Thursday, August 2, 2012


Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

Like your cervical spine, every aphorism has its breaking point.  For me, it's this: I'd really like to see some dancing about architecture.  Our skyscraping bones, our gargoyle hearts: when you get down to it, why the hell not?

Which is not to say that the exposition of art, its vivisection by trained professionals, doesn't drive me up the wall.  Today, I went to see this:

And I read this:

"Balancing the monumentality of Al-Hadid’s sculptures is a quality of light that seems to animate and deconstruct them. While she leaves behind the folkloric, mythological, and historical narratives that inspired previous works, Trace of a Fictional Third continues her interest in themes of time and motion. Cascades convey liquidity; undulating fabrics merge with more solid structures. And examples of the human figure, more overt than in prior work, are both voluptuously corporeal and spectral."

I mean, wtf?

The work is called "Trace of a Fictional Third," by Diana Al-Hadid, and I liked it better before I knew the title.  The copy is from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts website, and as artswriting goes, it's pretty mild.  (The last time I attended a Musicology lecture, I had to run from the room with my hands over my mouth to prevent vomitous hilarity.)

This stuff bugs me.

It's not the vagueness or the grandiloquence of the prose (the wtf factor) though these things grate.  Nor is it the transgression of the boundaries of modality: there's nothing wrong, in my view, with words about art.  Rather, it's artspeak's assertion, implicit yet terrifically strident, that there must be an explanation.

I don't want there to be an explanation.  I just want to listen to some tunes.

It's why I'm not a Musicologist, although I love music; it's why I wasn't English major, although I'm passionate about words.  To me, art is achingly simple: a call and response, that most basic, most vital cell of human communication.  And I'd dance to it all night before I'd lay it out on the table.

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