Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fall as Winter

Île St Louis in the Fall is now St Louis in the winter. hm. 
Being in the States is thoroughly surreal. As I reintegrate myself back into my former life, there is a subtle shift in taste, space, and time. Things are overly sweet and salty. The personal ‘bubble’ trained by the metropolitan to be fairly small and sensitive to the spaces of others is incensed by the loud conversations of people at a distance. Time as it is intrinsically linked to mobility, and more specifically transportation, runs the risk in St Louis of impatience and laziness. One reality of Paris city living is walking and lots of it. Exercise (as well as art) is embedded into the day to day. It isn’t a choice. And that is the difference. Paris makes it easy to live well. In St. Louis, it must be constructed and constantly arbored. Goal: transplant qualities of this ulterior lifestyle into a convincing American alternative.

November in Paris was the best and worst of the residency. The farther from fall, the colder it became...;) 
Some of the Good:

Virginia introduced me to some just plain weird and thrilling performance pieces including Steven Cohen’s "The Cradle of Humankind" at Pompidou. As part of Festival d'Automne a Paris, I saw Cecilia Bengolea and Francois Chaignaud in Castor and Pollux. (
The audience entered a theater shrouded in a yellow haze, directed to the stage littered with pillows and blankets. The whole piece was aerial, the audience inhabiting the stage, the stage now the revealed bones of the working theater. 

 In late November, I did an installation piece with materials collected at the pleating studio and Les Puces. The piece, titled “Guan Yin”, is at La Porte Peinte in Noyers-sur-Serein. It is part of a group show opening December 10th



This installation was hands down the best gallery experience that I have had. Respectful, understanding, not competitive, and encouraging.  The residency, owner, and other residents were so welcoming… and American…and from California! Noyers is a beautiful little town about 2 hours outside of Paris, many medieval-era structures (including the residency building).  On a walk around town, we even came across one particular residence that was built in 1470. 1470?! Like pre-Columbus! "The village" (as it is called by it's residents), was shrouded in darkness and a blissful quite. This is the type of silence that reverberates against walls and roads and bodies. It hums a monotone B flat deep inside you, so every interruption, heels on the cobblestones or barking dog intrudes on the loud silence. Upon arrival, we were promptly invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. The village thanksgiving dinner.. with 35 guests.... Fantastic, romantic, yummy, generous. I met some just plain rad folks, some Berkeley people and a couple from Portland (which just makes me want to move there all the more!). The next morning, we woke up to the peaceful streets of this little village accosted by hoards of visitors for a bi-annual truffle festival. 

Back in Paris with just a few days left, I returned to the pleating studio to pick up a final batch of materials and attend a sale hosted by the studio where I bought some fantastic antique “clothing hardware”, lace, and pre-pleating material.  At the studio Bryan and I met the pre-eminent specialist in feathers, Jean-Louis Pinabel!  We bought a few accessoires de mode of his design, mostly for Bryan to sell, but I bought one particular piece that I'm saving for my next opening:). I am thrilled to tuck-in to my new materials. Since being back, I’ve inventoried the lot and packed it away until I set up my new studio.

A few additional highlights from the month:
I went to England for a weekend, and had a total blast with my cousin Sara while visiting her in Brighton. I saw a Gerard Ritcher retrospective (sculptural works?!), hit up Brick street for some delic indian street food and vintage clothing, went to the Victoria and Albert twice, the fashion museum, and Liberty of London. 

I twice visited the Yayoi Katsuma retrospective at Pompidou(“infinity nets”), an Edvard Munch retrospective (watercolors illustrating a hemorrhage in the eye of the artist), Jean-Paul Goude retrospective at Les Arts Decoratifs, and evolution and anatomy museum at the Jardin des Plantes, Pere Lachais Cemetery and Sainte Chapelle.

                                                                   Munch at Pompidou 

                                                                   Yayoi at Pompidou

                                                       Pere Lachaise with Gertrude Stein

                                                            Sainte Chapelle with Bryan

                                                  Bat Skeleton at the Museum of Anatomy

                                                            At the Louvre with Ingres

                                                                     Goude at Decoratifs

                                                                   Me and B in Tulleries 

                                                              Foundation Le Coubusier

                                                Hussein Chalayan's table and chair dresses

                                      17th Century Charles Boulle mirror at Les Arts Decoratifs 

                                                                Outside Les Invalides

                            Les Puces

               Holiday Festival "Illuminations" on the Champs with Belgium Waffles and Hot Wine

I also had the opportunity to pitch my work and ideas to someone in marketing at Dior and Mod Art. Great learning experiences, great incentive to push it.  While November was a challenge in someways, (I was significally more homesick, tired of the inhospitality (hostility?) of some of the French, tight on funds and then mourning the loss of my grandmother who passed away mid-month) -- in retelling the so-so parts, the lonliness (heftily abated by Bryan coming!) was overcome by the more than good. I intend to add a few more blog entries including pieces from fiac!. Thanks to everyone that supported and encouraged me before and durning the residency. To Wash U faculty and friends who advised my on my proposal, to those who visited me in Paris, to those who understood that they should not so I could work, to Cindy and Virginia my Paris support team, to my parents. Thanks so much everyone! To those of you who are applying now, the view from the Wash U Paris apartment:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Catch up

The last few days have been packed, productive and insightful. In part with the chilling weather and moving a mile a minute, I'm running a bit of a fever. Although, it gives me the time to slow down, get hydrated properly, clean my studio and update my blog! So yesterday was exciting. I went to fiac! at the Grand Palais. The previous exhibits at the Grand Palais have always had a pretty nasty queue and expensive tickets and this was no different however, I never leave disappointed. The show takes place once a year in Paris. Some of the top art galleries in the world have gallery-booths with pieces from their collection. There is representation from Shanghai, Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan. The list goes on and on. There were pieces by Christain Boltanski, Louise Bourgeois (recent from 2004!), Georg Herold, Sigalit Landau, Dieter Roth, Boetti Alighiero, Wener Haypeter. Phew! what a treat.

I went to the Centre Pompidou for the French retrospective dedicated to the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. She is most known for developing the polka dot motif. I was specifically interested in her works from the 1950s entitled "infinity nets". While so much of her works are graphic, and super-saturated with contrasting palettes, the monochrome works lyrically unearthen repeticious and round moments of under-painting. They feel like stars: gestural brushwork cacooning each moment in the dense space around it. These works specifically, made me consider what the 2 dimension counterpart to my sculpture works might look like. I believe that when I return to St Louis, and set up studio (I am double crossing my fingers for the Luminary Residency. I think my work would operate visually and conceptually well in their chapel installation space) that I will be painting again too.

The big news for the day: I will be part of a group show in Noyers! Bryan and I will be going together in late November to La Porte Peinte. I will be doing the piece and Bryan  will be assisting with restoration of the Medieval building that houses the residency. ( I am going to first install the piece in my studio, probably have an open studio when the piece is finished, and then re-install the work in Noyers. I have a few other meetings with gallerists and a dealer in the next couple weeks so I need to have some work to share with them. I am going to be venturing back into the fabric district today to get a few pieces of material to take to the pleating studio. More bright transparent yellow poly and possibly a wool blend suiting, similar to the work I did for the fashion show in May.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rina is the Bees'-knees-a

Thus far, there have been 4 exhibits that I have had a profound impact.

1. Vaudou/Voodoo at Foundation Cartier Cartier pour l'art contemporain

The exhibit featured over 100 West African Vodun sculptures from the collection of Anne and Jacques Kerchach. First off, the installation and curation were really powerful. Visitors descended an L shaped staircase. The staircase landing provided a locale outside of the primary exhibition for the supplementary text. In the statement, interestingly enough, the collectors preface the show by saying that there will be no captions (no dates, titles or artists), the reason being that it is the intention of the artist that is of primary importance. Well, I can't say that I fully agree. In someways it was a relief, it became less a historical accounting, it became the narrative of a tradition and a people instead of the characteristics of specific artists. The visual impact of the space was stronger ( which I will get into in a sec) but then again, I missed the formulation of a chronological development in the works (perhaps there was none). With that said, picture this. Descending the last half dozen stair for the landing, enter into a completely blacked out room. Before your are 48 identical vatrines on pedestals, layed in a grid. The vatrines are painted black as well but, with a slightly sparkly metalic black. Each vatrine and sculpture is spot-lit. This is the only source of light. Spectacular, dramatic. It definitely felt like a private collection, the size and variation of the works was not that different and there were a lot of pieces. I was though, specifically interested in the double figures and or double heads, the use of twine binding parts of the bodies that were of specific concern for the ailment or prayer.

2. Rina Banerjee at  Musee Guimet

Poetic, animalistic, delicate and a little fierce. She paired her works with poetry such as the following:

Greed, whence she came, she sucked all the world dry,
boneless, left with only earthly money, monsters and Maham...
but still the hunger want
was so intertwined with love that
morning forbidden gave new a green fruit
that could not truly ripen

3. Claude Calun at Jeu de Paume

Calun uses her own body and photography as tool to challenge gender identity and prescribed gender roles.

4. Hussein Chawlayan at Les Arts Decoratifs
Where to even begin with Chawlayan and Les Arts Decoratifs. This guy is a genius.  Chawlayan uses dress and clothing to comment on the effects of identity in a globalized world. He reaches far beyond haute couture. His works are politically and socially charged.  For example, Hussein did a collection in which he explores dual utility on a crash course with technology. Garments with an intricate hidden layer of mechanics that for instance, makes dresses get longer, hair grow, and scull caps turn into wide brimmed sun hats. Yes, all on the runway, all in a matter of seconds. He is probably most well known for sculpting tightly packed tule into bulbous dress and his wooden table that duals as a skirt. Check him out folks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weekend Treats

On Friday, Virginia, Audrey and I went to some of the delicatessens in the Saint German area. We found cheeses and meats and a flower shop, and laid for ourselves a really fantastic lunch. I was also on the hunt for gifts for the English reatives. I found Auntie Isle and Uncle Tom a bottle of French Champagne extra dry, salt infused chocolate fondue, Rose preserves, and a piece of heart shaped cheese.


Promptly after reigniting my taste buds (we decided had been sorely neglected for most of a lifetime) I took the metro to Gare de Nord, mazed my way to the Eurostar, through customs and out of France! I slept through most of the Chunnel trip to Ashford where I then transferred to head southwest to Eastbourne and Polegate. I arrived in time to take my aunt and uncle out for a pre-anniversary dinner. Saturday, was their 65! Phew! I have visited them a number of times in the past, although it had been about 4 years since I saw them last. It was a piece of fortuitous serendipitous luckidousness that I was in proximity to them for their anniversary. My mother’s first cousin Penny, is young at heart and so warming and welcoming. We took mock pictures of Isle and Tom cutting their cake, making a proper fuss over them on the big day. It was fantastic to see all the family, especially having grown so drastically and hurtfully apart from my dad’s side of the family a few years ago. My second and third cousins (Sara, Greg, Simon and Heather by marriage) are totally awesome. Sara has the family travel bug and has lived abroad for many years in various parts of Asia, Greg is a total sweet heart, very thoughtful and fun.  Simon and Heather are obviously very much in love and living in Portsmouth. I found family again, if even half a world away.

me and Uncle Tom


There was one particular moment this weekend that I'd like to share. It requires just a bit of back-story. My family is originally from Austria and originally Jewish. Like so many, this combination is dynamite in the most deadly of ways. In 1939, my 18 year-old grandfather escaped to Shanghai. His sister, Isle, was able to reach safety in England through the Kinder-transport, where she was placed with a hosting family. She was thirteen at the time. Before working with soft sculpture and pleating, my work was overwhelmingly based on my family narrative and its relevance to a broader social and historic narrative of the Jewish people and the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. In an attempt to avoid getting totally side-tracked, there are more details on my website (  Where, my grandfather and his sister were able to escape, much of the family was not so lucky; my great-grandmother being one of them. For the party, Ilse had on a charm-bracelet loaded with charms that she had collected from her travels. Her and Tom have been all over the world. Sara, me, Penny and Ilse stood in the living room, as Ilse fingered aside charms, untangling the mix at her wrist, pointing out a little enamel and gold chimney sweep charm. She said, “My mother sewed this into the helm of my coat when I left for England, just the one charm and the bracelet. Someday it’ll be yours, Sara.” I had a strong feeling of reparation; of participation as an essential but single link in a chain so much bigger than myself. Much of my research into my family’s story felt lonely almost. And yet, here we women of the family stood, remembering our matriarch in a genuine, unexpected and real event.

The rest of the weekend, Ilse and Tom just spoiled me . Heating pads in my bed, tea and scones by the coast in Eastbourne, a visit to Beachy Head, the new art gallery in Eastbourne, home-grown tomatoes to take back to France, watching Downtown Abbey, a walk up in the Downs by their house and my favorite meal of all time, lamb with gravy and mint sauce. Spectacular. Tom supplied aperitif, dinner wine and port to end, we had a starter, dessert, and a cheese plate to end. What a treat. I left England in the early morning on Monday and arrived back in Paris around 1:30. Audrey and I went out for a tasty sidewalk café lunch in the Marais, and then went to the Galleries Lafayette to ogle the shoes and haute couture designs. We had a coffee sitting around the mammoth stained glass dome, looking out over the cosmetic and perfume stations. Dinner was at one of my favorite restaurants within walking of the Cite, The St Regis I’lle St Louis- Black and white tiles, warm light, real white orchids, a beautiful couple making love through kisses at the next table other, and a bottle of white wine. Lovely conversation and pear flavored L’eau de Vie to end. I woke up early despite the late night, and Audrey and I went to the The Hunting Museum. 


Monday, October 3, 2011


I went to the pleating studio this morning to watch my materials being pleated and order a few more pieces. Each mold has two pieces that fit into each other. One side of mold is pulled flat and secured to a table with clamps. Material is then cut to the same dimensions and ironed flat. The second half of the mold is layed on top, sandwiching the fabric. Weights are placed on the material and the claps released. Then the mold, is carfully brought to its pleated state, contracting with the fabric held in between. The smaller molds are then ironed for about 5 minutes on both sides and then weighted again and meant to rest under the weight for a day. The larger pieces are placed in a heated enclosed chamber. The pictures should help to explain.

A few flea market and fabric store finds:

I have also been working on another artists statement. I have written so many, but as my work and process develops, I feel closer and closer to a truer written counterpart to the work.

 I want to dress the memory of the body. By removing wearability and utility, my work operates as a memorium or sactification of desire and youth. I am interested in the history of exposure. Exposure to the point of disappearance. What remains is cloth visually operating as both garment and skeleton. The remnant of physical body is sanitized, and integrated to the point of colaesion with the exterior. My work explores a body re-contoured and distorted quantifiably through the use of architecture, origami, grids and most specifically, pleating. Pleating is the structure of this new body: orderly, flat, complex, and skeletal but no longer a ridged framework of bone and muscle. There does remain a place holder for the physical breathing body: space. A deliberate void, waiting for the 'imperfections' of a real body to be reitegrated preformatively by the viewer.


1. Fashion as the stage for conceptual art. Feature in a couture display window.

2. visibility verses surface area. This is of great interest, especially that I have now seeing how pleating is done.

 3. "The purist memory is the one un-recalled." I love this.  In recollection, there is a distortion of past realities. Errors of remembering. In reference to my creative action and methods of viewing, this is concious.

Friday, September 30, 2011

L'assistance de l'antiquité

I arrived in the early morning to the pleating studio after a double strong coffee and a pain aux raison, to find I had been upstaged by a last minute pleating order for Cécile and a bright pink pleated purse for Louis Vuitton. Oh darn. Gérard had to postpone until monday but as a consolation prize (I think he likes me, or my obvious excitement), he showed me the prototype and drawings of a Vuitton bag, of which he had just completed the material. He also showed me a slight imperfection in a piece of my silk brocade, so I am going to attack the fabric district this weekend to a) replace that material and b) see if I can scrounge a few more pieces. I am looking for ....fantastic. I am considering doing some dye work perhaps, but I'm a little nervous about setting the dye and not havng ANY residual on the pleating molds. That would be really awful. I dont even want to risk it.  I don't have the proper washing agent here. Time for a little investigation.

I am thinking bright pink or my usual neon yellow/green in the same tone, both in a heathy opaque brocade and a transparent silk chiffon. I am considering incorporating leather into the final constructions however many of these questions are going to have to be addressed once I am back in the states. Getting the material home safely is the ultimate goal at the moment and I dont want to risk there safe transport by manipulating them while in Paris. Unlllllesss I were to have a show here and then I'd jump right in:). An extension of the residency might also convince me to delve in. I am currently applying, so please cross your fingers for me! I also have a secretive little project involving Dior pleating molds and I am hoping the studio will have time on monday to show me those molds and possibly place a second order. I was able to see one of my pieces in process.

Waiting for Monday, I redirected, and headed to the Louvre to investigate pleating and folds in ancient Greece and Egypt. 



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lognon, Oh my God!

So, SUCCESS! I spent the morning fretting and prepping for my meeting with the pleating studio, and success my faithful followers. SUCCESS! I ordered three pieces of fabric pleated in the molds and materials shown here. I met with Mr Lognon and three other artisans at the atelier and they pulled the molds for me. OH the choices. One of the molds, the one I'm holding up in the photo was used by Chanel. I am on cloud 9.999! I am going early tomorrow morning to watch them pleat my material.

Yesterday was pretty great. I had an initial meeting with the pleating studio and went to a Rosh Hashana service at the primary Orthodox Jewish Synagogue. Quite the experience. I went with a fellow resident, Cindy Shapiro, who is at the Cite to compose a contemporary opera retelling the psyche narrative. She is an ex-Cantor so she clued me in on the service (especially the vocal shifts in regards to high holidays). I am in love with the symbology of the tradition. Although sitting on the side in the womens' section rub the west coast vibe completely the wrong way.  Some pretty interesting stuff. Cindy and I are going to the Psyche ballet at Opera Garnier Saturday night. I went out tonight to listen to some live acoustic emerging artist from the group Dictafone Home. Great lyrics, fantastic guitar-ing. I feel with the progression of my project and with getting out of my studio (especially in the evenings), that I am finally settled and on the move in Paris.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surprise at City Hall

Last weekend, was the annual Paris Heritage event where certain public buildings and historically significant private residences are open for public viewing. Hotel d'Ville was at the top of my list and so I lined up Saturday morning to take a peak at the salons, suites and artwork of Paris' city hall....

About six months ago, Bryan came home from a St. Louis auction with his usual stock pile of goodies, one of which was a small painting about 8 x 12 inches. A Jules Lefebvre. The pieces was signed but no date, title, nothing. The work got little attention in the ebay store or in the showroom, so it sat humbly on the bookshelf in Le Petite Salon Pressler-Laughlin (aka the dining room).

The city hall was more than fantastic. It is a glamourous black-tie, gilt, beacon of French talent and wealth. There are a series of themed rooms decked out with installed paintings on wall and ceiling, weighty sparkling crystal chandeliers, drapery and italian marble. There are grand rooms with the art embellishment dedicated to the rural peasantry joyously surrendering their hard earned crops to the personification of France, a room for the masons, one to the coronation of Kings, one to...ehem... rebellion, one to music and one to literature. In the Salon of Literature, are three Jules Lefebvre paintings. A 20 or so foot square work directly in the center of the ceiling flanked by two smaller works including this little girl posed with stylus and pad. 20 times as big as she was in the apartment in St Louis. What a thrill!