On reading and making

Ann Hamilton (from Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art, 2004, ed. Baas & Jacob):

Increasingly a large part of my process of coming “to make” things extends out of the atmosphere of the books that I gather around me. Reading is a part of forming a landscape that allows work to happen, and a part of every project is the process of finding the book a project needs. It isn’t something that can happen by intention.


So the process of making work is first one of waiting. And reading is one of the ways I wait.


I am drawn to reading poetry for the way poetry offers up words and, in a new way, their meanings.


If all art happens as an act of attention, then: What is making? What does it mean to make?


How is making a form of being in the world? What is the place of making by hand? What is the form it takes now? How is it relevant or has making by hand become a nostalgic activity? How is it necessary? How does making animate the world? How does it become reciprocal? How is reading making? Might the space and experience of reading be tactile and material? What acts might constitute the process?


There are so many marvelous intriguing questions in this text, questions demanding further investigation. I have underlined just two them, which I find to be directly applicable to my praxis as an art critic: How does making animate the world? How does it become reciprocal? Being a critic, I sometimes feel like I’m standing on the threshold – an invisible line – between a world of the unbelievable and the world habitual living. My task is to get the two spheres into contact – .

 Ann Hamilton: The event of a thread

if i was a painter …


Josef Albers, Study to Homage to the Square Gay, 1956

In 1950, at the age of 62, the German-born American artist Josef Albers, began what would become his signature series, the Homage to the Square. Over the next 26 years, until his death in 1976, he produced hundreds of variations on the basic compositional scheme of three or four squares set inside each other, with the squares slightly gravitating towards the bottom edge. What may at first appear to be a very narrow conceptual framework reveals itself as one of extraordinary perceptual complexity. In 1965, he wrote of the series:

They all are of different palettes, and, therefore, so to speak, of different climates. Choice of the colours used, as well as their order, is aimed at an interaction – influencing and changing each other forth and back. Thus, character and feeling alter from painting to painting without any additional ‘hand writing’ or, so-called, texture. Though the underlying symmetrical and quasi-concentric order of squares remains the same in all paintings – in proportion and placement – these same squares group or single themselves, connect and separate in many different ways.


… if I was a painter, I would dream about making work as visual perceptible, sensible, sensual and emotional moving … as these Josef a grå midt


Beauty is the sharpest tool in the box

I wrote a short note on Richard Mosse some time ago. The Enclave, as presented at Foam in Amsterdam, is the most remarkable exhibition I have seen in a very long time. Richard Mosse is showing his work all over the world, and if he turns up in a place near you – you should not miss the opportunity!



Meanwhile you can listen to this; here is Mosse talking about his own work. I found his thoughts on beauty very intriguing, worrying – but also true: