Archive for February, 2009

Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers then Dancing

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Sprüth Magers Berlin is delighted to present Cindy Sherman’s first exhibition of new work in Europe since 2004. The fourteen colour photographs assembled develop Sherman’s longstanding investigation into notions of gender, beauty and self-fashioning, and reveal a particular concern to probe experiences and representations of aging. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has developed an extraordinary relationship with her camera, and her audience, capturing herself in a range of guises and personas which are by turn alarming and amusing, distasteful and poignant. A remarkable performer, subtle distortions of her face and body are captured on camera, leaving the artist unrecognizable as she deftly alters her features, and brazenly manipulates her surroundings.

Each of the women which feature in Sherman’s new exhibition share an acute consciousness of glamour and social hierarchy, which is both disquietingly flagrant and sardonically relevant to contemporary obsessions with image and status. In one photograph (Untitled #465, 2008), the fiercely proud eyes of a woman installed in her warped and blurred country estate stare out of a face regrettably cracked and peeling with age, ill concealed by make-up, hair-dye or expensive pearls. In another work from the series (Untitled #467, 2008), a woman with a tight sequined skirt, fake gold jewellery and extravagant fake white nails also glares out, perhaps daring the viewer to call her trash, or ruefully acknowledging that this is what she is. It is ultimately impossible, however, to fix any stable narrative in Sherman’s work; different levels of pretence and authenticity operate and interact in her images to complicate any straightforward reading of her characters, or the stories they might tell the viewer.

Find the full press release here.

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Winnie, Anna, and Ford

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I really loved the show, the space was wonderful (above photo is the ceiling) and it felt good to meet other artists and discuss the photos.

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After the gallery opening Harriet (above) had the grand idea of heading to Clärchens Ballhaus, a wonderful dance hall that has been hosting dances since 1913.  Even through war this place was said to have kept going.  On this particular evening it was Swing night, we mostly just watched, but towards the end we couldn’t resist and ended up going out and giving it a go.  The whole thing made me so happy, these elderly couples who were obviously regulars along side teenagers who wanted to learn from the masters.  Anyone who ever believed Germans to be cold and unfriendly has obviously never been here, the happy warmth seemed to radiate.

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My favorite had to be this older man who looked at least 80 that had a smile on his face the whole night.  All the girls were dancing with him and even a few men which was truly heartwarming to see.  Not only these beautiful people dancing around and losing their self consciousness in it but also these big German men dancing together, everyone smiling.  I didn’t get to see the upstairs but here are some photos from the web.  If you come to Berlin I highly recommend this being one of your stops!

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Artists Annonymous

I almost started to run but decided walking quickly would be less ridiculous, I was only 5 minutes late and I knew somewhere in the back of my head I was the only one who would notice or worry about it.  That all seems silly now that I know the place.

The Artists Annoymous are three people.  Here is their website.  When I came in the first time on that weekend in Berlin, I met with Ed and he explained to me that they needed interns for an upcoming show in Amsterdam.  An installation based on a video game which would be built here then transported by trucks and set up at the gallery there.  After I moved here and emailed Ed about coming in he said great, wear something you can get dirty.

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Ford and Harriet from inside the last bits of the pin hole camera

In my experience with photography I never got really good and dirty,  I mean you can’t really get chemicals all over without causing some serious damage.  There’s something quite satisfying about making things and coming home a bit more sore, with paint around the edges of your fingernails, and scrapes on your knuckles.  It’s a whole new sense of feeling useful.

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Anna in the palm of a giant hand

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Level headed Harriet

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Serena and Winnie making paper flowers in the new open space

The first day I was there we tore down a giant pin hole camera that was taking up too much space in the studio.   Then we started to build. The process has been a lot of give and take, discussing, and cups of coffee stirred with ends of rulers or pencils.

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We should all make Spring Rolls more often

I’m so happy to have a nice kitchen.  A little This American Life, a little Nina Simone, and rolling delicious things into delicate rice paper.  Yes please.  dsc_0220

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The whole story of my new home

I’ve found an apartment that I really love.

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At first I looked for studios and one bedroom apartments, they were still cheaper than any rent I’d seen anywhere decent to live in New York and lately I’ve really been craving my own place.  A kitchen that I want to sit and sip coffee in, a hallway with artwork, and a bathroom that is not relatable to a dorm bathroom in any way.

Then I realized I’m moving to a new city where I don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone and I kind of freaked out.  The appointment I had with a realtor about an apartment that required a year lease and proof of income from the last six months, it didn’t help.  Plus most of the places just came with a bed or in some cases just a mattress, and sometimes a desk. So I started looking at the rooms/sublets page of Craigslist and after a week of not so great appointments I was about to buy a plane ticket back to the states.

It was raining and I had taken the wrong train and the directions I could’ve sworn I’d put in my day planner were missing.  How did I get here? What the fuck am I doing here? Argh. I missed my friends and knowing what street signs said and overhearing conversations.

So after six appointments that ranged from really nice to quite scary looking I ended up at what would be my final meeting.  It was in Prenzlaur Berg, lots of coffee shops, cozy restaurants, and a park.  The building was 17/18 and the bamboo plant near the door leaned a bit as if it was waiting to see who was coming out.  When K answered the door I realized how funny I must look.  I was soaked with flakes of snow and my glasses were so fogged I could barely see.  He offered me a cappucino. He was much older than I’d thought and in the hallway I noticed a bunch of kids drawings proudly displayed.

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view of the kitchen from the window

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kitchen from the other side

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living room

K is American; he moved here about 9 years ago and has 2 kids, Lucy (pronounced Lootzy) and Leon and his girl friend N runs a company that rents rooms and apartments to students and travelers.  The kids are here with him every other week.  I would be taking the room across from the bathroom towards the front of the house, currently Ross was living there, another American who’s doing his masters here in German History. He was set to move to another place at the end of February, I would stay in K’s room until then, and K who was going to Italy in two days with N would be gone for a week anyways.

When I told my Sister and my friends, I kind of sort of didn’t mention the kids.

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book shelf in the living room

So I’m 24, I consider myself an independent lady, I’ve lived away from home in a number of places and situations.  When I imagined my life in Berlin, it was very chic and sophisticated, going to the great parties and dating and being in the know about all those things I’m supposed to be in the know about.  I’d throw dinner parties and have minimalist art work on my walls and start wearing heels more often.  I’ve met the realization that I’m not this person many times, and I honestly don’t even want to be that person.  I like my disheveled collection of post cards and my to do lists and big unflattering sweaters.  And even though it is a bit difficult for me to admit to myself and my independent friends: I really like the idea of living in a home that reminds me that there are things bigger than my take on the world.

dsc_0005my room (for now) the one I will be in is bigger and white.  I’ll post photos at a later date

For right now, that is seeing kids (although not being responsible for their care) and living with someone who will ask me how my day was and being reminded that not only am I not only a hot 20 something artist but that the rest of the world isn’t either.

So there you have it, my new home, feel free to send me letters and postcards!  (just email me and I’ll be happy to give you my address).

Sickinger Hof

When I arrived late Saturday night to the Haupbanhauf Station in Berlin it was almost as I had remembered it but that was why it wasn’t the same as the first time I came, I already met this place, albeit briefly.

I took a cab to my hotel since I hadn’t been feeling so great.  It could have been the Ritz and I wouldn’t have noticed all I cared, I was in such need of rest that I sleepwalked through the first impressions.  When I woke in the morning and went down for breakfast I pushed past it then too.  But after my jam and bread, coffee and orange juice, and out of place hard boiled egg I finally met the Sickinger Hof Hotel where I would be staying until I found an apartment.

A friend once told me he and his family had to live in a hotel for a while when he was a kid; he talked about it with this sort of unfinished face about it like even after all these years he still didn’t know how that had made him feel.  Seeing that face had made me instantly regret envying him.

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At the Sickinger Hof my room had three bed like pads, a window, a sink with a mirror, a tv above the sink, and a rather sad empty closet with nothing in it.   There was a bathroom down the hall as well as a public shower that was either scalding or freezing.  I didn’t see many people while I was there; a british couple that were always rolling their eyes and yelling at each other, a group of Germans, and an older Italian couple that I instantly felt obligated to help.  At breakfast a few other people were sitting solo but it’s harder to spy on people that are also spying on you.

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Most of my days were spent out, it felt like I visited all the train stations in Berlin.  Without knowing the city I ended up making appointments throughout the day in all different places and usually took the less than direct routes to get there.  Other than that it was coffee shops with wireless, keeping to myself, and calmly sipping while panicking about my future.*

I wonder when you stop being a tourist in a place?  With trying to find an apartment and a job being my main priorities I stopped seeing the city as the places I had to see before I left.  Now that I had no immediate plans of leaving I wondered in areas picturing myself walking home everyday.  Adopting landmarks instead of taking I was there photos.  It doesn’t surprise me that every person I know that was born and raised in new york has never been to the empire state building.

* it sounds bad but believe me if I have the time to write a blog post reflecting about it, I am certainly well enough.  I’m sorry if my previous posted caused concern (Mom).

Lurv is all around us

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In case you’re wondering:

Lurve Meaning


from OHIO   Friday, February 04, 2005, 01:39 GMT

I found this word “lurve” on some forums on the net. What does it mean exactly?Is it British?

Thanks

Jim   Friday, February 04, 2005, 02:06 GMT

I guess it means “love” but just a nonstandard spelling.

..   Friday, February 04, 2005, 02:07 GMT

It is a curve in an otherwise flat surface that starts concave for 12% of its radius, then turns convex for the remainder.

I hope this helps.(BTW usually used when describing the way in which a penguin moves through the water when being chased by a leopard seal)

Jim   Friday, February 04, 2005, 02:49 GMT

That’s an incorrect definition of the wrong word.

..   Friday, February 04, 2005, 03:00 GMT

No, it is exactly right, I happen to be a penguin biologist.

Jim   Friday, February 04, 2005, 03:11 GMT
..,
I misread your post. It’s not an incorrect definition of the wrong word. It’s just an incorrect definition.
Here’s the correct defintion.

Definition
lurve [Show phonetics]
noun [U] UK NOT STANDARD HUMOROUS
love:
They spend every evening together – I think it might be lurve.

lurve [Show phonetics]
verb [T] UK NOT STANDARD HUMOROUS

http://www.dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=102533&dict=CALD

I guessed right. Let me make another guess: you’re no penguin biologist.

…   Friday, February 04, 2005, 03:19 GMT

I beg to differ, I am right this very moment, typing my reply to you from the Estonian Penguin Research Station in Antarctica. Count yourself lucky that I see fit to use our 10 dollar a minute satellite connection just to type my reply to you.

Your Cambridge dictionary is wrong, that is all I have to say. The only other option is that it neglected to include the standard meaning of the word ‘lurve’.

found here.

I wish I could play a game of Balderdash with these crazies.  Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

You’ll Make Yourself Sick

At 11:36 I looked at the time on my cell phone.  I had already ignored the two alarms I’d set and by the looks of it my Sister had as well.  She was rolled up in the comforter next to me, her mouth a little open and sending out a shushing noise every other second or so. “Wha time issit?” Always surprises me the ease with which she can go from sleeping to functioning.

The previous night I surprised myself by getting into an argument in Italian, this has been a goal of mine since I decided to learn the language, this argument was about racism in Italy.  The two Sardinians were sitting across from me in the living room of a friend; M was just sitting back watching me with a slight grin but the other was laying out sentences that begged to be interrupted.  We switched between Italian and English and took sips of cheap wine between overly dramatic scoffs.

I jump in the shower not giving the day ahead of me much thought; I’d given it enough these past few weeks.  I felt like I was betraying someone by moving to Berlin.  Myself I suppose, I’d been answering questions for years with far off glances and sighs ending in smiles, and the answer had always been Italy. I had learned Italian, after all, I was finally being invited in to stay, and now I was going.

My head and my stomach ached; all I wanted to do was curl into a ball on the floor in the spot of sun from the window.  My Sister convinced me to eat, which was helpful later on the train when I was vomiting every half hour.  I think seeing it hit the tracks as we sped along made it worse.  I’m beginning to loath Trenitalia bathrooms.  I still love riding the trains though, listening in on conversations and simultaneously wondering about destinations with strangers.  I’m sure I gave the people sitting next to me plenty to wonder about.

When I arrived at the Milan Train Station I paced back and forth three times before making up my mind.  I would buy some bread, make myself eat it, and it will make me feel better.  I could only get two bites down.  My forehead had a layer of cold sweat and I’d never seen my hands shake like this.  The fresh air felt nice and I started to think the worst was over; I walked with a bit more confidence towards the bus.

Oh the bus.  It was like the fung wah or lucky star, except this bus had no bathroom and instead of Chinese food it smelled like bad cologne and olive oil.  I swallowed hard as I paid for my ticket.  If I wasn’t better and I was going to get sick again…NO I was all better, I would just sleep the whole ride and be fine.

Nope, I wasn’t fine.

While sitting amongst some of the most attractive men I’d ever seen on public transportation I, Lucy Huffman, while wishing as hard as I could to not puke, puked all over myself.  It was about a half hour into the ride.   The worst part was I was looking up when it happened, using some of my worst logic ever I had thought with my head up the puke would stay down.  Wrong.  Thankfully because I couldn’t eat it was only water and two bites of bread but, it was still puke and it had gotten on my face, on my coat, and a little in my lap.  Everyone was trying really hard not to stare at me.  Especially the really attractive guy sitting in front of me who I think, I shudder as I say this, may have gotten some on his sweater.

There is a moment just after something that embarrassing happens where everyone swallows the initial reaction to react.  I teared up and felt my face get hot, then stared at the ground to not think for a second.  Someone placed something on my knee.  All the men around me had gotten out their tissues; some people were passing them forward from the back.  I didn’t dare look up but I felt myself instinctively mumble ‘grazie.’

It wasn’t that bad, things like that rarely are for more than a few minutes.  I changed into an extra shirt I had in my bag and using a big bottle of water with the tissues I cleaned myself up.  Later, the guy in front of me turned around and asked if I was ok, my head tilted and nodded trying to say, ‘ok as a girl who just puked on herself can be.’  He seemed to regret asking and slumped back in his seat, I felt like telling him I was sorry but that just seemed silly.

Once we got to the airport, two and a half hours before my flight, I went to the bathroom and spent the next half hour changing, cleaning myself up, and making a long list of reasons why it wasn’t that bad.  I drank another liter of water and found some food that didn’t gross me out as well as a plastic bag for the flight, just in case. I was still pretty shaky but I felt better.

As I arranged my coat and bag in the plane I noticed a familiar face four rows back.  It was the guy that was sitting in front of me on the bus, the first to give me his tissues and ask me if I was ok.  He looked at me for a second and I feel like we both tried really hard to not have the bus experience be the reason we knew each other, but it was.  I winced.  He smiled a huge grin, then I smiled and we took our seats as the only two people on the plane laughing about the absurdity of the same moment.

La Festa e La Gattina

The Au Pair job was turning shady and I soon realized the offer was indeed to good to be true.  Everything had seemed great, they sent a contract through the agency and when I checked with the agency they said it sounded legit.  But then I started asking more questions, wanted some photos, some back round, etc.  That’s when I stopped getting answers and was urged to fly to London as soon as possible.  We’ll buy you the ticket, just fill out this Visa application.  Shady.  Sketchy. No go. I found some reassuring words here though.

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So it was decided for me in a way, Berlin it would be.  Now I just had to get together the courage to leave my Sisters comfy apartment, jump not knowing if I’d land on my feet.

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While getting together this confidence I distracted myself with more knitting, the gattina (kitten-who I was quickly falling in love with), and a fabulous dinner party for a classmate’s boyfriend.

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Instead of gifts Anthony (above with the fabulous belt buckle) requested everyone bring something they had made that everyone could enjoy.  Being that most of the group is foodies that meant a lot of excellent food, including some wonderful Spring rolls by Jennifer and an delicious Almond cake by my Sister.  I brought my Polaroid and Nikon to document the events and give the Polaroids to Anthony.  Others wrote poems, brought artwork, and one woman performed belly dancing for us.  It was pretty excellent.

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After the dance I stepped outside for a minute, I got to meet Anthony and Rani’s neighbor who works for the Parma Gazette.  He showed me all of his photos and we chatted a bit in Italian.  It was really refreshing to see someone my age working as a photographer in Italy.

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Then, back inside, we all started dancing, even those people who hate dancing, and the apartment seemed to swell with smiles and new friendships (if only for that night).

Now What?

Parma was wonderful but I had nothing to do.  So I rested and tried to catch up on things.  I started emailing people about apartments in Berlin, laying out a map on the floor and reading about ex-Pats advice for getting a German Visa.  I started smoking again and knitting like a maniac.

Some highlights from my Parma trip:

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Snow storm the day after I arrived with huge puffy snowflakes that made my Sister and I say “this snow is crazy” a few more times than necessary.

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The view from my Sisters apartment window, which I know I’ve photographed before and will probably photograph again.  Something about those chimneys and the window that I love but can’t seem to capture quite right.

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This is the beer bar in Parma, Mastiff, where Christiana (the best bar tender ever) jokes with my Sister, Kate, and I.  We went there a few times during my stay and always ended up meeting new people.  I loved it here because I was able to have a beer, get comfortable, and speak Italian.  It was nice to talk to people, tell stories, learn new words, and stop over thinking it long enough to really speak.  We talked about religion, art, love, history, and of course food.

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I took a lot of long walks, catching up on This American Life, and generally going through the cycle of excitement, anxiety, cynicism, astonishment, and butterflies that comes with figuring out my life.dsc_0896 I had an offer from London thrown into the mix, to be an Au Pair for a little girl.  It paid really well, with health insurance, and a place to stay.  I felt like kind of a jerk.  Hadn’t I just felt so wonderful about starting a life in the art world in Berlin? The scent of cash and job security was really making me put all that on hold? Then again it was a great offer, Berlin would still be there in a year.

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In the midst of all this, Jennifer (my Sister’s room mate) found a kitten in the back courtyard of their apartment.  She was limping and cold and even though they aren’t supposed to have animals we took it in for the night.

15 Hours and 4 Trains Later

I left Wurzburg early on the morning after the inauguration of President Obama.  Every newspaper had my President on the front page and even though I had been feeling a bit disconnected watching everything from Germany I also felt so proud of my country.  You see that guy; you see that, yea I voted for him, that’s my President!
Wurzburg to Munchen
The train was lovely, as all the German trains have been.  Automatic doors everywhere, signs in German, French, and English, and some of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever seen on a train.  I settled in and read my book and a coffee, once we arrived in Munich I would switch to a train to Bologna and then another train for the short ride to Parma.
We stopped rather abruptly at a small town I don’t recall the name of; a woman got on and sat next to me.  Instead of starting again we stayed.  Twenty minutes passed.  They made a few announcements in German.  The nice woman next to me told me there was a problem with the “thing” and they were fixing it.  I’m pretty sure she meant the engine.  Forty minutes passed, another announcement, everyone grew still and no one made a sound.  I followed their lead and stared out my window wondering what the hell had just happened.
After a while the woman informed me a man had committed suicide by jumping in front of the train.  Oh.
We arrived at 11 instead of 9:30 and left the silent mourning for a stranger we all shared and tried not to think too much about it.  I had missed my connection so I went to get a new ticket and another coffee.
Munchen to Verona
They gave me new tickets and a voucher for 25 Euro off my next trip with them as an apology for the delay.  It felt weird to receive money because I was ‘inconvenienced’ by a man killing himself.
Verona to Milano
We were late arriving in Milan, I missed my connection but just took the next train heading there.  I had been feeling strange about going back to Italy while wanting to be in Berlin.  Would I get there and get sucked back into my love of everything Italian and not be able to leave? At that moment it didn’t seem so.  Compared to Germany the station was a mess, everyone seemed a bit more disheveled albeit in a very fashionable Italian way.  I knew I could just get on the next train to Milano without getting a new ticket, Italy didn’t care as much about that sort of thing.
The train was gross.  At one time this type of train was so exciting and new for me but now I just wondered what had ever appealed to me about it.  None of the three bathrooms I tried had toilet paper and instead of flushing there was just a giant hole where you could see the tracks whizzing by below.  And all the windows were smudged or had names carved into them.
Milano to Parma
I had been thinking and talking all about how great Italy was but once we were reunited it felt like an awkward car ride home from the airport where you start talking about the weather to someone who used to know everything about you.  Eavesdropping on conversations had lost it’s thrill and it was great to understand everyone again but something felt off.
Parma was warm compared to Germany.  I walked from the train station to my Sisters, with no need for directions.  Once I arrived it was hugs and stories, a plate of dinner ready for me, and a glass of wine before collapsing into bed with thoughts of what could come next flowing through my head.  Then I realized I hadn’t taken any photos today.


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