This week I do not feel so alone in my contemplation of creaturality as I notice that Stefan St. Laurent is showing himself ‘feeding the animals’ at AXENEO7, and today the Ottawa Citizen reviewed the movie ‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’ which concerns animal rights. It runs for 3 days at the Bytowne, prior to my show at LPM gallery on the 27th.

This week also I received from Fauna Foundation the first volume of ‘the Legends of Fauna’ a journal that documents the lives of the chimps housed there. This first issue is devoted to Pepper who died in June last year. I had requested if it might be possible to work with some of the art-making chimps, and to use some of their art work in conjunction with my own at LPM. here is a self-portrait by Pepper(2) Peppers self-portrait

which is kind of amazing I think. Here is a photo of her in the recent Fauna journal


I feel I can now finish this series.

The painting Ascension, refers in a way to Baroque paintings of the assumption of saints  into heaven. (I did not even know that pepper had died until this week!)

Ascension 30_x48_ oil, mixed media on panel

However it is also about baboons’ propensities to sing to the sun as it rises in the morning, which is so lovely, and we’d all be better off if we did it too.

I’ve also used the format of the ancient Byzantine-type icon to perhaps memorialize creatures as something holy, and that reflects our sacred relationships to other primates, most of which are held in captivity to climate change, as we are. The female gorilla, or gorilla mama speaks to me as a wild, protective maternity. I hope we can re-find this in our human selves, enough to protect our more-than-human counterparts. Our world involves more-than-human needs. I don’t think we can ignore our losses for too much longer without it biting us back.


subconscience deatil

subconscience detail2

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Living Research powerpoint

Living Research Presentation

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Authority and Politics (of the Table)

apron ladies Give us this day our daily dread. It is difficult to imagine the Kafka family going out to eat, though that is what it would have taken for the death grip of mealtime to loosen, let go. (From Avital Ronell‘s Loser Sons: Politics and Authority)

At home, at the table, little Franz Kafka was eaten alive. By the time of the famous “Letter to Father”, he was vaporized. He says so himself: A good deal of the damage done to the young psyche occurred at table. The neighborhood restaurant might have rerouted the oppressive  domesticity of home rule – it might have introduced a hiatus or suspensive regime change that would allow for hunger’s pacing. Part of a spectacle of public generality, the theater of ingestion – possibly incorporation – the restaurant causes the hold on the child to slacken, if only because there are witnesses and waiters whose work consists in diminishing intensities of paternal law and the sacrificial rites that underlie their daily distribution – the daily apportionment of dread.

In Kafka’s works the family table locks the child into a site where Father presides; it offers one of the prime occasions for paternity to enthrone itself, conducting prescriptive raids on the child’s bearing – invading his plate, entering and altering her body, adjusting her manner of being. the table becomes the metonymy for all law, the place where sovereign exceptionalism asserts itself; Father does not have to obey his own law, he can pick his teeth or clean his ears while the eaters submit to the severity of his rule. The children, in Kafka at least, and in the simulacrum of home in which many others were grown, are consistently downgraded to the status of unshakable refugees, parasites, those who quiver under the thickness of anxiety while laws, like platters, are passed and forced down one’s delicate throat.  pp.153-154  ( note: Avital Ronnell codirects the Trauma and Violence Transdisciplinary Studies program at NYU)

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Ecology of Tears [between air and awareness]

A Bowl of Tears 2

… there is something much more than a metaphor here – an ancient and elemental kinship between air and awareness, between the mind and the wind. (from Becoming Animal by David Abram  p.273)

And I think as I read this that difficult knowledge gets driven inside until tearfully arrived at, it sits expressed, on the skin, between awareness and atmosphere.  Might it be possible to say that our Earth’s atmosphere clouds up, saturated with a distillation of heartaches where tears have become absorbed and condensed into it? Is it a beautiful transmutation even so?

“It is a kinship demonstrated by the Aeolian etymology of such words as “psyche” “spirit” and “anima” (itself the Latin word for soul, derived from the ancient Greek anemos, meaning wind), and by the Indo-European etymology of the word “atmosphere” (which shows the same origin as the Sanskrit word atman, meaning “soul”). In truth the modern, civilized understanding of mind as a purely immaterial power has been born by a process of subtraction, slowly and by increments, from the ancestral experience of invisible atmosphere as a thick, meaning-filled plenum in which we’re immersed – as a living field of intelligence in which we participate. To our oral indigenous ancestors, the animating air was the very place of the spirits, the very medium of awareness (p.273)A Bowl of Tears

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Gold Mama2 He says reject the idea that humans are the centre of the world (Ron Benner)

so, while working on this piece I am reading about Ron Benner’s work and Andy Patton is quoting Antonio Gramsci. These are some of the layers of stuff and bits and pieces that drift into view while I am working, and I pick them up and put them down at intervals

The starting point for critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is … as a product of historical process to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory”  (p.89. Gardens of a Colonial Present)detail1If only I had been given an inventory! Since I am the pinnacle of evolution so far HA! there’s a bubble of a laugh at the back of my throat, and gravity as well and a gap between the idea of being at the end of some evolutionary chain, my heart, my mind parts of the chain the puddle of stuff that contains bits of me the gorilla’s heart and mind, along with a brain that did not evolve for the purpose of understanding itself. (last blog post) But, I keep trying. – To make an inventory?

Traces of a history, an evolution all dumped/lost in me, bundles of time and how to access and take this inventory except through poetry and art and music ‘through chaos as it swirls’ (and I am simultaneously listening to Coldplay too – which I found at the bottom of another pile surprised) and oh yeah- another thing next to me I end up leafing through:

To make the tree speak, I am leafy speafing. the oracular tree, or tree of dreams. The sylvan historian, telling a leaf-inspired legend. The silva or garden of verses. These trees shall be my book. Book is beech in German (Buch and Buche); a tree on which we carve our mistress’s name. The maidens’ stray, impassioned in the lettering leaves. Laura is really poetry  (from p.20 piece of photocopied segment from Chapter Daphne, or Metamorphosis, by N.O.Brown)

detail mam2 emboideredAll those things are connected, but only by me, today, as I gather strays into bundles. Also, I stopped on Bank St and Bread and Sons and had a slice of great pizza at the bakery there while flipping through a copy of New American Paintings, 40 artists on the rise 2012, and stopped with a crash at Gregory Euclide. Like that, It’s all layered. And some days are really good for taking inventory

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Going out, I found, was really going in

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in  (John Muir)

Ontario landscape with gorillaFrom Becoming Animal, by David Abrams, which I continue to sift through as I work in the studio:

our surmises regarding the subtle function of neural processes within the brain are profoundly constrained by the fact that the brain did not evolve in order to understand itself.

The complex organization of the brain evolved as a consequence of our sensorial and muscled engagement with the complex, dangerous and ever-shifting landscapes that surround us. The brain has thus a natural proclivity to help us orient and interact with those enigmatic surroundings…

… in a palpable sense, we are born of this planet, our attentive bodies co-evolved in rich and intimate rapport with the other bodily forms – animals, plants, mountains, rivers – that compose the shifting flesh of the breathing world.

Whenever we attempt to focus the thinking brain back on itself – upon its own neural structure and functioning, or upon other dimensions similarly hidden from our common experience, whether subatomic or cosmological – it can not help but bring those predispositions to bear, anticipating gravity and ground, and sky where they are not necessarily to be found … yielding an image of things profoundly informed by our animal body and its accustomed habitats.  p.78,79

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