Next Stop Atlantic

Over the last nine years the N.Y.C. Transit Authority has worked with the national artificial reef building program to sink around 1,800 subway cars.


Next Stop Atlantic | © Stephen Mallon

Beginning in 2007, Brooklyn-based photographer Stephen Mallon embedded himself with the maritime company in charge of the dumping operation.

You can read about the project here. 

the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth

It’s been a while since my last post on Oymyakon, but the town is not forgotten! And just this week the Smithsonian & Amos Chapple gave us some wonderful images from Siberia.


Gas station and Christmas tree (Amos Chapple)

Cars must be run continuously when making a trip to Oymyakon (if they stop you wont get them going again because of the low temperature), and so 24/7 gas stations are essential to winter transportation. Workers on the gas stations work two weeks on and two weeks off.

Such a strange and magical world we live in …!

perfectly useful concentration

What one seems to want in art, in experiencing it, is the same thing that is necessary for its creation, a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration.

 – Elizabeth Bishop, letter to Anne Stevenson, Jan. 1964

In the same boat: It’s very interesting to see how Bishop, in this short and powerful statement, parallels experiencing & creating art i.e. the perceiver & the artist; we are both looking for the same thing – a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration.

Self-forgetful concentration is precisely what happens in the artistic process–an absorption in the moment, a pouring of the self into the now. We are, as Dickinson says, ‘without the date, like Consciousness or Immortality.’ That is what artistic work and child’s play have in common; both, at their fullest, are experiences of being lost in the present, entirely occupied.

Mark Doty, The Art of Description, 2010

Maybe it’s possible to – instead of Doty’s “the artistic process” – describe the self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration as the aesthetic moment, a place where artwork and receiver fuse.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude  Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76

Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76

The next step could be – and here I’m bringing Damasio into the party – to evolve out of the fuse = become selves (again); to separate emotion from feeling. For neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli, say for example art. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. This is what happens in what I termed the aesthetic moment.  Feelings occur after (according to Damasio feelings occurs after emotions) we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of pleasure, fear, joy etc.

Mind begins at the level of feeling. It’s when you have a feeling that you begin to have a mind and a self.

In short: Art is about loosing and creating self …

back home

This weekend I will finish my final 2014 art-review. The last six months have been a great work-experience. I have seen a lot of exhibitions, both in Norway and abroad. I have written & been published. And I have, for the first time, received competent & thorough editorial feedback along the way (the value of good editors should not be under-estimated!).

Last spring I was not sure if to continue writing on art or not, now I feel so very inspired & eager to continue. But I also know it is wise take small breaks every now and then – to catch up on my reading, and work on my personal writing.

Silent studies is the plan for the weeks to come (crossing fingers that I won’t be devoured by x-mass), sitting down, not to rest, but to work …


Ai Weiwei, Marble Couch (2011), Lisson Gallery © sh

Apropos sitting: Ai’s white marble furnitures, modeled after leather couches, are probably the most hilariously ugly & funniest works of art I’ve seen so far this year. How anyone can choose to sculpture these monstrous middle-class furnitures in marble is a mystery. Somehow it feels very up-lifting & liberating.