Angels are … Things we share

The last fine art studio project of the semester, Attention is a task we share, you and I was swiftly overtaken by events.
And the studio briefing itself … it’s unlikely I’ll be doing anything like that again anytime soon … if ever.

During the make Angel project I had an important discussion with one of my colleagues: Did we think that we could ‘do’ one of the projects that we set for the students. Was it possible, given our knowledge of the subject, and how would it feel to work in such a way; would it give us any insight into the difficulties that all students face when trying to engage with the requirements of a particular brief and/or thematic subject … these were some of the things we talked about.
A few days later, in the spirit of shared scholarship, that’s exactly what I did. I started work on make Angel (see my earlier post), and my last studio talk was about how I got on.

I began with Albrecht Dürer and Rory McEwen and Ruskin … wove in poets Poliziano, Rainer Marie Rilke and Edward Thomas, Sami ceremonial drums (cognitive maps; shamanism), A.R. Penck, Robert Walser and finished my talk with a warm and gentle photograph, taken in 1976 by Czesław Siegieda, of three angels waiting … for their call during a rehearsal for a nativity play … waiting … for their futures …

How the world has changed since that final image came up on the screen in studio 3 on Monday the 9th March.

I recently heard Angel (1993) by James MacMillan on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Night Tracks’ (Tuesday May 5th). It was performed by John York.
This lullaby was a gift to his daughter Catherine, and it was composed after a Sikh friend told him that according to his religion angels were present in any household where there were young children. The serene miniature MacMillan created was an attempt to evoke this parallel world of heavenly beings. I recall reading in ‘Silence’ (a collection of John Cage’s lectures) of Cage’s wish to be able to record the sound of mushroom spores falling to the floor of the wood … I hear in Angel by MacMillan the sound of dandelion seeds being carried on the wind and gently touching down in fields and gardens.

make Angel

‘… [T]he unfolding of history gave proof of the law of entropy rather than that of unlimited progress.’
— Simone Weil

‘And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass…. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.’
— Ezekiel 1: 6-11

‘From as early as the second millennium B.C. humanity has created artifacts and pictures of winged creatures, messengers; angels. The ferocious and capable creatures described in Ezekiel are far from commonplace in modern depictions of the angelic orders so, what are angels? Who are they? What is their enduring appeal, and why do we still appear to have a need for—representation by—them?

The project briefing will take off on Monday morning at 9.30 from Studio 3 — on the back of a winged human-headed bull (a lamassu) dating from the Neo-Assyrian Period (721-705 B.C.E.) We’ll then ‘walk a sky together’ (after Sweeney Reed) where in flight training will be provided by Vanessa Bell, Trisha Brown, Paul Klee, Sheila Legge, A.R. Penck and others … landing, unscheduled, later in the morning at Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade. Thereafter, your task is a straightforward one: learn about an object or aspect of the subject that interests you; reflect on it and, make Angel.’ — from the Project Brief

What follows are pictures, and pictures of artworks I made reference to in my introductory talk; pictures too above of my notes. After this there is a list of other references provided in the project brief (under the headings of writing, music, film, radio and web) and all other information (titles of work, artists names, dates, photography credits etc.) may be found in the ‘tags’ at the bottom of the post.

writing:
Walter Benjamin | Theses on the Philosophy of History in ‘Illuminations’ trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books 1969)
Adam Harper | Retracing Mark Fisher and Justin Barton’s Eerie Pilgrimage https://frieze.com/article/retracing-mark-fisher-and-justin-bartons-eerie-pilgrimage-on-vanishing-land-hyperdub
Lucy Lippard | Eva Hesse (New York University Press, 1976)
Sheila Legge | I Have Done My Best For You, in ‘Contemporary Poetry and Prose’ (1936)
Rainer Maria Rilke | Sonnets to Orpheus | translated from the German by Christiane Marks (Open Letter, 2019),
Duino Elegies (The Hogarth Press, 1942) & Don Paterson | Orpheus: A version of Rilke’s ‘Die Sonette an Orpheus’ (Faber and Faber, 2006)
Virginia Woolf | The Waves (First published by Hogarth Press, 1931;  Vintage, 2000)
Simone Weil | Gravity and Grace (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952)

music:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Requiem in D Minor, K. 626 | Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands, conducted by Pieter Jan Leusink; live recording made on 28th of February 2014 at the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBkr7JF1ur4
Portishead | Roads | with New York Philharmonic Orchestra July 24, 1997 Roseland Ballroom, New York City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bAsZI9xm8 & Live at Glastonbury 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h47sSXH93P4
Mura Masa | No hope Generation | ‘R.Y.C.’ (Polydor, 2020) https://www.muramasa.me/
Cocteau Twins | Treasure Hiding |  ‘Milk & Kisses’ 1995 Mercury Records Limited https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5r35RSDDM (Remastered 2006) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyRknf-mZbg
David Sylvian (& Ryuichi Sakamoto) Heartbeat (Full EP): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2ITB3C3mlU & When Poets Dreamed Of Angels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PUNS-yjc8k

film:
Stan Brakhage | The Text of Light (1974): http://www.ubu.com/film/brakhage_light.html
Werner Herzog | Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) complete film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBRJn69L9ao
Mike Stubbs | Zero (2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkCSzOSbgYs
Andrei Tarkovsky | Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979) … and everything else.
Wim Wenders | Der Himmel über Berlin (Heaven Over Berlin) or Wings of Desire (1987) Official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlkdLLqBux0

radio:
Angels | Melvyn Bragg discusses Angels with Martin Palmer, theologian and Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture; Valery Rees, Renaissance Scholar at the School of Economic Science; John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy, University of St Andrews. (First broadcast on 24 March, 2005)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003k9gf
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse | A Bright Yellow Light https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000cmsf

web:
Winged Victory of Samothracehttp://musee.louvre.fr/oal/victoiredesamothrace/victoiredesamothrace_acc_en.html
The Fall of Rebel Angels (by Pieter Bruegel the Elder): https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-fall-of-the-rebel-angels/lQLy-oPTgMeLKg
Angels and Archangels: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/angels-and-archangels/RwLyJpsRM_hUIw
Gian Lorenzo Bernini: https://artsandculture.google.com/usergallery/NgKy_gyjuZrqJQ