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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Participants in Rapunzel/in perpetuum/forever at Queens College Art Center – Spring 2012

Rapunzel's hair is the conduit for her communications with the world outside her tower prison. Through it she learns she has been tricked by the enchantress and traded by her parents.  She also learns her hair is a means of asserting herself and ultimately becomes  a vehicle for finding her way to power and depth of understanding. 

A full grown man hanging from one's hair, possibly a knight in shining armor.  Technically the hair should be strong enough to support the weight, and the shear number of strands would probably mean that that most of the hair would stay embedded in the scalp, so the whole enterprise would be possible, but excruciatingly painful. Also the idea that the guy would then be up in the tower with Rapunzel, would he be that much more effective than her in getting her out of the tower, I suppose if he had a lock cracking kit or a saws-all. I suppose it's similar to the library-most of the information is useless and costly and painful to arrive at, and most of it will get lost anyway no matter how carefully we protect it or how high the tower in which it's secured.

I am interested in exploring the concepts of Jealousy. Shame. Denial. Craving. Hero. Hidden. Proposal. Procreation. Escape. it applies to the tale of Rapunzel. 


I often wondered how a lonely, unbathed child, trapped in a tower is perceived as "beautiful". 

How did the queen plant her so far in the woods that someone heard her singing and how did she know what singing was?

Why would she agree to "marry" a stranger upon meeting the first time and how does she know what that means?

How did people climbing up her hair not rip out her scalp or pull her directly out of the tower?

Why would her parents actually follow through on the surrender of their child to stave off punishment for stealing vegetables, years later?

A pretty young woman with a piece of lace tied in a bow above her long, wavy hair said she took care of the bookcase, sometimes.

Rapunzel was a precious being locked away in a tower, jealously guarded by a witch. Books are precious creatures locked away (though accessible during public hours!) in libraries, carefully guarded by a librarian -- or, rather, media information specialist. There is magic in the Rapunzel story and there is magic aplenty in libraries.

The goal of an artist, no matter the medium being used, is to evoke a feeling--any feeling--from their audience. Any work is filled with a hidden meaning that the artist hopes can be discovered. This mystery can result in many interpretations, those more literal or more metaphorical. Therefore, the goal of an artist and a writer are one in the same. In the story of Rapunzel, the prince is enchanted by her beautiful song, just as a viewer is enchanted by the piece of art.

C Lucas Crane:

At WFMU’s My Castle of Quiet I threw down a sci-fi cosmic horror set, mixing threads of movies, moaning, and people hyperventilating.

Rapunzel caught us before we caught her. Now we’ve been caught by her locks.
What is tied to hair is more hair.  Hair recorded in history: via video, via photographs, via the gesture of threading and caressing, via words passed down and collected.

Hair maintenance:  With each brush there is more hair—removal of hair, and coupling of hair-on-hair (brush hair and human head hair).

Hair severance:  With each chop, the hair has multiplied—like a worm cut in two, triumphantly living as two thriving separate parts (one connected and one independent).

The strands continue down as much as they travel up.  When the bottom reaches the top, exchange takes place.  The library of lined up spines—thick threads that once were something individual, that join with another in collaboration, and enter the future as a collective multi-spined operation that is no longer “you” or “I” or “we”…but “they.”

On November 12, 2011 we performed the following 3-hour piece at English Kills
Art Gallery:
Before you ____. Now you ____.
Before we ____. Now we ____.
Before they ____. Now they ____.

Rapunzel reminds us now that:
Before the hair was short.  Now the hair is long.
Before the hair was long.  Now the hair is short.
Before the hair was brushed.  Now the hair is chopped.

Rapunzel is a tale of Jealousy versus Longing.  In Longing, there is connection and the recognition of what is, was, or could be.  In Jealousy there is no relation.  It is the ultimate impossibility: A wall dividing two distinct worlds that will never meet.  The lock of hair is severed, yet the blade is never removed.  This is impossible:  The blade must always disappear.  Two ends always carry the possibility of finding one another.

The recognition of Before and Now is the recognition of what is possible.  The potential of the strands:  braided, unbraided, crossed, caressed, or severed.  Everything is always continued.

[Photo: Emily Poole]

Ben Gottlieb:

While I am attracted to the use of process, I am more interested in aesthetics; I find the carrier more compelling than the idea.

Rapunzel is captive in her own landscape: a murky, gnarled forest where earth mothers once resided freely. She is sterilized, objectified, and separated from life by cold stone. Her hair, a symbol of sexuality, acts as passageway for the prince, who longs for her because of her powerlessness. Her true nature is so terrifying she must be contained so as not to disrupt civilized society.

Tamara Jackson:

“Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair.” Oh, she’ll let down her hair, all right. In fact, Rapunzel will do just about anything to get out of that cursed tower. For years, she’s only imagined what’s out there beyond that single depressing room and a life forever devoid forever of happiness, humor, companionship, love. If singing her throat raw or letting some bozo who doesn't have the presence of mind to bring a rope (hello?!) walk up her hair, then so be it. 

The tale of Rapunzel represents for me a common theme that many women experience in that, as youth, we are told what to believe and directed how to live. Once we see step out of the microcosms in which we grew up, our lives are forever changed, as if it is only then when we begin to live. 

Go to the top of this blog post to hear Jodi Jett performing her two songs, "Bedford Avenue" and "No Place Like Home"

A common(wealth) sight: female artists reaching for the razor and parting willingly with the precious locks as a last resort and attempt to stave off a nervous breakdown triggered by the pressures of psychoticization that prey on a particular developmental phase of female sexuality. Disruption, unlike finitude, is a temporal figure that allows for the conceptualization of displacement (sublation) as the coverup -- and refusal -- of loss. The radical disruption Britney staged with the shaving scene she broadcast for the ages on February 17, 2007 doubles as a gesture of self-reflexivity showcasing the artist's mode of production.

Andree Ljutica

Hair acts as a shield. In my illustrations I seek to render that shield in different fashions not only as it pertains to pure observation, but also as it relates more viscerally to the individual. It can be an emotional blockade, isolating the individual from external observation. Conversely, hair is a mode of communication to the outside world- a way to speak without voice. Long hair can be an obvious exclamation of need and a wanted entrance to conversation. 

Solidarity. Anxiety. And Release are themes I often play with, using age as a vehicle for illustrative expression. In Rapunzel, waiting and anticipation are underlying messages which draw parallel to age. Understanding what the release is (relative to the person) and the space that exists between any of the three topics are what the pieces explore.

Tara Mathison:
It diminishes to a tiny level, but in theory traces of the very first product placed in the solera may be present even after 100 cycles.

Tommy Mintz:
Decontextualize and collide Rapunzel and her tower, creating tense, tenuous, disorienting images of modern society.

Kyle Morrison:

Rapunzel’s tale of beauty imprisoned, and her eventual freedom through partnership and motherhood (domesticity), recalled immediately a theme that plays out over and over again in the films of history’s greatest director, Alfred Hitchcock. In most notably The Birds, Melanie Daniels, the very picture of femininity at the films outset, is stripped of her sexuality over the course of the picture as she repeatedly fends off massive bird attacks, a phenomenon that goes unexplained unless you see them as an extension of the contempt felt for her by the films mother figure, Lydia Brenner. In the final sequence Lydia, the only character that has escaped the birds unscathed, holds a broken Melanie whose hair for the first time has fallen from its perfect bun, and we understand that now seemingly impotent Melanie is allowed her son Mitch Brenner. I think it’s most notable that the Rapunzel story, which focuses on her contentment by the prince’s side bat the tale’s end, never mentions the return of her beautiful braid.

Shervone Nickles:
The Tales of Red Rag Rosie and Little Miss Pinky blends surface with depth, past with the present, real with the imaginary and serious with the playful. Through the use of craft techniques; doll making, quilt making and crocheting the work attempts to identify how the events we allow to happen, the stories we choose to tell, versus those we choose to deny create layers of our present moment and the future as well.

Image Details:
Red Rag Rosie & Little Miss Pinky Rug, 2004
Crocheted Yarn with Rug backing
4.5 ft x 5ft x 1.5in

Carin Riley:
The end of captivity, no guardian or keeper.
The release from the tower with no door or stairs.

When the enchantress cuts off Rapunzel's braid she is
free. Cast out and banished with no protection, but free.

The story of Rapunzel, a towered and kept feminine symbol, entombed by 300 years of literary history, is an interesting departure for something my work has dealt with for quite some time: the visual embodiment of language's inherent blindspots. In its written form, text and narrative--those very essences that formulate identity (or hide it)--are subject to extreme forms of slippage, both emotional and cognitive. Disruption, pause, and an ironic mode of questioning are therefore necessary if we are to achieve any sort of consensus, any collective approach to meaning. In this instance, artistic collaboration, the act of looking, of responding to analog materials such as those housed by the Queens College of Art's library, becomes paramount to uncovering a new path or trajectory, to unearthing new modes of potential communicative exchange.

Molly Seitz:
The idea of the Fairytale interests me because they seem so black and white and yet there can be nuance.  Rapunzel being locked away is akin to being locked away with your thoughts, dreams, regrets.  This brings me to my subject which is Nostalgia.  Nostalgia is a very powerful emotion and it is alive and well in many of us.   During the First World War Russian soldiers were shot if they came down with "melancholia" which was considered contagious and made the troops weak.  The trick is to take that feeling, which can verge on sadness and heartbreak or longing and use that to recognize that there was something in our lives worth remembering and there is something we are building in our lives right now that we will miss later and therefore allow ourselves to look to the future with a connection to the past.  This is wrapped up in our notions of time and home. 

I went to bed thinking of Rapunzel and disruption and woke up in the middle of the night thinking of this segment from (as you know) one of my favorite -- and most distorted -- fairy tales; the only one I can think of where the girl saves the prince (although she suffers for it). Maybe we can take it back from Disney. 
She saw her sisters rising out of the flood: they were as pale as herself; but their long beautiful hair waved no more in the wind, and had been cut off.
“We have given our hair to the witch,” said they, “to obtain help for you, that you may not die to-night. She has given us a knife: here it is, see it is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet they will grow together again, and form into a fish’s tail, and you will be once more a mermaid, and return to us to live out your three hundred years before you die and change into the salt sea foam. 
The Little Mermaid
Hans Christian Andersen


In the story of Rapunzel, the Enchantress makes a futile attempt, to protect Rapunzel’s innocence and youth, much the way a mother tries to keep her daughter from growing up and being tarnished by the world.

In the end, the Enchantress’ control over Rapunzel is impossible as Rapunzel experiences companionship and love, evolving from being dependent to embracing her own independence.
This also becomes a metaphor for the artist – a creative work that is nurtured and protected by the artist, once fully realized has a life force of it’s own, independent of the artist who created it.
Released into the world, a work of art stands on it’s own to create connections with the viewers outside of the protection of the artist.

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