Questions

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Perhaps most of us have, at some point in out lives, been annoyed by a 6- year old who asked too many questions. Why this, why that. But really, why? Why are we so irritated by questions? Is reality that obvious?

Approaching reality as an innocent child is not only fun but also necessary for appreciating beauty and valuing others. Nothing is evident. Don’t be afraid to ask too many questions. Do you actually know how does blood circulate your body or why is the sky blue or how movies are done?

Curiosity makes you strong, not weak. An inquisitive child who is encouraged will probably by a perceptive adult who enjoys the little things. Adults with many questions often find many answers.

Keep learning. Keep asking.

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Powerless

 

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Lucio Fontana- Concetto Spaziale, 1966

In a world so motivated by the quest for power, dividing everything into winners or losers, it sure is quite surprising that love remains such a strong concept for our own happiness.

Love is about losing. Losing power. Ultimately, it is about losing to another person and admitting that you, by your own autonomous self, cannot be complete without them. 

There is no use in arguing that today, after the sexual revolution and our strong dependance on social media, love is no longer as important. It is evident in most movies and songs and books that love is still a big necessity.

Love is a power play where you actually want to lose. The rush of adrenaline one feels with the vulnerability of love is almost addictive. Perhaps us humans like losing. It is through losing that one makes art.

-ana-

Ladylike

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Chasing butterflies- Berthe Morisot

According to the gender stereotype, women are more sensitive and have a sharper ability to perceive beauty. Then, how come the art world has been forever ruled and dominated by men? I urge you to think right now of your five favourite artists. How many of them are female? This phenomena is also true in the kitchens, as women were typically in charge of the cooking, but there are few famous female chefs in comparison to male.

Women are at the same time expected to be a certain way, but cannot succeed in that particular area either.
The intention of this entry is not merely to open a debate about gender equality. Rather, it seeks to direct the readers attention towards female artists, suggesting who to Google in order to learn more.
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Flamenco singer- Sonia Delaunay

When speaking about female personalities in art, they are often presented as muses or artistic lovers. For instance, Sonia Delaunay is often presented as “Robert Delaunay’s wife who was also a painter”. Also, Gabriele Münter was Kandinsky’s lover, but this fact should not distract oneself from the fact that she was a prolific artist and thinker of the time.
Along Monet and Renoir, famous impressionists, painted Berthe Morisot: she was part of the movement but is not commonly mentioned; yes, she was Manet’s wife but also talented and dedicated to art. Mary Cassat should also be mentioned.
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Cats- Natalia Goncharova

In Russian avant- garde movement, women were crucial, for instance, Natalia Goncharova was one of the most relevant artists of the time.
Did your know that the first mexican artist to be featured at the Louvre was a woman? Perhaps you thought of her at the begining, trying to evoke a female painter: Frida Kahlo. It would be interesting to debate whether her fame is based on her art or rather on her excentric life and iconic looks. It is perhaps surprising that Mexico, a country with a prominent macho culture, was a place where surrealism was a movement lead by women, Kahlo, Leonora Carrigton and Remedios Varo.
A good friend of mine has been forever fascinated by Lee Miller, a successful photographer also related to Surrealism. Her work is very broad: from fashion photography to documenting WWII.
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Bridget Riley is the main exponent of Op Art, a movement that seeks to produce movement by optical illusions.
While it is true that in contemporary art more names of female creators come to mind: Yoko Ono, Louise Bourgeois, Tracy Emin and Marina Abramovic to name a few, there is still a long path ahead for female recognition in art. We should not only be praising art done today, but re-writing history and learning about the names that were overlooked or underrated. Forget about introducing an artist with “she was the lover of…” as this should only be a secondary fact and not the statement that defines someone.

“When I’m writing a poem or drawing, I’m not a female; I’m an artist.” Patti Smith

 

-ana-

Auto- pilot

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Lavabo y espejo (Sink and Mirror)- Antonio López

 

We go through life with no time, moving from one thing to another with no time to stop and smell the flowers. Sure, we can take breaks but our minds do not: they are constantly planning what’s next, or worrying about yesterday.

In this blog and in real life, I am constantly defending movement and the search for novelty. Been constantly in the look for new and interesting things (beautiful things) to make one’s own. Cherishing the past and imagining the future are some of the activities in which I find more joy. However, I realise that without the ability to live the present, neither the plans or the memories make any sense. What good is there in remembering with a smile a road trip across the Basque Country if you were then thinking about what was going to happen next?

Live the moment.

But no, this blog post is not about reminding everyone to enjoy the great moments of life. Rather, it is an invitation to enjoy the small, insignificant parts of your day: let your senses feast in even the simplest activities. It will not only make life more interesting, it will also bring happiness.

Here is a brief mindfulness meditation exercise from the book Living in the Moment by Anna Black:

When you shower in the morning, take a moment or two to notice who has “joined” you… Who are you thinking about- perhaps it is your boss, or colleagues at work, maybe it is someone you are going to see later that day, or perhaps it is someone you talked to yesterday. It might be your partner, your children, your parents, your next- door neighbour…  How many people are in the shower with you?

Then, begin focusing on the physical sensations of showering… the water running off your skin… the temperature of the water… the soap lathering up between your fingers. Notice when you experience a sensation of delight or when there might be a feeling of pushing away or dislike. There is no right way to shower and whether we are invigorating ourselves first thing in the morning, simply shampooing our hair, or cooling off after a hot day, all we are doing is paying attention to the act of taking a shower.

Remove the auto- pilot.

-ana-

FAILURE SUCKS

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I stand tall today and underneath my feet, a tower of failures.
Every misstep, every amplified blunder, every fruitless attempt, every rejection.

The most successful people aren’t necessarily those who have failed the least, but rather those who have turned their failures into a paradigm shift.

Those failures pile up underneath your feet the moment you turn them into fuel to change what you’re doing.

This is not meant to be an inspirational post- a lighthearted piece of reassurance that failure is an amazing experience, because it’s not.

FAILURE SUCKS

It is debilitating and frustrating and terrifying.

But time doesn’t stop for anybody, and time keeps driving you forward.
Before you realise it you find yourself in a blossoming future where your failure became fertiliser for your happiness.

All the things that make you joyous today rest heavily upon your past failures and mistakes, for the present you live in this minute is not possible without the rotten things you have left behind.

Take that dreadful feeling within you and use it to propel you forward, to carry on.

Build a tower underneath your feet using your failures and you might reach higher than if you only build yourself up on successes.

Curiosity

 

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Yesterday, I met a man with no curiosity. He said he dreaded globalisation and could not understand what was so great about cultural exchange. Traveling was of no interest to him: he went to Italy once, but he did not care for it. He described his happiness as having a simple life, cultivating vegetables and living from the land, curling up safely in the routine. My astonishment was beyond words, as I knew him to be smart and well- read, a very nice and sociable individual. In my head, I had trouble pairing up these traits with someone with no desire for novelty whatsoever.

For me, curiosity is an intense craving for knowledge. It is a thirst of understanding reality better by seeking to unveil the unknown. It is about moving around with an urge to learn and experience, finding out that life is much more complex and rich that one once imagined. It is an adventure. And in this path of discovery is where I find happiness.

My sister and I enjoy discussing our discoveries with each other. So much so that we started this blog a year ago in order to share these fruits of our curiosity with others.

Curiosity is a gift. One that not everyone possesses and for that I am extremely grateful. Perhaps I had been taking it for granted. Thank you, man with no curiosity, for reminding me of this.

-ana-

Let’s go collect beautiful things

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“Let’s go collect beautiful things”

 I found myself running behind a 6 year old as she sprinted into the field and gathered numerous objects she came across.

“What kinds of beautiful things?” I asked.

A sparkly and jagged rock, one tall snowdrop, two daisies that were missing a couple of petals, a stick decorated by curved lines some mites had left behind.

So I set out to find and collect beautiful things too, but my search didn’t stop once break time was over.

Two gradient sunsets, one perfect daffodil, a moment of unexpected peace, hair blowing in the wind.

I became an avid collector of beauty. A disciple of what this small child professed and has likely forgotten. Unaware of it, this girl inspired in me a new practice.

Countless flowers pressed on pages (but their names I do not know), a steaming cup of tea that burnt my tongue a little, one night of restful sleep, the smile of a friend when I needed it most.

I have become a hoarder- myriad mental cupboards stuffed with casual beauty, motivated by the unsuspecting wisdom of a 6 year old.

A sprint through a flower field, a stolen kiss on a train platform, a bowl of strawberries in the sun, conversations shared in a tent.

All this time I had been trying to find a sudden revelation in books and in meditation, but all it took to cause this paradigm shift within me was one lunch time in the playground. Such a little event has caused me to think about my everyday life in a new way. I no longer consider beauty to be extraordinary, but something I can find if I just stop for a second to notice the things around me.

Wisdom isn’t reserved to those who are old and experienced.

Sometimes the purest and most impactful pieces of insight come from those who are looking at the world with fresh eyes.

So listen in to what they say, and let yourself be taught by them, or better yet, teach them to collect beauty too.

-teresa-

The purpose of art

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The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp (1917)

The question of the meaning of art, and whether it has a purpose or not, is nowadays as current as ever. Throughout time, it has been a matter discussed not merely by academics and scholars, but also by simple people: if you have ever seen a modern piece of art with family or friends, it is likely you questioned what was the meaning of it. As art became more accessible to everyone, the views on the matter diversified: more people could see art and discuss about it. With the arrival of contemporary art, understanding art became ever more challenging as all the typical standards that were once acceptable in order to judge it seemed out-dated: the technique and style no longer mattered as much, there had to be an interesting idea behind it and a charismatic artist. Questions about what art exactly means and what is the purpose of all of it became even more frequent. As art became more intellectual, the objective of achieving Beauty was lost- at least Beauty understood as that which pleases the eye (Thomas Aquinas).

During the XIX century, the theory of “art for art’s sake” thrived and became extremely popular. It meant to divorce artistic creation from any use other than art itself, focusing on aesthetic value and forgetting about educational, political or moral purposes. Art was to be judged separated from its themes and purposes. Oscar Wilde, the famous British writer who was linked to the movement, in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, famously said that all art is quite useless, later explaining it in a letter:

“Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood. It is not meant to instruct, or to influence action in any way. It is superbly sterile, and the note of its pleasure is sterility. If the contemplation of a work of art is followed by activity of any kind, the work is either of a very second-rate order, or the spectator has failed to realise the complete artistic impression.”

This tempestuous century was also the time of the great realistic historical paintings used as a means of propaganda for kings and government that wanted to show their success and status; as well as the explosion of new artistic techniques such as Impressionism. It was a period of intense debate around the concept of art, and it would be the seed of the significant art revolution that took place in the early 1900’s. From that time onwards, art became a means of expression: social, political and philosophical ideas could be manifested through it.

It became evident that there was a clash between the artist and what was being painted: who was the real protagonist?

If you’re interested, don’t miss this great video that reflects upon this topic further in an easy accesible way: HISTORY OF IDEAS: ART

-ana-

Being a part of the view

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I often forget how exhilarating camping can be.

When you pack as little as possible that you forget to bring your worries with you- paperwork that would get soggy in the rain is best left at home.

But bring your spirit, nothing will keep a canoe afloat as well as that gasp you let out when you realise that you are surrounded by purity.

As you get soaked by rain, you wish for a second that you could be confined by walls, only to realise that with dirt caked under your nails and soil stuck to the droplets on your skin, you’ve never felt so cleansed.

Surely you could spare yourself the shivers and the blisters and the windburn, comfortably watching the outdoors unfurl from a wide window by a cozy bed.

The way I see it, who would want to be a tourist when you could be part of the view?

You don’t need to seek a connection with nature when you are part of it, you don’t need to do anything but step in. You are made of the very things that have sculpted this landscape, this is your home, however hostile it might seem at first.

You’re not an outsider here, so step into the picture. Step into your boots and step into the discomfort of forgetting your worries.

Living nestled in stress can become strangely comfortable, putting it aside can be disconcerting, giving yourself so much space for thoughts can drive you crazy.

Crazy isn’t always that bad though. Let your head spin with ideas and take a breath of the very air that gives new life to trees after the winter. You need some spring rebirth yourself.

So become a part of the picture you are about to take from the outside.
And see yourself drenched by the rain.
See yourself shivering,
see yourself rising and falling with the sun.

Become part of the beautiful sight you admire, don’t let the discomfort of beauty fool you.

-teresa-

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness

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Nowadays, it is considered very cool someone who proclaims himself a hipster, who lives an apparently alternative lifestyle, listens to “indie music” and dresses in an “unconventional way”. Upon this dramatic definition, one comes to the obvious conclusion: these people are a counterculture; they are rebels; they are intellectuals who do not agree with society. Wrong. The moment this routine became popular and accepted by society, their existence became absurd and contradictory.

Because of my frustration towards these septum- pierced, thrift shop explorers who enjoy vegan cookies and think they are actually fighting society instead of being the most accepted and cool members, I decided to dedicate this blog post to the most real non- conformists of all time: the Beat Generation.

To start, I seriously recommend listening to the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg, read by James Franco and animated by Eric Drooker: Howl- Allen Ginsberg

The Beat Generation is everything the contemporary cool hipsters pretend to be.

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They were a group of American writers whose primary activity developed just after World War II ended, in the 50’s. It was during that time that society, after living the horrors of war, returned to conservative traditional values and aspirations. These young authors did not agree and were willing to break all the rules and conventions in order to be free. They were in the look for novelty and alternative lifestyles, their life would constitute a constant quest for new experiences: mental, through the use of drugs such as peyote and LSD; spiritual, by exploring eastern religions; and physical, as they were the beginning of the sexual liberation. All of this was a great influence for the later hippie movement and the 68 movements around the world.

This group excluded themselves from society in order to create an alternative world of their own: more anarchic, less judgemental and free. They expressed themselves through Literature; the novels The Road by Jack Kerouac and The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs express perfectly this insatiable pursuit of new experiences, almost as if life were an endless journey.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Kerouac, The Road

Happiness is sometimes about searching for it, often in uncommon places. But make sure they are actually uncommon, not only mere appearance.

-ana-