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September 19, 1990 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-19

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Page 8 -The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 19, 1990

Photos make their
way to the West

by Saul Anton
Up until the 1989 revolution, the
life of an artist was not very easy in
Czechoslovakia. President and play-
wright Vaclav Havel would attest to
that. As in other places where the
freedom of speech is restricted, this
situation gave birth to an under-
ground press called Samizdat. So
when her writer friend Hrabal asked
photographer Hana Hamplova to de-
sign a cover for his book Too Loud
a Solitude, a story about the destruc-
tion of paper and books, she went to
a recycling plant where they de-
stroyed books and paper to look for a
proper image. Over several years,
she went back there many times to
She explained what drew her back
in an interview with University Mu-
seum of Art staff member Martha
Mehta who visited Prague,
Czechoslovakia recently. "The
fragility and the vulnerability of the
material, but also paper as a carrier
of a literary message... these were
strong inspirations for me," Ham-
plova said.
Before I saw Hamplova's work
and read the interview provided by
the Museum of Art, I was expecting
images radically different than the
ones that confronted me. I expected
something sensational, like that
which might appear in our press. I
also expected the photographs to
document an act of destruction, some
form of violence captured on film.
My first thought upon seeing the-
photos was, "Oh great, morefine art
photographs - nice tones and cute
patterns." But as I looked at them, I
thought about the fact that they
came from Czechoslovakia, that they

had been pulled from their original
context. Yes, abstraction was their
outer garment, but what if that were
put on to fool a censor or hide a po-
litical message? I looked at the pho-
tos again and saw the subtlety and
care taken with this "secret content."
I cursed myself for my naivete and
closed-mindedness and tried to step
into the shoes of a Czech person
who might be viewing the pho-
The images convey the title of
the story that helped give birth to
them. Lines flow across their space
and the tones glow. These features,
as well as space and composition are
all important. The photos are close-
ups of stacks of paper curling,
crumpled, rippled, rolled, shredded,
torn or twisted. Abstracted into pure
forms, they are a commentary on
beauty - but not completely. Some
holes appear in the surface, small
but intentional, through which mes-
sages seep.
The most dramatic of these unti-
tled photographs is the first in the
exhibition. It presents masses of
shredded paper that look almost like
bails of hay bound in black wire
prepared to be shipped. However, the
central icon in the photo - a page
from a book - is what disturbs.
The page is upside down, as if
thrown there. One side of the page is
text and can represent literature; the
other, a photo of a Greek sculpture
that can represent sculpture and pho-
tography: Art all tied up and thrown
on its head among a mass of
shredded papers. Bound, caged, sub-
dued: all these words come to mind.
This page is simply the cover of a
bundle most of which we cannot see;
only one amongst a gigantic pile.

Continued from page 5
his old buddies with The Lion For
Real, a compilation of musical
madness and poetry. Tom Wolfe,
who made his bed in the mainstream
fiction department with The Bonfire
of the Vanities, has gotten a big
head and won't trek with the
psychedelic/Beat crew anymore. Ti-
mothy Leary has become something
of a novelty to nostalgic Haight-
Ashbury crackpots. And Ken Kesey .
.. well . . remains Ken Kesey.
The music is a frightening col-
lage of showy backgrounds, guitar
songs and jazz expositions. Over
this, Ginsberg spurts on and off
some truly bizarre tangents. His
perky voice, which would very well
fit a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character,
is stingingly funny in a truly surreal
way. In "Kral Majales," he rants
about Communism and Czechoslo-
vakian detectives like a brainwashed
potato, exclaiming, "I am the king
of May" with joyously childish
monotony. "Hum Bom!" is equally
bizarre, a straight stream-of-con-
sciousness delivery on nuclear war-
The lyrics, overall, are a prompt
regurgitation of the American culture
like one thousand talking heads on
acid. Ginsberg has no fears and no
qualms about his maddening subject
matter, most blatantly on "C'mon
Jack," a hideously bizarre lust-fest of
sadomasochism. "Turn me on your
knees," he cries wistfully, "spank
me and fuck me." The music is a
very matter-of-fact jam that becomes
all the more incalculable when sound
effects of the spanking come in.
With the all-star cast of Bill
Frisell, Marc Ribot and Mark Bing-
ham on guitars, Steve Swallow on
bass, Prairie Prince on drums and
Gary Windo on saxophone, The
Lion For Real is a quality work as
well as a challenging one. Allen
Ginsberg surely has a twelve-beer
classic here, all the more better if the
case is downed before listening.
-Forrest Green III

Hana Hamplova uses images of paper to express the political situation
of her homeland, Czechoslovakia. Her exhibit is one example of
increasing freedom of expression in Eastern Europe.

This image, understood as a
metaphor for the situation of art and
literature in Czechoslovakia could be
used to orient the viewer toward all
the other photographs, most of
which are less overt.
The photos come to us here in
America at a sensitive time. There
are some who would attempt to de-
fine t'ie role of art, what it may ad-
dress and what it may not. This was

in my mind when I looked at these
images from a country experienced
in these matters. What might have
been punchy and blatant in our coun-
try was done covertly. Subversion is
intended and accomplished.
IIAMPLOVA is showing in the
Museum of Art Lobby Gallery
through October 28.

Keith Jarrett
Paris Concert
Old pro jazz musician Keith
Jarrett is a universe all to himself.
Or rather, on this digital recording of
his solo concert in Paris, he is
star. He plays the piano with such
boldness that his performance steals
all attention. It becomes one's light,
one's heat, one's everything. The
first cut, "October 17, 1988," is a
sprawling, poignant, passionate,
taut, and protracted piece. Its pres-
ence is a very stubborn thing; only
the sacrifice of time makes it truly
comprehensible. Jarrett's painstaking
excursions into the extension, distor.
tion, extrapolation, and reinterpreta-
tion of the listener's consciousness
make his performance a radically
challenging one.
He plays only with the other
hand as accompaniment, his repeti-
tive variations on a particular lie
not unlike the delicate graduations of
a wholly self-obsessed impressionis-
tic painter. Jarrett becomes the sun
for one to revolve around; his piece
is 21:45 long, on the second side he
reprises it for 16:45. His minutes are
as tenuous as the balance of the
hourglass. The explosive burst of
applause at the end is incredibly jar-
ring, like being awakened from a
deep sleep.
Jazz, at its best, has always
been an odyssey into the unknown.
From the rock 'n' roll manifesta.
tions of electric fusion to the tempo-
ral static of Ornette Coleman's har-
molodics, it's best done as a musical
adventure. Jarrett's recording in Paris
is no less than that: one man's un-
fettered exploration of self.
-Forrest Green III
Roger Waters
The Wall-Live in Berlin
What could be more appropriate0
than Roger Waters doing The Wall
in front of the wall? And what could
be more of a logistical nightmare,
especially given the extensive cast of
guest stars? But it seems that he got
himself into it. When asked if he or
Pink Floyd) would do The Wall
again, Waters replied that if the
Berlin Wall ever came down, he'd do
it there, thinking that this excuse*g
would effectively rule out any future
performances of the show. But
yesterday's unthinkable event has
become today's reality, and famous
rock stars can't just go back on their
word like politicians. So July found
the whole theatrical shebang in Ber-
lin in front of thousands of people.
The mere fact that he pulled it off
is itself remarkable. I don't know the
exact figures (thanks to the brift'#
liner notes), but it took a small
army to run the show. Also, many
other musicians, including Van Mor-
rison, Sinead O'Connor, The Scor-
pions, Bryan Adams and The Mili-
tary Orchestra of the Soviet Army,
to name but a few, are given their
"own" songs to perform. While this
obviously changes the music quite a
bit, as a whole, the live versionre
mains remarkably similar to the
original studio version.
For the most part, the guest
appearances are a welcome thing
(especially since Waters's voice
doesn't sound so hot at times.
Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby r6-
vamp "Another Brick in the Wal
(Part 2)" and the Scorpions turn in
an odd but faithful version of "In the

Flesh?" Sinead O'Connor does a0
good job with "Mother," but it.s
pretty funny to hear her ask: "will
they break my balls?" Also, Albeit
Finney turns a great performance as
The Judge., Nonetheless, there are a
few low points, such as Van Morr"-
son's staccato singing on
"Comfortably Numb," and Jerry
Hall's role as a groupie.
See RECORDS, Page 9 *
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