Sunday, May 31, 2009

Phillip Toledano photography

I have been wondering about how I was going to write about contemporary art in a place like rural Tennessee, where there are lots of eyeball kicks from nature, but few from art. I'm not worried about that anymore. The internet has made art, especially photography, available to everybody in the hinterlands, as well as to the cognoscenti on the coasts.

I found a beautiful piece today by Phillip Toledano. Somehow I got there through the Aperture magazine site. Toledano's piece is a very personal memoir in photographs with text of his time with his father, when his father was very old, until he died at 98. Toledano's mother had already died, but his father had trouble remembering that.

The photographs are square format, so perhaps they were shot with film. They are presented beautifully, on the right of the screen, with text on the left. You simply click on the image to progress through the images. It's like turning pages in a book.

Many of the things that Toledano says about his elderly father rang true for me: the alternating sadness and humor in very old people; the shock at seeing their very old face in the mirror; the constant looking for beloved people, even those who have died; the loss of inhibition in talking about sex; and even the occasional flash of real joy, love, and gratitude for life and having lived.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eyeball Kicks

Neal Cassady and Jack Keroac

"Eyeball kicks" was a phrase coined by Neal Cassady, the original "Beat," on or about 1945. It meant anything cool to look at. So it seemed appropriate as a name for a blog about contemporary art.

Cassady wrote,
"Now, eyeball kicks are among the world's greatest, second to none actually in terms of abstract thought, because it is thru the way you handle these kicks that is what determines your particular conclusion (in abstraction in the mind) to each moment's outlook....
"I looked out into the world as one looks into a picture. My field of vision then became like a canvas & as I looked, I saw 4 corners of the frame which held the picture. Since then, at any moment when I feel the slightest ennui, I simply look up from what I'm doing & note carefully the particular scene before my eyes.
"(Right now--to my left the fat greasy neck of the blubbery fireman, carefully picking his nose.)"--The First Third, p. 196.