All notes with the topic Ari Marcantonio | Notes on Looking

Take a Sauna

Take a Sauna.  One built with love by hand, from the land and our supposed refuse. Relax against a wooden bench warmed for hours by a stove burning the same wood, scavenged from friends, neighbors, gentle strangers.  Take a break from the heat, in the heat.  When you step outside the desert air will feel cool as the breeze dries your sweat, your mind and body clarified.  Take a Sauna.  Take it for what it is but understand it is more; more because of the how, where, who and why of its making and the contextual layers that require sloughing off (like your skin softly scrubbed by the millions of years old pumice collected from the even more ancient sea floor called the mesa). Momentarily transcend the utility of the structure only to encounter the inseparability of its function and content. Take a Sauna. In the summer of 2012 we participated in a nascent artists residency being built on “unimprovable” land in the Northern New Mexico high desert.  PLAND (Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation), “a multi-disciplinary organization that supports the development of experimental and research-based projects through a variety of on and off-site programs [sic]” allowed us to approach our art practice(s) differently, to ask some particular and far reaching questions, and to work together in new and surprising...

Getting to Know Each Other

Recently I spoke with someone who dramatically enlivened and refocused my attention. For the art world, the small chunk of it we inhabit inLos Angeles and the practices that he and our friends conduct. I do not speak to many people who have such a casually contemplative air about them, who slowly disclose absolutely personal information with an ease and pacing that makes the conversation feel entirely natural while continuing to be deeply revealing and profound. Before we spoke I felt as though I hardly knew this person. Sure I knew the position they occupy in a Los Angeles art community, some of the effects and connections they have—I knew their professional self but had no idea who they actually were. After four hours, which seemed to disappear as though time was no limitation, I could begin thinking about this person not as a fictionalized figure in my art world, but as a concrete, living, loving, knowing man. I began to see this man’s personal and professional selves coincide. I began to move beyond an understanding of what he does to contemplate how and why he began doing it, what it might mean, and how it relates to our lives and practices. I am beginning to realize there can be no art without an artist and no understanding of either without an understanding of the other. We are lucky enough to have an exhibition platform that knows who we are and always wants to know more, not a blank room that tries to objectify and sell us, but a real man who is just trying to help himself and...