Archive for the ‘On the Nature of Visual Art’ Category

“Memories of Herta”

January 6, 2022

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Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

In the summer of 1975 I took a painting-studio workshop under Herta’s instruction at the University at Buffalo: from that time evolved the bonds of our friendship. Herta’s wisdom came from her own vibrancy; her curiosity seemed boundless. She would explore various new subjects, from computer art to Japanese calligraphy. All this enhanced her as an artist. As a teacher dealing with students, she had little patience, and many of them felt intimidated by her demands. Most memorably, she taught me that an artist had to evoke the meaning lurking behind every image. Art was not a progressive evolution; nothing was new: everything had already been done; the imperative was to make something of significance.

Herta identified with the stories I shared about my family, and especially about my mother. She also told me stories about her own parents, particularly about how much she admired her father. Through the years, Herta’s loyalty was constant. She was as nurturing as a mother. Being 26 years older than I, she wondered why I wanted to spend so much time with her. I responded people of my age bored me.

The last semester of my junior year, Herta invited me to lunch with her husband Ernest, a cardiologist at the Veteran Administration Hospital next to the university. That morning, some students had set a fire outside my door. I called the university police but I accused no one. Later I told Herta what had happened. She and her husband assured me every thing would be fine. That afternoon we listened to the music of Handel and Brahms, talked about the poetry of mathematics, and discussed the polemics of anthropology of art. That night I did not return to my dormitory room, but stayed with a Polish graduate student of architecture: Jurek Pystrak invited me to stay with him until things were sorted out. Little did I know how significant Herta and Jurek were to become.

While studying for finals, someone I didn’t know introduced himself to me. It seemed he had been my bodyguard since the time of the fire in the dorm. I never found out why he was surveilling me. Later Herta commented: “… the university must have taken stock of how lax its security system was.”

After I went off to Yale for graduate studies and Jurek had moved to Berlin, Herta and I stayed in touch. Sometimes we met in Manhattan and would go to museums and galleries. After having finished my studies at Yale, I worked as a stage designer in Manhattan. In 1988 I visited Herta in Buffalo. Her husband Ernest had died two years prior. Herta and I went to the opening performance of Abingdon Square by María Irene Fornés (1930-2018) at the Studio Arena Theater. That night Herta and I had the opportunity to speak with her (I had executed stage-designs for three of her plays, which had premiered in New York City). Again in 1989, I visited Herta in Buffalo; there we attended a retrospective by the painter Seymour Drumlevitch, who had been both of ours academic advisor, artistic mentor, and friend.

In 1992, Herta came to my first one-man show of paintings in Manhattan. Though I did not see her then, we kept in touch by phone. Jurek’s partner Karl in Berlin told Herta that Jurek had died of AIDS in 1984. This came to both of us as a shock; it explained why we had not heard from Jurek for eight years. Herta was instrumental in connecting us to Jurek’s past. Karl then visited my painting studio in Tribeca. Afterwards, he invited Herta to a river cruise for a night on the Rhine to commemorate his impending death (he had dismissed my optimism about antiretroviral treatments as a missionary sentimentality). I had told Herta his outlook was totally fatalistic.

When I firtst met Herta, I intuited that she was struggling with depression. I learned later much of her search for affection h
ad been uncorresponded. Her husband was also battling depression, having attempted suicide had it not been for his wife. Herta then looked after him through a long period of illness. After his death her circle of friends shrank. She thought herself unwelcome by other couples. In those years Herta was alone and riddled with guilt. Bewildered, she would knock at my door late at night, long past midnight, asking for support. Now in the 1990’s our roles were reversed: she was coming to my aid. Herta fed my optimism and helped me recover from the suicide of my partner of three years.

Then, in the spring of 2005, Herta met David, my partner of five years. As I walked to the avenue to help her catch a taxi, she told me that she only wished she had met some one like David for herself. Her statement did not surprise me, though we were touching each other’s past just on the edges. I understood that David reminded her of her desire to have met, during her lifetime, someone as sensitive as he.

In May 2008 David and I attended Herta’s 80th birthday party in Philadelphia. We met the entire family, including her grandchildren. Prior to that, Herta had often confided to me her insecurities about being a grandmother. She doubted how her grandchildren and son-in-law perceived her; whether she was accepted by them. She was self-conscious of her German accent, though she would glorify it as an appealing distinction. Although, these were significant years for Herta, the burden of a new life weighted heavily on her mind.

In 2011 my mother died from Alzheimer’s at age 84. During the preceding years I had mentioned to Herta that I used to call my mother in Venezuela to read to her “Don Quixote.” From time to time my mother would react with guttural sounds, which I took for affirmations of laughter. During these conversations, I began to become aware of Herta’s own difficulties in her perception of reality. She became easily agitated. She often felt misunderstood. She repeated past events, as if they were taking place now. I listened quietly, hoping she could regain her calm. I tried to interest her in other matters. Was this why she told me that it was important for us to be in contact? Thereafter I tried to call her until it was no longer feasible. After what seemed to be a long period of silence, her daughter Vivien called to let me know that Herta needed 24-hour a day care. David and I drove from Manhattan to visit her in Pennsylvania. In 2016 she was still able to talk. I thought she remembered me until our parting, when she said how nice it had been to meet me.

During our visit, Herta appeared alert. After we had shown her pictures of our place in Fort Lauderdale, she had made several whimsical remarks. Brashly, she criticized cushions that looked like doughnuts, and were completely out of place. Her wit was as sharp as ever. She even recounted her recommendations for graduate school, in which—to my horror—she had called me of the caliber of Leonardo da Vinci. The point is she relished being controversial.

The summer before her death, Herta was much more limited in movement and speech; she seemed listless, though she smiled often in what appeared to be simple resignation. In our banter with each other, she scowled and rolled her eyes mischievously glancing at everyone. We grinned at each other and she gasped with glee. Following this, Herta gestured, her hands around her mouth, as if asking why did I need a moustache. Then I showed her one of my geometric paintings. She looked at it, raised her brows, opening her eyes wide, and said “GOOD!" I was moved by her approval. She looked to be in command. As she continued savoring vanilla ice cream, she played aimlessly with her spoon, but she refused to let anyone help. When we said good-bye, we mentioned we would return in the spring, and she vouchsafed with the same facial expression, “GOOD!"

Memories about the loss of a loved one are painful, precisely because we have loved them. Accepting their past with humility is the one and only choice for their loss. It is an absolute; we embrace our existence through their memories. Grief is the time to endure suffering with forbearance.
1998

Written by Ricardo Morin and edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

Herta Lager Kane

December 29, 2021

Introduction

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Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

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Herta Lager Kane (1928-2021) was born in Vienna.  With her family, she came to New York City in 1941–via Switzerland–fleeing Nazi persecution.

Herta began her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, School of Art and Architecture, before obtaining a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University at Buffalo.  

Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

Herta began her career as an adjunct professor of Painting in the University at Buffalo, and then spent most of her life as an associate professor of graphic design in the State University College at Buffalo. Herta’s paintings on the plasticity of geometric abstractions as well as her refined constructivist drawings have been exhibited at Buffalo’s Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and various alternative local cooperatives dedicated to video research and development for theater and television.

In her work Herta searched for a new direction in the depiction of pictorial space, resulting from the great legacy of our mentor Seymour Drumlevitch. In her own words, Herta aspired to arrive at the power “… of a mystical ambiguity and elusiveness.”

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An Elegy

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  Herta always had a generous warmth for and a profound insight into humanity.  Even when we were most fragile, in our moments of trouble, we did not have to say much to assure each other that everything would be fine; even in silence, we supported one another with a sense of wonderment, at times even with great humor.


From the time when I first met Herta in 1975, as a painting instructor in the University at Buffalo, she shared her wealth of knowledge and always provided encouragement.  She looked after my well-being until she was no longer able.  Our friendship attested to the fact that no one has control over his destiny, though our love persisted beyond such boundaries.


Herta’s confidence—in the labors of becoming a visual artist and surviving the myriad uncertainties of a professional career—enabled my finding answers to managing whatever fate provided.


Her humanity, dignity, and intelligence were a fountain of inspiration for all of us, who had the good fortune of knowing her.  More than a mentor Herta became a loving and loyal friend.  No one else could fill her place in my heart.  


Herta and I had strong bonds.  I owe her my standing, not only emotional maturity but also my intellectual development.  Without her, I would be different; to her I owe the inspiration of authenticity and thoughtfulness.

R.F.M.

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In Memoriam Herta Lager Kane

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Destiny

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       Fate and chance drew out of our tears a smile 
and brought solace to our failures;
then we looked up after we'd sunk
with the confidence 
of climbing back.

       In loneliness
we found for ourselves company,
and in helping others, we were helped.
In our pursuit of the impossible good,
we came to know our failures.

       In the brevity of each moment,
nothing seemed to fit for being possessed;
when we marveled at the great arc of time,
this never died,
even in the absence of hope.
 
       The ups and downs from the goddesses, the three Moirai and Tyche,
 in their dispensation of favors and troubles,
 couldn’t keep us from moving on,
 even if we met each other and were
 hopelessly aware of our imperfections.

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Ricardo F Morin, December 29, 2021, coauthored by Billy Bussell Thompson

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Herta’s Art

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 49 5/8 7/8″ x 50″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection 2002 https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 57 7/8″ x 37 5/8″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection, 2002. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), work on paper entitled “Untitled”, Acrylic and collage on paper, 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978 to the Burchfield Penny Arts Center Collection, 1978. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/people/profile:herta-kane/

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Herta Lager-Kane (1928-2021) American artist born in Austria, work on paper, “Untitled”, 1978; acrylic and felt tip pen on drafting paper, 10″ x 21″, Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978. https://burchfieldpenney.org/art-and-artists/artwork/object:1978-006-012-untitled/

In Tenebris

December 11, 2020

Coauthored by Billy Bussell Thompson

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In memoriam José Galdino: my father.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I share with the reader my utmost sincere gratitude to Bill Bussell Thompson, PhD in Linguistics, Professor Emeritus at Hofstra University, who has been a lifelong mentor, editor, and closest friend. I also express my deep appreciation for the nuance of sensitive and perceptive editing contributed by both, my perspicacious sister Bonnie Morín, playwright, producer and director of the Madrid Method Workshop in Spain (https://www.metodomadrid.es/), and by her daughter, the talented niece Natalia Velarde (@nix.conbotas), graphic artist and author. I also give thanks for a much awaited reunion with her other daughter, the unequaled niece Camila Velarde, Lic. in philosophy and choreography. Last, I thank my dear husband David Lowenberger, whom I consider to be the most influential in every aspect of my life. Their perception and wisdom served as inspiration and guide for the realization of this short story.

Ricardo F. Morin T., 21 February 2021

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PREFACE:

Choking On One’s Own Saliva

My father once said how dismal his life would be were his identity lost to the orthodoxy of religion. It was no coincidence that, in reaction to the pieties of five generations, my father was to become a criminologist. For most of his life, he thought that the traditional stories about complementary retribution, binary belief in reward and condemnation, were fantasies, harmless until they became radicalized as replacements for inquiry. As a young man he based his own doctoral dissertation on such principles. Unfortunately, those convictions he deemed delusional were ultimately his own at the end of his life.

I think that, except for the instigation of violence through the search for meaning and its attachment to fiction, whether the violence arises from retribution or self-preservation, a person has no reason to become fearful or destructive. The only remedy to violence is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality.

As I reflected on my own father’s contradictions, I remembered what he had told me when I was a child, that lying was a survival skill. It enabled a person to hide himself in secrecy, not necessarily out of moral incompetence. It arose either from charity or from the fear of being judged. For him lying was part of becoming a competent adult. It was a way to hide imperfections and vulnerabilities. However, if sincerity or honesty were to threaten my father’s survival, it would be because he wanted rather to invent a story instead of looking into his ignorance and diminished understanding of his own importance. Was it natural for him to hide behind lies, or was it his own hubris? Perhaps he was choking on his own saliva during his entire life. He suffered from the delusion that he could avoid truth, or that he could control not facing up to it. Was this a fear of loosing control? Was that a reason why he could not find self-understanding? The mystery was centered not in his self-questioning, but in his fictionalizing his own life, no differently from our forebears.

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Gangs of West Harlem

1

The Process

For the third time I was serving on jury duty. As on previous occasions, I introduced myself as a visual artist during the voir dire. This time the defense lawyer inquired if I was a portraitist. I reasoned to myself the question was intended to probe the degrees of observation a painter aspired to. I replied that my interest as a visual artist was in the conceptual processes of abstract art, no different from that of a portraitist or any other representational painter, seeking to observe and interpret the essence of a subject. What I chose to represent through abstraction or conception was just as concrete as that of a sitter for a portraitist.

2

The Rules

The trial concerned the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy, and I was selected juror number 12. Previously, I served on civil cases. In civil cases, the preponderance of the evidence is the determining principle. In a criminal trial, the ruling principle is the measure of reasonable doubt. The rules were cautionary and aimed to avoid bias on the part of the jury. In their deliberations jurors were to concentrate on the evidence presented and not on background. Also jurors were not to share information with other people outside of their own forum. I did not know how my participation in a murder trial would affect me. The day after the trial began, juror number 11 was replaced by an alternate.

Testimony lasted 17 days. During that time our electronic devices, cell phones, laptops, and tablets were allowed. On the 18th day, when jury’s deliberations started, these devices were taken away from us. Before this, we had been permitted to speak on matters not related to the trial. We were a diverse group and had very little in common. During court hearings, we had been allowed to take notes while we sat in the jury box. After the days’ proceedings, our note pads were left on our respective seats. When deliberations began, we could take our pads back and forth between the jury box and the jury room. Only then, were we able to study our notes and refer to our observations. Only then, could we begin to talk about the case with each other.

3

The Jurors

The foreman of the jury was an office manager, who felt comfortable in his role as moderator. His communication skills were excellent; even when he disagreed, his manner never expressed condescension. Some jurors were reticent and never voiced a judgment one way or the other. The youngest member of the jury did not find the witness of the crime unreliable. Other jurors were open minded. A teacher remained calm throughout; she listened to others before expressing her own views. Another juror was impatient about the length of the trial. She complained that she had a toddler to care for at home. Aside from myself, there were two other retirees, one of whom was a corporate lawyer, who reminded us of the distinction between civil and criminal cases. Reasonable doubt existed in varying degrees for every member of the jury, save for the youngest one.

4

The Defendant: In dubio pro reo

The defense lawyer had her client plead the fifth amendment. The accused gazed solicitously, with a kind of clawing eagerness. He looked seven years younger in his freshly starched white shirt and tie. His hair was a cropped Afro, and he had across his upper lip a straight mustache. His dress was conceived obviously to attest to his wholesomeness. Since the time of the murder, he has been a detainee at Rikers Island. Sitting barely 30 feet away from the jury, the accused bore a grin across his face whenever he looked towards the jurors. Some members of the jury interpreted his countenance as gloating. Others saw his expression as self pity or abjection, even an attempt at winning us over. His grin, a kind of twisted grimace, was unflappable and even disturbing to us. By the end, however, we dismissed our apprehensions. It was impossible to know whether the accused was remorseful or just trying to beguile us. More important, was the question of consistency. If doubt was to play a part in the case, it had to arise from the evidence. Key was whether the accused was a lone assailant or whether there might have been others involved. Certainty had to come from the assessment of facts, and not be based on appearances.

5

The Prosecution

The prosecution charged the defendant with “first degree” murder. This implied premeditation with malice aforethought. The prosecution added two other charges: murder in the “second degree,” suggesting lack of premeditation. The third charge was for felony murder: death caused during the commission of a felony using an illegal weapon and with extreme indifference to human life. Rendering judgment on these charges rested on intent. Each member of the jury would have to reach an approximation of the truth, and no other reasonable explanation could explain the evidence presented at the trial. The verdict, of course, would have to be unanimous. Proof of the direct involvement of the accused was paramount. The evidence had to show the accused had committed the crime. Was the victim’s death the result of self-defense or was it deliberate? The question before the jury was whether there were circumstances outside the control of the accused. How did his instincts and fears come into play with his own actions. Could the jurors differentiate all of these aspects?

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Testimonies

I

July’s weather was overbearingly hot. The air conditioning in the jury room was old and as inefficient as it was in the court room; the jury room was even more stifling than the courtroom, particularly between the long intervals of each day’s proceedings. The room was barely large enough for the long table and its 12 uncomfortable chairs. In this tight space it was almost impossible for the jurors to walk around, to go to the water-fountain, or even to the single restroom available. Lunch breaks were much appreciated. On the few days when there was a breeze, we could open the windows, but had to put up with street noise. In the court room, no such liberties were permitted

II

By the third week of the proceedings, the judge began standing with his arms folded against his hips. With a baffled face, he would turn around and stand behind his chair, his black robe half unfurled, and his necktie loosened. At times, he assumed what seemed to be a meditative expression with both arms folded over the back of the chair. Other times, he supported himself with one of his elbows over the back of the chair. One of his hands was placed against his chin, giving him a certain look of abandon. For me, this informality broke up the monotony of the case, as if it were helping him stay awake, and mollified the stultifying heat.

III

The aspects of this case had been under investigation for seven years. We, the jurors, were astonished at the lack of cohesion to the accusations. The statements by the witnesses in no way corresponded to the arguments made by the prosecutor. In fact, the prosecution’s case was stale. One wondered if there was any justification for this trial. The only merit to the case seemingly was using the authority of a jury trial to render a verdict, either for exoneration or conviction.

IV

According to testimony given by the police, the crime resulted from two rival gangs. The gang members’ ages ranged from 12 to 40. The defendant’s lawyer provided their pictures to the jury. The pictures showed them in expensive clothing. Both groups seemed to be showing off, as if they were the source of the neighborhood’s pride. Each group had its own hand signs as mottoes. According to the police, on the night of the murder the two gangs fought over their territory for the peddling of drugs. The defendant became the prime suspect two years into the investigation. According to one of the detectives, the defendant sought to intimidate younger members of the opposing gang, as a means of establishing his own authority over them. The defendant’s motive was said to be an attempt to sooth his own anger for being “dissed.” The jury found these to be speculative. For us the only facts credible were those of the struggle between them.

V

The first eyewitness, aged 13 years at the time of the murder, was the centerpin of the prosecution’s defense. He had been a close friend of the victim, and his proximity to the deed made him valuable. During the course of several days of testimony, two officers escorted him in dressed in an orange jumpsuit, both hands and ankles shackled. They removed only his handcuffs when he sat down on the stand. From the defendant’s attorney, we learned that he had been in custody for two years on a different murder charge. The defendant’s attorney asked him: Are you here today in exchange for lenience for the indictment you face? He thrust his arms and shoulders forward. His answers seemed evasive while the prosecution objected. The question was withdrawn, but the jury would not forget it. His hand partly covered his face, especially his eyes and nose. His head shifted from side to side. He pointed to the defendant, rubbed his chin, and accused him of being the killer. Yet, his deportment was indiscernible and seemed manipulative. Obviously he had not seen from where the bullet had come. His allegations sounded implausible, as if they had been rehearsed. He had an air of entitlement, exuding hatred. During the prosecution’s examination, he revealed his conversion to Islam, and stated he had become a better person by the teachings of the Prophet. For the jury, however, his demeanor was that of an unrepentant malefactor. His lack of doubt hinted at a life of crime, without a sense of any morality.

VI

The prosecutor’s second witness spoke softly, yet his testimony seemed tentative. By his own account, he had been at the edges of the riotous horde. A circle had formed around the hooded individual and the victim. When questioned by the defense, he hesitated before admitting having seeing another armed buddy. But at the end, he relented. He recalled that other gang members had shot into the sky. He acknowledged that other guns had been used, thus accounting for multiple shells found by the police. The bullet, however, that pierced the victim’s heart was a mystery. The jury was at a loss as to what had gone on. Was it retaliation? Was it the shooter egging on accomplices? No answer was forthcoming, neither from this witness nor from the previous one.

VII

Even though, the defense attorney tried to unravel the credibility of the prosecutor’s two eyewitnesses, she tripped over her own words. Not unnoticed was her assertion that the gunman might have carried a gun inside the pocket of his hoodie. Since no one had yet claimed to having seen him draw a gun, her attention to this matter seemed out of place. Was she trying to negate the hooded man’s innocence, while at the same time admitting to her client’s involvement? Jurors never understood her purpose, since the identity of the person in the hood had never been made clear. For the defendant her digression was inconsequential. But not for the jury because it augmented our doubts. Nevertheless, the defense attorney rebutted the evidence gathered by the police.

VIII

On the night of the murder, a pedestrian called the neighborhood foot patrol’s attention to a commotion on the street. The patrol did nothing until the police arrived in their cars and found the body of some one killed. The crowd around the victim had already dispersed and none of the neighbors willingly spoke of what they had seen. The jury was dismayed that the arrest warrant was issued two years after the event. The defense lawyer emphasized that, in the course of those two years, any witnesses’ recollection surely must have faded. She argued: “… just to be pointing a finger at an alleged culprit, out of a desire to seek closure, should not be deemed evidentiary in and of itself.”

7

The Evidence

We asked to see the video evidence before and after the shooting. Witnesses had stated that the defendant on the night of the murder had gone to a tenement looking for a gun, which was shared by all members of his gang. There were two cameras, both of which had restrictive angles of vision. The video was grainy: the product of low resolution security cameras. There was no sound and the imagery was choppy. The lobby camera showed someone descending the stairs to exit, wearing a baseball cap underneath a hoodie. Only his lips and chin were visible. The jury’s dilemma was how to identify the person. The woman with the child at home emphasized “…those features could have been any member of either gang.”

The crime took placed at midnight. There was no traffic and the street was poorly lighted. For a second time, we examined the tape from the outside camera. We concentrated on the footage just before the shooting. It was murky and it showed the person in the hoodie stepping outside the building. The victim’s back was visible and his friend was behind him. There were several flashes of gun fire with one of them coming from next to the victim. A person in the hoodie faced the camera wielding a gun.

Ballistic evidence showed that the trajectory of the bullet came from a short distance before it entered the body of the victim. Maybe the shot came from the position of the hooded man but this was only a guess. More importantly, no guns were ever recovered and we still did not know who the gunman was. In summary, the testimonies, the analysis, and the written accounts were all useless to us.

8

The Community

Jurors were in agreement that the accounts given by the two gangs and the community were not to be trusted. The two gangs lived in two adjacent blocks. Drug infested, the community had become their victim. Solidarity showed itself as hostility. Assault not only on the street but at home was rife. Mothers, brothers and, sisters commonly were attacked. The death rate was high, which in and of itself was evidence that this community was sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Teenagers commonly stole and murdered. Only the rare adolescent was exempt. No social program could help. We, as jurors, were we only agents of retribution?

9

Blindness

From the first days of deliberation, the jurors were uncertain if the accused had taken any part at all. On our fourth day, the young woman who had been most adamant about the guilt of the accused began to waver. Most jurors still thought him to be innocent, but four remained unconvinced. The more jurors accepted their own limitations, the more difficult it became to form an opinion. The phrase blind justice turned piercingly poignant.

10

Unanimity

The majority argued with the four hold outs. Tensions rose with the thermometer. The heat of the midday, the humidity, and the noise from the street became increasingly unbearable. With the windows closed, we turned on the anemic air conditioner and became more fearful than ever of not measuring up to the task. Our disagreements put us on edge and were nerve racking. Slowly we moved towards common ground. One by one, concessions were made. By the time of the third vote, the foreman hesitantly voted against conviction. There were still three jurors holding strongly for conviction. We gave ourselves a minute of silence before voting again. The decision was unanimous innocent. Surprisingly, had we presented a wrongful conviction, or had we derailed the case?

11

Announcing the Verdict

Jurors summoned the guard and handed him a yellow manila envelope with the verdict. After we had returned to the court room, the judge polled us individually. Indelibly imprinted on us was the murdered child’s mother’s face. From the start she had sat alone on the back left corner of the court room. Her sorrow contrasted sharply with the defendant’s family. I felt wary of these families’ reactions. I was deflated, even felt inadequate, indeed insignificant. Knowledge here was slippery.

An uproar reigned in the courtroom. The cries of the murdered child’s mother collided with the joy of the defendant’s family. Repeatedly, the judge admonished the room to be silent. He closed by thanking the jurors for their service, who were in a state of shock. Were we right or were we wrong?, I asked myself.

12

The Randomness of Truth

Chance dominated the jury’s participation. I recalled with fear my father’s imperative about hiding behind fiction as an instrument of self reliance.

The jury broke up. The judge stared at us with a smile as we climbed down to the exit. We walked to where we had deliberated and collected our belongings. We moved to an elevator at the opposite end of the court house. Below, the family of the acquitted man awaited us and, as we approached, they shouted their deafening thanks. The corruption was now complete.

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Epilogue

Ended the theater of misalliance, jurors, the lawyers, and witnesses became actors in the absurd. Our verdict was uncertain: Lost of life and life was foremost. Society seems predetermined: Advantage and disadvantage are in confrontation. What a role do abandonment and darkness play in the human condition?, I pondered. It just seems as if indifference inflicts itself onto destiny.

Ricardo F Morín T and Billy Bussell Thompson

Metaphors of Silence

November 24, 2010

An artist’s Manifesto by Ricardo Morin: Viewing of his Jersey City art-studio where he engages with his paintings [2005-10]; some artworks are in progress and some are part of a recently finished hanging scroll series, entitled Metaphors of Silence. http://www.ricardomorin.com/

Abstract: Triangulation Series 2006-08

December 8, 2008

Platonic Triangulation, bodycolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches, 2008

Platonic Triangulation, bodycolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches, 2008

I choose the golden ratio 1 = 1618 as a consistent format which is clearly inherent of the infinite, to breakdown a dialogue on the fluidity of the vehicle of painting and its geometry.  At the same time, I establish a triangulation of the bare plane of the canvas which reaffirms its paradoxical nature as an object: where the fictitious flatness of the plane plays in suspension with the illusory spatial depth of forms expressed on it.

Ricardo Morín

http://www.ricardomorin.com

December 13, 2008

Art as a Byproduct of Neocolonialism

December 5, 2008

Digital Image created with Maya and Combustion Softwares”]Digital Image created with Maya and Combustion Softwares[/caption]

It’s like a goat tied to a post, who can wander only the length of its tether

Jiddu Krishnamurti, 1986

Anyone who aspires towards a career as a visual artist understands that the constraints for survival are questionable and that destiny often is one of the many factors that determines recognition. One’s mission is not about seeking recognition or even permanence, but about maturing and sharing one’s talent through exploration and inquiry. Congruency with one’s ancestry, identity, and oeuvre is not a matter of commercial interest for any given national identification. These elements  are irreducible aspects of signification, undefined against perspectives concerning conventional pieties–imponderable manifestations of one’s existence: neither up to meeting others’ expectations, nor up to appointed entities and their economic models used as marketing ploys.

Let me begin by addressing the frustration of visual-artists with dual nationalities, who sometimes suffer in the corral of Latin-American fundamentalism. Let me also question why their resulting frustrations are an order of business imposed by contemporary Medicis who seek to buy a parcel of history in the parochial institutionalization taking place inside these artists’ countries of origin. These merchants promote their wares by controlling, by and large, markets located abroad.

Certain philanthropic foundations—I speak especially of the Phelps-Cisneros—sell themselves to museums as influential and often Darwinian laboratories with their claims of heralding innovative programs focusing on Latin American issues and fostering its cultural heritage. The above cited institution takes its leadership from a wealthy socialite, and boasts about its founder, as an amalgamation of bourgeois society and contemporary scholarly erudition. Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, anthropologist amateuse and founder–deeply attached to her own ideas–, sees herself as neoembodiment of the 19-c. bio-geographer, Alexander von Humboldt: a man whom the contemporary Simón Bolívar (the Latin-American revolutionary and freedom fighter) cited as the real discoverer of South America.

Such portrayals, however, never yield balanced visions of pluralism. Only by peeling through layers of hubristic poshness, can one expose the foundation’s wish to create a dialogue about contemporary art with an historic nucleus set in Venezuela. But this desire simply reflects an aberrant fundamentalism; a rigidity whose aims are the preservation of certain regional traditions, which coincide with the institution’s own acquisitions. Undeniably, the preponderance of these cultural investments represents past meaningful movements, i.e., Kinetic, Op, and other neo-geometric derivatives. These movements, needless to say, are complaisantly popular, relatively noncontroversial artifacts among the political élites in Venezuela–from outright dictatorships, to feeble democracies, up to the presently evolving kleptocracy of the Bolivarian State of Hugo Chavez. They define as well the reoccurring themes coming out of this base which have found worldwide exhibitions and critiques. Contemporary art within this context exemplifies, nevertheless, exclusively the demagoguery of the ruling class’ claiming a national identity as stimulating and not one of imposed, antiquated historicism. This marketing ploy impoverishes both spontaneity and the local culture itself!

Succumbing to or courting this scheme is dangerous to artists and leads to alienation. Giving in promotes stagnation arising from these very institutionalized dictates. Such fashions segregate artists into a kind of regionalism and ideology, totally out of flux with the global community. Let me reflect on the raison d’être of any artist or, for that matter, of any human being; it must consist in a universal respect for dignity and freedom that cannot be sold, only shared. Let me underline that philanthropic societies that today yearn for an enforced authority through their wealth and through an enforced false sense of nationality and/or political or religious affiliation(s) are not only out of step with the transformative spirit of our times, but also with the globalized revolution taking placed in our culture, where the despotism of conventional borders and preconceived identities are lacking. This revolution is neither political nor economical; it is occurring within our very being, and it is the result of the change within ourselves of what is really important. We are dispensing with creative communities subjugated to a poisonous market place[1]. We have a new sensitivity and perception that will embrace cultural societies and producers alike. No simple answers arise; but we are growing in responsibility and self knowledge: we move to freedom and away from subjugation.

Ricardo Morín

http://www.ricardomorin.com

(Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson)


[1] The mythomania of stardom by definition examines only the few. Complacency fuels scarcity of resources while alienating 90% of active artists and assigning value to market indices, thus staggering self-sustenance.

From The Margins of Immateriality

June 1, 2008

Mavericks!
Look for renewals departing from Life.
Let us defile institutional theory mongering,
a corrosive taxonomy at the service of petulance,
Marketing anachronistic slogans of nonsense.
Subservient to infamy,
Cohorts of Dilettantes,
Not lack delimitation as handmaiden to ignorance.

Who promotes the edge of a new fugitive survival?
Fleshing out servitude as style,
Replacing intellect with mordacious rapacity,
Parading unclothed, bareness of duplicitous souls,
With a gashing defiance of insatiable desire to own,
Clandestine culture of misbegotten?
Board of museums and CEO’s glowing and bursting forth,
Grotesquerie of gulosity, take-over of corporate predators!

Mavericks!
Let us not jibe and succumb to chauvinism,
Emasculated by oppression
Take heed that Freedom is not for sale!

Would the web revolution lead artistic endeavors to a political revolution,
By replacing galleries, museums and the collector’s system of ownership?
Would the internal calling of an artist overcome the external demands of market survival?
Would such a calling already exist in a natural state, without the intervening forces of manipulative trends?
Would such a calling be subscribed to the exchange of exhibitionism and voyeurism for sales, acquisitions, commodities, as well as to the will of managing agents?
Would we face a new reality, one free of stardom and economic maneuvers?
Would participation and isolation not make any difference if such a calling serves no other purpose but its own needs?
Would history become both irrelevant and important at once: irrelevant as to how one may fit in and important as to how one may understand its limits?
Would knowledge not always be intertwined with some burdensome measure of superstition?
Would we repel a paradox on an arrogantly moral ground or tend unabashedly to our primordial instincts?

Artist Website

Manifesto 2008

May 7, 2008

Triangulation Series #25-- oil on linen, 60 x 37 inches, 2009

Triangulation Series #25-- oil on linen, 60 x 37 inches, 2009

My work Triangulation Series 2006-08 expands on questions dealing with perspectives synthesizing concepts of pictorial space and infinity:  something I have worked on over the years.  I have allowed painterly abstraction/plasticity to express both in form and content a kind of art that goes beyond a material world of signs; my paintings reach for the infinite—the mystery and the poetry in every man’s individual drama.  I choose the golden ratio 1 = 1618 as a consistent format for nonobjective abstraction which is clearly inherent of infinite congruency [a manifestation common to all known perspective methodologies], to breakdown a dialogue on the fluidity of the vehicle of painting and its geometry.  At the same time, I establish a triangulation of the bare plane of the canvas which reaffirms its paradoxical nature as an object: where the fictitious flatness of the plane plays in suspension with the illusory spatial depth of forms expressed on it.   Though immersed in 20th-century aesthetics, I neither strive for a specific historical movement nor for the postmodernist agenda.  Simply, I look at making art as a “fleshy” product of human experiencing, a resultant of the maker’s own passion.  Just as the idiosyncrasy of an individual, indivisible in nature, is blind to causality, an aesthetic frame embraces all its senses and the image is only the result or residue.

Non-objective, timeless, or even existential—in this sense—the image or Kunstgegenstand proposes not to explain what the meaning of experience is; rather, the image manifests itself, provoking interpretation from the observer.

 

There are no outside sources nor preconceived notions of the final composition.  Gesturally and intuitively, I use the plane of the canvas as an active platform (in other words, a conversation, so to speak, takes place among the paint, the canvas and me as I apply paint onto the canvas.)  In variegated densities, layer after layer—transparent or textural—the work transforms itself gradually by spectral accruement.  In continuous dialogue, I work on several pieces at the same time so all are able to inform the other.  An inner rhythm from each composition thus unfolds and guides the shifts and the construction of forms: burials, resurrections, exaltations, veilings, reattainments—all thanks to the gritty and sumptuous nature of the medium; a moodiness arises from the interlocutors with its acrid qualities of dissonance and complementary transparency. Indeed, it is color, as texture that establishes the emotional landscape of each piece.  The finished work stands on its own as a concentration of multiple layers; each of the numerous strata is essential to the completeness.  There is a sense of multidirectional movement in each of the works that acts on the viewer’s eye as he/she glances over the delineated shapes and peers through the entanglements of strokes and arabesques.  The viewer comes away, I hope, with the sense of the works’ generative completeness of a universe making and remaking itself.

 

As I said at the beginning, I embrace in my love of art a sense of universality; I do this not for my own self-fulfillment, but for the cosmic order and interconnectedness in our own awareness of humanity, the unifying mode from all masters.  As such, I am perennially emerging as I wander around in my space of today’s uncertain and leaderless being, where authority is seemingly derived from conflicting, and confusing powers of disbelief.  Freedom has come to us but its ethers and incongruities make us stagger.

Ricardo Morin [1]

Artist Website

December 8, 2008

[1] Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson, Professor Emeritus


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