Wednesday, March 26, 2008

rietveld, polenta, and mysteries of the middle ages

Everyone should buy the books of Glen Baxter and purchase original works whenever they can afford them, which in my case is never:


The current vogue for the word "texts" to describe articles in magazines and such like is one of which I heartily approve. Leaving aside such references from antiquity as Roland Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text, we have long needed a neutral word to describe pieces that are not quite any definable genre, or that do not pre-define the genre. A "text" could be anything, including a Shakespearean sonnet, and that is all to the good.

It is, however, a more applicable word to those compositions to which George Steiner gave the name "The Pythagorean Genre" in his essay of that title. Sometimes there are sui generis pieces that are not essays, certainly not short stories, nor are they reviews, nor are they (as in the latter day) standard-issue blog posts, what have you.

And though I suppose it becomes open to question whether they can still claim the name of "text" when visual imagery is an integral component part of them or they are composed entirely of visual images, that is still an excellently noncommittal term to use for interstitial creations that do not fit any previously perceived or perhaps even any perceptible category.

Monday, March 24, 2008

a picture is not worth a thousand words if you don't know the alphabet

Listening to an interviewer with the photographer who documented Daufuskie Island most recently (an exhibition currently at Fernbank Museum of Natural History) reminded me that photographs are never as transparently documentary as their makers think they are, even if they are also frequently far more informative than the casual observer might think.

I chose not to write about the photographs for a general audience because they seemed to require such skill at reading small visual details, if one were to get anything more out of them than generalized romanticism.

And I was basically right: the photographer's stories are fascinating, as is Daufuskie Island once one gets the hang of knowing what to look for.

But until then, one is basically just seeing more and still more of the Southern surfeit of weatherbeaten buildings and antique kitchen equipment. There is a tale to be told, but it needs to be told, not just put forth in pictures for the perceptive viewer to pick up on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

a firm grasp on the local: relocating Wordsmiths

To my surprise, the historic building currently housing Wordsmiths Books in Decatur, Georgia doesn't seem to be represented in images on the web...I may have to do some documentation before the building undergoes its next transmutation in a couple of weeks. (As far as I know, the building was one of a limited number of post offices and public buildings built with Georgia marble as a New Deal response to quite local this case, the architectural use of Georgia marble in a somewhat Deco/Moderne construction, which would have made more sense in terms of economic stimulus than another one of the brick, Mount-Vernon-quoting post office buildings that are spread across the Midwest and elsewhere.)

So enough of speculative architectural history, which I am hoping will spur somebody other than myself to visit the Dekalb County Historical Society and get the real story. The point of the present post is that Wordsmiths Books, which in a few months' time has established itself as the key indie player in a burgeoning literary community (arts community in general eventually, I hope), failed to make an offer on the building in time and now must relocate to another, younger but equally remarkable architectural site.

So as a matter of my own pleasure I had to rip off from their newsletter this photo of the former Suntrust Bank space on Decatur Square to which they are relocating. I am perennially charmed by independent booksellers with the architectural imagination to understand that books ought to be sold in surroundings at least as individual and thought-arousing as the volumes themselves.

A lobby chandelier and a now-disused vault qualifies, I should think.

If these guys get a clearer view of the visual arts beyond architecture they could be formidable.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Loretta in NYC

Those who know the work of Loretta Hirsch may wish to look up on her website the info about the March 14 group show in New York in which her work is included.

Ignore the "click me" on this image from because I don't know how to embed this link. Copy the URL into your browser and ignore my digital illiteracy.