Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not about Nostalgia

Berlin 2008
Copyright Matias Aguilar

In regards to the pictures I take a number of people have asked me if I believed that my work reflected a nostalgic view that I wanted to convey to the viewer. Basically, I believe nostalgia to be the least interesting aspect I would like to discuss. I never encountered a discussion about it that was faintly productive, which come to think of it is no surprise, really. Nostalgia as an integer part of artwork is just too obviously problematic. Too many such works automatically seem out of touch and as a likely indication of an unwillingness to face the current ways of dealing with today’s processes of making art… Thanks to the recently published book by the late Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri “It’s beautiful here, isn’t it…” I was able to read some refreshing views on nostalgia and I absolutely love the fact that I do not have to discuss it.

I admit it; in my wildest dreams I would not have been able to come up with anything as good as the following quote...In his essay ’Endless Worlds: On William EgglestonGhirri quotes writer Gianni Celati:

For many ”nostalgia is an ugly word, a sign of mental weakness. However, I can’t find another one to describe what I don’t have, and at the same time it presents itself as a liberation. I have nostalgia for a feeling, because it seems to be free of sentiments that are tangled up in ugly thoughts. I have nostalgia for a narrative tone that ties me to others, because all I know how to write are things that are separate from the things of others. The true, strong feeling that I have might be described as that of being lost. Not me in particular, as an individual. Instead it is a state of things that I seem to see everywhere.
And the longer I am in a city – Paris, for example – the more I am convinced that being lost is the true feeling that I have around me, the liveliest thing that exists. I often go back to reading Sartre, who says: “Only filthy wretches don’t feel lost.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tunes Of Summer from my new series here

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Now that it is election time in the US, I often get annoyed about really unqualified rants by fellow artists. Often it appears to me that bashing the so called status quo is the easiest way of releasing some steam and the cheapest way to fish for compliments. There is nothing progressive or courageous about bashing your political opponents when your opinion is in the clear majority amongst your circle of friends…Maybe it is just me but I really prefer not to take a stand on my blog. It really would not matter. And it would be embarrassing if I thought it did…

Often I have asked myself the question why artists would want their work to address political issues, when art is really just about itself in the first place. Being political does not make anything more or less meaningful, better or worse. There is great political work I do admire that is just too good to be overlooked. But the way I see it there is always one problem with political artists: It is just too easy to discredit a cause that supposedly concerns a larger group of people, but in reality just benefits artists who exclusively strive for personal interest. You would have to be exceedingly brilliant or make the most convincing images to pull this off and get away with that. Brilliance is the only loophole in such cases, the only escape from being terribly ridiculous. There is always an element of improbability in creating works of art. It just must be difficult to achieve. Herein lies an element of tragedy. One thing the viewer treasures without a doubt is watching a tragedy unfold. Who can beat the tragedy of an artist walking a thin line between greatness and ridicule? Why should we make it unnecessarily hard for ourselves? Where is the gain?