Roving Eye: Opening and Closing Words for Summer


The summer is a good moment to reflect and to meditate on why we do what we do. The mind vacates the tasks and is able to rejoin the mind, this place just behind the eyes.

Summer is the time when we are entitled to idleness. Liberated from the quotidian, I find my gaze like a free-associating map on which what makes sense, makes sense, and what does not, does not. It is a time for strolling and poaching, a time for giving in, unconditionally, to the dispersed events that make up my constellation of pure, unjustified, modest and selfishly solitary pleasures.

I start with words—the beautiful words of Carl Andre’s poetry that I had the pleasure to peruse in depth, and which measure the mesmerizing complexity of the artist’s mind, his concise lyricism, his deep sense of history, his disobedient spirit, and his tremendous love of language. I left his poetry reconsidering not so much the power of words but rather their authority, their density, and the importance of the words we say and the words we write. This took me directly to the book I was immersed in this summer, Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life, in which he quotes Jean-Francois Lyotard in Rudiments Paiens: “To arrest the meanings of words once and for all, that is what Terror wants.”

From words I travel to sounds and to the Ryoji Ikeda presentation at the Armory. There, sounds, data and the saturation of information triggered thoughts about the phenomenon that our eyes are able to see, but which our mind and vision can barely comprehend. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Over-saturation leads to a “quasi-void”—not the void of the empty but the void of completion, of plenty as so beautifully suggested between the pages of the Vides published by the Pompidou Center a few years ago, and specifically the essay “La Voie du Vide” by Francoise Bonardel.
From sounds I drift to spaces: the space of a fragile painting by Jenny Monick in which a grid of dots fades away, irritating our certitude about permanency and systems; the space of a 1966 Marcel Breuer house in Massachusetts, porous to the elements and framing its surroundings in absolute simplicity; a space that is a place.
From space I lingered in landscapes; the installation by Haegue Yang at the Aspen Art Museum, an arboretum of domesticated debris, but not necessary civilized, wild but decorative; the landscapes of Sigmar Polke photographs and their visionary alchemy of hallucinated paradise.
I end as I began, with words, and Ben Okri’s Famished Road, or the journey of a spirit child born to inhabit a world between the spirits and the living, and whose reality, if one chooses to perceive it, accelerates and transcends the meaning of words, objects and images beyond their tangible integrity and their immediate being. And that might just be what I am starving for at the moment.

Tomorrow my eyes might be roving on “Anarchism Without Adjectives” and the work of Chris d’Arcangelo at Artists Space, or the Heim Steinbach exhibition in Chelsea. But we’ll discuss it next week.

Ryoji Ikeda, The Transfinite.