featured artists

How to Become a Saint Without Dying While You Try

How to Become a Saint Without Dying While You Try

Juan Betancurth, who is leading the Lucky Walk for Elastic City with Todd Shalom, has created a series of works entitled "How to Become a Saint Without Dying While You Try". These series include ritualistic performances, objects and installations that explore Juan's personal relationship to "pain, faith and pleasure" through experiences from his past.

From Juan's website:

"For a long time, I've been fascinated with the lives of Catholic saints, and the extremes they will go to, in order to achieve a mystical experience. The saints understood their bodies as simple flesh, that needs to be mortified to cleanse itself from the desires of the body. In their fanatic search for perfection I found an intriguing relationship between faith, pain and pleasure, three elements I've come to see as recurrent themes throughout my life, while creating this body of work. I began to look back at practices of mortification throughout the history of the Catholic religion, where I found powerful and beautiful tools, used by believers, to inflict pain upon themselves. Through these objects, I became interested in the person behind them, and realized that inside the mind of a saint, is someone who keeps a sadomasochistic relationship with god, who loves, punishes and rewards.

Pain becomes a doorway, feeding the compulsion to relieve the soul from desires of the flesh, to reach the spiritual ecstasy of touching the holy body, to reach god, and have an erotic encounter with him. I read stories of nuns spending nights hanging from their hair to receive spiritual visions; of a village drunk who became a saint by pledging to wear weights under his clothes for the rest of his life in exchange for being healed; a mystic nun who wrote erotic poems to god as she flagellated herself in front of his image; of some who endured long periods of fasting and others who subjected themselves to public humiliation. The more that I know about these people, the more fascinated I become.

Observing the popularity of tortured lives of mystics, I began to draw a connection to the society of drama and spectacle that we are immersed in, where suffering sells, and brings ratings up. I find it interesting that common heroes are still made from those who have suffered in the public eye, bringing me to a sarcastic point of view on our society, myself included, while I use my own story as the subject of my art."

You can send an email here to be notified of Juan's future performances.

photo: Malo de la Tullaye

Featured Artist: Michael Hart


Elastic City: M♥, i'm not sure if this finds you in new york or barcelona. anyway: you live impulsively with a poetry that's both passionate, and in pre$ent-day new york, perhaps masochistic. even when i see doubt in your photos, it's couched in a celebration of the body. so, there's an honesty and also an optimism. do you agree with any of this, and where are you now?



Michael Hart:



NEW YORK






BARCELONA





IMPULSIVELY





PASSIONATE





PRE$ENT-DAY

A work of art is a gift, not a commodity....

Every modern artist who has chosen to labor with a gift must sooner or later wonder how he or she is to survive in a society dominated by market exchange. And if the fruits of a gift are gifts themselves, how is the artist to nourish himself, spiritually as well as materially, in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities?


- Lewis Hyde, The Gift




MASOCHISTIC






DOUBT








COUCHED





CELEBRATION OF THE BODY





HONEST





OPTIMISM







AGREE





WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

Thanks for asking. I'm in Shelter Island, New York with Logan Kruger, Roarke Menzies, Davon Rainey & Adam Weinert.



















NEW YORK

Almost Perfect | New York, NY | 2010



BARCELONA

Siéntete | Barcelona, Spain | 2009



IMPULSIVELY

Bow-Wow! For SM | Spencertown, NY | 2009

with Jeff and Rufus



PASSIONATE

Self-Portrait #92,039,001 (Made In Maria's Bed) | Barcelona, Spain | 2010

with Michael Hart



MASOCHISTIC

SAD_ | Paris, France | 2010

with The Marquis



DOUBT

Ground Zero | New York, NY | 2009



The Reichstag | Berlin, Germany | 2009



COUCHED

Megan LeCrone With Ladder #1 | New York, NY | 2008

with Megan LeCrone



CELEBRATION OF THE BODY

The Field | Brooklyn, NY | 2006

with Troy Ogilvie, Shamel Pitts, Douglas Letheren and Annie Shreffler



HONEST

Self-Portrait #92,039,015 (Made In Maria's Bed) | Barcelona, Spain | 2010

with Michael Hart



OPTIMISM

Ryan Kelly Is Married To The Universe #1 | New Haven, CT | 2009

with Ryan Kelly



Ryan Kelly Is Married To The Universe #2 | New Haven, CT | 2009

with Ryan Kelly



AGREE

More Than Half | Chicago, IL | 2003

with Topel



WHERE ARE YOU NOW?

The Blue Lagoon in My Mind's Eye: On A Clear Day You Can See Russia From Here | Shelter Island, NY | 2010



Fish Out Of Water | Brooklyn, NY | 2006

with Logan Frances Kruger



I'm Not A Canary, I'm More Of A Coal Miner | Brooklyn, NY | 2009

with Roarke Menzies



This Was Never Green | Brooklyn, NY | 2010

with Davon Rainey



Difficult To Pronou... | Cap De Creus, Catalunya, Spain | 2009

with Adam Weinert


You can find more of Michael's work at http://www.hartharthart.com

Featured Artist: Vadis Turner

Featured Artist: Vadis Turner
Vadis Turner makes exceptional work, re-fabricating domestic life into colorful, charged and awe-inspiring installations. She made some food for our BBQ at the Flea a few months back, and now she's back in her studio. We decided to continue with our series of one-ish question interviews.

Elastic City: Vadis, these works are gorgeous. Tell me, what's on fire?

Vadis Turner: Throughout the first year of my marriage, I am making a series of contemporary heirlooms that will ultimately comprise my Dowry. In my mind, a dowry is a collection of culturally relevant goods that serve as a measure of a woman's worth either in monetary value or handicraft skills. Traditionally, a dowry is given to the husband's family from the bride's family as an offering to secure the union or to advance her in society through marriage. The contents of my Dowry will be traded or sold for professional and financial gain.

My September show in Richmond, VA will be the the last of three Dowry exhibitions. Many rites of passage honor the apex of beauty, fertility or physical potential. It often marks the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. I wanted to create works that bridge various stages of growth and decay. With fire, you see a new beautiful energy being created from a destructive process.

You can view some of Vadis' work on Governors Island through October as part of the "No Longer Empty" show. She also has work on view at the Brooklyn Museum. See photos below of some of Vadis' latest work.

Monumental Walks



We spoke with Niegel Smith about his walks, “Follow the Leader” and “Monumental Walk” in the middle of Times Square hoopla.


De-masking Daniel Neumann

De-masking Daniel Neumann

In preparation for his upcoming walks, “De-masking the Bridges”, we asked sound artist Daniel Neumann some questions about his work.

EC: Ok, for those who might not be familiar, what is “masking”?

DN: Masking happens when you put a certain article on your face to cover it, to hide, what is underneath. And audio masking is quite similar, in that a sound with a higher amplitude, a louder sound, completely covers the sounds with lower amplitude, the quieter sounds. When masking happens, the quieter sound may still be there, but our ears can't perceive it anymore. This question of whether the sounds disappear or just our perception of them, is also one of the side topics of the walk.

EC: How did you decide upon DUMBO for “De-masking the Bridges”?

DN: It's kind of hard to say what came first, the idea to make a soundwalk about the masking effect or DUMBO as a location with a very special acoustic environment. The density of very different surroundings in this small area really fascinated me. And because there are so many layers of sounds that are always changing, blending and competing, there is always “masking”. I also like DUMBO with it's post-industrial character and with all the initiatives to "improve" it, to make it a leisure area. This conflict is very apparent on an acoustic level, as if the industrial soundscape still wants to remind us or catch us somehow. It is as if the past is masking the improved “now”. I also wanted to create a noise walk rather than trying to find a few quiet spots for leisurely consumption.



EC: In researching the area, did it sound like how you expected? Were there any surprises?

DN: Part of my walking practice is trying not to expect too much, because only then my perception can stay open. This is especially important when researching an area. But since I'm still practicing - I didn't quite expect the Manhattan Bridge to dominate the area as much. The Brooklyn Bridge and the BQE seem almost quiet in comparison. So the soundscape is kind of tilted, away from the Manhattan Bridge. But in this way, the acoustic shadows are stronger and sharper and reveal some pretty interesting effects.

EC: What is the best way to document these walks? Do you make recordings of them? How do you prefer to document them?

DN: The ideal way of documenting them is step by step! Or in the memory of the participants. But since these two ways are fairly difficult to handle in an archive, my preferred way of documenting a walk is the score, which usually is a map with the route and marked points where the group stops. Then, I make notes and comments for what I might say at the different points. This way the documentation can hardly be confused with the actual experience, which is why I don't really like video recordings. Video always pretends to give one the experience, but it never really does. I guess if it's well-edited and made into a feature, it can talk about the walk—because it would be clearly different from the walk. I would still prefer a radio feature that is made of field recordings, where we use recordings during the walk with comments. The visual defines so much and focuses on particular objects, whereas audio leaves more space. Audio leaves space for imagination. Since one has to create the image of the bird you're hearing.

Further, the visual is also always directed. It points towards something, whereas listening puts you in the center. Audio talks about space in much more refined ways, since our two ears are the organ for spatial orientation. Anyway, so far I've only archived the scores of my walks. I also think it makes the moment of the walk itself more special and heightens this real-world experience, because you just can't rely on some future mediated engagement with it. It just happens now...


EC: How does the theme of de-masking tie in with your other work?

DN: That's an interesting question. I've never tried to read my other work in terms of its de-masking-ness: In my live concerts I like to use the room as a filter, in the way as Alvin Lucier did in his piece "I am sitting in a room". Through playing back a certain sound into a room and recording it, playing it back again and re-recording it, the characteristics of the room get amplified. This can be seen as a process of de-masking the characteristics of spaces. A recording of my latest concert can be found here.

Another concert practice is what I call Modular Collaboration. It is a form of collaborative composition for electroacoustic live concerts or installations, where the participants interact as equals in the formulation of modules. This modular structure is reflected less on the technical but primarily on the compositional level, because the modules are independent, only connected through a conceptual theme. Each participant creates his/her own approach and finds a place in the overall system that is being developed. In concerts, these processes run simultaneously. Through modular collaborations, a non-hierarchical, decentralized form of organization is put into practice, replacing the single composer as the creative genius. In our context I would say: De-mask the genius!

Daniel Neumann will be giving a series of soundwalks through DUMBO starting on May 23rd.
See here for more info on his walk and here for his website.

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