Transformative Commentary with Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man”
Deep down, way down low, in the dark days of cuts and attacks upon the public sphere, vilification of teachers and public servants, and threats of even a thousand more cuts, I found some solace in Leonard Cohen’s 1988 album, “I’m Your Man.” The songs fuse together Cohen’s cutting words with synth-pop beats and lilting melodies that still speak to me on that level of stunning disappointment over institutional failures, of systemic corruption, and of human apathy enshrined by the paralysis of cynicism. The album opens with his lyrics, “They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom, for trying to change the system from within,” and though the album is decades old now, those musical choices that Cohen made still resonate as contemporary, futuristic, and forward facing. However, his vision is bracing, pitted from the abrasive blasts of transactional grit, but with perseverance, in spite of debacles and loathsome obstacles, with radical calls for action and strange optimism. In the tradition of Kafka’s aphorism, “There is hope, but not for us,” Cohen’s work describes for me a new practice and ideology for survival which I call “post-cynical.” That is to say, of course, things are terrible, but there is wisdom in accepting that, even embracing it, in order to protect a sense of possibility, for moving forward, so that we may again reach new heights.
Epilogue: The drawings in the series TransformativeCommentary are a mashup of Leonard Cohen’s lyrics from each of the eight songs from his 1988 Album, “I’m Your Man,” paired with portraits of politicians and activists that figured prominently in 2016. All of the drawings in the TransformativeCommentary series were planned earlier in 2016 but the last three (Barack Obama, Diamond Reynolds, James Comey) in the series exhibited in the RedLine Timeline exhibition were completed after Leonard Cohen’s death and the U.S. Presidential Election on November 7th and 8th, 2016, subsequently.
Marc Tasman and Luke Farley’s Sporting Goods express a kind of truth‐in‐advertising with respect to gun violence in America. These are fine art pieces made from appropriating images of automatic weaponry from retail sporting goods ads, maniacally scrawled with the rhetoric of traditional sports campaign slogans, “just do it,” and “impossible is nothing.”
They don’t present the viewer with empirical data—the abhorrent statistics of a 365‐day calendar index of mass shootings. But they do connect the dots between the pumped‐up catchphrases from workout and self‐help lifestyle marketing, interleaved in the weekly ad circular with military grade weapons, and criminology factors to be found in the course of investigating the logic of perpetrators of mass‐shootings: rationalization, motivation, and opportunity.
If one needs evidence, the non‐profit organizations, Gun Violence Archive and Mass Shootings provides the “unbiased, raw statistics, all with verified sourcing to inform society of the number of Mass Shootings that occur in the United States each year,” at www.shootingtracker.com.
For a more gut‐based assessment by artists, Farley and Tasman recommend their Sporting Goods pieces.
It is an attempt to become intimate with the variety of ways that the water reflects the sky, and vice versa. Foregrounding the quality of light and hues where the sky meets the water at a seemingly infinite horizon, is the passage of time, signified by a tree on the bluff above the water.
For me, the space is both deeply spiritual and alienating—a space that I yearn to join with but cannot because I am a mortal, material creature in a car and on the move.
At times, my mouth waters—my consciousness on a visceral level, suggesting that I might become one with the scene by ingesting it somehow.
But alas, the scene exists for me for just for an instant, as I must draw my attention back to operating the vehicle as I drive by. It is a transitory image for me to hold only while in transit.
See more Tree At Water images:
For the 2014 Jewish Artists’ Lab Exhibition, I’ll be showing two archival prints made using several digital tools including mobile phone photography, graphic art software, and AndreaMosiac. The larger image is made up from 5000 smaller images taken on different days from the preceding and subsequent years. The show opens Thursday May 29, 2014 and runs through August 18.
The opening reception on May 29 is from 7-9 pm with an introduction to the exhibition by Professor Joel Berkowitz, Director of the Helen and Sam Stahl Center for Jewish Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, at 7:30pm. The theme of this year’s exhibition is Light.
Inspired by love and loss of families in my communities, these portraits are a rich exposition of families that I am connected to through my own children and family.
In my invitation letter to this first group of families, I offered that I be allowed to come into their homes, make a photograph, and exhibit it publicly in exchange for an exhibition quality print, the digital file, and permission for the families to share it on social media.
I’d like to make a portrait of your family, in your home.
I’d like for you to think about and discuss where your family’s favorite place in your home is, and I’ll come and photograph you there. I’ll be thinking about light and stuff, so that doesn’t have to be your primary concern, but perhaps there is also a certain time of day that the place becomes your favorite place. I’ll do my best to make everyone as photogenic as possible with my simple picture taking and lighting apparatus, but dress your family however you’d like to see them.
Why am I doing this?
I feel that our families have a connection through our children’s school, through dinners or parties, but most essentially through our homes and the rooms we inhabit when we get together, socialize and play. I’m a collector, too, so I want to keep you in my menagerie as a way of keeping you in my heart.
About an hour’s drive north of the vibrant city of Montréal, Québec, in the Laurentian Mountains, is an idyllic enclave, cherished by five generations of a family.
Established in the early 20th century by Canadian communists, their descendants maintain this land community that swells in the summertime with friends and extended families cottaging and visiting permanent residents.
The community strives to protect the beauty and the natural resources of the area by limiting development and preserving common areas for varied activities.
However, the precious resources of pristine water and private, secluded woods are increasingly coming under threat from development projects on multiple fronts.
Living Waters: 4th Annual Exhibit of the Milwaukee Jewish Artists’ Lab Group Exhibition at Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, Marcus Pavilion Gallery.
6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd.
Whitefish Bay, WI, USA
June 3- July 31, 2015
Opening Reception, June 4.
Natural Legacy: Selections from Laurentian Internationale Solo Exhibition at 10th Street Gallery, curated by Luke Farley.
628 N. 10th Street
Milwaukee, WI, USA
April 30- May 24, 2015
Reception, May 17.
10th Street Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs by Marc Tasman on view at 628 North 10th Street from April 30 to May 24, 2015. A reception for the artist will be held on Sunday, May 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. The show, “Natural Legacy,” which is Tasman’s largest exhibition in Wisconsin in 5 years (since he exhibited nearly 5,000 Polaroid self portraits in the 2010 Wisconsin Triennial) contains selections from the photo series “Laurentian Internationale,” and is curated by Luke Farley. The twenty one archival color photographs on display offer a glimpse into a curious community and their utopian vision in the mountains of Quebec, and more broadly evokes particular experiences of childhood and friendships, and legacies passed between generations.
FORWARD 2014: A Survey of Wisconsin Art Now Charles Allis Museum, biennial juried group exhibition
1801 N Prospect Ave
Milwaukee, WI, USA
March 7-June 29, 2014.
“Laurie Winters, Executive Director and CEO of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, was the juror for more than 250 entries and the final selections represent a range of current artistic production from around the state.” http://www.charlesallis.org/exhibitions.html
Be Mine: A Conceptual Exhibition group show Greenleaf Art Center.
1806 W. Greenleaf Ave
Chicago, IL, USA
Opening reception, February 14, 2014.
Solo Exhibition at Galerie Remise Un Terrain Communautaire
Photographies de Marc Tasman
14 Rue de la Santé
Saint-Hippolyte, Quebec, Canada
Vernissage dans la Galerie Remise
Sunday 2013-08-04 from 16:00 to 18:00
“Galerie Remise presents a series of 14 color photographs by
Marc Tasman that illuminate unique situations of culture in a
natural landscape fashioned over generations.”
Solo Exhibition at the Baron Museum Congregation Emanu-el B’ne Jeshurun
2020 West Brown Deer Rd.
River Hills, Wisconsin 53217
on view from June-September, 2013
Solo Exhibition at the Urban Ecology Center
1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211
on view from October-December, 2012
Sunday, October 7th
2:00pm until 4:00pm
Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park
“Take a journey through [Laurentian International] viewing Marc Tasman’s brilliant photos. Enjoy Kathleen Walter’s unique mixed media compositions and be amazed by Tom Petri’s lifelike bird carvings. A show not to be missed! Artists will speak at 3pm. Show will be up through December 15, 2012.”
Visiting Poland as an adult grandchild of Jewish Holocaust survivors was a vivid experience.
The beauty of the place, Galizia, the southern part of Poland, Lesser or Little Poland, Małopolska, the cities, the Vistula River, the countryside, the Carpathian Mountains, the generosity of the people, was stunning.
This is a surreal contradiction to the deep shock of learning the intricacies of genocide.
Tour van outside the Great Market Square in Zamość. (2007). 14 x 9” giclée print (2011).
Indeed, a great deal of thinking and planning has gone into the development of post-communist Poland, to be both aesthetically astute and commercially successful, to a niche market for dark tourism, (the visiting of sites of tragedy, such as mass murder camps, New York’s Ground Zero, etc…).
Crossing down by the Vistula River, Krakow. (2007). 14 x 9” giclée print (2011).
Usually tastefully apart from the reflective and meditative spaces of the deeply disturbing sites of monstrous, systematic murders, are places where you can return from your journey with souvenirs of a lost culture.
In the cities, near the historical Jewish districts, it’s easy to find a recognizable pieces of once Jewish property such as brass candle holders (in varying states of polished shine or grime) that imply that “I’m looking at material objects that were once held by my kinfolk and their community.”
Antique store window, Krakow. (2007). 14 x 9” giclée print (2011).
The death camp in Bełżec was the first place where stationary gas chambers were used to kill Jewish people.
From March to December 1942 about 500 thousand people were murdered here, most of whom were Jews from Galizia (the former Austrian crown land that belonged to Poland between the two world wars and now stretches across Southern Poland and Western Ukraine).
The great treasure of a dark tourist is not to recover a lost work of art or even a souvenir from a destroyed relative’s household but to discover as I did, that the place where I was standing was the site of my great-grandmother’s murder. Dark treasure, indeed.
Mina, my great-grandmother, Bełżec. (2007). 14 x 9” giclée print (2011).