Exhibition review: Yves Saint Laurent (DAM)

Considering that I see myself as a museum person, I am shockingly bad at going to museums (and galleries, for that matter). I can blame school and broke-ness, I guess, but they’re pretty lame excuses. It is quite fitting that I showed up to one of the most celebrated shows to ever come through Denver two weeks before closing. Nevertheless, it made for a great date night, for not only was it Untitled (a monthly Final Friday night party) at the DAM, but it was my long-awaited visit to YSL!

I am not a fashionista. At all. Not even in the slightest. Yves Saint Laurent probably turned over in his grave last night when I showed up to the exhibition wearing a tank top, jeans, and tennis shoes, with my hair in a loose ponytail and not even wearing makeup. I do not keep up with fashion, unless you count the fact that I am an avid viewer of “Project Runway.” There is nothing I can say that will contribute to or critique fashion in any way. However, my appreciation lies mainly in the making– the craft, if you will– of fashion. I love looking at the folds of the fabric, the seams between the panels, the interaction of the colors, and thinking about the genius involved in achieving its effects.  Continue reading


Procrastination strikes again

Please stop burning, Colorado. (Photo from KDVR)

My motivation to get anything done this week appears to be absolutely shot. I am going to blame one part of this on an unusual amount tiredness, and the other part on the fact that my state is more or less burning itself into the ground.

But progress has definitely been made on one front! I met with my comps proctor today and have my five major questions more or less decided upon. I need to send him an email soon that writes them out in an actual coherent question form and come up with 4-5 bibliographic sources for each question. I am currently on my 10th book with plenty more in the queue, so that won’t be a problem. In August I will submit three pages on each question. So yay, I now have an actual direction to proceed in!

Now that I have a direction, I need to get back to work! Which means I need to outline for myself what I need to get done this weekend, since I am clearly lacking internal incentive.

  • Go to the Yves St. Laurent exhibition and post a review of it here Done 6/30/12
  • Finish Simon O’Sullivan’s Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari and post a review Done 7/1/12
  • Read the catalog essays for the exhibition West of Center (and ideally post a review of it by Sunday night)
  • Cinema on Etsy #3 (I’m doing a very bad job of keeping up with the weekly thing)
  • Watch “Craft Wars” (and possibly post a review) Can’t find it online 😦
  • Start the panda hat!! Started 6/30/12

Wish me luck on getting all this done!

Crochet project #2: Done!

Well that went fast. It’s great how much things speed up once you start reducing the stitch count as you progress towards the crown of the hat. And I finished it while I was on a stationary bike, no less. Multi-tasking at its finest. 🙂

Next up is a panda hat! I am so excited I can barely contain myself (seriously, I’m not being sarcastic here). Crazy. Excited.

Crochet project #2: Baby girl’s hat

The girl’s version of the 0-3 month old hat is going well, though slower than the last hat. The yarn is very fine, the same size as the previous yarn I used, meaning that I am using a size F hook again, but it is a different yarn and the hat is turning out to have a much softer texture. I really hope it will fit, I’m not used to not having a head to test. I had to use a bigger hook to do the bottom chain, as I still tend to get my chains too tight. I still need to make the white brim, which I’m going to make a bit wider this time so that it can have a wider range of adjustment.

I’m already looking forward to my next project, and I really want to get a little more original than a simple double crochet stitch. However, I can’t say that I’ve ever made a hat with a stitch other than single or double, so I’m a little nervous. I’ve found a lot of beautiful ideas on various blogs here on WordPress as well as on Ravelry and my books. It’s just hard for me to use a yarn that isn’t the size listed in the instructions, since I’m still pretty new at adjusting patterns for my own purposes.

Freya is very supportive. And she loves to lay on anything I need to use.

My next projects are going to be for toddlers. I’ve seen some adorable hats that look like pandas, which is a nice unisex animal, so I want to make one of those. The other hat, though, is going to be off-white and have a flower on it. I’ll be using a size H hook for both of them, since the main body of each hat is the same type of yarn. After those are done, I’m thinking of going back to baby hats, but for babies older than three months. I’ll be needing to think of things that boys like so I can crochet something fun to attach…

Book review: Arcanum 17 by Andre Breton

The Star (17th card in the Major Arcana)

And this light can only be known by way of three paths: poetry, liberty, and love, which should inspire the same zeal and converge to form the very cup of eternal youth, at the least explored and most illuminable spot in the human heart. (97)

As far as I can currently tell, Arcanum 17 is a shockingly undervalued text in the Surrealist canon of literature. My own proctor for my comps, who regularly teaches undergraduate classes in Dada and Surrealism, did not know about this book. It was a major turning point in Andre Breton’s life and in Surrealism, which was largely because his own hot head was finally cooled by WWII and his wife’s departure. This novel is a beautiful mixture of love letter, political pamphlet, myth, and meditation. It is part prose and part poetry, though in keeping with Breton’s transition away from automatic writing to instead rely on verbal imagery to disrupt traditional narrative structure, it is pushed more in the poetry direction. It is therefore difficult to actually read: it is like following his constantly-changing train of thought as he moves from one topic to the next, but all thoughts tie into certain central themes.

This book is about discovering love through loss: his newfound love of the woman who would become his third wife, Elisa, after his second wife, Jacqueline Lamba, left him along with their eight-year-old daughter; also the terrible destruction and darkness in Europe resulting from World War II (from which Breton had fled). Perhaps the most amazing thing about this book is that it is something of a Bretonian pre-feminist manifesto. It the first time that he not only acknowledges women as being as capable as men as artists (which he had never done before, as he had only seen women primarily as muses), but in fact superior:

I say that the time is past when we can be satisfied on this point by mere whims, by more or less shameful concessions; instead, those of us in the arts must pronounce ourselves unequivocally against man and for woman, bring man down from a position of power which, it has been sufficiently demonstrated, he has misused, restore this power to the hands of woman, dismiss all of man’s pleas so long as woman has not yet succeeded in taking back her fair share of that power, not only in art but in life. (62)

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“Did I take on too much?” One person’s view on how to survive grad school

I took on a lot with this blog– make that school and life, really– and I know it. Why did I take on so much? Because I had to. My mind, and therefore this blog, is (more or less) all over the place: I post reviews of scholarly works (for the purpose of studying) and movies (for the purpose of giving my brain a damn break); I post about what I am crocheting (to keep with my original intentions when I decided to create a blog as well as to maintain sanity) or generally creating; and I post about the woes of being a grad student. We all need a way to sort things out and cope when life gets difficult.

Edvard Munch, “The Scream” (detail), c. 1893

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Book review: Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis by Natalya Lusty

Leonora Carrington, “Green Tea (La Dame Ovale),” 1942

Natalya Lusty takes on three major and somewhat disparate topics in her book Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. However, she brilliantly ties them together through their very disparateness: as a marginal movement (or at least that is how it was regarded/it regarded itself during the throes of Modernism), Surrealism positioned itself to examine other areas of marginality, i.e. the people outside of the bourgeoisie. Politically, feminism was originally a marginal movement and prided itself on being on the outside, as being in such a position allowed a more thorough critique of the (masculine) “norm.” Psychoanalysis, while at the heart of Surrealism, did not necessarily “jibe” with Surrealism (Freud once expressed to Andre Breton that he did not get what the genre wanted), and Surrealism’s tie to psychoanalysis was often tenuous. According to Lusty, “… Surrealism found in psychoanalysis a model on which to develop a theory of creative bound up in the mystery of unconscious desires and associations, a move which sealed the trope of the enigmatic woman as its most potent erotic symbol” (13). Unsurprisingly, feminism outright rejected psychoanalysis. So how does she tie everything together? She looks through the lenses of social and artistic inquiry to find common themes such as violence, parody, and transgression. It is through the tension between these areas that we see their relationships and how they analyze one another.

The book does not limit itself just to the years in which Surrealism was predominant, but rather spans the line dividing Modern and Contemporary art, which inevitably highlights the on-going feminist debates. Lusty spans her arguments from Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) to Cindy Sherman (1954- ), and though feminism did not officially exist when Carrington was creating much of her work, Lusty declares Carrington’s book The Hearing Trumpet as a precursor to feminist revisionist literature. Sherman’s work, which is believed to contain Surrealist overtones and references, has been both admired and chastised by feminist scholars for its treatment (objectification?) of the female body. I did not spend too much time reading about Sherman, as she is outside my area of study. I also did not spend too much time on her discussion of Claude Cahun’s photographic work. I instead focused on Lusty’s chapters comparing The Hearing Trumpet to our favorite work by Georges Bataille, Story of the Eye; I also looked at her analysis of psychoanalyst Joan Riviere’s essay, “Womanliness as a Masquerade,” to Carrington’s story, “The Debutante.”  Continue reading