By JAMES SALOMON October 28, 2020
Warren Neidich curates a group exhibition at C.A.R.E. LTD studio in East Hampton, with Elena Bajo, Sabra Moon Elliot, Candace Hill, Alice Hope, Laurie Lambrecht, Toni Ross, Bastienne Schmidt, and Almond Zigmund. Photography by James Salomon unless otherwise noted.
I am not going to write about what happened this year.
We know what happened, because wherever we were, we were all there.
This picture story is about people who make art. And how they felt. And how they feel.
I got an email from Toni Ross recently about going over to see her installation in East Hampton. Today Cannot Be Tomorrow it is called, and I’d been thinking about that piece, which had been exhibited in different iterations over the past several months. This time around, a questionnaire is waiting for the viewer. It asks “What date holds meaning for you following March 15, 2020” and “Please describe its significance”. Though I have no tribe, my mind went immediately towards a confessional, and I suppose my thoughts weren’t exactly pure. How deep do I want to dig with this?
It wasn’t long before I got on the road. I wanted to see her, meet with the other artists who I admire, and reconnect with Mr. Warren Neidich. Warren and I knew each other from another era, and I’ve been watching (from a safe distance) what he’s been up to lately. His Drive-By-Art exhibition project was a stroke of genius and ingenuity because it came at a time when many artists felt hopeless and irrelevant under the circumstances (feelings not limited to artists – ahem – by the way). It was a shot in the arm, a morale booster. He then smartly took the concept to LA. I can go on about other interesting projects and noble acts he’s accomplished, but best to focus on the current, which is his curation of The Abyss of Uncertainty.
I asked the participating artists how they can describe Warren in one word.
The results are in:
Then, ripping off a page from Toni’s questionnaire, I also asked the artists how these times of uncertainty made them feel, from the month of March to the Now.
Will I have enough time?
Will it work?
Will my kid be ok?
Will she be fulfilled?
Will I find my way?
Will the world survive?
Doubt. Distrust. Skepticism. Suspicion. Complete lack of conviction or knowledge especially about an outcome or result. Unpredictability. Precariousness. The Inability to count on things, to plan, to have faith. Anxiety. Yup, that about sums it up.
I do not remember when I have been more uncertain about time, about the days of the week, about what comes next and what came before. Since the initial mandated quarantine, I find myself in a constant state of disorientation. All the usual parameters of time, ie work, social engagements, stripped away. That deep sense of disequilibrium remains in full force for me and, In the enormity of it all, I remain confounded by simple questions like "What day is today?”, “Was that yesterday or last week?” and “Is this Saturday, again?”. And, of course, there remain the more profound uncertainties about our democracy and our country’s ability and true desire to create justice for all.
Perhaps nothing was ever certain, it only seemed that way.
I’ve been particularly anxious about running out of time and how it is seemingly speeding up as it passes me by. About the fits and starts, the erratic momentum these days. The uncertainty of when pandemic restrictions will end and its lasting effects.
And my longing for flow.
In these days of uncertainty what makes me dance, is not a lot.
But still, I strongly believe that especially in times of a crisis, artists are called to action.
We are able to think outside of the box. We are makers and thinkers and will come up with unexpected solutions.
We find ourselves in Minotaur’s labyrinth and are looking for Ariadne’s red thread to find a way out of it.
You can always look for a solution in Greek mythology. It’s the place I grew up in and I always gravitate to, when I am facing existential questions.
... Whereupon Candace went to the Atlantic , looked in felt a blast of wave whacko get out that waters’ too cold those clouds loom too large over shadowing your arm destined to be right broken if you don’t get back back back anyway.. daft poetry’s what saves me
talking to a coronet of clouds seems like stealing from Zeus so I’ll tell you the truth not to prophesy, only out loud if I could , drop of a hat , oh rats no hat , band around back to question at hand
Being no different than others when I am weak , God says I am strong . During this time we are at our weakest. Our names mean nothing, our countries mean nothing, kings, princes, etc. are nothing, we know this now when we are facing this pandemic/Covid 19 struggle. The anxiety could overcome us , so to get peace for myself & others I ask the Lord for peace period. When I’m feeling like a hypochondriac God gives me His strength. I don’t have to put my best foot forward, all I have to do is to try to listen listen . The ocean and nature too is what gets me through so I can mount up with wings like eagles, run & not be weary , walk & not faint. Poetically speaking the saints do the saving.
It is the heightened awareness of ceaseless change that is doggedly peering over my shoulder. A persistent aura of unpredictability demands my attention. Yes, life is a process in constant FLUX but now it is in capital letters. Why and When are newly unanswerable. For me, this is an insistent distracting buzzing in my ear. The speed and vigor of this fog of unknowing is indeed unfamiliar and unsettling.
My optimism is strained yet prevails.
My dream is that this imposed suspension of what was normal life allows for a major RETHINK and positive realignment for our society and humanity.
I worry about the environment. I hope my child has clean air and water. I hope there’s an awakening and people are kinder to one another and come to understand that we are all interdependent. As long as we engage in supremacy culture we’re at risk of putting ourselves on the path of extinction.
Roaming Strutting Spitting
the rhythm of the poem is the trajectory of the form
a solved riddle…?
falling oak shed
fractured and raced
Daphne lost her limbs
lines of flight
branching out to you
a bird is a bird is a bird
parallel garden universe
a car mirrors
a dance of circles
a tree is a tree is a tree
a game of seven wild
a song of pecks six
a step of green five
a chase of leaves four
a chess match game three
a race of hiding two
a death of some-one
a song is a song is a song
seeds of gust winds win
yellow dream awakes
Dandelion breathes at sunrise
the heart stops
before the light reaches the finish line
a won battle of none
the house takes it all
The Abyss of Uncertainty will be open through 1 November 2020 at C.A.R.E. LTD in East Hampton.
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