I wrote this essay about a Dada artist Hannah Hoch and how she challenged gender binary in her photomontage work titled Tamer, 1930.
Tamer, 1930 Hannah Hoch
I wrote this essay about a Dada artist Hannah Hoch and how she challenged gender binary in her photomontage work titled Tamer, 1930.
Tamer, 1930 Hannah Hoch
“Rome was mud and smoky skies; the rank smell of the Tiber and the exotically spiced cooking fires of a hundred different nationalities. Rome was white marble and gilding and heady perfumes; the blare of trumpets and the shrieking of market-women and the eternal, sub-aural hum of more people, speaking more languages than Gaius had ever imagined existed, crammed together on seven hills whose contours had long ago disappeared beneath this encrustation of humanity. Rome was the pulsing heart of the world.”
― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Forest House
Skipping over Thessaloniki and Athens for now as I just processed the Mykonos photos. I felt the need to revisit. Ahhhh Mykonos, such a magickal, mystical island. When my son, Chad and I landed on the shore by ferry boat from Athens it was windy and a bit cold. It was mid-March and way before the tourist season was to begin. Everything was closed for the season and many were out painting and doing construction to get ready for opening day. We literally had to eat in one small section of the island as the only cafes serving were down on the bay front. I missed the wonderful veggie crepes that my daughter Stacy and I bought and ate back in 2005. The crepe stands are everywhere and are delicious! All of the bars were closed much to my sons disappointment. But we did linger in the waterfront cafes over very good pasta, pizza and risotto while drinking Greek wine and gazing out across the blue waters. Enjoy the gallery of images here.
If I had to define my belief system at this moment it would be ” a follower of signs from the Universe.” Now, in the next moment the definition may be completely different. I feel most at ease and peaceful when my sight is open to the synchronistic revelations that appear all around me everyday but on many days I am too preoccupied with mundania to “see”. I feel at my most optimal, creatively, at these open time periods. I can make sense of my path up until now, I can look back with more clarity than I had going forward at the time, I can see how all the minute pieces of passionate discovery fit together and add to the layers of generation. This morning I had a window of this blissful, purposeful time and found quite a few bending moments while following threads of knowledge, one tidbit leading to another, leading to another, leading to another.
This link is to a lecture by Marija Gimbutas. It is quite long at 1 hour and 42 minutes but I can tell you I was mesmerized the entire time. I had several revelations and made even more connections while watching. Professor Gimbutas is a weaver most definitely. I believe that the collective “we” are heading back to the Paleolithic period in terms of returning to the earth. We have been traveling through the sky far too long and have forgotten our roots that come from the earth. Gimbutas discusses in the lecture the pre-Kurgan invasion of the horse riders and the patriarchal (Sky God) beliefs. Sustenance for all came from the earth, agricultural and arts were an extension of spiritual practice all tied into reverence of the Goddess. There was no war, no violence. It was an “earth loving, art loving culture”. I can see a huge movement back to this time when we ate local, grew our own food or bartered for it, goods and services were not transported long distance. The earth was given thanks for it’s sustenance and it was cared for as a reciprocal practice of give and take in the circle of life. The balance was in the regeneration from life to death and back to life. Sustainable practices were not a catch phrase, it was a natural way of living off the earth.
We have become too much in our minds and technology has created mini-Gods of our brains that we worship above all else. Learn to make it easier, better, cheaper, faster…man-made is where it’s at! We are our own God. We can create it all. No need for a reciprocal connection with the natural world. Plastic does not die, it can never be a part of the regenerative cycle. The disruption in Paleolithic times when those first horse riders rode in and decided that hunting by men was better than agriculture by both men and women was the turning point. It is apparent where this has taken us. Now the natural world is taking us back home. Through climate change, extinction and global eco disasters we are being told “No More”. The return to the old ways is upon us and I for one am looking forward to the changes and getting back to the basics that feel stable and life affirming.
I organized a photo shoot over a year ago with five generations of women in my family. We all went to my gram’s house and stayed overnight in order to capture a full day of photos. I assembled a back drop against the living room wall and brought a suitcase full of props and ideas. I was one of the five generations so I used a remote when I was in the photos. My granddaughter was only a little over a year old and it was a long day for her…well for all of us. You see when you get five generations of women in one room for an entire day, well more unspoken communication happens than spoken and the dynamics that play out between all is a constantly changing wave of emotionally charged energy. The shoot didn’t turn out at all like I wanted it too. My mom couldn’t stop moving and most of the shots of her are blurred and she wouldn’t look at the camera unless I told her to. My daughter was trying her best to corral a toddler. The toddler got bored, restless, tired and wanted “booby”. My gram was in the beginning stage of Alzheimer’s and needed a lot of direction. I wore shorts and you can see me holding the remote in many shots. It was a rough day and we got tired and cranky but we got through it. I thought about doing another shoot in hopes of coming closer to my ideal goals for the shoot but I never want to do that shoot again…ever.
I finally after months of staring at these photos, trying to edit out the parts I don’t like, thinking I would re-shoot myself now out of context of the previous shoot and various other avoidance behaviors, have decided that this photo shoot shows these women and me exactly the way we are…a chaotic mess of interwoven complex energies that are reflected in the photos. I threw up my hands and picked out the images that show the story of that shoot. You can view them here.
My son joined me in Sofia, Bulgaria in early March and we were at the apartment for about a week before we left the snow behind us and went on to sunny Greece. Here are a few pics taken in Sofia.
I was so very happy to finally be on the train and headed to Thessaloniki, Greece. We had a train compartment all to ourselves and we were very comfortable for our trip through what looked to be Siberia out our windows. Arrived after dark in Thessaloniki to an empty taxi stand and deserted street but eventually a taxi pulled up to drop people off and we flagged him down. Our hotel was in a great area with plenty of places to walk to and no taxi needed to just wander around and reach the cafes and waterfront.
We immediately set out for a restaurant since we hadn’t eaten in awhile. We were directed by the desk clerk to a local buffet style cafe that looked to be just closing and had no customers but the man greeted us enthusiastically and welcomed us to come in which we have come to learn is the Greek way. Instead of menu he told us our options and we both chose the soup. Nothing like a great big hot bowl of soup after a long trip. The waiter brought out a plate of big thick slices of homemade bread to soak up the soup. Of course we had wine with dinner and at this point we hadn’t yet learned that it is pretty much served automatically like water in Greece. We were pretty happy. And it is in those few moments that come here and there and often without warning that you learn to cherish the adventures of traveling. Alas I have no photos from the place as we were too busy enjoying the experience. In the above photo you can see the outside seating for the restaurant where we had a great first meal and incredible hospitality.
After a good nights sleep we ventured out to an outdoor cafe stand a couple blocks from our hotel. My daughter and I ate at these throughout our backpacking trip in 2005. They are a chain in Greece and sell pizza, sandwiches, drinks and cappucinos. We had a cappucino and pizza for breakfast, which is perfect if you ask me. The sun was already shining and it was glorious to be in the Mediterranean. We set out for the waterfront and along the way passed many churches and ruins of some awe inspiring gazing.
My son was a little uncomfortable at the open stares his way but I tried to explain that he looked pretty different and was wearing many labels on his clothing. Meaning that the looks were probably just looks of interest and wonder. I personally think his style is eclectic and stands out even in the U.S.! Open staring in many other countries like Greece and Italy, the two that I know of, where staring does not carry the same meaning and is not rude or mean hostility, like it often does in the U.S. We generally experienced a great deal of interest and hospitality while in Thessaloniki. This is just one of the many reasons I love traveling in Greece.
Here are some more photos of Thessaloniki, they have quite the cafe culture there and we enjoyed hopping from one cafe to another for a bit while there.
We took a taxi out to an indoor skate park on the outskirts of Thessaloniki for my son to meet the owners and skate the park for a bit. My son is a pro-am skate boarder and so is always promoting his team, Lib Tech while he is out traveling. He was over run by roller bladers at this particular park though and we didn’t stay long.
As soon as I get my photos organized I will upload more. After returning a little over three months ago I am just now beginning to feel like I am rested. This trip took a lot out of me in so many ways. It was so worth it though! I fell in love with Greece all over again. I will return to my beloved Greece.
While I was working as an intern in Sofia, Bulgaria, I was also attending classes at Portland State University online. One of the classes was a seminar creating an exhibition for a medieval book of hours manuscript that the Millar Library had acquired in their special collections. The physical exhibition can be found at the Millar Library, Portland State University through June 17, 2015 and links to the online exhibition are below. I have also included a link to an article about the exhibition. It was quite the experience working on this with a team from afar and I learned a great deal. I look forward to working on another exhibition in the future!
f.030r Annunciation, French Book of Hours 1500
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Sofia, Bulgaria
My next journey will be to Sofia, Bulgaria in late January. I have accepted one of four offered internships at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was offered internships in Milan, The Holy See and Romania. It was a tough decision to make but I chose Sofia for a few reasons, including the rich history of the area and my fascination with how they have maintained a cultural identity given the many invasions and rulers that have occupied Bulgaria. I intend to research and photograph some lesser known story. I will also be spending forty hour weeks at the embassy learning all about public affairs and cultural affairs in addition to working on a research project on Byzantine sources supervised by one of my professors and a PSU class online on Gothic art. I will be busy!
The internship lasts three months and then my son will be joining me in Bulgaria and we will travel to Greece and possibly Turkey for a couple weeks. Then make our way up to Germany to see my brother and sister in law who live in Stuttgart. Another reason I chose Sofia is to take part in a fresco photo documenting expedition with the Balkan Heritage Field School. I support their efforts to document and archive the frescoes that are being destroyed and lost to history.
I have so much to learn in the next few months before I leave, I hope my brain will expand and contain it all! I am still learning Italian, because I am tentatively planning on applying to graduate school in Lucca. I am learning some Bulgarian, which is really hard because it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. I am brushing up on my microsoft skills (ha) and learning to use excel (I use google docs for everything). In addition I am putting together a cookbook for my son who will be living the bachelor life and does not know how to cook, some of his favorite dishes in easy to read format.
My life is really full but it is full of the things I dearly love and as my vision of how I always wanted to live becomes a reality, I can only look around in awe and say, Thank you, I am so blessed.
Sometimes I am shut up in my apartment for days on end. I spend hours editing photos, researching scholarships and internships and just taking some down time. If I get the photography itch during these periods, I wander around my apartment taking micro photos of anything and everything. The above is a photo of a paper towel and one of my living room rugs. I always learn so much from these shoots, about my camera settings, about light, about pattern, shape and perspective. Taking the vision down to a micro level also expands my small apartment view and I feel less disconnected from the greater world. I go from being the smallest thing in the here and now to the largest. When I look at the world in micro vision a whole new world of photography opens up and I could literally spend weeks just taking photos in my apartment. Think about it…water drops, rugs, pillows, walls, wood flooring, quilts, paper towel…
I began writing today with the thought “I need to post to my blog.” The recent over haul of my blog into a joint photography portfolio and blog has left my blog entries in archives. This archiving of blogs really is representative of a larger shift of focus in my life. While travel remains at the very top of my list of priorities, photography which has been on the sidelines lately but still present has crept up to the top of the list.
Photography has always been life enhancing for me. It has been a running dialogue in my life since I was nine years old. I remember sitting behind gram’s easy chair next to the bookshelf that was stuck in the corner, studying Margaret Bourke-White’s photo book. I didn’t know it then but a photographer was born. At age twelve I was given my first camera, a vivitar that my gram no longer needed. I took it to outdoor school and had the best photo shoot I may ever have.
Taking photos is a deeply personal way for me to reflect on a transient world. It is a narrative of my life and what I want to remember. When I was young I took photos to capture happy times and things that I did not want to forget. Now I take photos to tell my story and relate to how stories connect us all. The connections are where we live. I want to narrate connections in my photos.
As my life has shifted from needing to record events to wanting to create a story…the same shift has happened in my life at several levels. I need less than I ever thought I would and I want more than I ever thought I would. It is all good. *happy sigh*