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The train is expensive and the night is scary.

from Thursday, January3rd of the year2008.

It’s nice to know that taking the train is the same price as “nice” coffee no matter where you go; I had a coffee for £2.20 and a train trip for the same this morning and was…horrified but somehow reassured. I vowed that I would wildly underschedule this trip, and have been successful. Today, after a lunch in Kentish Town, I took the train to the Tate Modern and saw the Louise Bourgeois retrospective which was so great. I love her. I think her vocabulary has, in a lot of ways, heavily influenced my own in its insistence in using the same “ambiguous shapes” (in my case, harmonies) to create a sense of anxiety. Here is one of my favorite works of hers, a bronze called Give or Take (or How do you feel this morning?):


When I was in high school, I took a million photographs of people’s arms with their veins exposed and taped them together in these long, perverted strands, and was really thinking of these Bourgeois pieces. The most outrageous thing, though, is look at this drawing of hers (Untitled, 1986):


and now look at this thing that my friends Urs and Pasquale just sent me, also dating from the late 80’s, drawn by me (I would have been about six years old):

(It’s really important to click to enlarge so you can see the spelling.)

spider.jpgThe conclusion is obvious: she totally ripped me off. It’s okay, though. She’s allowed. I am so in love with her Giant Spider (also in her mythology called “Mother”). If you have any opportunity to see anything of hers, run, don’t walk!

Oh, also on display at the Tate is Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth which people have gotten really worked up about for no good reason. The accompanying notes for it, I will say, are really heavy handed: “Salcedo is addressing a long legacy of racism and colonialism that underlies the modern world.” idiotpose.pngEh, I thought. But then actually I heard a bunch of people explaining to their children that artists get paid a lot of money to do foolish things (okay, true enough…? but as a thing to tell your kids?) idiot.JPGand then I saw, like, nine thousand people doing straddling the crack and having their friends take pictures and then I saw this one Londonish girl doing an erotic photo shoot (at left) and then I thought, you know what? Maybe you do deserve these heavy handed notes, dear Museumgoers.

n addition to reading Carolyn Jessop‘s memoir about her escape from her polygamist family, I have been reading a book about the history of nighttime called At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past which is sort of as fascinating and as boring as it sounds. One of the things I keep on searching for in the book (which perhaps I will encounter later as I’m only halfway through) is the lovely turn of phrase at the end of the Evensong service:

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I always liked the “perils and dangers of this night;” there is something nice about the image of people rushing home from church and the implied coziness of the home after having braved such perils. As it turns out (or as might well have been imagined), people in the 16th and 17th centuries were really freaked out by Devils and Hobgoblins and Dank Odours (personal favorite).


  • RE: That drawing. If this whole composition thing doesn’t pan out maybe you could find a job with homeland security?

  • i hate you for having all the fun that i want to be having. i HEART the tate modern.

  • Re: Dank Odours–perhaps if people in the 16th and 17th century had washed more than once or twice a year, extreme stench wouldn’t have been an issue. I know hindsight is 20/20 and everything, but come on now.

  • ‘Heavy-handed notes’ : now why does that remind me of the Speaks Volumes copy?

  • Lee, [sigh], mea culpa.

    Nico!, on my and JoJo’s awkward first date, we went to MoMA and saw an exhibit on, um, “mutilated bodies” or something? So you have to imagine the two of us, near-total strangers, trying to think of what to say next while staring at Louise Bourgeois’s Filette… I think it was a good omen.

  • James Alejandro Escobar
    January 6th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    hahaha….i love the girl that was doing the erotic photo shoot! too funny!

    happy new year nico!


  • the little o'donnell
    January 12th, 2008 at 6:13 am

    those were my arms you took pictures of in high school! if you’re still in London drop me a note . . . I’m living in Shoreditch. Nice to hear you’re doing well.

  • Funny/interesting how similar the gun and lipstick look

  • Love you Nico!

    Kevin Clamato