these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.

thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.

my artist website is here.

May 13, 2010

horrible, possibly inexcusable, artist confession #1

i have never seen A Clockwork Orange.

the reason for this is when i was 14 and very interested in watching it, i was told that Alex is a big ol' rapist. and at that tender age, already a budding feminist but also still very much consumed by the torturous wasteland of Bad Body Image and related fears about men, this horrified me. not to mention i am incredibly sensitive to portrayals of pain, especially rape, on film. because rape isn't a fictional event in this world, in fact its exceedingly common, the fact some one is "acting" a rape doesn't really make a difference. it rips my heart apart. the image itself is brutal. i turn the channel when the shower scene in American History X happens. and pulp fiction ends for me right after Bruce Willis' fight. and i couldn't even stay in the room recently when i tried to watch Blindness. i'm very squeamish about all this.

but more and more, Kubrick's work has been coming up in certain art spheres and conversations and he's the man responsible for 2 of my favorite movies ever: The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. and so... can i overcome my "ethics" as it were, and get myself educated in order to participate in the discussion??? i hope so. who says art has to be comfortable? and since i haven't seen the movie, i'm really in no position to critique its functions anyway.

besides, from an art historical stand point, i'm entirely without excuse. i must submit to having my feathers ruffled and yanked out by art. i must engage before i can claim to know. and to know anything.

so there it is: my dirty little artist secret. an example of self-sheltering that must be overcome.


Elisabeth said...

It might be more than self sheltering, Angela. It might be essential for survival.

There are things I cannot bear to watch. Things that rip through my sensitivities to the core of me, things that constitute too much trauma.

For me the final scene in 'Don't Look Now 'is one such moment. I won't describe the moment, only that I could not sleep for days after I saw that film over thirty years ago now and that the image, as much as I caught a glimpse of it the first time I saw the film has stayed with me always.

Radish King said...

Yes. But but but...for godsake listen to the sound track. Oh yes. Beethoven plays a major part in the movie.

angela simione said...

elisabeth, i agree with you that certain images cause truama. i do believe that images are powerful things. i haven't seen "Don't Look Now" but your description is very much the way i felt when i tried to watch Deliverance. couldn't do it. walked right out of the room. i'm very sensitive to certain images and decided years ago not to inflict them on my brain and heart.

when my sweetheart came home, i asked him about A Clockwork Orange and i told him how it had been described to me. he said it was explained to me in a much more graphic way than what actually appears on screen. he suggested we watch it (we've got a copy of it in the house) and that if i felt it was horrible, we could turn it off. much to my surprise, what i had imagined it would be is so far from the truth! in fact, it highlights how gratuitious violence is on regular television now. the "ultraviolence" portrayed in this film doesn't even hold a candle to the majority of what appears on television today. though that's good (in terms of that fact i'm now in the know about this movie), it's a pretty bad indictment of dominant culture.

angela simione said...

rebecca- beethoven EVERYWHERE! and not just the soundtrack. i loved seeing the posters and busts of him springing up throughout the film.

Olivia said...

I think it's really vexing that the whole rape business is the only thing people associate that book with. I don't know if it's because they weren't paying attention in general or they're reading what they want to read- not what's actually there.

That all being said, I've never seen the movie. I read the book, though. I thought it was pretty good, and I can't stand how distorted the whole message of it gets because people can't read past the whole sexual assault thing.

angela simione said...

hi olivia, i agree with you! now that i've seen the movie, i have NO CLUE why it was sold to me as some type of rape extravaganza. it isn't. and i think kubrick handled that aspect of the story with a lot of class. it was NOT made to be the focus of the film at all. in fact, they don't even show it. and so i echo your concerns and feel totally misled. i've been missing out on a very great story/artwork for YEARS because i (naively?) believed someone else's perception of the story was THE FACT. i feel this same way over the book The Piano Teacher. people seem to be very distracted by the sex in the book and don't see it as what it really is. it's very frustrating. all this to say, as soon as the movie finished, i really really wanted to get my hands on the book. the book is always better than the movie.

Roz said...

I can tell you're on to something v. important in this latest series of posts.

On violence in art: There are definitely things I cannot watch onscreen or on canvas or even read on the page. But I can overcome my revulsion (or travel through it, rather) if I sense the violence is not gratuitous, if the violence has significant meaning. For a while I was into renting and watching The Sopranos. Some of the sex & violence in it I thought was just gratuitous, just the producers at HBO wanting to bump up ratings and see what they could get away with on TV. But there were certain episodes where the graphical violence was absolutely essential, was the moral meat of the story, so to speak. The best example is the episode "University" from season 3. There are 2 parallel storylines in this episode: one follows Tony Soprano's daughter at her Ivy League college as she meets her first serious boyfriend is about to lose her virginity; the other storyline follows a young stripper/prostitute, exactly the same age as the college daughter but completely different class background & life, as she is exploited and abused by the men in her life. The climactic scene is just... horrifying. The heartlessness and casualness of the violence just gruesome. But the scene is redeemed by two things: the stunned helpless reaction of the crowd that assembles to observe the aftermath of the crime, and the enraged moral reaction of Tony who stands among the crowd. At that moment, it ceases to be an edgy HBO TV show and becomes great art for me, on the level of Greek tragedy really. What is there to separate the very different fates of these two girls, but social circumstance? The extremity of the violence is necessary to get this point across, and the terrible thing is how very realistic this violence is, how the diptych story of these girls is so very commonplace.

This is the kind of violence in art that builds something very important, as opposed to the gratuitous comic book action film violence that just wears people's senses down, makes them numb.

angela simione said...

TOTALLY! gratutious violence (or gratuitous anything, really) is what i tend to steer clear of. there have been precious few occasions that i have appreciated violence in film or any other communicative form. i like your example of The Sopranos- that when gratuity was forgotten and the horror of the truth was embraced, a TV progrm elevated itself to the status of art. i think this is a value that gets lost a lot... or that we, as a culture, have become so hardened by images of violence that they don't shake us very often. and they should shake us. they should shake us to our core. it's the difference between being engaged with an issue and being entertained by it. i do not find violence entertaining... like a passtime or a game or some sort of luxury. but i can engage with it. i think i have to. i think i must charge myself with some sense of honor or responsibility when it comes to portrayls of violence... especially since murder victims make an appearance within my own practice. it is a subject (and a fact) i have to contend with somehow and at the same time figure out how to deal with horror without becoming hardened by it... without becoming non-chalant about it. because it IS people's non-chalance about violence and the after-math of it that bothers me the most. the cold cold shoulder of the "audience", blood thirsty as a Roman, demanding MORE MORE MORE. and this is very much related to olivia's comment- that THE POINT of certain stories and artworks gets lost in our culture because there are instances of sex and violence. marguerite duras' book The Lover is another good example of this. i have not seen the film, but i can tell you that the book is not about sex. there is sex in the book and sex is used as one of the narrator's path of self-discovery, but it isn't a work of erotica. not at all. at least it wasn't for me. it was a document of *searching*, it was a document of loss and loneliness and crushed dreams, a family crushed by poverty and neccessity. i digress... but as a means to agree with you completely.

Roz said...

Yes absolutely. The issue with violence in art seems very much to be about the SWERVE. How to make the violence SWERVE away from entertainment, the Roman or Debordian spectacle, and SWERVE toward the shaking of one's core as you put it so well.

Your project featuring murder victims reminds me of Gerhard Richter's project of painting murder/suicide victims (portraits of female victims based on newspaper photos, death portraits of the Baader-Meinhof gang). The gravity of photorealism. When I went to the Richter retrospective at SFMOMA, the friend I went with was especially moved by his painting of a murdered prostitute. He was memorializing and paying respect to someone that society would cast aside and forget, she said.

angela simione said...

mmmmm... the SWERVE. yes!!!!

and gerhard richter is such an amazing artist. i love his work, especially the Baader-Meinhof paintings. that work was what made me start to think about memorials and respect... handling The Other's tragedy with a messure of grace, applying integrity so as not to poach on someone else's life-story... especially when raising their likeness to the status of SYMBOL. the artist, i think, more and more needs to accept responsibility for throwing more images in to an image-saturated culture. the SWERVE you speak of is so very important in this regard. so often a "critique" fails and becomes an endorsement... something i worry about myself when i work with certain images.

that my work reminds you a bit of richter is a high high HIGH compliment that makes me blush and it builds up my courage to go further. thank you so much! and i always love your perspective on these topics. your additions to these conversations are so valuable. tremendous and insightful and beautiful. thank you. :)

The Storialist said...

Really interesting stuff, Angela. Wheels turning like crazy.

When something gets to us like this (your intense care for victims), when it pushes our is hard to know what is at work on us.

"Dancer in the Dark" was a movie that made me feel this ripped me up in a way that I disliked. I won't see that movie again, but there was something beautiful and painful in it that I couldn't stay with.

And I leave you with the link to this video that I have watched over and over again in the last couple of days, speaking to this issue (ish):

angela simione said...

hannah- thank you so much for this link. thank you so so much. i book marked it so i can listen to it again, listen to it as often as i need to... because there are such huge neccessities inside her lecture that i need to ingest and make mine too. especially the bit about not worrying if anybody likes you. it is a frailty of mine.

Dancer in the Dark is a very painful movie. beautiful and painful... the sorrow of everyday people, the destructiveness of greed and secrecy and lies. and the unknown martyrs of the world. the people whose stories we never here. i've only seen it once. i do want to watch it again but i also feel anxiety over watching it again. that movie is like the catalouge of a SHATTER. so painful... but extrememly neccessary.

so many wheels turning lately. thank you for this valuable comment. yours is a light that i very much appreciate. <3