Saturday, January 31, 2009

Katerina Seda @Renaissance Society, Hit Links for Essay & Video Lecture

Czech artist Kateřina Šedá’s primary media are her friends, family, and community of her native town Líšeň. Šedá (b. 1977) uses performance, staged activities, and public interventions to reactivate social concourse as it is the basis for a sense of self predicated on group identification. The Society presented It Doesn’t Matter, a series of over 600 drawings executed by Šedá’s 77-year-old grandmother, cataloging in size and type the various tools and supplies sold through the Brno hardware shop her grandmother managed for over thirty years under communism. While therapeutic in intent, the result is a profound reflection on memory and subjectivity as expressed through, rather than in spite of, alienation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Contemporary Art + Collaborations with the Elderly

Since we'll be working with seniors for our very first collaborative project, I thought I'd start off the blog with some links to interesting projects created with similar communities by contemporary artists.

David Greenberger works as the activities director at a nursing home. Since 1979 he has produced zines, books, and radio programs for NPR under the name of Duplex Planet - all based on his interviews with the elderly residents he works with. Greenberger asks them questions like "Would you rather have a dizzy spell or stub your toe?"; "Why do people yell?"; "Who is Frankenstein?"; and "What can robots do?" Their responses range from funny to sad, from insightful to curious, and they say lot about the human condition . Get a sampling on the Duplex Planet site (click on the little buildings for interview snippets).

Anna Callahan is an artist who collaborates with non-artists in all sorts of ways, collecting their experiences and transforming them into bus signage, brochures, "encyclopedias" of local knowledge, and interactive websites. She was recently commissioned to produce a website exploring the history of the town of Deldridge, WA. The result is a multimedia experience that gives a sense of the place, the past, and the voices and stories of Deldridge's residents through photographs, text, and audio interviews with people who grew up there. Check out the Deldridge Oral History Project HERE.

Harrel Fletcher is another artist who is known for his collaborations with everyday people. He has celebrated the residents of small towns and community centers through giant billboards, curated exhibitions of the personal items that office workers keep in their cubicles, and collaborated with children, mechanics, housewives, developmentally disabled to realize their creative ideas.

Josh Dorman is a painter who worked with the organization Memory Bridge to create a series of paintings in collaboration with Alzheimers patients. He spent time talking and listening to their stories and created visual landscapes or "maps" based on the memories they were able to share with him.

How do you feel about aging? What do you make of projects like these? Which projects or parts of projects do you like, and what might you do differently? Take a thorough look at each of these sites and use them as a starting point to think about how you'd like to engage with the people at Alden. Feel free to post your thoughts or other artists in the Comments section below!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Hypothetical Letter of Apology

Dear Angie,
I'm sorry I didn't give you the quilt I bought, but I hope the reasons for my actions make sense...
Reason I
A quilt represents comfort and genuine care for both the giver and receiver, and while I honestly care about my interactions with you, I felt that giving you such a personal item as a quilt would be a false reflection of our relationship, which was based solely on two conversations about the "thens and nows" of your life. The antique Shirley Temple Detective book felt like a more appropriate gift from me to you, as we seemed to be in constant discussion of your past and my interest in the past.
Reason II
Having expressed the highly sentimental gift of a quilt, the fact is that I bought the quilt I originally intended on giving you for $1.25 at Salvation Army. In recognizing this fact, I felt to give it to you would inspire guilt and deception in me. You had initially mentioned quilts in terms of your friends granddaughter spending a year to hand craft it as a gift, and to give you a cheap purchase in relation to that mention seems somewhat grotesque.
So after my pondering, I decided these two facts made the sincere genuine gift of a quilt into a lie, which is not a gift you deserved. I hope you enjoy the Shirey Temple Detective gift as much as I enjoyed our conversation.
Thank you Angie,