Moshe Ladanga

Archive for January 2008

Drawing Together

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I recently had a tutorial with Andy, and I decided to discuss a pretty pivotal issue with my collaborative project with Katrin. There were several things that were developing, threads that could turn into projects that would lead me astray (not that I mind, but not now please- haha). The main issue is drawing. It is quite vexing to think about it, because drawing has always been part of whatever I do, and there is a solitude that the act of it creates. Frankly, it is the most personal act of creation in my practice, and to engage the idea of drawing itself gives me postmodern shudders.

There was this show last year, the big splashy one by Matthew Barney at The Sepentine, and it was that particular time that I began to question the idea of drawing itself in the context of contemporary art. Barney explored and deconstructed these ideas, and cast a wide net on the big issues. There were videos that showed him harnessed and hung against a ship’s hull, drawing a la Pollock, with much bravado and heroic artistry. There were also drawings that he made in the space itself, marks in the high corners of the ceiling. I remember distinctly going around and feeling a familiarity with his process, but the strange thing was that not a single thing moved me, the only thing that stirred was the art history pages in my head, flipping like a rolodex. Yes, it has been said many times over that he creates his own language, and the meta-symbols in his films and installations all correlate to a personal universe. But if you look closely and clear away all the hype, stand for a minute or so and pay attention to his work, you start to see the neat lines of academic precision. It is in the correlations that reveal the diligence of art-history-art-making, resulting in a self-consciousness that is too prevalent today.

In the tutorial, Andy suggested that we go see another exhibition in the Serpentine, the one by Anthony McCall. We haven’t gone there yet, but from the web page alone, it is worth the look:


After the tutorials, as we were having our post-dinner chats, Katrin brought it up. At first I was quite hesitant, sort of on the edge of prevarication. She put forth the same question that Andy put forth, the challenge of finding out the reason for the collaboration, and how we would work it out individually. I realized that this idea of drawing in my head was something that I held close, something that I refused to open. It was a space of creation that held me safe. But for the collaboration to really work, I have to release these lines. The solution was simple, a process both private and shared.


Drawing together has the intimacy and the individuality of a shared openness, a dynamic wave of lines that draws its references not from points of knowledge, but from the act of meaning-making itself. Maybe these books and these marks bear something more honest, a tangibility that speaks not only of knowledge, but of experience.


Written by mosheladanga

January 30, 2008 at 2:37 AM

The Art of Seeing

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The images are still on my retinas; the color, the immutable shapes.

Yes, my first time in the National Gallery after being in London for neary 5 months. These paintings come to life before your eyes, the pictures in books serve only as points of recognition. The paintings above are by Degas, and what floored me was the mastery of color and form, the tones, the richness forming a dialogue with the shapes in the composition. I honestly felt like these paintings were teaching me how to see for the first time.

I’ve heard that some people experience these famous works of art with a certain degree of skepticism, a self-induced reproach. I understand that, and going into the gallery I had all of these thoughts too: the pleasure of the familiar, the caveat of the work’s (or artist’s) fame, the gilded frames of the experience of the art itself. All I can say after going out of the door and plunging into the cold 5pm wind of January is that preconceptions are preconceptions- go and stand before them again and see them.

These paintings move you. As Katrin described it in her post, the experience is something so visceral, so complete. The Impressionists, in particular the great colorists, got it right. Just staring at the Degas (pictured above) breaks these formalisations of perception we learn. That is what the work of the Impressionists are about; to unmake our eyes and see the world anew.

I think what these paintings do is quite relevant to the state of things, the world-weary state. My experience of the institution, the theories, the course, has been, suffice to say, instructive- what I have observed is a naivete, a peculiar one. This never-ending drive to develop, to be better, has bred intellectual inbreeding. There is such a hesitancy to respecting and truly understanding Otherness, the diversity tag merely political correctness. Yes I am not from here, but I am here, I get how it works.

Power structures are not only made of cables and steel.

The postmodern malaise is equally instructive; yes the Author had to die so that we know who he is. My claim here is about Art, about making it, and undoing this trap that was bred in a panoptical state. When you recognize freedom it is not an act of intellectual fiction; it is an act of seeing.

Can’t you see that Art is not merely a mind-fuck?

Can’t you see that artists dealt with both the profound and the mundane?

Can’t you see that Art is not Concept? (lest we become Saatchi&Saatchi interns)

It is at these interstices that I often find myself questioning everything. What do I want to say? What will I choose to confront?

Written by mosheladanga

January 15, 2008 at 8:04 PM