The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Tag: Art

Spring Reading

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Dear Readers, happy April! It’s been months since my last post, I’ve been busy with queries, manuscript requests, job applications and interviews. The good news is we survived winter, which is no small feat. Spring will be fantastic. There’s much to look forward to so I’m writing about my five loves this spring.

Lorna Simpson’s exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in London began March 1st and ends April 28th. “Unanswerable” features Simpson’s most recent work, which includes themes of identity and gender. She’s a renowned artist, I can’t possibly imagine missing this exhibit if I were in London. I first saw Simpson’s work at the MoMA when I was a student, she’s remarkable. You can read the interview that Simpson did with Bomb Magazine here. Details on the exhibit are here.

For those of us stateside, the Morgan Library has an extensive collection of Peter Hujar’s photographs on display until May 20th. Hujar is well known for capturing significant figures and moments the East Village. He made a subculture that wasn’t visible to mainstream society relevant. Here are the details on Peter Hujar: Speed of Life.

The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition, David Bowie is. It’s on until July 15th. If you’re planning a trip to NYC this spring or summer make sure to include a trip to the Brooklyn Museum.

Deborah Levy. Her new book, The Cost of Living is out in the UK. If you’re in the USA, I recommend revisiting Things I Don’t Want to Know until her most recent book is released in the US. You could always order The Cost of Living directly from the UK but international shipping fees can be rather pricey. Here is the link to Foyles.

A Public Space. It’s one of my favorite literary magazines. The founder, Brigid Hughes is the former executive editor of The Paris Review. I’m impressed by the art in each issue. It’s published quarterly and definitely worth reading. You can subscribe here.

Happy Reading, everyone!

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The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

“The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is the diary I let people read.”

–Nan Goldin

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I sat in a dark room at the MoMA and watched a slideshow of nearly 700 snapshots. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary that chronicles Nan Goldin’s and her friends bohemian lives. Goldin moved to the Bowery after earning a degree in fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. In New York, she began documenting herself and those around her. Many of Goldin’s friends died of overdoses and AIDS. What’s striking about Goldin’s slideshow is how the music encapsulated every image.

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We Should All Be Citizens of the World

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Nationality has long been considered a crucial part of one’s identity. Being a United States citizen doesn’t limit my responsibility to other countries, I am aware that the decisions I make have implications all over the world. It is easy to simply become part of an insular society, never looking beyond what affects one’s own nation, failing to realise the ripple effect of those actions, but I’m not that person. As a citizen of the world, I understand my actions have far reaching consequences. I know voting in this presidential election will decide whether climate change issues are faced head on or abandoned by future leaders; I am not a scientist so I can’t fully grasp how the melting Arctic ice will immediately affect the globe, but it will. Well meaning developing countries often lack the resources to study climate change and those responsibilities will fall to the United States and other nations within the European Union. Our collective need to address this global problem is why being a citizen of the world is important. If we become isolated from other countries, we’ll fail to see how smog in China affects more than Asia.

When I look back on previous U.S. elections, I know the lives lost in Iraq could have been prevented with different leaders…more cautious leaders, not only in Congress and Senate but foreign leaders. They should have questioned the motivations behind the Iraq Invasion before freely sending their military into the Middle East. Being a citizen of the world is understanding the Iraqis were human beings who didn’t deserve to have the entire world uprooted. Maybe if leaders had seen themselves in the faces of Iraqis, the attack wouldn’t have happened. Global citizenry seeks to void the notion of Otherness and embrace humanity as a whole. It’s a beautiful concept that should never be dismissed by any leader. The destabilization of the Middle East has affected Europe, Canada, and the United States. These are facts. Global citizens look at these refugees with compassion because we know those families fleeing war torn countries could one day be us. No country is exempt from tyranny. Citizens may choose to vote for a candidate only to realise they were misled. Americans could end up fleeing a Putin-like figure just as easily as Russians have left their homeland in pursuit of asylum.

The interconnectedness of this world has allowed us to see the impact our leaders’ decisions have around the world. One leader with unchecked power seized Crimea, but in the process his army shot down an airline carrying mostly Dutch citizens. We lost a renowned AIDS researcher, which has likely setback research. We are global citizens because the world cannot function without researchers in France, the Netherlands, and various other countries working together to cure infectious diseases. Developing countries need cohesiveness, it stabilizes infrastructure, healthcare, and education. If we lose sight of global citizenry or encourage narrow-minded views, what happens to the young men and women who may have spent their gap year volunteering with African schoolchildren or a wildlife conservancy to preserve elephants? Our interest in helping those outside our nation becomes a bit less important until we forget altogether.

What happens to art and literature? We live in a world where art and literature are boundless, why should they be limited to nationality? Filmmakers like Pedro Almodovar possess the ability to look outward instead of inward, they are influenced by writers from all over the world. Closing off the world would leave us with fewer artistic endeavors. We wouldn’t seek out cultures different from our own. Nationalism is dangerous. It devalues cultures unlike the stereotypical ideal. Would Almodovar have adapted Alice Munro’s short stories if he didn’t see the value in reading a Canadian writer? There is value in reading authors from other countries. As citizens of the world, we understand those authors’ work is important.

No one truly knows what makes us turn against one another, but I believe it is the refusal to see what makes us similar instead of different. Now we have a world leader telling citizens to focus on the differences, that citizens of the world are citizens of nowhere, but this type of rhetoric is unfortunate.

September: What I Love

Once in a while I fall hard for an item, a show, and a book. This month I couldn’t resist sharing my newfound love for a London boutique, my enduring love for an American photographer, and one Whitney retrospective that is a must see during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

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Review: The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

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“Falling apart, falling forever, never resuming vitality, becoming locked in perpetuity into the cell of solitary confinement, in which a sense of reality, of boundedness, is rapidly eroded: these are the consequences of separation, its bitter fruit.” — Olivia Laing

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Discovering Felix Gonzalez-Torres

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It was in the late 1990s when I discovered the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The retrospective had ended three years earlier and I realised seeing his work would be a challenge. So I began with The Rosen Gallery, which has represented the artist since 1990. I went to the first exhibition after Gonzalez-Torres’s death in 1996. The Rosen Gallery was my first experience at NYC art gallery and it was memorable. Last month I came across an old catalogue and couldn’t help but think of the knowledgable staff who gave a teenage girl an informal tour, maybe that’s why my interest in Felix Gonzalez-Torres endures.

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Out of Print Books

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These objects are nearly impossible to find, and if found, they are almost always financially out of reach for the average customer; out of print books hinder numerous possibilities. Discovering an artist’s work is a journey, one wants to start at the beginning and follow his or her entire body of work; seeing how the artist has evolved is an essential part of understanding him or her. When a photographer’s first book is out of print, his or her audience is left with a fragmented history of their work.

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Peter Hujar’s Portraits in Life and Death was published in 1976, that’s well before his current audience was born. Consider how Hujar’s photography influenced the field, his stark black and white portraits admired for their intimate style. Portraits in Life and Death is the only book Hujar was alive to oversee, we can see each image in the order that he intended. Isn’t that how we should see art? Shouldn’t we have the chance to look at a time that doesn’t belong to us and see the world through the artist’s eyes?

In this case, the photographer has not been forgotten; in fact Peter Hujar’s Night is being exhibited in Cologne, Germany right now. My friend travelled from Amsterdam to see it. There are retrospectives in New York, San Francisco and across Europe. Hujar’s work is revered all over the world. Portraits in Life and Death is in demand, so why not reprint it? Seeing Hujar’s work is possible but visiting galleries in New York City and San Francisco isn’t a possibility for everyone, some of his audience will have to be content with his books. Shouldn’t those people have an opportunity to trace the haunting themes of time and death that permeate through Hujar’s work?

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Arts education is severely underfunded, especially in the public education system and most students are only taught an overview, they are left to explore artists on their own time. Photographers like Peter Hujar and Diane Arbus are routinely overlooked in curriculums; those students eager to learn more may not have access to Hujar’s book. Portraits in Life and Death is one book that would provide a more comprehensive examination of Hujar’s photography.

I learned of Hujar as a teenager and then in greater depth at university while studying cityscapes photography. They told a complicated story…a story of a city decaying… a disappearing landscape. Maybe I saw traces of sadness, but I couldn’t fully see Hujar. I wanted to. I’ve been chasing Hujar’s ghost for years, always wanting to see more of his work. This search led me to The Stedelijk in Amsterdam just to see Divine from Portraits in Life and Death.

Time and place: those ephemeral qualities that Peter Hujar captures in his work should reach audiences in the smallest corners of the world. One way to make that possible is keeping his books in print. It’s my hope that Stephen Koch considers reprinting Hujar’s first book. Portraits in Life and Death could find a second home with a publisher. Almost four decades have passed and there are at least two generations who never experienced Hujar’s first book. Shouldn’t we have a chance to see the world as Hujar saw it?