“Taken for granted” questioning

In any discipline, “Taken for granted” questioning is a funny tool.

It’s a pretty serious game, too.

  1. To play it, watch your “territory” and list everything about it.
  2. Then check what’s taken for granted, even the obvious.
  3. Then question everything with “What if I destroy one element, or reverse it?”.

 

An example. Theater, a play.

Actors are on the scene, playing as if they were someone else, telling a learned-by-heart text written by someone, they rehearsed before to make the whole thing fluent, there’s a red curtain, the lights are off during the play, the audience is sitting in aligned chairs and they listen, there’s maybe an intermission, but the play is “played” in one piece…

 

Now for each element, say : NO. Or “let’s do the contrary” :

  • Put the audience on stage and actors in the room.
  • Mix them up.
  • Let the audience stand up.
  • Divide the play into 5 minutes parts.
  • Don’t switch off the lights.
  • Make actors talk to the public.
  • Ask the public things.
  • Change the text during the play.
  • Use two stages or more.
  • Show the rehearsals.

Well, etc. For each line, pull the string, see what comes to you. Personally, I love the “two stages” idea. Interactions…

 

Now do it with : marriage, base ball, religion, politics, blogging, teaching, poetry, sex, photography. Anything can be questioned, especially :

What’s taken for granted?

What if you destroy/invert a line? Why would you do that? Exploration, invention?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : mariakdolores

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Weird Street Photography : Wall & Lay

ONE

From sensitiveness to intellectual games

This is a movement I like to watch in Arts. And in a way it depends on you.

If you see a photography

  1. do you prefer to feel “Aaaaweeeee!”?
  2. or an eyebrow movement followed by happy inner questions like “Why did he do that, what does that mean, it makes me think about this, etc”?

TWO

In the domain of Street photography I wrote already two articles about Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall, Photographer & Jeff Wall : Photography for Thinkers, Part 1

“Near Documentary” : he elaborates pictures which “look like” natural but are NOT. He can spend weeks on a single photography.

His pictures seems banal, ordinary, but with a slight feeling of “something’s wrong”, or “maybe fake”, or staged. Is it something you SEE really, or is it because you know this about his work?

Of course, there’s here this old idea than this little weirdness in the only way to really tell something about “reality”.

And this modernity which is that “Art evolves with the movement of thinking about its own limits, frontiers, its own character”.

Therefore you have two camps : real photographers, who show what’s happening in the world (to be witnesses), and staged photographers, who think & invent their images (with artistic or intellectual purposes).

Here are 4 Jeff Wall pics :

THREE

On the other side, I just discovered a “real” street photographer : Géraldine Lay. Who chooses situations and light and places so… carefully, that you’re almost SURE that it’s staged. But it’s not.

Hopper like. A too good to be true meeting. Etc… You keep watching, smiling, wondering…

FOUR

Where, in other maps of your brain, do you like when two opposite ways of working result in the same “result for the audience”?

An interesting braid, right?

Thanks for reading!

Here are 4 Géraldine Lay pics :

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Sharing space but nothing else

First I found this painting from Belmiro de Almeida (how, why, I don’t remember).

Wondered about what happened in this couple. She cries or at least is weighed down, but by what? And this man is smoking, thinking, probably powerless/helpless, but who knows? Maybe he’s angry? “Here we go again…”.

Is it a break up, a betrayal, jealousy, boredom, romantic disappointment?

Maybe like in Chekhov, it’s just some tears, because of the “something’s lacking in my life” syndrome?

My researches showed me the second painting : a crying woman, a “vacant look” man, and flowers on the ground. Mhhh, who copied the other?

Then I thought about Hopper, of course, with no tears but only a… moment.

I remember that some (female) friends of mine told me many times than their guy “wasn’t really talkative”.

Thus I remembered the “bored couples” series, photographed by Martin Parr – who is a love because he includes himself in the series (he is on two photos of the four I found for you). Parr showed many times he’s a part of what he sees…

 

So is it even an article? No I don’t think so! I cobbled these together :

  1. To remember I should find more paintings on this topic (I tried and failed today)
  2. To think about the idea I found in the Parr link : monogamy is maybe dumb
  3. To remember that my lady likes my random lectures (I’m a chatterbox)
  4. To go on liking the “what happens here?” in Arts
  5. What if a man was crying, and a woman sitting aside, indifferent?
  6. To remember I have to take care of my partner, even if she’s a real “handful”
  7. To pass it on to you : what ideas did you get, reading this?

 

Take care! Have a nice day!

JP

 

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Bored Couples on Display in Public Places

“The Unhinger” : Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (1863) is a MESS

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to understand the scandal and the revolution caused by Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, The Luncheon on the Grass, by Edouard Manet – which sounds totally harmful today, right? This painting is today in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.

It was a groundbreaker in three areas. And it stays an enigma, a source of endless books, articles and suppositions.

Because

  1. We don’t understand the reason why this woman is naked with two men. “The presence of a nude woman among clothed men is justified neither by mythological nor allegorical precedents”.
  2. She seems a normal woman, not the aerial nymph or goddess you normally see when you see a naked body in a painting. This “realistic” approach has never been seen before.
  3. She watches the audience, she watches YOU, we wonder : “Is she challenging or accepting the viewer, looking past the viewer, engaging the viewer, or even looking at the viewer at all?”.
  4. She doesn’t listen to the talking guy. She doesn’t care. She cares of you.
  5. Manet has been considered an awful painter, because of the perspective mistakes (though he studied all of it for almost 10 years with a great teacher)… all this is made on purpose :
  6. Like in Japanese etchings, the lady in the middle is too big according to the perspective laws. “Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them”. There’s a flatness, which is like a game for your eyes.
  7. Manet displayed the painting at the Salon des Refusés, an alternative salon established by those who had been refused entry to the official one. The public liked to come and laugh, ununderstanding crowd.
  8. “The roughly painted background lacks depth, giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio”. De facto, even the light looks like “studio“. It fake, not “gorgeous nature”.
  9. The fruits and the dress are painted in a great talented way, but the trees and the natural environment are painted differently : you see the brush strokes. Impressionism is coming.
  10. Therefore it seems unfinished on several parts of the scene.
  11. The painting is TALL – 81.9 x 104.1 inches (208 by 264.5 cm), which is unusual for this “genre” painting. Usually, tall paintings are used for biblical or mythological subjects.
  12. There are no “subtle gradations” between colors (though the painter perfectly knows how to do this), and Manet has been accused to “see in blocks”.
  13. We can wonder if these people are lovers, swingers. Or maybe she’s a hooker?
  14. It’s like casually based (gestures, dispositions) on old masters painters. Manet studied them a lot. Raphael’s Judgment of Paris is an example.
  15. Oppositions are many between her and them : feminine/masculine, light/dark, naked/dressed.
  16. Described as idiotic, childish, shocking and incoherent by the newspapers. Good to them!
  17. This sounds not sincere, but analytical, a game, an enigma, a puzzle for your mind.
  18. Indecency : “vulgar men” painting nude women.
  19. Manet himself jokingly nicknamed his painting “la partie carrée“.
  20. “Refusal to conform to convention and his initiation of a new freedom from traditional subjects and modes of representation – can perhaps be considered as the departure point for Modern Art.”
  21. Subject is shocking. Style and treatment are shocking.
  22. “She is not ashamed of being naked as she gazes confidently at us”.
  23. The model was known (Victorine Meurent, who was a painter) and the guys are Manet’s brothers. Scandal in the French Academy!
  24. Works like this made Manet the father of impressionism. You can also study “Olympia” and the fabulous “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère“. In both paintings, the woman gazes. At you.
  25. Manet unhinged, damaged the whole history of paintings with this one…

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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You’ll find dozens other ideas everywhere on the web. This artist is an infinite source of thinking. Also : parodies (some are hilarious!).

It inspired other painters like Monet – who dit a “correct” and gorgeous version (comparing both could be a whole article). It so beautiful (Manet and Monet, who was younger, were friends), but it’s for you eyes, not for thinkers…

Have a nice day!

JP

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James Tissot, French painter and illustrator.

Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 – 1902), Anglicized as James Tissot, was a French painter and illustrator.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tissot
https://www.jamestissot.org/

A “genre painter”, as they say : a painter of “elegantly dressed women shown in scenes of fashionable life”. He lived in England for years, and became pretty rich.

Therefore it’s easy to put him in the “conservative” box. All you see is beautiful and rich people and well done art, and though he’s been friends with impressionists, we could say he kept painting “interesting records of social life at the time”. Beautiful dresses, gorgeous art skills and colors, almost photographs!

Today we see other things, and Tissot is said to be “rediscovered”. Because we know now he painted about the “nouveau riche” world : there’s show-off everywhere (what we call in France un “m’as-tu vu”. This didyouseemeness is putting a smile on my face. These dresses must have been a real mess, right?

More : Tissot manages to make us think about the slices or boredom and loneliness and worry. It’s been a harsh world, and I thought about this marvellous Scorcese’s movie : The Age of Innocence – read the book, or The House of Mirth, also by Edith Wharton, which is worse!

Have a nice day!

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902

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Portrait 1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902

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Pierre Bonnard, French painter

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) was a French painter, a “post-impressionist”, a member of the Nabis ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Nabis ), etc… You’ll find many labels around him.

If you Google image (or Pinterest) his name, you’ll find :

  1. A splendid and risky use of colors
  2. Unusual viewpoints
  3. Original “frames” games (windows, doors…)
  4. A obvious smiling casualness, and modest dareness, nerve
  5. A Japanese way to draw in 2D, flat
  6. Intimate scenes and everyday life
  7. Dreamy, quietness
  8. Unfinishness, childishness, chilled : pleasure

 

So maybe like me you won’t like Bonnard, but you’ll like him though! Watch them in a row, and you’ll find a smile on your face. See?

Have a nice day!

 

 

Tools from an Opera director

To direct an opera is certainly a mess! You have to deal with a “text and music” system, then with musicians, singers, light, settings, the past… all this with a vision, right?

I read an interview of Claus Guth who directed a La Bohème (Puccini) in Paris this winter. Here are his ways :

  1. Two years before the opera, he takes the book, reads it, takes some notes, and… put it back in the drawer for resting.
  2. He listens to the music in loop, for days. He’s happy to not understand the words (he’s German, Puccini Italian), and writes the ideas he gets : irrationally, emotionally, viscerally.
  3. Then he works : searches about the opera the composer the writer the historical backgrounds…
  4. After months of thinking about it, he gathers his team to talk around a table, to get ideas. A concept emerges…
  5. One year before the opera, they try things with scenery, settings.
  6. Then he retires, alone, for a few weeks.
  7. He begins to work with singers and confront them with what he wants to do. Some play along rapidly, some have to be guided… to be creative.
  8. According to him, the main thing is the music. If the text is good but he doesn’t like the music, he can’t do anything. But if the text is weak but the music good (which happens often in operas), he will work on it, on elevation…
  9. He likes to keep rehearsals secret, wanting the audience to be surprised at the premiere.

 

La Bohème is about poor artists in Paris in the 1830s. For me it’s the best opera ever! Therefore I’m never annoyed by directing transpositions in other styles, the fifties, or other countries, etc. It can be ugly, but it’s most of the time interesting. I really think that we can do anything with a masterpiece : you’ll never hurt it really. Playing with archetypes, putting’em into other universes, it’s often amazing!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_boh%C3%A8me

I have to say that I already watch dozens of La Bohème happening in the streets of Paris and in frozen attic rooms (2nd picture). Guth decided to put it in space (!) (1st picture), in a lost spatial station, playing with a game of souvenirs, double characters, etc…

As they say in Libération, the French newspaper, it was “sidereally staggering” ( http://next.liberation.fr/theatre/2017/12/07/une-boheme-siderale-et-siderante_1615146 )

“we were flabbergasted (under the scream and catcalls) because we were suddenly seeing the bohemian lifestyle, from 1840 or 2017), on stage, all naked : artistically battybonkers, suicidal, not looking for approval, desesperate and sparkling like in a dream plunge to escape the misery of life”…

 

It’s true that the idea of Bohemian life (being a poor artist, with casualness and freedom (and parties and alcohol) it implies) is a problem : there’s a lie, a too big differences between your ideals and the reality…

 

 

I wrote this article to throw a few tools on my little table :

  • In Art, one pleasure is to compare readings, interpretations of a same piece.
  • It’s maybe creative to take a long time to work on something, with weeks or months of rest between work. Simmering.
  • Explore a masterpiece casually – without holding all the cards, just to see what it triggers in you. Then explore, read, and watch how what you fiund weaves with what you imagined.
  • Collaborations and conversations : sources of ideas.
  • Strength given by pauses alone. Watch things grow into you.
  • Find from where you can grow things (here : music) when a system in not entirely satisfying.
  • Keep things secret to have more impact.

 

These tools are somewhat obvious. Where will we apply them? Poetry? Photography? Couple? Teams? Companies? Literature?

 

Thanks for reading, and sorry for my English…

 

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