Saturday, July 22, 2017

Exhibitions | A Torrid Summer Night at the Whitney Museum

It is another hot and humid evening in NYC with heat advisory warning and I have just received a cutthroat settlement proposal in my traumatic divorce. The Whitney Museum pay-what-you-wish evening hours are a literally refreshing alternative to my hot and sweaty day—literally and metaphorically. After all, art has always offered solace during troubled times.

Two different seemingly different exhibitions are on view at the Whitney Museum. The sixth floor is filled with "Calder: Hypermobility" a display of mobile sculptures by Alexander Calder (1896-1976). The American sculptor developed in the early 1930s a new kinetic art form, the mobile—a sculptural composition of suspended elements, often made of metal, finding balance in their own relational movements.  

Calder's mobile continued on the 3rd floor with the mobiles "performative" actions activated by Whitney's staff in "Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere" a recreation of the 1932-33 installation. The hypnotic movement of the found objects composition capture the audience for over twenty, eliciting, what I experienced as meditative state, which I greatly welcomed considering the stress of my day cursed by divorce matters. 

The fifth floor instead presents "Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium" a retrospective of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937—1980). The exhibition spans from the early geometry based drawings and three-dimensional works to film and installation and participatory art, including Parangolés (wearable layers of fabric) and Penetrables (environments). The recreation of the large-scale environments "Tropicalia" and "Eden" are opened to the museum public as walkthroughs. Oiticica’s oeuvre, much involved in a political discourse, encompassed visual art, architecture, music, poetry, theater and film and was greatly influenced by the counter-culture scene of New York in the 1970s reflecting the several years spent by the artist in the city.

Finally the urban views from the museum terrace!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Toward Healing | The Sum of Parts Is Smaller Than The Whole

Aristotle stated over 2300 years ago that "the whole is something over and above its parts, and not just the sum of them all" (Metaphysics, 1045a). Aristotle's statement is one of the most basic observations on both the natural and man-made world and has become the foundation for a multitude of theories and practices based on synergy. As a design theoretician and practitioner I have been constantly experiencing the value of this fundamental observation.
A Menger sponge as visual example of whole and parts. Image from spacetecture © daniela bertol

Unfortunately "the whole being greater than the sum of its parts" is true also in negative destructive actions in personal life. I can be a perfect case study as in the past four years I have been experiencing how seemingly separated events and people have merged together to produce severe damage to my wellbeing. Some of these events are considered major life stress, each on its own: brutal divorce proceedings, betrayal from friends, lack of support from immediate family, the challenging pursue of a doctoral degree caught in the crossfire of academic politics.  Other events are something which anybody can face on a daily basis: e.g. dealing with dysfunctional public and private services, bureaucracy, delayed deliveries, rude strangers, greedy neighbors. Facing all or several of these adversities several at once can become an explosive cocktail for emotional and physical health bringing stress to dangerous levels.

A week ago I had this insight which has become a major life changer in dealing with adversities. If I am overcome the whole of negative people and events encountered in my daily life, why not dealing with each negativeness separately, deconstructing the whole into its parts.  Dealing with each negativity at the time can be accomplished especially when starting with smaller tasks. It is important to start with something we can successfully accomplish without other people—especially when the others are  narcissistic obstructionist spouses and family members. 

Logic is an important component of Greek, and overall, philosophy. Therefore, whenever the whole points to negative actions and effects, why not changing "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" into "the sum of parts is smaller than the whole"?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Toward Healing | Powerful Quotes to Find Our Voice

The isolation of victims of bullying is one of the main factors contributing to the reinforcing loop escalating episodes of bullying. Meaningful quotes can make us feel less alone and also motivate to speak up and find our voice again.

The 1986 Nobel Laureate Elie Weisel stated:

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. "

I found the quotes below in the blog Bullying of Academics in Higher Education

"Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence." 
Leonardo da Vinci - 

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men [or good women] do nothing." 
Edmund Burke -

In Finding the Axis Mundi I find my voice by moving my body. In an upside-down world perhaps standing on my head will correct the view? I love metaphors!
Finding my Axis Mundi in a tunnel under the dunes, at Fort Tilden