The Soundsuits of Nick Cave: A Look at Shaman Art

The Shamanistic suits of Nick Cave have a tribalistic aura about them.  Although he produces this ornate attire as static pieces for art exhibitions it is not seldom that he uses them in kinetic dance-like performances.

cavesoundsuit_800 2 They are psychedelic and vivid completely covering the wearer to the point of total disguise.  These suits are meant to conceal the sex and race of the individual behind a multitude of color and movement.

The noisiness of his frenetic art pieces are meant to parallel the tumult of the modern age and the chaos in everyday life.  His art is hinting to a deeper more esoteric world of ritual and magic within reality. He calls these pieces of art “soundsuits” and he puts them together using found materials such as buttons, beads, sequins, socks, lint, dyed hair etc.

” I want to get the suits back to a place where we dream,” he says, “Hopefully I’m able to jumpstart that. Am I doing it?”

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Determining Excellence in a Piece of Art

I have always loved the arts.  Since the day that I could hold a crayon I was obsessed. To this day I love looking at art, there is no question about that.  Even if its bad art I want to see it. I have this driving desire to absorb as much art into my brain as possible. In my 30 years on this planet I’ve seen ALOT of art.  So when I am schmoozing about the art museum there are a couple of factors that I take into account when determining excellence in art.

Uniqueness: Now this term is thrown around a lot in art circles.  I feel someone who says a piece is “unique” can be giving a rather shoddy, off handed critique or compliment.  It’s often too likely to be tacked with implications of kitsch or naiveté.  Let me rephrase it in a more suitable term; a more sufficient tone for what I look for in “uniqueness” in art is how much does an art piece altar the course of history? 
One example of this is Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon).”  Though it was initially met with adversity by the public (which is not wholly uncommon to revolutionary art)  it was the turning point for what would further be considered cubism.  By abandoning three point perspective for a flat two-dimensional depiction Picasso radically changed the course of art history.

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Initial Impact: When I approach a piece of art I am reading it, just like when I am beginning a piece of  literature.  I am looking for a certain immediate affect that it has on me. A good piece of art is just like a good book. It sucks you in.  Take for example the beginning of the timeless classic “A Tale of Two Cities:”

 It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

There is something memorable about that quote. It is succinct, yet at the same time it is suggestive. And just as the beginning of a good book draws you in so should a strong piece of art.

I ask myself:  “Why do I respond to this art piece like this?”  

Emotional & Intellectual Resonance:  The artist Marcel Duchamp defined the artist as: Someone able to rethink the world and remake meaning through language rather than someone who produces hand crafted visual objects for ‘retinal’ pleasure.  

Duchamps’ art focused more on the conceptual ideas related to a work rather than traditionally held aesthetic assumptions that arts philosophical focus was “beauty.” Instead the avant garde movements challenged traditional notions and brought a new kind of intellectual art. It didn’t just have to be beautiful but it could be riveting and provocative.  It proves its own worth.

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Some general principles:

Often we may be lead to believe that we are supposed to like a certain piece of work.  We are, after all, very influenced by society and its expectations.  I like to ask myself: Can this art stand on its own beyond our own western assumptions of  what art is supposed to be?  If a remote tribe found this piece would they still value it for its inherent quality as art?  Just be aware that sometimes we like a piece of art or not because someone else told us we should.

There are plenty of very famous artists out there.  Just because they are famous does not mean that they are great.

Gelitin & The Giant Pink Stuffed Rabbit

If your hiking the hills of Northern Italy there is a chance you may come across a giant stuffed rabbit. If your no where near Italy you can always check this thing out on Google Earth.  It’s massive.

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So why is there a gigantic easter effigy adorning the hills of the Italian countryside?

It’s very simple.

He is the creation of an art collective known as Gelitin.  Gelitin was started back in 1978 and includes the artists: Ali Janka, Florian Reither, Tobias Urban and Wolfgang Gantner.

Their art is often elaborate and provocative. Seriously these guys are the art world equivalent of a rock band.  Their exploits are outlandish and extreme.  One of their art pieces included a font based on photos of their own excrement. 

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In another piece which could be considered an extreme homage to Claude Levi Strauss’ “bricoleur” the artists did a piece called Tantamounter. At first what appeared to be nothing more than an oversized crate actually contained the artists within.  Inside was a bunch of materials such as crafts and art supplies.  In this way the box functioned as an over glorified xerox machine whereby patrons could insert an object and a some time later out comes an artful replica. Not always did these copies exactly resemble the things but instead were hammed up (artistic) versions made with whatever supplies were available to the artists within the box.

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At New Yorks Green Naftali Gallery Gelitin again revisited this form of on site art making in Blind Sculpture. Here the artists worked completely blindfolded for 8 afternoons on an art piece  none of them got to see before its completion.  They thus relied on help from the spectators and various helpers.  You see this was groundbreaking did it subvert the performance of making visual art by making vision a secondary component and it also called into question about designation of authorship by including the spectators into the decision making of the  piece.

On Kawara’ Depiction of History

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Most elementary school class excursions to the museum conjure childhood memories of paintings by Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Picasso, Miro, Kandinsky, Dali etc. The artist they didn’t introduce you to on those field trips was the late Paul Delaroche who said:

  “Painting is Dead.”

Now let me clarify, painting is not dead, per se,  but it is going through a crisis.  Since the advent of the camera photography has super-ceded painting as the predominant media for most accurately depicting visual reality.  So in this sense I would venture to interpret Delroches prophetic pre-Duchampian dictum as a call to liberate artists from relegation by conventional media.

Most artists today work outside of the traditional.  Since the death of “avant garde” the battle cry of post-modern art has been “make it new.”  So those artists who use paint do so in very unconventional ways. In the 1960’s the painter On Kawara  rose up to face this painting crisis. For centuries painting had been the method for capturing the spirit of the times.  It was a typology for events and moments in time.  In this way art kept track of human history. Kawara saw this and created a strict set of rules for his new paintings.  He would give himself one day to paint them, if the painting was not finished it would be destroyed and the image would be a simple reference to the days day in a Gregorian format.

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By doing this Kawara makes a depiction of history into an interpersonal affair.  By referring simply to a date we need not be fixed to a myopic depiction of the artists immediate environment but a call to the viewer to recall his or her own history.

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Go Fund A Comic Book For San Diego Mythology

I have always been fascinated with how stories affect a culture.  A lot of wholesome cultural information can be learned through story telling.  It tells us what to value and it gives us ideas of how to live our lives.  Even stories as simple as comic books impress a people with a sense of value.
I lived in San Diego my whole life and I wanted to give back to the community in the only way I knew how.  Through my art.  So I sought out to create my own mythology for my home town of San Diego and the results were these tiny comic books I hand drew with pen and ink.
When I started making these tiny comics I wanted to impress a sort of morality into them like Aesops fairy tales.  This has been no easy task seeing as I am primarily a visual artist and had to force story telling.  Yet I have been working hard at making these as narratives as interesting as possible. It has been no easy task yet I have been getting a lot of positive feedback.
I first started out printing a few and leaving them (in the little box featured) at coffee shops, comic books stores, pop art galleries etc.  When I came back a week later they were all gone and people wanted more.  Because of their extreme popularity I could not keep up with the demand for them.
It took so much time just folding them and printing them that I was losing time and money and could no longer give them out for free.  So now I’m reaching out to those who are interested in funding my magazines so I can continue to produce them for my community and keep up with the high demand.

http://www.gofundme.com/SanDiegoMyths

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Project of a Cynic or Diogenyes: An Art Installation

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I am going to call this art piece “The Project of a Cynic.”

This installation is a block of solid white marble which stands, roughly, ten feet tall. It is a slim and rectangular piece of stone. At it’s base is a Rottweiler which is tethered to a chain.  This dog will be trained to attack anyone who chooses to venture too close to the parameter.  It will give off the effect that the dog is actually protecting the solid white marble block itself. In this way the only way which spectators would be able to view this installation would be by standing away from the art piece itself, at a safe distance (as not to be mauled by the attack dog).  Or if they do wish to approach the stone they will be attacked by the dog.

This vision of a placid, bewildering obelisk jutting up from the ground is meant to suggest an incomprehensible purity.  The marble shall be polished so that it off of its face it reflects the sun, the spectators and appears to glow and sparkle in the daylight.  I want it to have this deep theological omni-benevolent presence to it.  It is meant to stand for the self.  That incomprehensible being that we strongly associate with.

Tethered to this beautiful fascinating stone will be a blood thirsty dog.  By bringing these two dimensions together they compliment each other in a metaphor of cynicism.  How we have to vehemently protect the integrity of this inner being we’ve polished to be an ideal for the world.  An ideal we expect all other things to live up to at which we will protect at any cost necessary. The dog represents the lengths at which people will go to protect their ego.

Of course there will be a trainer on site and the dogs will be switched out ever hour or two to comply with any animal rights laws.

A Review of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol

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Warhols’ “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” is a philosophy book with a whole lot of nothing to say. Reading Warhol is like reading a grocery list.  I mean it’s clear that he was a genius and I guess his own erudition is captured eloquently through his bland and catty musings. Yet in order to uncover any of the real meat and potatoes philosophy behind this book one finds it encapsulated in Warhols interpretation of  the American ethos. He goes into explicit detail concerning:

  • The transformative properties of consumerism
  • Business as the best form of art
  • Television as a way of life
  • Things that are glamorous and things that are fabulous

Now I wouldn’t say that Warhol is boring, moreover that he wants us to perceive him as boring.  One example is that when he describes his many philandering and  excursions with stars or celebrities he only really goes into detail about what they were eating at the restaurant or what the hotel room was like (and if it had a Television or not).  This whole book lacks any sort of felling or intensity.  It is completely amoral and dry like a JCPenny catalogue or a toothpaste commercial.

The only time Warhol describes any sort of sentimentality is when he goes into explicit detail about his love affair with television.  Warhol describes how he lives his life as if he was constantly on TV.  One of the most prolific things he had to say about this was that after he had been shot he realized that it felt more real watching others get shot in movies than getting shot in real life. 

It’s clear in this book that Warhol tried to make a simulacrum of himself like a soup can or a coca cola bottle.  He talks about he prefers being told what to do by others than to making decisions for himself.  To anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the American middle class labor system one can see Warhol’s alignment with the standard employee model of behavior.  A staple of the American zeitgeist.  Warhol was truly the quintessential American artist and philosopher.

Although this book is weird and dry it is a genuine piece of work and really exposes Warhol as the dreamy eyed simpleton that he was. You get a real sense of his philosophy or lack there of.

Representing San Diegan Culture Through Narrative

Part 8

The History of San Diego is a series that I have been developing over the past few months which has turned out to be a huge success.

Every month I release a new section of the book which will comprise at least 10+ booklets.   The story chronicles a fictionalized history of San Diego as seen through my eyes and narrated through short prophetic tales.  I have already completed part 1 and part 2 and I am currently working on part 3.

Each book is meticulously drawn up with vivid landscapes and interesting, memorable characters.  I have tailored each story to have a valuable lesson or a moral to it so that it instills ideas and promotes thought among the San Diego community.  It is not meant to be taken as a piece of literal history but rather an exception in the form of legendary mythology.

Tierra Diego

The booklet is latched together by a clip which is an equally interesting little artistic object. The booklet is about 2.75 x 4.25 and easily can hold a business card or a small flier.   About 100 of these charming booklets are held in a specially designed display case which is completely made and painted entirely by hand.   So far I have the case displayed at six different locations around San Diego.

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Customers appreciate the hands on approach to this cultural iconography.  In fact the book has been such a success that it has been used as in example to teach in many local artist workshops.  These books are distributed freely and have been very very popular at each location which they are displayed.  However because of the massive demand and popularity I can’t keep up restocking 1000 booklets per week without some sort of return. I want to keep this book free for the public and the only way for me to do that is to expand my business by allowing other local businesses to use the success of my work to promote themselves. The booklet is about 2.75 x 4.25 and easily can hold a business card or a small flier 

I can fill them with your business card or (for a small fee) I can draw a coherent and interesting flier to accompany the booklet which will promote your small business.

The prices for including the amount of cards are as follows.

HOVSEPIAN

The History of San Diego

Product Category

Price

40 Cards

$50

100 Cards

$100

200 Cards

$175

300 cards

$225

500 cards

$375

Custom Card Service

$100

Custom Story Book

$1,500

For a special price I can include your company as an integral part of the theme of one of the book which also will include a full page spread of your advertisement.

Contact me to get your business active in this cultural phenomenon.

davidjhovsepian@gmail.com

(858)229-8311

See you in San Diego.

Make Love Not Whore

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I cant stand this nagging feeling that time is a viscous precious liquor  slipping through my fingers. That each day at this shitty job drags me further down into the cycle of the monotonous middle class.

Oh what a great privilege it would be to be wealthy. To be free.  I like to call money “fun coupons” or “freedom units.”

As each day drags to the next doing soullessly enslaving work that I have no passion for I realize the conniving intentions behind this middle class ideology.  I’m doing.

 How do you describe the ideas of the idiots? 

Anyone who’s ever told you that you should get a job is most likely an idiot.

A job has no profit margin.  There is no potential to become rich.  Now your boss on the other hand can become rich.  If you work ten times harder and make the boss ten times as much money you still get paid that measly exchange rate called “a wage.”  It’s fixed until more is humbly bestowed upon you by your corporate master.

Anyone who has ever told you that buying a home is a good investment is an idiot.

Buying a home in cash is actually a good investment.  It has the potential to make you a lot of money as the market goes up.  Now mortgaging a home on the other hand is an entirely different story.  The vocabulary of our culture has muddled the meanings behind “owning” a home and “mortgaging” a home so that it’s as if getting into a tremendous amount of debt means you own something.  You don’t own your home if your paying mortgage, the bank owns your home.  You have to find some way to maintain a steady stream of money coming in in order to feed that beast on your back.  Since most idiot middle class people don’t own any businesses their only bet to keep this monster satiated is to voluntarily enslave themselves into fulfilling the whims of some corporate master.  This makes a mortgage a liability instead of an asset.

I hate my chains, I want to get out.  I will gnaw my way out of them if it fucking kills me.

“Dragon Man”: A Poem about Baccarat

It’s Sunday
Some men are at church
I’m at the casino
Banging slot machines racket
To the gate of bimbo waitress trays
Swinging her hips
“Can I get you a drink hon?”
I hear her say,
And brush her off
Here hope plays the fools
I play bacarrat
Dropping candy casino chips
On the line
With chattering chinese players
Who fog the game in dense smoke
Drooled from yellowing cigarettes
All smiles
When I first sat down to play
Banker hit a seven on the third card
“Dragon man,” they call me now
The third card seven pays forty to one
“Dragon Man”, they smile through stalactite teeth
I get the itch, its gonna happen again and I bet the banker
And the chinese press behind me
Laughing
To lay stacks along my bet
Little leeches about my lank
As the tumult mounts
The rough face of the dealer
Holds out his hand
“no more bets”
And he pulls a card from the shoe
The player has a six
The banker has zero
So the dealer pulls out another card
Its a seven
hits it on the third card
It’s the Dragon again
And I hear my entourage scream
“Dragon man! Dragon man! Dragon man!”
People sitting at the other tables
Gawk at our racket
The Chinese rub my head
Mayhap’s my luck rubs on them
Payout hits all the Dragon bets
Misses my banker
But I never bet the Dragon
The odds are bad
Its Sunday
Some men are at church
Searching for purpose
We search for our purpose in process
People at church are too desperate
There is far more hope here at the casino