29 May 2009

More inspiration - Mira Schendel

After seeing a billion ads for the Leon Ferrari and Mira Schendel "Tangled Alphabets" exhibit at MoMA, I finally went to see it. Both of the artists' work was amazing, but I was particularly drawn to Mira Schendel. What I felt was interesting about her was her obvious understanding of math and math concepts. One piece was called "Probability waves", others (for example, the one with a lot of circles pictured above) used symbolic logic, particularly of the set theory variety. I was so compelled by the exhibit, that I actually bought the catalog (something I rarely do since they're usually pretty expensive).

It was exciting reading more about Mira Schendel. Apparently, she was very concerned with capturing time and with the idea of simultaneity. But she was also really interested in figuring out a way to communicate a whole of a moment of existence by freezing time. I'm not paraphrasing her ideas well. Let me just quote her:

"The [Monotipias] are the result of a hitherto frustrated attempt to capture discourse at its moment of origin. What concerns me is capturing the passage of immediate experience in all its empirical force, into the symbol, with its memorability and relative immortality. I know deep down it is a matter of the following problem. Immediate life, the kind I suffer and within which I act, is mine alone, incommunicable and therefore devoid of meaning or purpose. The realm of symbols, which seeks to capture that life (and which is also the realm of language), on the other hand, is antilife, in the sense of being intersubjective, shared, emptied of emotion and suffering. If I could bring these two realms together, I would have united the richness of experience with the relative permanence of the symbol. To put it another way, my work is an attempt to immortalize the fleeting and to give meaning to the epehmeral. To do this, obviously ,I have to freeze the instant itself, in which the experience melts into the symbol--in this case, into the word"

To further the desire to capture a moment into a simultaneity, Mira started using this really thin, transparent rice paper which she would then sandwich between two acrylic plates, thus making an object that could be seen from both sides, breaking down the idea of front and back. If you look at the pictures above, you can see where the pages overlap. Actually, if any of you have time, I highly recommend going to see the exhibit at MoMA before June 15 (when it closes). These pieces are definitely best experienced in person, both for the double-sided nature, but also because of the scale of the works and the textures that are lost in photographs. Worst case scenario, though, I'm happy to show people the catalog of work that I now have.

1 comment:

  1. I saw a similar (perhaps the same!) exhibition at the Reine Sofia Museum in Madrid, it was stunning! I was completely blown away my Mira Schendel as well, and then surprised by how little seems to be known about her,

    Thanks for the post, it's great to read some of the background behind her work