Kim Gordon – Girl In A Band

Somewhere on the great Interweb I found a review of Kim Gordon. I did not know the book. It had disappointed this reader. Nevertheless I purchased the book, being a long term lover of Sonic Youth and curious about Kim Gordon’s life.

Girl in a Band

I found the book very good. Nice details describing Kim’s environment, household things, stuff, music. Written in a loose style. The edition of the book I have – the pocket edition with the orange cover – is a bit grungy. A nice fit with the black and white pictures in the book.

Kim Gordon sketches an entertaining and informative image of punk-rock life in the 80s, 90s and 00s. There seems to be no end to the progress of Sonic Youth, until Thurston Moore falls into an affair with fortune hunter Eva Prinz (the name is not in the book, but it required little research to find out).

The tone turns from melancholic, in the description of het schizophrenic brother, to disillusioned in her marriage with Thurston Moore.

Beautiful book and woman, strange.

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The Art of Doing – Camille Sweeney & Josh Gosfield

The Art of Doing was recommended here and there, so I put it on my list. The book turned out to be different than what I expected. Not in a negative way. I had expected a self-help book in the form of chapter by chapter advice. Instead, every chapter in the book shares 10 learning point from the achievements of high flyers in a wide variety of professions. The list of these person goes from author Stephen Dubner, tennis champion Martina Navratinova to soprano Anna Netrebko.

The Art Of Doing

A few common threads from these persons emerge. All have a vision, persevere through bad times, and have a collaborative nature. None of them a psychotic “leaders” you typically find in large bureaucratic organizations or egomaniac attention seeking media addicts. All are driven by a Why. All are hardworking and humble.

My highlights:

Martina Navratilova: don’t specialize, dream big, practice and exercise (do the work).

Simon Doonan (didn’t know who he was before reading the book – Simon is a world-famous window dresser): Go Niche, be the best at something.

Tony Hsieh: discover your values (first).

Mark Frauenfelder (by far the best entry in the book!): Make the blog that doesn’t exist, Be original, get an attitude, Don’t bullshit (don’t waste people’s time), mix things, find unexpected things.  

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Blogs and newsletters on their way back? And Red Hand by Nick Cave- what a blog!

The past couple of years we have heard that a blog was something of 2000’s. The rise of Youtube and more recently, the popularity of podcasts, were supposedly make blogs a thing of the past.

But the debatable recommendation and influencing practices of Youtube, and other advertisement-backed social media drive people away from these platforms. At the same time there is a increasing number of people being driven away from tradiditional media, finding the “breaking news” tactics distracting and misguiding.

As a replacement for these, the blog seems on it’s way back, as is the newsletter (via email!) informing the readers of blog updates. Blogs are not found through google searches or Facebook recommendations, but through recommendations by real people. Thus providing a source of manually curated web content by like-minded people.

One of these treasures I found today is Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files blog.

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Kim Gordon – No Icon

Kim Gordon published a wonderful “artist’s scrapbook” called No Icon. As a somewhat shy artist she hesitated to create a book about herself, but it has become a beautiful authentic document.

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American Gods – Neil Gaiman

I love books that read like the writer does not know yet where the story will end yet.

This quality I love in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, almost all the work of Haruki Murakami, and also Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

American Gods reached a sort of cult status that I was unaware of when I bought a cheap pocket edition (9,90 euro). A television series was made based on the novel.

Read in two straight sittings. Incredibly good. At the level of Norwegian Wood, Voyage au bout de la Nuit, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

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AKADEMIE X Lessons in Art + Life

One of the best books I read about Art in a long time is AKADEMIE X Lessons in Art + Life. (The ones from Will Gompertz are first because they are more accessible.)

The book is beautifully designed and illustrated. The text from various artists have different forms, and vary in usefulness and readability. Every article included reading lists and viewing lists. The book as such is an art education on itself.

The struggles of the artist.

One question is, how do you create a way of being in the world that allows new things (ideas, information, people, places) into your life without letting everything in?

The emphasis on an art that is idea-driven is very important in order to maintain diversity in artistic practice and so that art is a tool to produce knowledge about the world.

the whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Artists notice stuff – the way things come together or fall apart, the telling detail or the overlooked ruin, the tell-tale gesture. To be an artist you have to train yourself to pay attention to the world in which you live, constantly looking for clues, always aware of your surroundings.

One thing all artists need to be able to do is to present their ideas confidently to the range of people who come through the studio – peers, curators, writers, collectors.

… spend more time making stuff, less time thinking about it; and do a better job of networking, staying in touch with people who show interest or friendship.

Precise and clear riting skills play a very important role in an artist’s career.

Another thing that I wish had been taught at school was the business side of art.

Keeping a personal journal over the years also plays a very important role in my practice. Many ideas and interesting tidbits of information that I’ve picked up end in the journal

A large part of my time is spent on organizing the production of my work. Organizational and managig skills are extremely important… Artists need to learn to organize and to delegate their works to studio assistents or to fabricators when necessary.

Read! Don’t ignore the history of your art. Don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel.

Don’t fixate on ‘breaking’ onto the scene. If you keep making interesting work, people will notice.

My simplest advice for navigating the art market is never to operate from a place of desperation, and never undervalue yourself.

Good painting is timeless, suggestive and individual.

If you’re working on a project of your own, be happy that your’re on a deadline…

If you’re having a hard time getting the creative juices churning, try starting with what you know… – the objective is to get busy.

Stop making ‘art’ and start making your work.

Be prepared to be unpopular, unclassifiable and perhaps even out-of-date…

… the rest is longevity, endurance and the ability to keep on making work despite the pleasures and pitfalls of other distractions in life.

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