The Artist Is Present : How Is This Art?

Marina Abramovic. I guess this name is probably not familiar to your ears. I also hadn’t known anything about her nor her works until I stumbled upon her documentary film that traces her prolific career during the preparation of her exhibition in Moma in 2010. The exhibition itself is titled “The Artist Is Present” which is also the title of the doco. In the exhibition, the Yugoslavian-born performance artist sat for 750 hours (nearly 3 months), no talking and just staring to each visitor that kept coming and lining to be given attention, the artist’s and audience’s communication is performed without speech nor body contact, just by looking at each other’s eyes, as it’s true, eyes are the windows of the heart.

But why??? Why did she do that? I can’t even sit in the same position for 2 hours (that’s why I quit my job), and she nailed 750? And the question is, how is this art??

My question is also mentioned in the beginning of the doco, I guess that’s what most people think of in the first place, especially if we never thought deeply about art and which can be called as art. The doco doesn’t state the answers explicitly, because art is the interpretation towards it. Art explains in the way that makes people think and feel and done using techniques that can be learned.

After reading some definitions about art by respected artists and authors, I conclude (for myself) that if something can only touch the brain, but not feelings, it’s not art. If it only moves feelings but doesn’t make people think, it’s not art. And if it’s done coincidentally, no techniques, it’s not art. That’s why, being an artist is not easy. Hence, sitting and giving attention to strangers with no talking may sound easy peasy, but look deeper before you judge, it’s not easy to be done, the performer has to make preparation to train herself to be able to not only physically do it, but also to be mentally ready to focus and clear her state of mind to every new stranger, giving everyone the same clear start and be present.

Well, ask yourself, how much are you really being in the moment with the people you’re with without thinking of other things. Sometimes we forget to really enjoy the moment because our head is somewhere else, whether it’s on the laundry, Instagram feeds, the country’s economy, or the Game of Thrones’ episodes.  That’s why I like yoga because it unites the mind, body and soul, to really be present and clear the noise in my restless mind. Savasana, the sleeping position in the end of a sequence is truly the hardest asana if we really understand what it is about. As Marina herself stated, “We always project into the future or reflect in the past, but we are so little in the moment.”

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For me, some of her other works are also amazing even though it put herself in potential serious dangers. Like in Rhythm 0 (1974) she invited audience to use any of 72 objects on her body in any way they desired, completely giving up control. People hate her and call her satan worshipper, whether it’s true or not it doesn’t matter for me. I always find artists make their selves ambiguous. Anyway, the artist’s beliefs and other personal stuffs should not be an issue to appreciate art. I idolise the works, not the artists, because the works remains the same while the artists may change.

I also dig in about her works with Ulay–her true love who then cheated on her **Oh man, that’s the most blunder thing in your life! One blog post cant be enough for me to talk about her works, they really make me think of deeper questions in life and about society we live in. I really hope to meet someone whether in person or online to discuss about it. Please let me know if you think there are other artist names that I should learn about, I will be happy 😀

Modern Romance: The Perks and Perils of Soulmate Searching in the Digital Age

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The 21st century has brought two new categories of people:

  1. People who use Tinder and are willing to admit it,
  2. People who use Tinder and pretend that it’s only for pathetic people.

Whether you’re in category 1 or 2, this book is for you. We’re all trapped in modern dating scene. The only chance a single person hasn’t tried online dating is because his/her dog ate his/her phone.

Only Aziz Ansari, one of my favorite comics, who can go for an in-depth exploration on love in this digital age with hilarious, witty, yet thoughtful delivery. Again and again, this 31 y.o comedian sets himself the not-just-ordinary comedian by writing this Modern Romance in which he teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and undertook what he calls a “massive research project”, scraping data from top online dating sites such as OkCupid and Match.com and conducting interviews and focused group discussions with hundreds of online daters not only in America, but also Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Paris. They also input data from the past history of dating and marriage arrangement as comparison to today’s setting. He proves that he’s not only funny, but also smart.

Ansari writes: “A century ago people would find a decent person who lived in their neighbourhood. Their families would meet and, after they decided neither party was a murderer, the couple would get married and have a kid, all by the time they were 22. Today, people spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.”

I like Aziz because he often talks about problems young adults like me deal in life, however his jokes are not as cheesy nor lame as the dry ‘difference between single and in relationship’ jokes, his jokes are actually more serious things like whether one is ready to give up single life or not but at the same time wants a company of a lover. So, when he writes books, no surprise I will love them. Anyway, if you expect this book to be a totally funny book, it’s not. It’s not a humor book about Aziz’ dating experience, it’s a humorous social study driven by Aziz’ personal experiences and struggles in finding soulmates in the 21st century in which technology that’s supposed to ease our life often creates more problems. So, most of the content is explanation and data of analysis, told in a humorous way. You won’t really enjoy it if you only seek for author’s funny biographical stories.

Modern Romance focused only on heterosexual relationships, specifically those of middle-class, university-educated people who delay getting married or having children until their late 20s or 30s. That sounds like me and Aziz himself. That’s why he feels my pain. Lol.

Aziz doesn’t just directly jump to the perils of online dating. He elaborates how the viewpoints of young adults changed towards marriage that later impact on the longer period of time spent to find the perfect soulmate. People today seek for more deeper meaning of marriage than just a ‘What’s Next’ thing to do as compared to that of 30 years ago. But at the same time, we are drowning in the paradox of choices where too many choices makes us left with nothing because we spend too much time on discovering new things and people instead of settling down.

Modern Romance is only an in-depth elaboration and exploration of problems, in the end, Aziz confirms no advice to do as it is not a self-help book. He gives the freedom to the readers to decide what they think is best to do for their own problems.

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Petroleum Jelly vs. Ointment vs. Whatever-You-Call-It

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I’m not really into makeup, but I’m addicted to skincare and body treatment. Karena menurut gw personally, yang akan ngejaga kulit kita pas tua nanti adalah perawatan kulit kita di masa muda. Kalo sekarang, pas kita masih muda ini, efek dari gaya hidup ke kulit dan tubuh emang belom keliatan, semua masih keliatan cantik-cantik aja walopun lo ratu begadang, ngerokok aktif dan full make-up 24 jam. Tapi lihat nanti 10-15 tahun ke depan, when you run into your college friends, you’ll see that pola dan gaya hidup gak akan membohongi fisik.

Jadi, gw koleksi lulur, lotion, etc. Salah satu yang paling gw buru adalah wax multifungsi yang mana beda merk, beda sebutannya, padahal fungsinya hampir sama; sama-sama mengklaim bisa menghilangkan bekas luka, kulit kering, bibir dan kaki pecah-pecah, luka bakar ringan, gigitan serangga, alergi kulit, dan lain-lainnya yang serba wow.

Walopun sebutannya berbeda-beda–Petroleum Jelly lah, Ointment, Solid Oil–kebanyakan sih teksturnya hampir sama, menyerupai wax. Gw udah coba merk Vaseline, Lucas Papaw, The Body Shop, dan Orieflame. Walopun fungsinya relatively sama, tapi gw memilih tiap produk untuk dipake dibagian mana, karena faktor kenyamanan oily atau gaknya dan juga bau. So here’s my review of each product.

  1. Orieflame – Tender Care Balm

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Ini wax multifungsi pertama yang gw coba sedari kuliah. Teksurnya seperti wax gitu karena emang salah satu ingredientsnya adalah beeswax. Bentuknya yang kecil jadi gampang dibawa-bawa, tapi karena kecil (15 ml), jadi cepet abis. Harganya juga agak mahal kalo untuk ukuran ini (karena yang lain ada yang lebih murah dan fungsinya sama, hehe). Banyak yang mengeluh karena ternyata masih menggunakan paraben, tapi kalo menurut gw sih paraben kalo dalam jumlah yang dibatasi ya gapapa. Produknya ampuh untuk mengurangi kulit kering, kayak siku, lutut, ato mata kaki. Tapi gw gak pernah coba make di muka ato pun jerawat, karena sayang bowh kalo dipake semuka, dan gak nyaman juga sama baunya. Skornya dari gw adalah 3 out of 5. Repurchase? Hanya kalo ada diskon 50% deh…

2. Vaseline – Petroleum Jelly

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Dari semua produk, ini yang paling sering gw gunakan. Karena emang yahud dan mujarab, barang wajib semua cewek deh! Harganya juga murah dan gampang ditemukan. Bisa dikombinasikan dengan bahan lain untuk membuat lip scrub, lip balm, dll. Pernah alis gw yang dari sononya udah tebal dicukur sama seorang makeup artist, padahal gw adalah satu2nya fans berat alis gw sendiri yang tebal dan berantakan, karena membuat gw mengandai2 ada bakat Frida Kahlo di dalam diri gw (jreeeng banget dah!). Jadi tiap malem gw olesin sama petroleum jelly yang disisir pake brush bekas maskara yang udah dibersihkan. Alhasil alis lebat berantakan gw kembali lagi dengan  cepat. Sampe sekarang gw pake ini tiap malam sebelum tidur di daerah yang rawan kering juga di kelopak mata, alis dan bulu mata. Tapi, karena penempatannya yang beda-beda, jadi gw selalu punya 2 buah untuk pemakaian yang terpisah, tubuh dan muka. Ya gak enak aja gitu kalo abis diolesin ke kaki, masa mau ditaro dibibir. Karena gak berbau, jadi nyaman dipake di bagian wajah. Gw pernah coba gunain sebagai pengganti night cream, ya jerawatnya emang kempes sih, tapi minyaknya yang gak nahan. Karena kulit muka gw berminyak, jadi kalo pake ini jadi terlalu lembab, walopun siangnya gak dipake, tapi produksi minyak hasil semalam jadi berkelebihan. Overall, I will be its royal customer, but I give it 4.5 karena gak bisa dipake di muka.

3. Lucas Papaw – Ointment

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Ini yang paling baru gw coba karena rayuan teman dan lihat-lihat reviewnya sih bagus. Lucas Papaw ini produk dari Australia, dulu konon katanya susah banget nyarinya, tapi dengan semerbaknya Lazada dan OL shop instagram yang open PO, jarak gak begitu jadi masalah untuk ngedapetin ini. Harganya emang lebih mahal dari Vaseline, tapi kualitasnya mujarab. Malah, kalo untuk lip balm, lebih tahan lama. Kalo pake vaseline, bangun tidur juga udah gak kerasa, tapi pake ini, mau diembat makan bakso juga tetep stay di bibir. Kadang-kadang juga gw pake ini buat overnight face mask, tapi resikonya ke gw sama kayak Vaseline. Jadi kalo malamnya pake ini, paginya dihajar pake masker tea tree dulu. Buat yang punya bayi, direkomendasiin pake ini buat alergi kulit bayi yang biasanya disebabkan karena udara, makanan, dan bahkan diaper. Sulit memilih di antara Lucas Papaw dan petroleum jelly Vaseline, jadi gw pakenya digilir deh kayak poligami. Bedanya gw gak pernah gunain ini ke alis dan bulu mata. Repurchase? Hell yeah!

4. The Body Shop – Wild Argan Solid Oil

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Ini yang paling juara dalam soal harga yang artinya paling mehong untuk sebuah 50 gr solid oil. Ini adalah salah satu produk dari varian wild argan oil yang gw udah pernah coba beautifying oilnya dan membuat gw klepek-klepek. Sayangnya, solid oilnya gak sekeren yang gw ekspektasikan. Pengaplikasiannya susah, berpotensi mengikis terlalu banyak pas ngambil, kan sayang kalo mahal cepet habisnya. Hasilnya ke kulit juga gak kayak Lucas Papaw dan Vaseline. Tapi gw cocok menggunakan solid oil ini untuk rambut, sama seperti beautifying oilnya. Bedanya adalah yang ini gw pakai sebagai pre-wash treatment dipake malam sebelum cuci rambut, dibiarin aja semaleman. Ampuh membuat rambut jadi tambah hitam dan memperbaiki ujung rambut yang kering karena pemakaian hair dryer. Repurchase? Hhhmm… tergantung khilaf.

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Masih ada beberapa produk yang pingin gw coba seperti Nivea Tin Cream made in Germany dan produk merk Lush yang sampe sekarang belum terealisasikan. Kalo ada yang udah pernah coba, bisa kasih info dan testi disini yah 😀

Austen Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist

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This is my love-hate reading of all time.

As a person who tries to pursue her dreams in creative field, this book speaks what I need to hear when I’m having a writer’s block (even though I’m not a writer) and hesitation to start something. That’s why I love it. Why I hate it? Because it’s a self-help book. I hate the fact the I am enjoying a self-help book.

I don’t read self-help books and usually I give a patronizing smile to people who read self-help books, much less if they post the photo of it on soc-meds with captions that’s trying so hard to sound thoughtful.

I came across someone’s blog and she reviewed the book, I skimmed the review but zoomed the photos of quotes in the book. The quotes punched me on the face, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”. That was my dilemma at that time. For a long time, I was in the state  when I always delayed to start something just because I was either procrastinating or thinking too much, waiting for the perfect moment to start, which never comes unless I start.

First, I laughed at the book title, clearly it’s a self-help book for creative people. FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE, that’s why I cringed. Why would creative people need a self-help book to be creative? They’re creative people. And now I know, that’s why we need it, because we get too cocky sometimes that we can always find ways by ourselves. Which is true. I always eventually find ways and answers, but I hope I’d found them earlier. Why couldn’t I find them earlier? Because nobody told me how and what.

None in my family has a creative soul, they don’t even believe in it. My parents of course never have been in many hesitations that I’ve been through. So I can’t rely guidance from them. My friends are just the same.

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Hence Austin Kleon’s book feels like an uncle that I need in a form of a book. He knows what to say because he’s been through it. I was down when my project at that time didn’t turn out to be what I had planned, expected before. It made me feel useless that I am no good. Talking with a close friends for an hour and my boyfriend tried to cheer me up too. But it didn’t make the sadness disappear fully. In just 30 mins reading the book, it boosted my confidence again.

The book is less than 150 pages, light, you can finish in one single sitting. It’s well-written, the structure makes it easy to follow and on-point ideas, no rambling, repetitive explanation. To avoid making it boring, it’s filled with doodles that fresh up your eyes and makes it feel less lecturing. It’s a reminder book, meaning I read this book whenever I need an uncle to cheer me up and give me solutions. Kleon’s must know it that people read the book more than once, hence he made it a quick reading and straight forward. So that doesn’t take much of people’s time.

I recommend this book, especially for creative people. Whenever you feel like you want to quit, read it. Because this book makes you want to sit alone and produce something. Admit it, we all need help.