lotus photography
erasing
"The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves." Willem De Kooning.

I dove into one of my regularly visited blogs and found myself one...two...three clicks later, watching Robert Rauschenberg explain his notorious piece, "Erased De Kooning". You can watch it too.      

Rauschenberg is criticized for taking away a masterpiece. People, are you serious? Robert went to Willem's home and asked him for something to erase, and he got what he asked for. I don't see stealing in this equation. I see a refreshing approach to an otherwise cumbersome High Society. Rauschenberg was no stranger to controversial critique. He ruffled the groomed feathers of Art society with his propensity to mix mediums and explore, successfully, different styles.
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I recently house-sat for some friends in Sherwood. They live in a high-density neighborhood right on the edge of the urban growth boundary.  I found myself thinking about what it meant to have this intense community backed up to noble tree farms, to cabbage farms, to the only urban national wildlife refuge, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
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I would walk their dog along the boundary and feel uncomfortable. I either wanted to be in the mix of young kids skateboarding and people chatting at the edge of their open garage OR I wanted to be in the fields.
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It felt awkward walking the line.

I related to the angry critics of Rauschenberg. We have erased the beauty of this land. We have erased a masterpiece. How dare we! And, we didn't ask for permission. The new home of the new homes will never exist as it originally did. We have lost a piece of art, a piece of history, a piece of land.

But then again, aren't these new homes, these suburban social traditions creating another piece of art? Another history? Another draft of the landscape?

And, isn't that the same thing Rauschenberg did? Before the homes were there, hadn't we erased a previous painting of the "original" landscape? Noble tree farms replaced a forest. Cabbage fields replaced an oak savanna. So, I tried to tone down my dramatic feelings of repulse for our manic home-building and took out my camera.
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Living things want a home. Douglas Fir will thrive in a good home. Noble Fir will too. Gary Oak will spread till it can spread no more. Cabbage will do the same. Humans will make a home that is safe and social. And in doing so, will make art by erasing art...just like the cabbage does.
 

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Ani - hey the blog looks good! here are a bunch of thoughts - some connected, some not! I'm not too sure about your comparison of rauschenberg's "erased dekooning" to the march of suburbia over our remaining farmland, but it was thought provoking & brings up 2 of my favorite artists. I enjoyed the photos, especially the grey misty one with the bit of diagonal wire at the top - is this a portent of things to come, or ( sorry I have to ask ) casual framing?? If the its the latter, I think you should crop it out in the interests of clear communication... I think it is your mention of william eggleston which brings this up - I find him a fascinating mystery...
some of his photos I find heart wrenchingly right on , and yet others I truely wonder why he bothered...and sometimes his framing seems so casual that it almost seems perverse! I have the catalog of his recent show at the whitney - if you haven't seen it please come by & check it out.... there is also a film about him coming up at the art museum march 21st.
keep up the good work!!

You have something to say and you say it well.

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Ani's Photo Blog

I had a crazy professor in college that published books...lots of books, and refused to capitalize any letters. She felt it was one of the many internalized processes of "othering" that were practiced by educated human beings. Exclusion and isolation led to power, discrimination and division. The final paper I wrote for that class was published. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

The best way to describe my relationship with photography at that time was true, blinding love. I had confidence that I could blur the lines of duality with a single photographic experience; assurance that I would join the ranks of photographers who change how people see. In short, I was going to revolutionize communication...and I would drive it with the power of love. So it stands to reason that this final paper would extract a small photographic property and make it explode with purpose. It is the human propensity for monochromatic thinking that waters the roots of "othering".

Boy, I was really proud of that conclusion. I guess things like this lose a bit of their University flare when they're not tucked safely inside university walls. The point is, as my contextual knowledge of photographs grew, I developed a strong affinity for joining the non-joinable in all manner of subjects. Do non-sequiturs really hold water?! Don't our brains have a mind of their own? If you aren't convinced, hang out with a toddler for the day and you will know this as fact.

Photographs are a secret passage into all kinds of relationships. They are nostalgic and prophetic at the same time and I think that is so cool.


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