Transported to Summer.


© C. Ford.

With added bonus of play time, courtesy of Marcus, who sends the best goodies ever. Hydrophilic polymer beads, orange oil, water, and really excellent glassware! I don’t know if the sun will cooperate, it’s sunny and remarkably warm today, but it’s supposed to be snowing by Odin’s day. Oh, where’s the virtue in patience? Off to play!

Arctic Hysteria.

A still from Arke’s 1996 video Arctic Hysteria shows the artist naked and crawling across a photograph of Nuugaarsuk Point in Greenland. Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Acquired with funding from Anker Fonden 
Poul Buchard/Brøndum & Co.

A still from Arke’s 1996 video Arctic Hysteria shows the artist naked and crawling across a photograph of Nuugaarsuk Point in Greenland. Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Acquired with funding from Anker Fonden 
Poul Buchard/Brøndum & Co.

Most people have never heard of Pia Arke, which is a shame, because she was an artist who took on one huge subject: the colonial takeover of indigenous peoples by those who termed themselves “explorers” and “discoverers”. There’s a great deal of horror inherent in any indigenous peoples experiences with colonialism. Unsurprisingly, indigenous women got the worst of it.

In the spring of 1995, Danish-Greenlandic artist Pia Arke was digging through the archives of New York City’s Explorers Club. She was searching for maps, ethnographic images, and scientific miscellany that she could repurpose into collages that confront Greenland’s colonial past. Arke knew early 20th-century adventurers often, by turns, demeaned and romanticized her Inuit ancestors. Even so, one photo from American explorer Robert E. Peary’s collection shocked her: a native woman, topless and screaming, restrained by two fur-clad and seemingly untroubled white men. A curator told Arke the woman could have been suffering from a madness called Arctic hysteria.

More than 20 years later, Arke’s mesmerizing film Arctic Hysteria, which she created the year after she found that dark photo, was looping endlessly in an alcove at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Situated in a small town along the Baltic Sea about 50 kilometers north of Copenhagen, the Louisiana Museum enjoys the kind of international acclaim that makes it a dream exhibit space for most artists. Arke’s work was part of last year’s star-studded exhibit Illumination, which featured such luminaries as Ai Weiwei, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, and Gerhard Richter. The flashiest Arke piece on display was Legende I-V, a series of five collages of Greenlandic maps and sepia-toned family snapshots layered with imported commodities such as rice, sugar, and coffee. Legende I-V is physically imposing—it dominated an entire gallery wall—and hauntingly beautiful. The foodstuffs function both symbolically and texturally, the photographs evoke the warmth of kinship, and the cartographic lines of Greenland, stamped with place names referencing colonial explorers (Peary Land, Humboldt Glacier, and Kane Bassin, for example), loom insistently over everyone.

Arke’s Arctic Hysteria is equally magnetic. The performance, which lasts six minutes, is silent and consists almost entirely of one scene: Arke crawling naked across a giant black-and-white photo of Nuugaarsuk Point, a spit of land at the terminus of a C-shaped bay. The artist lived there, outside the small town of Narsaq, Greenland, with her parents and siblings in the late 1960s. In the video, Arke strokes the artificial landscape, rolls across it, and sniffs it like an animal. Then she methodically rips the entire thing to shreds, gathers the curled shards of paper, and lets them fall across her shoulders and thighs. The intimacy of the performance and the title’s historical allusion are classic Arke.


Historical context points to alternative interpretations. Inuit women labored at the very bottom of the social hierarchy on Peary’s expeditions and in his camps, expected to sew, fish, carry wood, and submit to the Americans’ sexual desires. Peary, for example, fathered two sons with his Inuit laundress, Ahlikasingwah. His navigator, Robert Bartlett, viewed one woman’s hysteria as simple protest, or “pure cussedness.” Accounts described women who seemed intent on escape or dissent leaping over the ship’s railings or shouting for a knife. Expedition member Donald MacMillan recounted finding a woman named Inawaho naked and screaming, presumably unaware of her surroundings and out of her mind. But as soon as MacMillan pulled out his camera, Inawaho hurled huge chunks of ice at him and later begged him to destroy the photos. Were these women, in fact, crazy? Or were they reacting perfectly rationally—even bravely—to their circumstances?

You can read and see more here.

Peeling Paint.


© C. Ford.

The time of stench is now over, thankfully. So, I had a bit of time to play. Years ago, I wanted to experiment a bit. The experiment didn’t work out, but the paint was so beautiful. I found out then that I could peel it off the baking parchment paper I had used. I still have a number of those pieces. Watching paint dry might not be fun, but peeling it is. Have fun with acrylic paints (I suggest using baking parchment or the ever trusty freezer paper), let them surface dry, or as long as you want, then peel. Purty paint to play with results. This is also one way that paint doesn’t need to go to waste. Even very thin layers will peel, but the thicker your layer of paint, the easier the peel.

Sauvegarde Art.


Gilles Cenazandotti Polar Bear, 2016.

Fusing a story of sustainability and animal welfare,  the chromatic and playful sculptures fabricated from found objects ponder the future of the environment. Each of Gilles Cenazandotti‘s sculptures and assemblages are composed of polyurethane material culled from the Mediterranean Sea. The style of sauvegarde art, or safeguarding, is a unique environmental method that draws upon the French artist’s love for the environment and his love for forming art from unconventional materials. Formerly the head of a design company, the artist quit his day-job and sold the company four years ago in order to create detritus-amassed art.


Gilles Cenazandotti Black Panther.

“I imagine this universe in my sculptures, of the cities moving to what is necessary to the survival of the men. What will it occur when the tide will overflow of our rejected products? When will pollution touch so many species that life will be decreased? This science fiction is near where one already sees the animals changing territory. One can wonder what they will become, like so many already disappeared species, if they do not find any more spaces to live.”


Gilles Cenazandotti Baboon, 2015.


Gilles Cenazandotti, Briquets Triptych , 2016. 47.25 x 11 inches each. Lighters Found from the Sea on Altuglass.

Gilles Cenazandotti, Briquets Triptych , 2016. 47.25 x 11 inches each. Lighters Found from the Sea on Altuglass.

Remarkable work, and work with a very strong message. We need to stop being unthinking apes and be mindful humans. All of the work is deeply poignant, but it’s the lighters that get to me. FFS, is it that much to expect people to not treat our oceans like a convenient trash can?

Urgh, the stench, it’s alive!


© C. Ford.

Oh man, it’s amazing that you can manage to forget the godsawful stench of gesso in between uses. If anything can turn you off doing art work, it’s that fuckin’ goop. Ugheeesh. (Yes, I messed with the photo, it doesn’t actually look like that, just smells like that.) What does it smell like? Rotten horseradish soaked in formaldehyde and pissed on by cats for 6 months. Ugh.

Pasilalinic-sympathetic Compass.

Escargots. Jacques Collin de Plancy - Dictionnaire infernal.

Escargots. Jacques Collin de Plancy – Dictionnaire infernal.

I’m being much too distracted by the Dictionnaire Infernal right now. How did I not know about the Snail Telegraph? The original text from Dictionnaire Infernal:

Escargots. On ne voit nulle part que ces honnêtes créatures aient jamais figuré au sabbat. Mais il paraît qu’elles ont aussi leur côté mystérieux, et qu’elles pourraient, quand les études dont s’occupent les savants auront abouti, faire concurrence au télégraphe électrique. On a donc proposé en 1850 un procédé qui se mûrit, c’est la boussole pasilalinique-sympathique. Si vous trouvez ce nom bizarre, l’agent de cette boussole ne l’est pas moins ; c’est l’escargot. Deux amis séparés par de grandes distances se seront munis chacun d’un escargot de même espèce, les auront magnétisés ensemble pour établir la sympathie ; puis l’ami resté à Paris chargera son escargots des nouvelles qu’il veut transmettre à son ami installé à Pékin, et ce dernier répondra de la même manière ; par quels moyens faciles ? nous l’ignorons ; mais en mars de la présente année, les journaux disaient qu’on était à la veille de résultats satisfaisants, et les spiriles affirment que cette découverte se rattache à ce que nos pères appelaient la magie naturelle. Un Américain prétend même que les escargots magnétisés parleront, ou bien un esprit, de ceux qui tiennent aux tables, pourra parler pour eux.


Posting about incense yesterday reminded me of two old Vantine Incense tins I have. They both had a bit of incense still in them, and it still smelled fine. There’s still a bit of the Wisteria left, but it’s all crumbled.



© C. Ford.

The back of the temple incense reads:

To scent the house with the fragrance of Vantine’s Temple Incense, place a burner in the reception hall. The fumes will quickly pervade the upper rooms with a delightfully soothing Oriental fragrance. Temple Incense may also be used to scent the contents of the wardrobe. To do this, place the burner in the center of the floor of the wardrobe. Do not allow the clothes in the wardrobe to come in contact with the burner.

Vantine’s Temple Incense adds greatly to the fascination and coziness of the open fire place when a handful is scattered over the glowing embers. The fragrance of the incense blends delightfully with the pungency of burning wood.

In using Temple Incense on the veranda, on the lawn, or outdoors otherwise, use several burners in order to secure the desired degree of fragrance.

Cones come in six fragrances: Pine, Wisteria, Sandalwood, Rose, Violet, and Jasmin and the three superior odors, Orange Blossom, Lilac, and Narcissus.

Very much a different time. A. A. Vantine & Co. is mostly forgotten today, except by collectors, but it was a highly successful business, and when it came to incense tins and burners, they had the best. I’d love to have a huge collection of the incense tins, but they are not easy to come by. I was lucky in finding these, the store owner didn’t seem to know or care about their value.

Blacksmithing for Beginners.


Blacksmithing is by no means a dead trade, but if you watch or have watched shows like Forged in Fire, you’ll notice the modern forge has quite a few degrees of separation from the bellows and hammering of forges past. When I first got into blacksmithing, I wanted things to be modern. “This trade won’t die if we just keep moving forward!” I’d think; but all the automatic power hammers in the world won’t make you a better craftsman, and if all your fires are perfectly electronically heated, what will you really know about the giants whose shoulders you’re standing on? This is a guide on what you’ll need to set up your very own forge – the right way.

Barett Poley has a good article up at Make, all about setting up your own forge. I’d love to do this someday, and it’s definitely a doable project.

Steve Warburton.


Steve Warburton is an artist in Australia, with a very interesting perspective. The work is evocative, and I find many of the pieces to be of an expansive nature – for me, they are pieces to ponder, not just savour, and allow all the different layers of associations to come up. There’s a distinct sense of dystopia in many of the pieces, but they are all the more beautiful in their poignancy, and the hope that we do not follow such paths to their inescapable conclusions. Definitely worth spending some time, going through the galleries!

I didn’t include much here, because the galleries are set up for viewing, not borrowing, so have a wander, expand your mind, and let your imagination take you on a trip. Steve Warburton.