[-empyre-] tension and speed

Antoinette LaFarge alafarge at uci.edu
Thu Feb 14 05:53:54 EST 2013

Xtine: "I always assumed she had a calendar in her head, down to
hours and minutes remaining in the day and accounting for the precise
amount of sleep and wakeful time."

"Shani had a tension about her. It was always there. 
It usually had to do with needing more time
or running out of time or having too much to do before some specified time."

Renate: "...inspired me to note the breadth of technological practices that
Beatriz was actually able to manage. I have colleagues who complain
about the fast moving pace of technology and how it is so difficult to
keep up. Many have given up. I am inspired and struck at how engaged
and intense Beatriz/Shani was in both the practices of technology and
the conceptual ideas that were enabled by them."

Xtine and Renate, you both in different ways shine an indirect light on an aspect of the art world that I find troubling even as I participate in it: the relentless pace, the demand for a nonstop and ever-escalating cycle of exhibitions, artist talks, residencies, international travel, grant writing, and so on. You all know what I mean--Virilio's dromology as a way of life. I know that when I read articles about high-profile artists, that super-busyness is what mostly comes across, and Shani was temperamentally well suited for that life. She could, as Renate says, move fast and learn what was needed on the way, even in the daunting terrain of shifting technology. The tension was there, as Xtine says, but she also throve on it. When I read biographies of artist's lives from previous centuries, or even from 50 years ago, most of them don't really look anything like this (the exceptions are the big guild workshops of artists like Rubens). The flaneur is extinct, as I suspect is its descendant the derive, and I was never more aware of this than when I spent time around Shani. Returning to Virilio, could it be that she was able to live in the instantaneity, the real time (or near real time) that he predicates as our reality, in part because she refused to have a stake in either the bitter past or the uncertain future? OK, possibly a stretch.

Robert, I have been wondering what Shani drew inspiration from in the way of books. What was she reading in the last year or two, apart from books on cancer? What was her go-to library? Whose voices spoke to her?


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