Monday, April 19, 2010

We Three Things | Lip Reading

Lip Reading

If the eyes are window to the soul, then the mouth is window to the gut, revealing anxieties, turmoil and hidden appetites. My partially deaf step-aunt lip-reads, and she understands me better than any other member of my family. The way a person smiles clues us into their disposition and emotional state, and whether painted, bitten or sealed, lips are constantly speaking volumes.

Last week a friend mailed me a book. When I unwrapped it and saw the cover, I felt like a kiss had been blown to me all the way from Berlin. “Interview” is a series of questions asked by Hans Ulrich Obrist and answered, photographically, by Hans-Peter Feldmann, one of my favorite artists. (It is an homage to a similarly formatted interview Feldmann made in the 1970’s with Avalanche magazine.) While Obrist’s philosophical and expansive questions are rich material to begin with, “reading” Feldmann’s pictorial replies opens up a passage of memory and reverie that mere verbal response cannot.

Lee LozanoPrivate Collection © The Estate of Lee Lozano. Courtesy Hauser & WirthLee Lozano, “No Title (She Bites),” 1962.

Lee Lozano was another artist who thought before she spoke. She also thought before she declined to speak. From 1961 to 1971, through powerful canvases of drills and screws; abstracted paintings of wavelengths; energetic drawings and conceptual performances, Lozano — who died in 1999 — examined sex, perception and prevailing ideas of feminism. In 1969 she began a deliberate and extreme retreat from the art world with a series of pieces, beginning with “General Strike,” (a withdrawal from a group show), followed by “Drop Out” (a move from New York to Texas) and finally “Decide to Boycott Women” (a refusal to have contact with other women). A retrospective of her radical and haunting work is being held at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm until April 25

YazbukeyCourtesy Yazbukey

I first came across Yazbukey’s jewelry at my favorite store,Kokon to Zai, in London. Sisters Yaz and Emel create pieces that are coy, pop and beautifully crafted, twisting culture into bon mot baubles. A favorite of mine is a Plexi brooch they call “Marilyn’s Red Lips” which evokes America’s favorite pout, from their collection “my Heart Belongs to…” Other collection titles include “Love me i’ll be your nightmare,” “Look at me, copy me” and— with a nod to The Pet Shop Boys— “I love you, you pay my rent.” From the mouths of babes.