STATE of Mind - issue 4
I miss New York. I miss having a community of in-person cutting edge makers and thinkers at my fingertips. I miss bagels. Small town life is wonderful in so many ways, and I love our life here, but I'd be remiss if I said I didn't crave stimulation on a larger scale. To get my fix, I often check the BF+DA blog where they post the most interesting news and conversations about fashion and art. It's where I'd want to be hanging out if I was still living in the city, so this is the next best thing.
This week, the rabbit hole I fell down knocked the wind out of me. Seeing images and reading about Ai Weiwei's show last year in NYC titled Laundromat blew me away. For the past year we've all be hearing about the refugee crisis, seeing images, wondering how we can help. It's heartbreaking and also hard to truly imagine. Ai Weiwei's show smacks you in the face with the scale of what is happening, who is being impacted, and the relics left behind. It truly puts into visual perspective how many people are being displaced. And to think that this is just representative of one tiny refugee camp (Idomeni–a small village in northern Greece and official border crossing into the republic of Macedonia.) As I look at images of this show, I can't help but think "my daughter has shoes just like that," and I believe that's exactly the point.
From Design Bloom:
‘when we started filming in idomeni, the first thing we noticed was people trying to change their clothes. these are the clothes they wore from syria, wet and soiled from the difficult journey across the ocean, over mountains and through woods. they had no chance to wash their clothes until they were forced to stop in idomeni. they would hand wash the clothes and throw it on the border fence to dry.
once the refugees were forced to evacuate to different camps from idomeni, many of those possessions were left behind. trucks came in and loaded these items up to take towards the landfill. i decided to see if we could buy or collect them so they would not be destroyed.
with a truckload of those materials, including thousands of blankets, clothes and shoes, all impossibly dirty, we transported them to my studio in berlin. there, we carefully washed the clothes and shoes, piece by piece. each article of clothing was washed, dried, ironed, and then recorded. our work was the same as that of a laundromat.’
See more images and read the full text here.
I have a confession: I wasn’t excited about the eclipse. I didn’t order glasses; I didn’t research scientific explanations or read news articles; I made no plans to view it; I told my mom, direct quote, “yeah, I’m not into it,” as if being into it had some bearing on the situation. I planned, instead, to stay inside away from all the crazy people who were excited about The Eclipse and maybe eat cereal.
Before you jump to any conclusions, you should know some things. I’m a Pale Blue Dot person, I love space themed music (Sufjan Stevens and Aoife O’Donovan), I have a favorite moon (it’s Io), and I actually like being reminded I’m small. I believe in aliens, and that Hubble photo of the deepest view of the Universe? That photo makes me cry. I get chills when people say cheesy space things, like we’re made of stardust. I think Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century is a fantastic film. So, how could I be so devoid of curiosity about this unfathomably remarkable moment?
I think there are two reasons. The first is that it felt a little too biblical to me, a little too monumental. Maybe it felt a bit like the end of the world? I even wrote a few goodbye texts, “thank you for being so good to me” texts, and told one of my closest friends I thought this could be the end. He said, “what are you, a medieval serf?” I know I’m not alone in this: the same emotion that animates us to excitement also arouses fear. It’s a classic case of what Kant would call witnessing “the sublime.” It’s frightening to see something so undeniably total, and it’s meant to frighten us. Whether you believe it is some divine being peaking its head out, or one of those ways the Universe doesn’t have to be beautiful but is, it plucks at something deeper in each of us, makes us wonder big questions, makes us hope and feel tender and vulnerable and full of love. Which brings me to my second reason, which is that I was afraid to feel too full of love. I knew that if I saw it, I would be forever changed, and from that day forward, I’d just be living with this beautiful fleeting thing, the memory of which moved into my soul. That very morning, I woke up early to finish reading Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, which I’d started the night before. She confirmed my worse fears.
“203. I remember, in the eighties, when crack first hit the scene, hearing all kinds of horror stories about how if you smoked it even once, the memory of its unbelievable high would live on in your system forever, and you would thus never again be able to be content without it. I have no idea if this is true, but I will admit that it scared me off the drug. In the years since, I have sometimes found myself wondering if the same principle applies in other realms- if seeing a particularly astonishing shade of blue, for example, or letting a particularly potent person inside you, could alter you irrevocably, just to have seen or felt it. In which case, how does one know when, or how, to refuse? How to recover?”
There it was … I would never recover. But then, and isn’t this always the case, my most sure feelings shifted in a chance encounter with a stranger. I went to the post office early to send off a package, and as I was leaving, a man who had just popped in for a second to drop off an already posted package, held the door for me. I’m being specific because I want you to understand I believe this was fate. As I walked past him, he said, “Are you ready to see the sun meet the moon?” I said “yes,” and I smiled, and then I laughed, and then I thought, “holy cow, the moon is about to cover the sun and I wasn’t going to let myself see it?!” Maybe he was an angel; there was some kind of celestial twinkle in his eye.
The rest is history. I ended up unable to find approved eclipse glasses, even though I went on a wild goose chase for them all over the city of Atlanta. Just when I thought all hope was lost, I ran into a woman on the sidewalk who was kind and generous and offered to share with me, because at that point I was just staring up with naked eyes. We took turns standing behind each other holding the glasses while the other took pictures for Instagram. I don’t know her name, but I likely won’t ever forget her face. And I won’t ever forget what I saw, either. It changed me. The memory of it moved into my soul the instant it was gone. Yes, I was afraid. Yes, I felt one with everyone and everything and it was exhausting. I’m glad I didn’t refuse, and I know I won’t recover. I guess this is what we call growth.
I chose Jenny Holzer’s Marquees' series this week because it is like the eclipse in so many ways. Mostly, the pieces know they’re big and important (she calls them “Truisms” for goodness sake). They’re for everyone, they’re hard to digest–mostly because they’re challenging and strikingly lovely–and you feel like a better person after spending about two minutes standing in their presence.
This short film (29 mins) takes you inside the home and mind of Glenn Gould, one of the greatest pianists of our time. Born with a rare sensitivity to music, he is most known for his his recording of Bach: The Goldberg Variations.
Amy Revier (instagram and website) is on her path, and it’s inspiring to watch. She is an astonishing weaver, thinker, consumer of culture, and her work feels as though she breathed in music and text and sights, and breathed out clothing made of those beautiful things. Read her interview with FVF here.
SALAD FOR PRESIDENT
It’s everyone’s favorite cookbook at the moment, but even if you haven’t delved into Julia Sherman's beautiful art book/cookbook, we implore you to check out her blog. There you'll find fantastic and inventive food collaborations between Sherman and some of her favorite artists (and friends). The whole thing just feels hopeful.