Several years ago I was walking across Gleisdreieck in summertime Berlin with a painting in hand, uncovered, made between the writing and editing. The park was scattered with people and framed by the quick buildings of Potsdamer Platz, a moment when the skyline opens up in this wide city. It was kind of a performance to be carrying that canvas with its marks that extended to the fabric I was wearing. I felt altered by it, and the unexpected display of a work in transit, unannounced.
This got me thinking about Adrian Piper’s formative action: those images of her walking down Broadway, Manhattan, wearing white paint and with the sign “Wet Paint”, part of her “Catalysis” series. It marks a moment in her practice when she is transitioning from a minimalist interest in the grid to her conceptual take on the art object as a body that challenges positions of the subject and the subjected. She was becoming politicized.
Over this unusually mild winter I have been reading Hannah Arendt’s ideas on the vita activa—her political writing seems more relevant than ever. One of her thoughts that sticks like a painted gesture is how she outlines the human conditions of labor, work, and action as having collapsed to such a degree of efficiency that the vitality of each has become diluted, a fading humanity. She also wrote about the active life of thought. Our responsibility to be plural.
On the invitation to show my paintings, those that I live with, rarely seen, I was prompted to consider how they connect to my other work and tasks. They are similar to textiles—materially interested, foregrounded backgrounds, textural. They were also made while thinking about the dimensions of being human, of painting.