Author Archives: Jennifer Park

The Brain and Human Nature

An interesting article on the brain and human nature that I’m very much looking forward to reading:

The brain is a 1.5 kilogram mass of jelly, the consistency of tofu, you can hold it in the palm of your hand, yet it can contemplate the vastness of space and time, the meaning of infinity and the meaning of existence.

Adventures in Behavioral Neurology–or–What neurology can tell us about human nature

Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present

As I browsed through her past exhibits/performances displayed at the MoMA during my brief trip to NYC this week, I suddenly realized that to dedicate one’s life wholly to art necessarily meant never to be happy. And this is what I saw, in some sense, in Marina Abramovic: the absence, perhaps futility, of happiness when one’s entire being must become art, must become a vessel for the physical, emotional, and psychological boundaries of the human, for the human species.

What Abramovic has accomplished is astounding. She has fundamentally changed the landscape of performance art–or perhaps changed is the wrong word. Rather, she has appropriated it to embody her. Our generation’s artist, our generation’s art, must be her, and it is difficult, if near impossible, to imagine how the next great artist (as, indeed, there must–and surely will–be one) will push beyond what Abramovic has done.

This latest exhibit at the MoMA is aptly titled, “The Artist Is Present.” And so she is. She sits at the center of a cordoned off square space in a main atrium of the building, and individuals are invited to come sit with her, in front of her, for as long as they like. She seems almost otherworldly, transcendent, and decidedly present: she exudes an artistry that brutally unmasks the facade pretension of the budding art students that strut around the space, flipping open their sketchbooks to publicly journal or draw this experience as they await their turn to sit with the artist who, they hope, will imbue upon them some sort of creative blessing.

In fact, what the artist’s presence seems to reveal, and likely inadvertently emphasize, are the all-too-human motivations and behaviors of those who desire to sit at the center of the square: those impatient for their turn, those who take too long, those who want to be documented, those who crave their fifteen minutes of fame. But also, albeit rarer, those who seem to seek something, those who want to pay tribute, and those who have returned to her from some moment in her past, to say, thank you, or perhaps, I’m sorry.

And the artist, thus, becomes audience. She is present, yes, to engage with her audience. They sit in front of her, one by one, her audience, but suddenly her equal. And she calmly, silently, views each one of them, in turn. She is present, yes, perhaps too present, as is the toll it takes on her. Between “visitors,” she closes her eyes, visibly drained, bows her head, sometimes kneels completely onto the floor, and does not, will not, or cannot look up at her next visitor until she must.

But perhaps even more she is presently waiting. She is present, now, and waiting for the past to catch up with her. She puts everything into viewing each visitor, but what, if anything, do they mean to her? Rather, for whom might she be waiting?

Kenneth Noland’s radiant targets

Refresh, 1999

MYSTERIES: INFANTA, 2000

MYSTERIES: AFLOAT, 2000

I just heard about the death of Kenneth Noland, whom I actually hadn’t known previously, but as a lover of art, I immediately looked him up. Roberta Smith of the NYTimes ArtsBeat section that announced his death describes his work beautifully:

Mr. Noland’s signature motif was a radiant target made of rings of pure color strained directly on raw canvas, with that canvas contributing a wonderful sense of breathing room between each band of color. The power of the colors, their often discordant interaction and the expanding and contracting rhythms of the bands of paint and the raw canvas, could be stunningly direct and vibrant.

I’ve included three of his most recent selected works from his official page, www.kennethnoland.com, to showcase the “radiant” targets made of “rings of pure color” which absolutely intrigued me.