a version of the video on YouTube, you can only experience the work as it was intended in the special black box theater designed for the exhibit.  There were two screens on opposite walls that played complementary, but different versions of the video and over 30 speakers around the room, each playing a different instrument from the song.  What that created was an immersion into the intense feelings of loss and grief that the song portrays. It was beautiful.

As for the Yoko Ono retrospective, I came away truly impressed.  I had never paid that much attention to her art, which is surprising since I am usually a fan of conceptual art, and am so glad that I was able to learn more about her work and the meaning behind it.  My favorite pieces from the exhibit were those that involved the audience.  The items related to her book Grapefruit remind me of the work of Lawrence Weiner.  Both artists created works or instructions that leave much in the hands of the interpreter.  They may have an idea in mind, but are also letting that idea go and opening their work up to the ideas of others.  It is a broader way of collaborating artistically.  I also appreciated Bag Piece and Ono's desire to share with others in a physical way the feelings of shyness she had growing up.  It can be difficult to make other people understand our emotions, and this is an interesting attempt at bridging that gap.

This time of year is a time of reflection for me.  It is the time of year when my son was born, and the time of year when my father died.  The happiest day of my life and the saddest day of my life.  I wish these two events were not so closely linked in time (though thankfully my son and father got one year together), but I guess that is the existential nature of life.  It's still a bitch though.  So I will try this weekend to honor both my son and my father by doing things they both love.  Enjoying music, the beach, seafood, and time with family.  If I am brave enough, I will ride a wave in my father's honor.  I will definitely eat shrimp and listen to jazz.

My father and I, surely listening to jazz.

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