This month I’ve become obsessed with multi-disciplinary artist Nina Katchadourian’s Mended Spiderweb Series, part of her larger, deeply uncanny and weirdly adorable Uninvited Collaborations with Nature Series. There’s something about this work that speaks in an unassuming way to my awkward, unschooled forays into understanding nature, with a dark whiff of the Frankensteinian thrown in.
Nina Katchadourian, Mended Spiderweb #19
Speaking of Frankenstein, this month’s things are taking a decidedly Romantic tone. Does spring spark feelings of romance in you? My mom warned me to be careful in April, as she was always “a spring person.” Coincidence that I was born in January? Coincidence, also, that my mom died in April, just in time to get a last glimpse of her very favorite flowers, Pussy Willow and Forsythia? This time of year, birth and death hew uncomfortably close. Fits right in with The Sublime, the vast inscrutable beauty of nature, which fellow Romantics Mary Shelley and Joseph Mallord William Turner reveled in.
I swear, Turner chose The Fifth Plague of Egypt (the fifth plague involved diseased cattle- this painting more likely depicts the seventh plague of fire and hail, but hey, there were a bunch of plagues, you can’t blame Turner for getting confused) as a subject so he could place a white triangle almost in the middle of his composition- not for nothing did John Ruskin call him, “The father of modern art.”
The Fifth Plague of Egypt by Joseph Mallord William Turner
The seething, boiling atmosphere looks both forward and back- climate change as our contemporary Egyptian plague. The composition breaks down into layers of triangular shapes- the balance between abstraction and landscape walks the edge of a razor. This was painted in 1800. Can you believe it?
Alright, time for some uncanny sound. A friend turned me on to Babooshka by Kate Bush last summer and it’s been on repeat ever since. I think henceforth this blog will share nothing but Kate Bush videos from the 80s.