Posts Tagged ‘everyday’

Lydia Ricci, “I’m Not Sure They Need to Do That Now” (2020), scrap materials, 3 x 5 x 1 1/2 inches

The world is full of big wonders that people want to see before Covid or some other misfortune grounds them. As for me, I’m almost more interested in not missing some small, important thing close to home. I keep thinking there might be magic in the ordinary. No wonder I enjoy art that uplifts everyday items!

Sarah Rose Sharp writes at Hyperallergic about artist Lydia Ricci and the endless possibilities she finds in everyday objects.

“As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and no one embodies this sentiment more acutely than sculptor and filmmaker Lydia Ricci. From a pile of scraps and everyday detritus accumulated over the last 30 years, Ricci makes imperfectly perfect replicas of quotidian moments and objects.

“ ‘I have been collecting my family’s scraps for over 25 years,’ wrote the artist in a confessional essay on her website, ‘but I have to admit, I also steal some too.’ These purloined scraps include a reusable BINGO card from a family function at the local elementary school (‘fancy … with red plastic windows that cover the numbers’), dusty electrical tape (‘nobody needs three rolls’), a lightbulb box from a neighbor’s garage (‘the bulb probably didn’t even work’). …

“If you leave Ricci alone in a waiting room, she considers your paper clips fair game.

” ‘I treasure an electric bill from 1984 like others would covet their family jewels,’ Ricci told Hyperallergic by email.

The results are mementos that do not so much mirror their real-world counterparts as deeply evoke a sense of life as it is remembered — a little wonky, a little irregular, very detailed in places but highly abstract in others.

“Ricci poses and photographs her tiny sculptures in tableaux in which the objects are often out of proportion, giving them the surreal quality of dreams and memory. A tiny aquarium makes tight quarters for a peeled cocktail shrimp. A ramshackle miniature couch struggles to conceal life-sized keys and Cheerios and hairballs. A teensy dishwasher is slowly buried in a drift of life-sized detergent flakes.

“As if creating these scenes out of multiple media isn’t enough, Ricci then recasts them in multimedia productions, adding single-sentence text snippets that seem to voice over the images or serve as narration to short films. Her three-minute film I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU (2021) made the rounds this past spring at film festivals in Arizona and Washington, DC, and tells the story of an evolving relationship through its everyday dramas: the wait for a diner booth, the politics of toothbrush-sharing, the request (or lack thereof) for help reaching a high shelf, the need (or not) for company on a grocery run.

“ ‘There is absolutely nothing precious or precise about what I am constructing,’ Ricci added. ‘The sculptures are messy and imperfect just like our memories.’ …

“Ricci was part of a four-person show that ran through April at James Oliver Gallery in Philadelphia, with another show slated to open on August 23 at the Kohler Art Museum in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She’s also hoping to publish a book of her images, titled Don’t You Forget About Me.” More at Hyperallergic, here.

You might also be interested in a book by Richard Deming called The Art of the Ordinary, of which Cornell University Press says: “Cutting across literature, film, art, and philosophy, Art of the Ordinary is a trailblazing, cross-disciplinary engagement with the ordinary and the everyday. Because, writes Richard Deming, the ordinary is always at hand, it is, in fact, too familiar for us to perceive it and become fully aware of it. The ordinary he argues, is what most needs to be discovered and yet is something that can never be approached, since to do so is to immediately change it.”

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Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe.
George, a chicken, and a sign to turn out the lights at the entrance to the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vt.

I knew this Boston Globe article was for me as soon as I saw it was about celebrating the everyday. Most people have bucket lists of adventures they expect will be highlights of their lives. But after we check an item off our list, how do we feel when we get back home?

Maybe we should be enjoying what we do every day. A “museum” founder in Vermont thinks so.

Dana Gerber writes at the Boston Globe, ” ‘What would a museum look like if it was dedicated to ordinary objects of no monetary value, but immense everyday life consequences?’

“That’s the question Clare Dolan seeks to answer at the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vt. Dolan, who founded the museum in 2011, has no interest in celebrating the precious, the rare, the famous. She’d rather honor the stuff of junk drawers — toothpaste tubes, safety pins, old to-do lists — and present them with reverence.

“So, she set out to create a museum that would redefine what is valuable, and whose lives are worth putting on display.

‘We need a museum that’s about us, too — the ordinary people,’ said Dolan, 54, who has dubbed herself the Chief Operating Philosopher of the museum. ‘We’re here, and there’s something lovely about our lives.’

“In a remote corner of the bucolic Northeast Kingdom, the Museum of Everyday Life beckons from the side of the road. There is no admission fee or lock on the door; patrons let themselves in and turn the lights off when they’re done. Dolan, who lives in a house next door, works as an ICU nurse at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in nearby St. Johnsbury, so she’s often not home to greet visitors. The only security is a feisty chicken named George.

“The museum grew out of her childhood love of the material world. ‘I was the kind of kid that would talk to chairs,’ said Dolan, who’s originally from the Chicago area. After she bought her Vermont home in 2004, ‘I found the means to start making the thing that I wish I could come across.’

“The museum, now in its 10th year, champions the small to illuminate the universal. The front of the museum boasts the ‘greatest hits’ of exhibits past, like a trove of tone balls — dust that accumulates inside of instruments — and a violin made of matchsticks. Matchboxes from around the world rest on a wooden table, some from Dolan’s travels, others from outside contributions.

“Each of the exhibits, which run from one summer to the next, are communally curated. Dolan puts out a call for submissions in February when she announces that year’s object of focus. Throughout the 1990s, she worked as a puppeteer at the nearby Bread and Puppet Theater, a political troupe that has tackled a litany of social justice issues throughout its decades-long history — but she also enlists her ‘philosophers at large,’ or board of advisers, to assist her in creating each exhibit.

“This year’s exhibit highlighting notes and lists received the most submissions of any in the museum’s history, Dolan said. The selection is organized by category: love notes, bucket lists, and unfinished lists, like one that reads, ‘Things that have never happened: 1. I’ve never been asked to dance.’ There is a number two, but it is left blank.

“ ‘My heart just broke for that person,’ said Corina Orias, a California elementary school teacher visiting the museum with a local friend on a recent rainy Sunday. ‘I just hope that she did get asked to dance, sometime, someplace.’

“Why lists and notes? Dolan loves their inherent intimacy: the content, but also the way they bear the signs of human use; a pencil smudge here, a crinkle in the paper there. ‘They’re so connected to a person and a person’s story,’ she said. ‘They’re snapshots into how we make our way through the world.’ …

“ ‘It’s a lot of work, and it’s sort of thankless work in a way,’ Dolan said, ‘but it brings a lot of joy to me.’ ”

She brings joy to herself every day. Good idea. Could be at least as satisfying as checking off a bucket list. More at the Boston Globe, here.

Do you know other cool museum concepts? I’m remembering, for example, one man’s Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis and the Museum of Bad Art in Dedham, Mass. The blog has also covered the Mermaid Museums, the Museum of Aromas, the Covid Art Museum, a Museum for Gerbils, and more. Search on the word “museum” at the blog when you have time for joy.

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Photo: Amitava Sarkar/Forklift
The cast of
Served performs a dance phrase based on the five key movements of mopping. Forklift Danceworks makes choreography from everyday life, revealing the beauty and majesty of what you thought was mundane.

From childhood, I was always one for fantasy and found it easy to relate to imaginary worlds in the arts. Lately, though, I find myself more interested in art that feels relevant, art that uncovers wonder in everyday life. So it’s not surprising that this Dance Magazine article about discovering the dancelike moves of ordinary occupations appealed to me.

Nancy Wozny writes, “Austin renegade Allison Orr doesn’t use traditional performers. With her Forklift Danceworks, she has created dances featuring everyone from sanitation workers (The Trash Project) to power linemen (PowerUP), urban forestry department members (The Trees of Govalle) and food service employees (Served).

“Orr has a BA in anthropology and calls her process ‘ethnographic choreography.’ Using the movements of everyday workers, she crafts large-scale extravaganzas that have included more than 75 performers (and sometimes trucks), audiences of 2,000, and a deep research process that may involve her learning how to scale a power-line distribution pole or riding with a sanitation worker at 4 am.

“She recently spoke to Dance Magazine about her unique creative process.

” ‘When I start a new piece, I listen for the story the workers want told. What do they want people to know about what they do? I usually do about 50 to 100 interviews. Then I watch people doing their expert movement, looking for that seed. ,,, Usually there’s an all-staff meeting where I am introduced. Then I start job shadowing, working alongside them when I can. …

” ‘We don’t actually get people to agree to perform until very late in the process. I usually don’t ask for what we want until that person is likely to say yes. We put out a question, like “How do you cook an omelet in three minutes or less?” and they start choreographing it. Then they want to be in it, because they are the ones who can do it.

” ‘For the actual piece we organize sequences based on their movements, expanding it in space and time. For Served I watched one gentleman mop the floor and observed five different movements he does, including this beautiful turn. …

” ‘Because participants are asked to collaborate across different work groups to make the dance together, they build trust with people they might have worked with for years but never had the chance to really get to know.

” ‘The act of performing changes how collaborators see themselves. Being witnessed in one’s everyday work, particularly doing what might be thought of as mundane or ordinary, is transformational.’ ”

More at Dance Magazine, here.

Photo: Jonica Moore/Forklift Danceworks
A worker from Austin’s Urban Forestry Division performs in the dance
The Trees of Govanelle.


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