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Posts Tagged ‘magic’

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/Globe Staff
A stage in the back of a U-Haul (paid for in part by Fresh Sound Foundation) allows the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet to perform anywhere.

Classical musicians who believe their music will bring a blessing to whoever hears it have been presenting in offbeat locales in the Greater Boston area. Tomorrow, too. Malcolm Gay has the story at the Boston Globe.

“The 17-foot U-Haul truck sat parked in an empty field, ringed by trees. With the touch of a button, a roof-mounted winch whirred into action, unspooling cable as a fan-shaped stage lowered like a drawbridge from the rear. The U-Haul’s modified rear doors acted as a band shell, flanking the stage to project sound, and a custom-made sail, supported by deep-sea fishing rods, projected as a visor from above.

“Fifteen minutes later and the vehicle, dubbed the Music Haul, was a fully functioning stage — a 21st-century gypsy caravan that will bring live performances to the streets and schools of Greater Boston, Sunday through Tuesday.

“ ‘It really is more boat than truck,’ said Catherine Stephan, executive director of the Yellow Barn music center. ‘We got to know RV dealerships really well.’ …

“ ‘It’s supposed to be as close to magic as possible,’ said architect John Rossi, one of the traveling venue’s principal designers. …

“Its creators say the Music Haul’s main mission is to bring world-class concert performances to the most unlikely of places: schools, underserved neighborhoods, hospitals, perhaps even prisons.

” ‘We exist in the world as musicians that is in a way so finely controlled and tuned,’ said Yellow Barn’s artistic director, Seth Knopp. ‘Music Haul removes some of the ceremony, which can be a barrier for people who are not often exposed to that world. There’s an element of taking something out of its accustomed place and allowing it to take people by surprise.’ ”

What a good thought! Reminds me how you can suddenly start seeing the pictures on your walls again if you move them to a new location in the house.

Read more about this enchanting initiative here.

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You never know what you will pick up from twitter. I started following Ferguson Library tweets after the death of Michael Brown. The library has wonderful tidbits about books, among other topics.

A tweeted tidbit on the antiquity of fairy tales is from Science magazine.

David Shultz writes, “A new study, which treats these fables like an evolving species, finds that some may have originated as long as 6000 years ago.

“The basis for the new study, published in Royal Society Open Science, is a massive online repository of more than 2000 distinct tales from different Indo-European cultures known as the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index, which was compiled in 2004. Although not all researchers agree on the specifics, all modern Indo-European cultures (encompassing all of Europe and much of Asia) descended from the Proto-Indo-European people who lived during the Neolithic Period (10,200 B.C.E.–2000 B.C.E.) in Eastern Europe. Much of the world’s modern language is thought to have evolved from them.

“To conduct the study, Jamshid Tehrani, an anthropologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues scanned the repository. They limited their analysis to tales that contained magic and supernatural elements because this category contained nearly all the famous tales people are familiar with. This narrowed the sample size to 275 stories, including classics such as Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast. …

“Tehrani says that the successful fairy tales may persist because they’re ‘minimally counterintuitive narratives.’ That means they all contain some cognitively dissonant elements—like fantastic creatures or magic—but are mostly easy to comprehend.

“Beauty and the Beast, for example contains a man who has been magically transformed into a hideous creature, but it also tells a simple story about family, romance, and not judging people based on appearance. The fantasy makes these tales stand out, but the ordinary elements make them easy to understand and remember. This combination of strange, but not too strange, Tehrani says, may be the key to their persistence across millennia.”

More.

(from a Ferguson Library tweet)

An illustration of Beauty and the Beast from 1913.

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In a Wired story titled “eBay Bans Sales of Spells, Curses, Advice and Other ‘Intangibles,’ ” Liat Clark writes:

“The online auction house announced the changes as part of a routine cleanup that will also see recipe and dieting-advice lots stricken from the site.

“The decision, it says, is down to ‘a large number of misclassified items and eBay policy violations’ that often lead to ‘issues that can be difficult to resolve.’

“Presumably a few angry customers unable to get a love spell working have caused eBay strife over the years. …

“Among the items that will be taken down and prohibited from August 30, 2012, are ‘advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; work from home businesses and information; wholesale lists, and drop shop lists.’ ”

Where will the magicians go now? Seems a shame to lose something so quixotic, but business is business, and when you can’t serve a customer, you need to rethink matters.

I especially empathized with the line about “issues that can be difficult to resolve.” The company behind this blog, Luna & Stella, always resolves issues cheerfully but is careful not to offer spells — or even dieting advice.

More here.

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For an artsy, literary treat, take a look at the Project Gutenberg version of painter Marsden Hartley‘s out-of-print book, Adventures in the Arts: Informal Chapters on Painters, Vaudeville, and Poets, dedicated to Alfred Stieglitz.

Hard to resist an introduction like this:

“Sometimes I think myself one of the unique children among children. I never read a fairy story in my childhood. I always had the feeling as a child, that fairy stories were for grown-ups and were best understood by them, and for that reason I think it must have been that I postponed them. I found them, even at sixteen, too involved and mystifying to take them in with quite the simple gullibility that is necessary. But that was because I was left alone with the incredibly magical reality from morning until nightfall …

“I was constantly confronted with the magic of reality itself, wondering why one thing was built of exquisite curves and another of harmonic angles. It was not a scientific passion in me, it was merely my sensing of the world of visible beauty around me, pressing in on me with the vehemence of splendor, on every side. …

“It is because I love the idea of life better than anything else that I believe most of all in the magic of existence.”

(Thank you, Ellen Levy, for sending me the link.)

Art:  Marsden Hartley

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