Categories for Beauty
I was sitting in front of the television this Sunday morning. I thought about this post. On Saturday I came across a link on facebook and was enchanted by the quote on the linked page on Brainpickings. I copied it to a new post. I first gave it another title, but changed it to Live boldly. I don’t even remember the first title. Something with silent.
My thoughts wandered away.
The dream and photo i wrote about in an earlier post, Memories.
My earliest memory came back to me in a dream. Around my twenties i dreamed i was crawling on a short stairs with maybe two steps. It was warm. I felt the warmth in my hands which were resting on the steps. I felt the warm stones beneath my fingers. My mother was sitting in front of me. She pointed to somebody behind me. My father. He was standing there with a camera in front of his face. He clicked. I had the photo. Somehow i lost it. I searched for it quite a few times. I still hope it’s somewhere in a book or a notebook. Somewhere hidden. I do love this memory. I can still feel the warm stones. I was like a year, a year and half old.
This photo was taken in 1965. It is something that really happened. And the dream i had, when i was around twenty years old, happened too. The dream, even with this distance of around thirty years, this dream i can still remember clearly. Pointing to myself, feeling the warm stones beneath my hands and looking behind me. The memory of the event itself, when i was only one year old, has faded away for a long time.
This dream is the counter point of the photo. In this dream i look at my father, with a camera in front of his head. His finger on the button ready to make the photo. I had only turned around a second before that. My mother was pointing at something behind me. My mother with her dark hair in a high knot up above her head, smiling. The sun shining. Warm stones beneath me. I turn around and look at my father. I do not see my father’s face. A mechanical object is in front of it, a camera.
My father is the one not in the photo. He took it. What i see in the photo is me and my mother, still pointing. Me, the one person i do not see in the dream. Me, the one person who is experiencing this event. I feel her, i feel what she feels, but i don’t see her. What i see is my dad.
My dad who has been absent from my life for the past twenty-eight years. My dad who is still alive. Who lives in a older people’s home somewhere in the west, between Rotterdam and the beaches. My dad who is slightly demented. Not sure about the slightly. My dad whose voice i last heard on the phone. You are not my daughter.
As you live your life, you are the only person you can not see entirely. You see your hands. You see your hair, when it is longer. You see your legs, your tummy. You do not see your back. You do not see your eyes. You see your nose only from the side, a bit blurry. You see your mouth only when you make a kissing face and put your mouth way out in front. Still blurry.
You do see other people completely. You see their face. You see their eyes. Their nose, their cheeks, their mouth. Their hands, their feet, their legs, their tummy. You see their backs. The top of their head.
But you can not see what is in their head. You can not see their thoughts. You can not feel what they feel.
They are a mystery.
I made many self portraits. When i was at art school, i started out with drawings. Then photography. My final project was with self portraits.
Making these self portraits was not extremely difficult. I only needed myself, a tripod, a camera and film. I started out with black and white film and ended up with colour. I used 25 ASA film most of the time. Very fine grain. Great colour. I still have all the negatives.
I used a whole film for each set. Looking into the camera with different facial expressions. A smile. A serious look. A look away. Different angles. From above. From the front. From the side.
I postponed seeing the look on myself. I only got to see what i looked like when i developed the film and started printing. Contact sheets gave me an overview, a chance to pick the best photo. The ones i believed to be the best anyway. Very difficult to get to that one.
This situation was very different from my initial photo opportunity, when i was one and a half years old. I was grown up. I was making these photos myself. Picking the right time myself.
For years i didn’t make photos of myself. Or they were hopeless failures. Not good. Not a good look. Not a pretty girl. Not a good photo.
I did make a few in 2010 i liked. And last year i made two great ones. In the sunshine. With the sun shining on the white cd cupboard. With my iPhone camera. I did need to make a cutout. The photo was ok with the entire shot. But a square cutout worked like magic.
I confess, i do like it when i look pretty in a photo. Of course i have so much more ugly photos of myself. But i get to pick the ones i show you. So yes, i show you the pretty ones. Even though i don’t feel i’m that vain, a bit of vanity i don’t mind.
So most of my work has a relationship with my dream of me and my mum and dad when i was around one and a half years old. I didn’t realize this at the time. This dream i still remember. I don’t know why i had this memory dream. I don’t know why exactly i made the work i made. But it did call to me. And yes, it is becoming clearer. I can put it into the story of my life. The story i’m telling you here. Which i forged out of my memories of the fifty two years of my life so far.
The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.
We all make stories. We grow up, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. All different things happen to us. Happy things. Sad things. Painful things. We meet other people. And things happen. We fall in love. And out of love.
We try to make this story matter. We have so much inspiration. We have all the old stories. Fairy tales. Movies. Television. Books. Myths. Religion. But all the stories in our lives are only pieces of these old stories. Our own lives are a multitude mass of little pieces, each told with a slightly different voice.
But each one of us is also a physical person. A whole being.
Born. Growing up. Walking. Working. Loving. Dead.
There is mystery in each of us. Fractured existence. Different voices. Each telling another side.
Me, here, on ellenpronk.com, i’m talking about my own existence. Fifty two years now. Halfway. Or slightly over.
I’m trying to make my stories work. For me. To understand my life, so far. To see threads. To make new threads. To tell new stories. To notice new things. Sometimes i fail. Many times i fail. But everything i tell here is true. In a way.
From me to you, i do hope you enjoy it here.
You are welcome.
John Berger (5 November 1926 – 2 January 2017) has died the day before yesterday. His name was mentioned a couple of times on my facebook feed. I looked up his videos on youtube.
Today’s post was supposed to be another one, but i’ll leave it as a draft for now. I’ll be watching the series Ways of Seeing and some other videos i found.
The above i wrote this afternoon. It is in the evening now. I did watch all the four episodes of Ways of Seeing. The rest i will watch further on in the week. I also came across a Guardian article linked by a friend: Past present. Still need to read this too.
I actually do think i have seen this before, maybe even on television. It reminds me of my own personal stuff i made with ads, like Beautiful girls and Ads, a videoclip i made with clips i recorded from television.
Still, i do not think this is the entire story of Western art of the past 500 years or so. That would be too simple. To say Western art is about the representation of objects, textures and skins only is too limited, in my world. It does leave out the final 130 years or so, in which there was a definite move towards abstraction. Also because photography did take over this representation in advertising, but also in movies. Commercialism is a huge aspect of moviemaking, yes, but still, some of the best art works of the past 130 years are movies. And some of those are also commercial successes. Films Like Back to the Future, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Harry Potter series, Lords of the Rings are all great movies. But i digress. More about this in another post, hopefully.
Another article i found: Why we still need John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. The picture of the three Victoria’s Secret angels requires some study. A quote form the article itself:
Consider the Victoria’s Secret Angels. A fleet of women so beautiful, so primped and preened that the name bestowed on them is inhuman, tells us that they are not of our world. The Angels (who yes, actually wear wings) present the ultimate female fantasy, with one one even donning the multimillion dollar ‘Fantasy Bra’ for her strut down the catwalk – each year held in a different global location. They are living, breathing advertisements, existing for mass consumption – the show, seen by millions of mostly women, is the most watched fashion event in the world. December’s event has generated almost 100,000 Instagram posts alone.
John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972)
John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 2 (1972)
John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 3 (1972)
John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 4 (1972)
John Berger or The Art of Looking (2016)
John Berger About Time (1985)
John Berger and Susan Sontag / To Tell A Story (1983)
Face To Face
On Saturday i walked to the market, bought myself a sandwich doner kebab and walked on a bit further. The thought of buying nail polish came up. I first went into the Etos and looked at all the Essie nail polishes. No colour really spoke to me. So no. I went into the Hema next. Nail polishes there too, and a lot cheaper. There was even an action: two nail polishes for only three euros. One costs €2,50. So i picked two: olive green and rose gold.
Today i use the nail polish for the first time. The olive green on four nails, the rose gold on the ring finger. I was thinking of how the nail polish would be after i went to the garden. But really, i didn’t do that much in the garden anyway. I cleaned up all the plastic thrown down, i checked out garbage of the train rails working place. And when everyone else came, we drank tea and coffee. I did harvest a couple of amsoy leaves, but that was it for today. Still lovely to be there and see everyone else coming there eventually.
I also bought a string of Christmas lights yesterday. Warm lights with LED. I put it on my chimney. I love it. It is a dark time, these lights do brighten up the house. I’m not doing that much about Christmas, no tree, no wreaths, no special Christmas decorations. But i do like the lights. This week i will also get out my die-cutted paper surroundings for small candles. These are specially made for Christmas. Clear and distinct trees are cutted out, making a good looking light play around it, once the candle is lit inside it.
Enjoy your Monday!
Chuck Close is an American artist. I was looking at my bookcase today and decided to write tomorrow’s post about him. Or rather, show you a catalogue of his work. It turned out i visited his exhibition in London in 1999 in the Hayward Gallery. I thought it was a few years later, around 2005. But in the catalogue the dates of the several exhibitions are printed. So 1999 it is.
I was aware of the work of Chuck Close. I don’t think i had seen any work before i visited the Hayward Gallery though. It made a big impression on me. I still have the visual memories of me walking through this exhibition. Several rooms are clear in my memory. A pity i didn’t photograph any at the time. Then again, they would have been small photos anyway, not much use for this website.
I love Close’s work. I do envy him for his subject matter. I think his mind is mostly focused on the technique, but still, to paint your friends and people you work with, people you talk with, people you like, that is excellent.
These photos are not all sharp. They are taken to give you an idea of Close’s work, nothing more.
Enjoy the photo’s. And enjoy your weekend. Happy days!
David Bellemere is the photographer of the images at the start of this post. These sort of images are all over Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and many other magazines published all over the world.
The faces of all these gorgeous girls have the same expression in almost any photograph; their mouth slightly open, moist, looking into the camera, or not at all, staring into their own make believe world, a smile, or not, enjoying flowers, or a drink, or an ice cream. And of course their bodies. Their soft glowing beautiful bodies with the light gliding over it with their erect nipples and clean shaved pussy.
Their faces are waiting. Longing for a brief touch of contact. Sitting closed up in the paper.
They make you wish you are one of them. The glorious exquisite girls blemishfree, no bubble of fat around them. Immaculate make up. Their bodies twisted into a heartfelt cry for attention.
These photographs sell clothes. Clothes.
Eroticism (from the Greek ἔρως, eros—”desire”) is a quality that causes sexual feelings, as well as a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love. That quality may be found in any form of artwork, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music or literature. It may also be found in advertising. The term may also refer to a state of sexual arousal or anticipation of such – an insistent sexual impulse, desire, or pattern of thoughts.
(Source: wikipedia entry for Eroticism
Stripping naked is the decisive action. Nakedness offers a contrast to selfpossession, to discontinuous existence, in other words. It is a state of communication revealing a quest for a possible continuance of being beyond the confines of the self. Bodies open out to a state of continuity through secret channels that give us a feeling of obscenity. Obscenity is our name for the uneasiness which upsets the physical state associated with self-possession, with the possession of a recognised and stable individuality. Through the activity of organs in a flow of coalescence and renewal, like the ebb and flow of waves surging into one another, the self is dispossessed, and so completely that most creatures in a state of nakedness, for nakedness is symbolic of this dispossession and heralds it, will hide; particularly if the erotic act follows, consummating it.
Stripping naked is seen in civilizations where the act has full significance if not as a simulacrum of the act of killing, at least as an equivalent shorn of gravity. In antiquity the destitution (or destruction) fundamental to eroticism was felt strongly and justified linking the act of love with sacrifice. When I come to religious eroticism which is concerned with the fusion of beings with a world beyond everyday reality I shall return to the significance of sacrifice. Here and now, however, I must emphasise that the female partner in eroticism was seen as the victim, the male as the sacrificer, both during the consummation losing themselves in the continuity established by the first destructive act.
If the union of two lovers comes about through love, it involves the idea of death, murder or suicide. This aura of death is what denotes passion… Through the beloved appears something I shall refer to in a moment in speaking of religious or sacred eroticism, to wit, full and limitless being unconfined within the trammels of separate personalities, continuity of being, glimpsed as a deliverance through the person of the beloved.
…Erotic activity, by dissolving the separate beings that participate in it, reveals their fundamental continuity, like the waves of a stormy sea. In sacrifice, the victim is divested not only of clothes but of life (or is destroyed in some way if it is an inanimate object). The victim dies and the spectators share in what his death reveals. This is what religious historians call the element of sacredness. This sacredness is the revelation of continuity through the death of a discontinuous being to those who watch it as a solemn rite. A violent death disrupts the creature’s discontinuity; what remains, what the tense onlookers experience in the succeeding silence, is the continuity of all existence with which the victim is now one. Only a spectacular killing, carried out as the solemn and collective nature of religion dictates, has the power to reveal what normally escapes notice…
“There is no better way to know death than to link it with some licentious image”
…I think I can make my ideas on continuity more readily felt, ideas not to be fully identified with the theologians’ concept of God, by reminding you of these lines by one of the most violent of poets, Rimbaud.
Elle est retrouvée.
C’est la mer allée
Avec le soliel.
[It is now refound!
It is the sea commingled
With the sun.] (from A Season in Hell)
Poetry leads to the same place as all forms of eroticism — to the blending and fusion of separate objects. It leads us to eternity, it leads us to death, and through death to continuity. Poetry is eternity; the sun matched with the sea.
1. A female is responsible for her desire, pleasure, eroticism, and orgasm. Developing a unique sexual voice is a woman’s challenge. It is not the man’s responsibility to “give her an orgasm”.
2. Together you develop an intimate, interactive couple sexual style which facilitates desire, pleasure, eroticism, orgasm, and satisfaction.
3. Receptivity and responsivity to pleasurable and erotic touch facilitates arousal and orgasm.
4. Arousal involves both subjective components (feeling sexy and turned-on) and objective components (vaginal lubrication and being physically receptive to intercourse).
5. “Foreplay”-where the man stimulates the woman to get her ready for intercourse-increases self-consciousness and performance anxiety. The experience of “pleasuring”- which emphasizes mutuality and sharing-facilitates desire and orgasm.
6. Pleasuring and eroticism often lead to intercourse, but intercourse is not the test of sexuality nor is intercourse necessary for a satisfying sexual experience. A key concept is to transition to intercourse at high levels of erotic flow.
7. You can develop your unique “sexual voice”-being aware of what facilitates and what subverts healthy sexuality. Take an active role in verbally and non-verbally making requests and guiding your partner.
8. The prescription for satisfying sexuality is intimacy, pleasuring, and eroticism. Traditionally, female sexual socialization has underplayed eroticism. Eroticism is integral to orgasm and satisfaction.
9. Be aware of your preferences-pleasure-recipient vs. mutual stimulation; focused vs. multiple stimulation; when and how to transition from sensual to erotic stimulation; emotional and physical conditions for a vital and satisfying couple sexuality.
10. You cannot say “yes” to healthy sexuality unless you have the right to say “no” to sex. You are free to initiate the transition from pleasuring to intercourse and to guide intromission.
11. Women who prefer multiple stimulation during pleasuring/eroticism usually prefer multiple stimulation during intercourse. You can utilize clitoral stimulation with his or your fingers, request breast or buttock stimulation, enjoy erotic fantasies, and/or switch intercourse positions.
12. Many women hope to use pro-sexual medications when they become available to enhance sexual desire and orgasm. Medication can be a valuable resource, but it is not a stand-alone “magic pill”. The pro-sex medication needs to be integrated into your couple sexual style of intimacy, pleasure, and eroticism.
13. Many women, especially after 40, use some form of additional lubrication (usually estrogen or water-based). This facilitates intercourse, but is not a substitute for subjective arousal.
14. Only 1 in 4 women experience the male pattern of one orgasm during intercourse without using additional stimulation. Female sexual response and orgasm is more flexible, variable, and individualistic than male sexual response. You may be non-orgasmic, singly orgasmic, or multi-orgasmic which might occur during pleasuring, intercourse, or afterplay, depending on your unique pattern and preferences. Female sexual response is more variable and flexible-different, not better or worse-than male sexual response.
15. Develop comfort with your desire, pleasure, eroticism, orgasm pattern. Sexuality is about experiencing and sharing pleasure, it is not a performance to have a “G” spot orgasm, multiple orgasms, a “vaginal” orgasm, extended orgasm, or whatever is the new performance fad.
16. Orgasm is a three to ten second experience. Orgasm is a natural result of subjective arousal, erotic flow, and giving yourself permission to enjoy the orgasmic experience.
17. The distinction between “clitoral” and “vaginal” orgasm is not scientifically valid. Whether orgasm occurs with manual, oral, rubbing, intercourse, self, or vibrator stimulation, the physiological response is very similar although the subjective experience of satisfaction varies depending on expectations and preferences.
18. It is unrealistic to expect orgasm during each sexual experience; you are not a sexual machine. Female sexuality is more variable and flexible than male sexuality. On average, women are orgasmic during 70 per cent of sexual encounters. Satisfaction involves orgasm, but is much more than orgasm.
19. Orgasm is integral to female sexuality. Desire and satisfaction are more important than orgasm. You are free to make requests of your partner (prolonged pleasuring, your pace of arousal, multiple stimulation, preferred erotic scenarios, vibrator stimulation, cunnilingus to orgasm, clitoral stimulation during intercourse) to enhance pleasure, eroticism, and orgasm.
20. Remember, sexuality is not about proving anything to yourself, your partner, or anyone else. Sexuality is about sharing desire, pleasure, eroticism, orgasm, and satisfaction.
I don’t have many art works from other people in my house. I have three works in total, all from old friends.
A lazy day today.
I did make pancakes this morning. Pannenkoeken. With this recipe: Pannenkoeken zoals het hoort (Dutch only).
- 2 cups flour / 220 gram – i used spelt flour
- 2 cups / 500 ml buttermilk
- 2 -3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons molted butter
I did put the flour and the milk together yesterday and let is soak for more than twelve hours. This morning i added the eggs, salt and butter. I baked the pancakes next. Not as thick as American pancakes, but with the buttermilk a bit thicker than usual for Dutch pancakes. And this evening i baked some more! With apple and bacon and maple syrup. Great!
I also went into town this afternoon. I was a bit dreamy. I did go to Lush to get a soap. I checked at home and saw that that was the next thing i would need. First i did go through the shop and looked at all these things. It was busy. The smell was a bit overwhelming. Finally i did ask someone to help me with picking a soap. Lots of oil, not too heavy a smell. She suggested two soaps, one from the Christmas collection and one called Sultana of Soap. I bought 98 grams of this soap. It does feel very fatty. Good.
I do feel tired. Gonna lie on my couch, watch the Great British Menu and the Great British Bake Off, one after the other. Yay 🙂
Two years ago i went to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to see the Marlene Dumas Exhibition. I have known her work since the late 80s. It is wonderful.
It was the first time i visited the museum itself since it was opened again after a couple of years of rebuilding. It was good to see it again.
I made photos. I never showed these, apart from a Facebook entry with one photo. So here there is a larger selection.
Wednesday 21 September i went to the newly opened private Museum Voorlinden. It is situated in Wassenaar, near the dunes. Beforehand i thought of making a walk through the dunes, but the museum itself and the gardens surrounding it took up most of my time. So i’ll go back another day and do a bit more walking then.
I loved the Ellsworth Kelly exhibit. It was good walking through the rooms with the natural daylight and seeing his works. There was also a short video and two separate room with drawings. I spend most of my time being in these rooms. I went to the permanent works after this. Open Ended by Richard Serra, Skyspace from James Turrell, Couple under an Umbrella by Ron Mueck, Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool and Roni Horn huge rounded glass cilinders. I should really go back and look deeper at these works. Some of them were especially made for this museum.
I went outside and walked around the garden for a bit, before i sat down on a low man made height and ate my homemade peanutbutter and sambal sandwiches. I lied down for a while, enjoying the sunshine, the tweeting of all sorts of birds and the soft talking of people walking by.
I walked all around the museum after this, with my bare feet in the grass and my slippers in my hand.
Inside once more and i went to the other exhibition Full Moon. A more diverse exhibit with artists from various periods. I went through this a bit faster. I did enjoy some works. And i was surprised to see a Morandi hanging there, and old favourite artist.
I was full of the works i had seen, the lovely garden with all the flowers and the freshly mowed grass. I’ll be going back for sure.