Sunday, October 14, 2007

that whole work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction thing

i'm very pleased to be bringing you pictures not available on the Internet, as far as my cursory research suggests, and information about an important person NOT IN WIKIPEDIA. get it here, or don't get it at all (unless you want to get your ass to a library or to LACMA).

the person in question is an Ecuadorian artist who lived between 1723 and 1796 called Manuel Chili, or Caspicara, because of his pockmarked face. the pictures in question are of his works, which are on view at LACMA's "The Arts in Latin America: 1492-1820."

now, i don't know if you've ever had the experience of seeing a piece of art that you just...need. like, it's so overwhelmingly beautiful to you, you know that staring at it for as long as you're in the museum won't be enough. that's what caspicara's stuff felt like to me. i didn't have my camera the first time i went to the show, so i returned today with it, only to be told that photographs weren't allowed in the galleries. i took pictures anyway. what i got sucked, mainly because i was nervous about getting kicked out (but also because i have a new, shitty camera), so i resorted to the pathetic move of taking pictures of pictures in the exorbitantly priced exhibition catalog. those were horrible, too. but, by god, i got them.

ah, they kill me.

i did think to myself as i was going through this process that maybe i was just a little crazy, and why couldn't i be satisfied seeing the actual sculptures in the museum like a normal person? and maybe the thing is that, having read walter benjamin's piece with the same title as this blog post at an impressionable age, i've been instilled with this guilt thing about valuing images of things over actual things. but i think that's bullshit. i value the actual things above the images. WAY above the images. but i can't own them. the closest i'll get after that exhibit is looking at them on my computer, and that's better than nothing.

so suck it, walter. and you too, LACMA. you think you own the images of these things as well as the objects? think again.


Blogger MrM said...

I wanted to outsmart you and went looking for the guy on the Spanish, French, and even the German wikipedia, but you were right all the way... unheard of except in connection with some dry article about the vice-kingdom of Peru!
But all of this just to say:
You little crypto-catholic, you! And yes indeed, this mean conclusion of mine could lead us to a discussion about the beauty of a work of art extracted from its original meaning, transcending the spiritual and intellectual (and in this case, even the mystic) aspects of the work, reducing it to mere... decorum. And you know that deep down, I agree with you on that, anyway.
But the main question here is - why is it so cold in my office? And did you relocate to Lah? Or are you just spending an awful lot of time there these days?
Des bisous!


3:14 AM  

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