The moment you set your eyes on something that affects you there is a small spark of notice that has been described as everything from a holy epiphany to a sinful orgasm. When I see art that burrows both into my heart and mind, I think of something less drastic. This moment, usually followed by the curling of a smile or the furrow of my brow, is one of ultimate confusion. This is an extremely rare moment.
My rare moment, a moment I do not often speak of, came 20 years ago when I was hit by a car on a foggy night. My injuries were minor even though the back of my head was embedded in the small Honda’s windshield. It looked like Duchamp’s large glass. This curious moment was that in which I was unaware of being hit by a car. I was no longer earthbound. I had been removed from the map. My nerve endings and synapses had yet to register the answer to why. So the moment of pure confusion was not a frightening one until I reflected back on it. At that moment, I was nowhere I was supposed to be. It was not an overly dramatic moment (no light tunnels, no angelic choirs) just all the 5 W’s intersecting in a way I have never felt since. As I watch my children grow, I see little moments like these take place. Usually it’s a What or Why but often a Who and Where and When coincides. These moments of curiosity without an immediate answer, also known as confusion, manifests itself before my eyes in what I think of as great art.
I realize I owe a great deal to the academics and poets who have said all this before with prettier language and a better grasp on aesthetics. Wilde’s Dorian Gray and Barthes’ Camera Lucida are swirling around my mind together. It is a dangerous cocktail and should have a warning label (with an oversized skull and crossed fountain pens). In the last Month, I have been lucky enough to see many great things in museums. Christian Marclay’s The Clock at the Walker, The Neue Galerie’s Degenerate Art show, Amy Sillman’s One Lump or Two at Bard and group exhibitions of photographs and drawings at the MIA. I am listing these things for my memory as well as the record, so to speak.
Other personal art moments have happened for me as well: A studio visit, a meeting with a friend to discuss the installation of his upcoming show and the proposal of both a theoretical exhibition and a real one. In the coming months I will be writing reviews, recommendations and personal pieces like these. I will have the privilege of listening to artists talk about their practice for myself and to share on Atlas. As this so-called art season starts, I will be hunting for these moments of curiosity and confusion in myself as well as asking where others find it.
Again I want to thank you all for supporting Atlas. Your kind words, criticisms and readership makes it all worthwhile.
– Jeff Bergman September 2014