Sunday, January 12, 2014
Hearsay of the Soul
As I thought about writing a little today, a concurrent thought that I needed to clean my refrigerator happened. I did make banana bread, but have held fast to writing about this.
We went to the Getty last weekend to see the Canterbury and St. Alban's exhibit, which was beautiful. Eight century old glass and illuminated manuscripts. Quite awe inspiring. I also love the interactive portions of the exhibit, which instruct how stained glass and illuminated manuscripts are made. I am continually amazed by craft. I don't think I will ever tire of seeing how things are made.
We also stopped at the "Hearsay of the Soul"exhibit, which is a video installation by Werner Herzog of, well - I'll let the Getty website tell you:
Projected on three adjacent walls and eighteen minutes in length, the five-channel video combines selected landscape etchings by Hercules Segers (Dutch, about 1589–about 1638) with the contemporary avant-garde music of composer/cellist Ernst Reijseger (Dutch, born 1954). The juxtaposition of Segers's lush prints of enigmatic vistas with Reijseger's expressive and experimental music results in a richly layered work that is both intimate and epic.
Well, huh. I read Herzog's introduction, hailing Segers as an outsider artist who was important to his (Herzog's) artistic development. Inside, what I thought about was not about Seger's outsider status, nor that I had not seen his work. Mostly, my thoughts were about the challenge of communicating one's love for something. On some level, I was watching an 18 minute video mix tape, in which Herzog was trying to communicate his appreciation for an artist. What I got from the piece is how hard that is to do.
I'm a big cheerleader. I'm a cyber sleeve-tugger, forever attempting to communicate my deep love or appreciation for something or other. I do it in life as well. For instance, I recently teared up during a viewing of "Merrily We Roll Along" from London. It never fails that if I am watching "Hair," I will start to sob during the "Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In,"(maybe it's that I played the role. I don't know. I teared up linking to the video) and when the girl with brain damage tries to communicate to her beloved why she wilalways be broken and he should never love her in "Light in the Piazza," I'm a wreck (whoops, more teary linking). I know, too, that those three works leave some people cold. It certainly doesn't stop me from trying.
I love many artists. I love Modigliani, for instance, and I'm a fan of Joni Mitchell. Were I to create a video piece of these two artist juxtaposed to try to communicate my appreciation, you may or may not be moved. In the Herzog piece, for instance, I'm not a lover of landscapes. I don't usually respond to them. Or to etchings. I felt that he feels deeply about them, but I remain unmoved. I also get he's trying to create a third thing, a piece of his own. I don't want you to think I believe art has to move people; art can do what it wants and exists as it is. I can't say what Herzog's intention was. It did move me to ponder how challenging it is to communicate why we love something, although we continue to try. I love the attempt, though, whether I respond or not. Someone will more than likely be moved or even curious. I came away reminded of the ineffability of desire - that what touches us, what we hold dear, is as individual as the strokes in those etchings.