Friderike Heuer

 

Fraying Around the Edges

Fighting the hockogrokles: Amid the storms of pandemic and racial reckoning, Friderike Heuer's photo montages sail into the new reality

“When […] I first dabbled in this Art, the old Distemper call’d Melancholy, was exchang’d for the Vapours, and afterwards for the Hypp, and at last took up to the now current Appellation of the Spleen, which it still retains, tho’ a learned Doctor of the West, in a little Tract he hath written, divides the Spleen and Vapours, not only into the Hypp, the Hyppos, and the Hyppocons; but subdivides these Divisions into the Markambles, the Moon-palls, the Strong-Fives, and the Hockogrokles.”

–Physician Nicholas Robinson, 1732

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FREE ME OF THE HOCKOGROKLES. … Isn’t that what we all wish when the sadness hits again, no matter how justified the emotion is in response to external events?

I came across these inventive nomenclatures for depression when reading up on a 17th and 18th century English woman poet, Anne Finch, who took the topic of melancholy, solidly in male hands at the time, and ran with it. Wrong word. She didn’t run with it. She inspected it, talked to it, turned it inside out, related it to science, and, in the end, seemingly threw up her hands in resignation and surrender.

I had dug out her poem on melancholy, among other reasons, to reaffirm the notion that artists across history resort to creative action when grappling with hard times. Clearly, I was wishing for company in my own attempts to integrate current events, and the feelings they incite, into my artistic practice, with the latest results shown in today’s photomontages.

“Ardelia to Melancholy”

At last, my old inveterate foe,
No opposition shalt thou know.
Since I by struggling, can obtain
Nothing, but encrease of pain,
I will att last, no more do soe,
Tho’ I confesse, I have apply’d
Sweet mirth, and musick, and have try’d
A thousand other arts beside,
To drive thee from my darken’d breast,
Thou, who hast banish’d all my rest. 
But, though sometimes, a short repreive they gave,
Unable they, and far too weak, to save;
All arts to quell, did but augment thy force,
As rivers check’d, break with a wilder course.

Freindship, I to my heart have laid,
Freindship, th’ applauded sov’rain aid,
And thought that charm so strong wou’d prove,
As to compell thee, to remove; 
And to myself, I boasting said,
Now I a conqu’rer sure shall be,
The end of all my conflicts, see,
And noble tryumph, wait on me;
My dusky, sullen foe, will sure
N’er this united charge endure.
But leaning on this reed, ev’n whilst I spoke
It peirc’d my hand, and into peices broke.
Still, some new object, or new int’rest came
And loos’d the bonds, and quite disolv’d the claim. 

These failing, I invok’d a Muse,
And Poetry wou’d often use,
To guard me from thy Tyrant pow’r;
And to oppose thee ev’ry hour
New troops of fancy’s, did I chuse.
Alas! in vain, for all agree
To yeild me Captive up to thee,
And heav’n, alone, can sett me free. 
Thou, through my life, wilt with me goe,
And make ye passage, sad, and slow.  
All, that cou’d ere thy ill gott rule, invade,
Their uselesse arms, before thy feet have laid;
The Fort is thine, now ruin’d, all within,
Whilst by decays without, thy Conquest too, is seen.

 – From: Anne Finch, The Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea. Ed. Myra Reynolds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1903. 15-16.

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Friderike Heuer, from her current series of photo montages “Setting Sail.” Each image is 20 x15 inches, printed with archival ink jet print on German Etching Paper, and the images shade from lighter to darker as the series grows.

FINCH HAD HER SHARE OF DIFFICULTIES in her lifetime, including a predisposition for depression, perhaps even bipolar disease. She was exposed to political storms that threw her and her husband from comfortable positions in monarchic circles into an unsecured existence when they distanced themselves from the ascendance of William and Mary after the revolution of 1688 deposed King James.

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Fluchtgedanken: Thoughts of Escape

Friderike Heuer's new montage series based on George Tooker's art raises questions of who lives and who dies in the time of pandemic


STORY AND MONTAGES BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


SINCE WE ARE ALL OVER THE MAP this week anyhow, I might as well think out loud about one of my current preoccupations in the art department.

As those of you familiar with my montage work know, I often appropriate partial images from other artists into my art. I am not alone in that venture: Artists more famous or talented than I have long pursued all forms of appropriation, sometimes even direct copying. A more detailed discussion in the art world can be found here.

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At Albertina Kerr, art of ebullience

Not "outside": Artists from the Portland Art and Learning Studio create an exhilarating exhibition at Gallery 114

There is an Outside spread Without & an outside spread Within
Beyond the Outline of Identity both ways, which meet in One:
An orbed Void of doubt, despair, hunger & thirst & sorrow.

– William BlakeJerusalem (1818).


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


Let me not mince words: I despise the term outsider art. Yes, I know the definition is loose – it can refer to anything, from art by those not trained as artists, or not affected by a particular culture, or living on the margins of society, or living with a disability or mental illness – often in any possible combination of all of these. And yes, I know we are stuck with the term, since it has taken on a life of its own ever since people started collecting this art. It is part of a commodity market always on the lookout for something new, something striking, something that money can be invested in.

Marker work by Lindsay Scheu
Lindsay Scheu

The very fact that you call some artists “outsiders” (including those living with disabilities, who are our family, our neighbors, our clients and, yes, our friends) perpetuates a tendency toward segregation rather than integration, to the loss of all involved. All, that is, but cutting-edge curators and collectors who boost their bottom line, staging art fairs and exhibitions of the few among the legions of creative “outsiders” who somehow make it to the top of the art market. Yet such art has its own life and energy, without regard for the market, and can be highly creative and life-affirming without apology or categorical pigeonholing. I found a good deal of such ebullient art recently at the Portland Art and Learning Studio, a project of Albertina Kerr. And so can you: Ebullience, an exhibition of work by PALS artists is featured this month at Portland’s Gallery 114.

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Land and Water: By Necessity

A gathering of Native American activists and allies and an Oregon-produced film join the battle against pipelines and other climate threats


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


TIMES ARE HARROWING for people trying to protect Indigenous ancestral land and prevent accidents from pipeline spillage that would poison and pollute the regions’ land and water. The movement is taking place on many fronts, several of them cultural and artistic, including an Oregon-produced documentary film, Necessity: Oil, Water, and Climate Resistance, that focuses on the work of climate activists on the front lines and movement lawyers involved in supporting that struggle. And last week a group of Native American leaders and community allies in Portland gathered at the Port of Vancouver to protest the dangers of the continued use and expansion of pipelines, and alert us to what is going on farther north.

The Wet’suwet’en people in northern British Columbia, trying to stop construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline (CGL), were arrested by Canadian police and tactical teams in the dark of night by militarized police with night vision and automatic weapons, their camps destroyed and media hindered from filming and reporting the police action. The BC Supreme Court granted the company behind the Coastal GasLink project, TC Energy, an injunction to continue construction activities, and issued an enforcement order for the RCMP to clear the area.

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Southern Rites at the Jewish Museum

Photographer Gillian Laub's deeply documented show on the persistence of racial attitudes in the South is visual activism at its best

What do I want? Why do I want it? And how do I get it?
– Stacey Abrams, in a TED talk shortly after she lost her bid to be elected governor of Georgia in the 2018 midterm elections.

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AS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS by now, I rarely review exhibitions that I don’t like. The world doesn’t need more negativity, and I don’t need the emotional aggravation. It is therefore with some trepidation that I accept invitations to review something I have not yet had a chance to see. I will only do so if I am deeply committed to an institution and usually trust its choices, as is the case with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE.)

Felicia after the Black Prom, Vidalia, Georgia, 2009. Photographed by Gillian Laub. Photo: Friderike Heuer

No need to fret: OJMCHE’s newest exhibition, Southern Ritesis one of its strongest yet, a moving and thought-provoking tour de force about race relations and racism in contemporary America. Organized by the International Center for Photography and judiciously curated by Maya Benton, the exhibition of photographs by Gillian Laub is visual activism at its best: perceptive, engaged, critical photography of human beings in a context that defines them. Did I mention beautiful? Beautiful!

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Our place in the fabric of the world

Finding the warp and weft of things in Amanda Triplett's studio, a fresh look at PCVA, and a Diane Jacobs work at the Portland Art Museum

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The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see. 

James Baldwin The Creative Process (1962) (from The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985.)


STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


ONE OF THOSE WEEKS. Unrelenting, miserable downpours, not the drizzle Portland usually knows. Unrelenting, horrid news, death calling with helicopter crashes, earthquakes, viral lung disease. And then three art encounters that stretched the brain and filled the soul with smatterings of joy. Softened the week around the edges.

Details from Amanda Triplett’s studio.

The thread that ran through these encounters was literally that: a thread. Or, more precisely, multitudes of them, fabrics, textiles, hair, and other palpable materials fashioned into something different and new. To stay within the textile metaphor, the warp running the lengths of the works was clever, clever ideas about our place in the world, crossed by the weft of invitations for multiple interpretations.

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Photo First: Hope and joy

An evening showcase of student dancers from Faubion and Harriet Tubman schools highlights the talent and promise of a new generation

Jump for Joy: Lighting up the Winter Showcase.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRIDERIKE HEUER


There were at least two people in awe at Da Vinci Arts Middle School on a mid-January evening while attending the Winter Showcase of Faubion and Harriet Tubman Middle School: this young lady and me.

As Harriet Tubman Principal Natasha Jackson, in unison with teachers, staff and musicians from the other organizations, put it: People of all races and all backgrounds are coming together to celebrate art and the achievement of these young dancers who have worked hard to present an incredible program. Both schools have a diverse student population, with many languages on their website to get information to all those parents who have newly arrived. To see all those different faces merge into dance ensembles that became one in the movement really represented hope: for a future where unity fights back the forces of segregation.

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