Unreal Nature

September 19, 2015

This Necessary Stupidity

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… Through the spaces opened by the stupidities themselves … we enact, and see …

Continuing through Six Drawing Lessons: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 2012 by William Kentridge (2014):

… There is the bed of the printing press, covered by blankets (thick felt) to protect the sheet (the sheet of paper under the blanket). Under the blanket, on top of the sheet, we make sense of the open bite, the foul bite, the spit bite, the drypoint, the hard ground. An entire erotics of etching, a process that has an essential physical sensuousness: the gentle wiping of the hand, the soft ground, the open bite. The bubbles of the acid are feathered off, the soft ground is gently dabbed on, the ink is wiped off with the palm of the hand, the dampness of the sheet judged with the back of the hand.

… the pressure at the center of the process, the meeting of the two rollers, one above the bed and one below the plate, in felt and paper and blankets — is an invisible moment, hidden by the blankets themselves. The artist as maker on one side, the artist as observer on the other side of the roller.

… The etching and other prints are essentially about multiplicity: the private impulse becomes a public opinion.

[ … ]

… we are in the studio, trying to parse the specific nature and activity of the studio, which can be characterized as making a safe place for stupidity.

This necessary stupidity is not the same as foolishness, or the innocence of the pure fool made wise through compassion. It is not the fool with license to talk truth to power. It is not a simple naïveté elevated. Rather it is making a space for uncertainty, for giving an impulse, an object, a material, the benefit of the doubt.

… To make a space for the inauthentic starting point. The foolish work of the six degrees of tension are there. A film is started without script or storyboard, a day is spent walking backward, throwing encyclopedias over your shoulder. Not in celebration of the stupidity itself, but believing in it more than in a studio of good ideas, of things worked out in advance and then shot and executed.

Understanding, hoping, believing, not out of conviction, but from physical experience, that from the physical making, from the very imperfections of technique — our bad backward walking — parts of the world, and parts of us, are revealed, that we neither expressed nor knew, until we saw them — when we realized we always did know them. Through the spaces opened by the stupidities themselves — the randomly torn pages, the line and the parabola — we enact, and see, and celebrate our construction of our world.

My most recent previous post from Kentridge’s book is here.




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