Moshe Ladanga

Archive for August 2008


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reproduction prohibited 2008 (digital print ) Moshe Ladanga -all rights reserved-


In the process of going over the drawings, jpegs, films and other media for the website, I started to think of what I was really trying to do with all of the stuff I would create. It’s easy to sift through your work when you are working in one medium, or if you have a particular theme, a focus in your practice. But with mine, I have always loved the thrill of the exploration, of experiment. Hence, the mess!

Being in such a rigorous research-led environment led me to take a look at this mess, and try to figure out if I’m trying to say something with all of these things. I was also wary of my own mind, treading carefully so that whatever innocent joy I had left won’t be at my own mercy, as I have this bad itch for deconstructing anything.

What I saw was quite simple; as much as I am passionate about different kinds of art, my creative practice reflects this love, and the reason behind the diversity is a personal refusal to let my mind decode whatever stirs in me that speaks only in tongues. I was reading this essay by Susan Sontag today, a comprehensive appraisal of Roland Barthes, and it struck me how Sontag sliced through all of the common intellectual tokenisms of his theories and revealed, through Barthes’ words themselves, the essence of his work. She said, as in all great works of art, there is always a succinct pleasure in the creative act, both from the author and the reader. And Barthes’ talent lies in the ingenious play between these two poles. Beyond the typical academic readings of Barthes (the author is dead…zzzz…), there is his sublime use of text as text, and the treatment of the textual as surface; it is far removed from the traditional semiotic understanding of text as having an interior meaning, but builds upon the modernist innovation of seeing meaning from the associations, connections, and ultimately, the aesthetic pleasure one experiences in that moment of lucidity, no matter how brief.

But this play on text as surface is not to be confused with the concept of materiality; this play is not a juvenile exercise, nor it is a rejection of the possibilities of the unknown, the suggestions of the unseen. It is a radicalism that is most subtle, a profoundly subversive hint. What I find quite depressing nowadays when I get to see contemporary art is the lack of craft, and by craft I mean in the way of Barthes, where there is a judicious and skillful play between meanings, a grace even in how things are juxtaposed, and artists now are so prone and given to a stilted and academic sense of poetry. Representation is well and alive yes, but in the Walter Benjamin kind of way, where ‘object-oriented’ art language reigns, where art is reproduction via research.

Sometimes when I see so many young and obviously talented artists take on the risk of entering the art world, I shudder, and I remember the time when I was making my first film, where the biggest scare was the void- the rule of experimental film is the blindfold, where language is invention.

Sometimes I wonder how did it turn out this way, with so much investment towards an empiricism of the aesthetic, this addiction to the ‘new’.

Sometimes I question the ‘questioning’, the turn of the creative practice to a critical one.

Look around and the world is changing. I get this feeling at times that all of these pieces of art will be worth nothing to me, for they beget nothing more than the passing fancy, traces of trends, or in the terms of cinema, a cunning form of documentary posing as fiction. But as of late, I have realized that it is useless to dig and find proof of the reason behind this current state, simply because the current state needs no explanation: it is too apparent to warrant even a bit of civil ambivalence.

What I want is freedom. In the Bacchus series of Cy Twombly in his Tate retrospective, you are engulfed by the sheer mastery of his language, and the freedom that he clearly enjoyed and the absolute certainty of his actions. He is one of the few masters today who does not pander to theoretical trends, and willfully and exhaustingly lays out the ‘way in’- his work doesn’t sit comfortably between viewer and idea, but engages you in its own terms, and is always brave enough to risk illegibility for the sake of honesty.

That is my reason I think I keep pursuing this idea (ideal? If it is still valid, then yes) of creativity, where instead of the concept hogging the klieg lights, it is desire I pull out of the shadows and strive to make something out of it.

Perhaps there is something we all missed when art became so popular and profitable, and I think it is the acknowledgment of the origins of whoever chooses to be an artist; some of us still believe in something, and were left unscathed by the postmodernist wave. I admit it is quite difficult to make art while being aware of the intellectual totems that are the standard already in today’s art world, but the question lurking behind all of this critical ‘plumbing’ is what is it all for?

This is the question that keeps me awake, confronts me on a blank page, taunts me on bouts of self-indulgence, and stirs and stirs all that I never had the guts to say into something tangible enough to create with.

Originality for me starts with this question, and the corresponding action is to shut the mind to all of the other voices so that I get to hear myself first; in today’s hyper/post-anything world, such an action cannot even be heroic (ah, I wish) but all the more necessary to survive.


Written by mosheladanga

August 19, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Finally, a website

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The last few weeks I’ve been collating my work and organizing it, figuring out the best way to show my work. I do a lot of different things, and I remembered the graphical interface of Puredata, which is the inspiration for the Main page.

Have a look:


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August 11, 2008 at 11:22 PM

The Quiet and Interesting Hours

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Nick Buer’s piece in the basement corridor (Photo courtesy of Tim Pickup, MA08 Flickr Pool)


I spent quite a lot of time invigilating downstairs, in the basement. With the eerie and strangely soothing sound of the motorway reverberating throughout the space (coming from Nick’s interactive piece, pictured above), I was altogether calm and comforted by the sound (I grew up in a city). There were many people who wandered throughout the space, and I am still surprised at the various reactions, spoken and unspoken, I have witnessed during exhibition week.

There were a lot of people who came downstairs, and it worked to our show’s advantage; since most of the pieces were installations, the basement was a great place to get lost in. I remember when Adriano and Katrin were brainstorming, they took each piece in hand and looked at the image, read the description, and formed the idea for the curation of the space. I learned a lot from those days leading up to the exhibition, and it was that particular day that stood out. Beyond all of the egos, safety issues and practical considerations, the point of curation is that the pieces can be experienced the way they are made to be experienced, and that the pieces, no matter how diverse or disparate, can talk and relate to each other, forming a sort of meta-journey, a line of thought that weaves through the space.

The people that went down the stairs followed that line; I had instances where people who initially were looking for the loo, went in and got lost for a while and before leaving turn to me to give thanks for the show. There were children who were being herded by their tutors, and despite the placations and pleas, they got engrossed in the images, the interfaces, the slow and meditative spell of the screen and the solemn hum of the dark space.

There was this young woman, at first all huffed up and proud, announcing she was an art student and basically demanding to be taken to each piece and be ‘informed’ of the idea and the method of its execution. I obliged her with a few pieces, but with a particular one (Birgitt’s) she asked if the photographs were manipulated to be more pretty. I answered that I didn’t know, but if you look at them, they were describing something else, something more than what you can see. She got intrigued, and after two hours, I saw her again and offered a bright smile before she left.

That same day, I had a lively discussion with a man, an exchange full of fireworks so to speak, and we ended up talking about history and politics. We ended with a bout of hearty laughter and a slight bow of the head, an acknowledgment of like minds.

There were also those hours when the space would be empty, and in those moments I would get to sit down and just ruminate for a bit, taking in what this meant, how this is all going to go, where is this going to end up. Sometimes I would catch myself wishing that the exhibition would last a bit longer, so that I get to meet more people, get to have more conversations about art that weren’t about theories, to experience more this directness, this simplicity. The thing most obvious to me regarding this experience is that it matters a lot to think of how people are going to see your work, that imagination and creativity still count for something.

In my head I hold other stories, of untold instances, of appreciative handshakes and generous gestures; it would be foolish to write them all down, as they still hold their spell as memory. There are times where there is need for refusal, like in art, where meaning is lost when nailed to theory, to research. I leave it be, and let these words on this page be a remembrance.

Written by mosheladanga

August 11, 2008 at 11:09 PM

Posted in Reflections