Avoiding Lament with the Joy of the Unexpected

Mercury Fountain

It’s reasonable to suppose that a prompt report comes out of a moving encounter.  In that respect, I make a poor journalist.  But it also takes some time to make sense of what has moved the participant in an encounter.  

You & Me, Sometimes… is an exhibition obscuring the distinction between a private cabinet of curiosity and a curatorial project.  Sandra Antelo-Suarez, founder and editor of TRANS>, assembled an abundance of work and events from over twenty artists in the relatively small confines of a 1.5 floor gallery space.  In this collapse of idiosyncrasy and publicity was a play of discourse neither self-addressed nor intended towards an expectant public.  The press release was a friendly, colloquial, and outgoing letter from Antelo-Suarez to herself (“Sandy”) full of desire and warmth.  It’s a modified soliloquy ask its addressee to partake in her intense interest in the intersections of the social, political, and aesthetic.  The brief visits to the gallery bookending my short trip to New York City were among the most memorable and stimulating surprises.  You and Me, Sometimes… offered an opportunity to happen upon some new works and re-visit some familiar acquaintances in a renewed light. 

While there was more work than could be really taken in a short hour in the gallery, repeated visits were rewarded with events, stagings, and performances.  Among the work that I was able to take in , highlights included a mix of old and new.  Six of Francisco de Goya’s Caprichos lined the foyer’s main wall, including El sueno de la razon produce monstruos.  Arguably, these little pieces were the signs that informed the driving sensibility of You & Me, Sometimes…, where art lingers beside and cuts across quotidian existence.   (Could it be possible that these little pieces influenced the work of a certain Mexican printmaker born twenty-four years after Goya’s death?  Art historians, please let me know.) Paul Ramirez-Jonas‘s work dealt with the potentialities of communication amid the apparatus that purports to aid us in communicating.  (Hopefully, a quick piece on some of his pieces at the show will come in a later post.)  Various works by Alexander Calder in the show jump between formalist and political, such as Three Segments and and his ads protesting the Vietnam War and the abuses of power perpetrated by the Nixon administration. These currents cross in the model of Mercury Fountain on display aside the Caprichos.  Minerva Cuevas contributed her unflinching critiques of concentrated corporate wealth and colonialist power through her multi-media works, including a staging of the Mejor Vida Corporation‘s Donald McRonald intervention outside the Union Square McDonald’s on April 25.  Finally, Fresa Salvaje brought together selected sounds of forgotten latin music that became recognizable upon hearing, courtesy of Aldo Sanchez (aka DJ Papichulo) and Dulce Pinzón.  When not doing their selecting and spinning, Sanchez is an independent curator, and Pinzón is a photographer recognized for her outstanding 2006 photographs, Los Superheroes.  

Both the general form the show took and the variety of works and artists on display illuminate questions about the act of selecting pieces for display and their organization under the designation ‘taste’.   A couple of weeks ago, a short discussion concerning the connections between taste, knowledge, and experience prompted speculation the definition of the term ‘taste’.  Carolina pointed out “a possible relation between sabor (taste, flavor) and saber (knowledge). ¿A qué sabe? What does it taste like? Tasting as a form of knowledge.”  The connection is quite palpable in Spanish, but not so in English.  One does not say in English that a lemon knows sour.  (Jose Iraola’s Simultaneous Translation on display vaguely illustrates the phenomenon of how translation can turn into a game of telephone.)


This speculation on the relation between knowledge and experience quickly led down a rehashing of Kantian contradictions without resolution that were just unproductive.  But some further thinking and a serendipitous reading of The Origin of Philosophy by that philosophical Goya, José Ortega y Gasset, offered a possible clue.  In a discussion of the thinker as a social figure, he takes an effortless etymological detour into the common Indo-European root of the terms of wisdom, knowledge and savoring (tasting) that have left their traces in ourmodern languages.  His discussion suggests is that taste is less about a possessed knowledge, but an exposure to openness “…always referring, however, to a non-theoretical, still non-existent type of knowledge.” (116)   From this suggestion we can imply that taste is the possibility that artistic production can convey both the knowledge of producing beautiful sense experiences and sense experiences whose beauty make knowing more knowable.  And it’s that very simple possibility that resides throughout You & Me, Sometimes…: that contact with the very edge of another’s sensibility can yield knowledge about the world we inhabit and the way we approach it.

How can I not end a post without a video?  It’d be cruel of me to not do so.  It’s the least I can do to reward your having made it from one end of the post to the other without clicking out. Here’s some priceless footage of Camilo Sesto meeting his promotional obligations for a then freshly-cut record, Solo un Hombre.  Check out Fresa Salvaje.  You & Me, Sometimes… ends Saturday, May 3.