Dear Labbers and Friends of The Lab,
First: please SAVE THE DATE! The Fall 2017 Cycle of The Lab is having an off-site reading on October 25th from 7-9 pm. The venue is fantastic, and it'll be a combined reading of the Fall 2017 Cycle and returning Lab Alums. Also: If you've taken The Lab and would like to read, please get in touch ASAP!
Toni Morrison says, "refuse to succumb." I've been thinking of this quote: the calm tone in which she acknowledges malevolence; the reminder that there's a kernel inside chaos; the call to action. I superimposed Morrison's words over a photo I took this summer of a sculpture by Anselm Kiefer, an artist who has demonstrated an unflinching willingness to confront his culture's dark past. The journalist Johnathan Jones wrote of Kiefer's work, "Kiefer’s time has come, and not in an agreeable way. He told us history was a nightmare. He tried to show that reason has rarely ruled the world. His art has been one long warning that liberal democracy is a frail moment of light surrounded by forests of shadow and evil. Who can say Kiefer’s grave and haunted vision of history as a mad ride on a ghost train is overstated, now that we see the demons of nationalism and racism on the rise?"
Tony Kushner said: “It's an ethical obligation not to despair if you can possibly not despair. If you look, there's always a possibility to find a place where action can change the course of things." And Taylor Mac (see video, below) says, "I believe craft is essentially a commitment to learning the past, living in the present, and dreaming the culture forward."
This Cycle of The Lab I've attempted to keep these artists in mind when dreaming up experiments so word nerds can do just that. So far we've studied rebels: artists who use their mother's diaries and popular music and '90's television sitcoms and revered paintings as forms of recorded history to subvert and reinvent. They are artists whose practices look at and retell the past from a previously unheard or neglected or silenced point-of-view, and, in so doing, dream a new future.
The photo shows Anselm Kiefer's sculpture of a life-sized gown punctured with giant shards of glass. Above the dress are numbers referencing a system devised by the philosopher Luria to illuminate what connects human beings with the divine. The garment is punctured and splattered but remains intact, upright, attached, however invisibly, to something powerful and mysterious. I stood in the museum stunned by the horrific beauty of it, how the dress both resists and absorbs what threatens to shred it, transforming it into something giant and gleaming and new.
This January, The Lab turns 10! Ten years of Tuesday evenings with the scratch of pens across notebook paper and the clicking keyboards. THANK YOU to everyone who has signed up and helped spread the word! If you're interested in joining (or re-joining) The Lab for its10th Anniversary Cycle, it starts January 30th, 2018. Registration is open.