Do you ever have one of those days where everything you stumble upon online just seems to perfectly match your mood? From art to books to photography to product design, it’s not exactly cupcakes and rainbows, today – but I’m okay with that.
Image above: one of Korean artist Lee Bul‘s unbelievably beautiful and eerie chandeliers, Sternbau No. 32. Crystal, glass and acrylic beads on nickel-chrome wire, stainless steel and aluminum armature, 2011. Via Phillips.
I’ve been thinking about the intersection of art and motherhood lately, both in the sense of figuring out the overly ballyhooed ‘life/work balance’ issue but also in finding an adequate way to express one’s feelings about a child, or about their own mother. I mean, just watching the care with which my daughter wraps her Playmobil animals in face-cloths nearly brings me to tears. And what do you do with that?
So I’ve found myself drawn back to the work of Janine Antoni, a New York-based artist whose career bloomed in the 1990’s with her sculpture-based performances.
The pieces I’m particularly intrigued with now are the ones that speak about this mother/child relationship. I’m not going to lob a contemporary critical art essay at you, despite that once being a specialty of mine (talk about a talent that really does you no favours when whipped out in everyday social settings). But I love the interplay of rigorous execution and conceptual tenderness, and that they allude to a complex and quite beautiful physical and emotional connection between two people.
I don’t know if Antoni had children of her own at the time she created these specific works (I suspect not, for whatever reason), but her reflections on the concept of motherhood are nonetheless very compelling and satisfyingly weird. I hope you’ll think so, too.
Image above: Janine Antoni, Coddle, 1999. Cibachrome print and hand carved frame, (photographic assistance courtesy of Jennifer Monick). Luhring Augustine Gallery.
Umbilical, 2000. Sterling silver cast of family silverware and negative impression of artist’s mouth and mother’s hand. Luhring Augustine Gallery. Gritty and so elegant at the same time.
Momme, 1995. C-print. Luhring Augustine Gallery. Antoni gave an artist’s talk at Parsons while I attended and she spoke about this photograph, which in fact depicts her hiding underneath her mother’s dress, her head made to appear like the pregnant belly (and you can see her extra foot creeping out from the bottom of the skirt).
Cradle, 1999. 2 tons of steel. Luhring Augustine Gallery. The cool strength and magnitude of the construction shovel gives way to the most tiny and delicate of baby spoons.
Halloween is pretty low on my radar this year (save for a certain someone who will be trick-or-treating for the first time) but I felt the need to chime in with my scary movie pick.
It should be noted that I actually hate watching horror films, be they graphically gory or falling into the category of the suspenseful mindf*ck. But I’ve still somehow managed to peek at my fair share through barely parted fingers held over my face.
My recommendation is kind of an atmospheric, arty one (of course it is, Shanan): Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 psychological thriller, Don’t Look Now.
Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland star as grief-stricken parents whose daughter died in a drowning accident. Sutherland’s character takes a job restoring a decaying church in Venice, and while there they meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom is a blind psychic who claims to ‘see’ their little girl.
The Venice of the film is grey and wet and full of dark alleyways. The narrative structure is fluid, bleeding the past into the present and building up a palpable sense of foreboding for what is to come.
I’ve only seen Don’t Look Now once, rented one night about seven years ago while on my own (that was a mistake). I’ve since developed an odd obsession with the film yet I’m not sure I could bring myself to actually watch it again, if that makes any sense at all. Its imagery just really got under my skin.
Care to tell me about any creepy cinema that’s left a lasting impression on you?
I mentioned a little while ago that I had a ‘life-coaching’ session via Skype with Kathleen Shannon, a bold and inspiring spirit who guides creatives who find themselves at a standstill, or a crossroads, or between a rock and a hard place.
On paper it sounds like the type of thing I’d picture myself running away screaming from, like who IS this pregnant dreadlocked white girl and how the hell is she going to hold my virtual hand and help me figure out MY LIFE? I’m not uncomfortable asking for advice per se, but I tend to be one of those people who usually just muddle and obsess to themselves, listening to the same Whiskeytown song on the headphones over and over and over again until something shakes loose.
But the chat with Kathleen was less woo-woo, more of a friendly dose of tough love. Like, “we’re all going to die someday so what are you waiting for?” Believe me, Kathleen – I think about that all the damn time.
She gave me some specific questions to reflect on and over the last couple months I’ve done just that (quietly, to myself… maybe possibly while listening to some Whiskeytown again). And, it’s managed to bring me here to this moment — taking a leap of faith in starting to grow a new business, working out a way to pursue all the creative bits and bobs that keep me awake at night, and really, just moving ahead and DOING rather than over-thinking and holding pity-parties (table for one? thanks).
All this is in the service of saying that sometimes you just need to get over yourself and ask for help. Thanks, Kathleen (and anyone else who’s listened to me work through my block). xx Shanan
We’re gearing up for Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada (yes, we do it in October), where our family will be visiting, hosting, and just generally being ever so grateful for all our good fortune. Seriously, we are so lucky it’s kind of ridiculous. Hope that where-ever you may hang your head, you manage to find yourself at home. Here are some fictional beauties that I could imagine living in…
Image above: Curl up in the bedroom of my dreams, complete with fireplace, built-in bookshelves, and herringbone floors. From Virginia Wolf (Kyo Maclear, with fantastically whimsical illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault).
Another cozy fireplace set-up, from A Visitor for Bear (Bonny Becker, illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton).
What’s a powder room without wallpaper, a pedestal sink, and some classic black and white tile? From If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Laura J. Numeroff, illustrations by Felicia Bond).
Beany was one of my favourite books as a little girl, and now we read my old copy to Theo when we visit my parents. I’m in love with all the hanging plants and the charmingly lived-in depictions of their house. From Beany (Jane Feder, illustrations by Karen Gundersheimer; this one’s out of print it seems)!
More great plants, windows, and shelving in the dining room of How Pizza Came to our Town (written and illustrated by Dayal Kaur Khalsa). Shhh, I might ditch that rug, though.
I’m not gonna lie, Maudie acts like a bit of a C U Next Tuesday in this book but the architecture in their house is pretty great. From Maudie and Bear (Jan Ormerod, illustrations by Freya Blackwood).
ps. In case you missed it, you can see the first instalment of kid’s books as interiors inspiration here. Have a great weekend. xx Shanan