All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Michael Ashkin at The Sculpture Center

Untitled (where each new sunrise promises only the continuation of yesterday).
Untitled (where the wind carries from afar all but that for which one has yearned).
Untitled (where transcendence appears as a drone sent from afar by men with thick torsos).
Untitled (where too much significance is attached to the debris of a single airplane).
Untitled (where angry men search through the wreckage of a plane for the pieces of a pilot).
Untitled (where one is hunted in direct proportion to one's remoteness).
Untitled (where the value of life contracts as the value of territory expands).
Untitled (where one still walks tall, but feels with each step the onset of a stagger).
Untitled (where one scans the horizon with eyes that can no longer focus in the distance).
Untitled (where one waves one's stick toward the idea of an object).
Untitled (where one only sees one's object when its presence blocks all view of the horizon).
Untitled (where one tires of the same sentence expressed in its endless variations).
Untitled (where one exhausts oneself with the same idea said a thousand different ways).
Untitled (where one aims words at the sky only to immediately kick through their debris).
Untitled (where the horizon feels like walls that are slowly collapsing toward one).
Untitled (where the daily repetition of one's motions defeats even the idea of escape).
Untitled (where one believes in a silence that one cannot help but articulate).
Untitled (where one lives for the poetry for which there is no longer a vocabulary).
Untitled (where one tries to imagine the last words ever said).
Untitled (where truth reveals itself in its seeming disfigurement).
Untitled (where hiding places are many, escape only one).

Recycled corrugated cardboard
76' x 6.5' x 3"

Sunday, June 14, 2009


All is cliche; I'm bored, frustrated, and disappointed - three streams of anger! No wonder all I want to do is sleep, and most of what I do when awake is berate myself.

This midlife crisis (the overarching cliche) has started its sixth year. If I have to live this thing that us aware types can be arrogant enough to think we'll sidestep, can it at least wrap up?  Can I at least bounce back to tolerable levels of dissatisfaction, despair, and self-criticism?

The studio is demoralizing.  No idea or experiment - no thought - has more than fleeting possibility. Yes, this is the "normal" cycle of the studio:  periods that feel excruciatingly nonproductive that are often periods of gestation that end with an outpouring of new work and gratitude, and leave behind a film of amnesia.

Still, this feels like a double hit - probably because of a seeping awareness that I have less time and fewer chances or choices to improve things.  It sounds morbid, particularly to friends in their 20s and 30s, and it sounded morbid to me then.  Now it's real.  My father and mother died at about my age, so the possibility that life can end well before we're done with it is not abstract.

I've been sorting through family stuff - photos, letters, childhood drawings and essays, report cards, baby clothes, passports, newspaper clippings, receipts, worthless stock certificates, recipes.  It's impossible to let go of even scraps of paper with cryptic notes when they're a way to meet my parents.  The timing is no accident, of course.  I can construe that poetically, or more ominously.  I always knew my 50s would be complicated.  I read an interview with an Irish novelist whose father died at the novelist's (middle) age, and he said he felt a kind of recognition.

Should I be making practical changes?  Or is this internal state only loosely related to my day-to-day?  Much of my frustration is wanting to do something to kickstart myself - as if one right action would unlock me - when possibly the only thing to do is not do and wait, actively.