Sunday, December 14, 2014

At 60, can I stand perfectly still for an hour?

rhythm of a true space (revisited)  1994  and 2014  by Suzy Lake  inkjet print on vinyl on wood, figures larger than life size 

What kind of art do I respond to?

Extended Breathing in the Rivera Frescoes  2013-2014  by Suzy Lake  ink jet print
rooted in labour
grounded in nature
Extended Breathiing at the World Trade Center  2012 - 2014  by Suzy Lake   chromographic print
based on repetition
expessing concern for our world
Are You Talking to Me? 1979  gelatin silver prints with applied colour by Suzy Lake  "I was very deliberately thinking about music.  I was trying to create a very frenetic rhythm so that the audience would understand the anxiety"
The photos in this post are from the Suzy Lake retrospective now on at the Art gallery of Ontario.  Suzy Lake began making her autobiographical/conceptual photographs in the early 70's, her work is an important part of the feminist revolution in the art world.

Perhaps her most famous pieces were made when she was an attractive young woman (such as the large gallery installation of self portraits shown above and detail here) but what I was drawn to the most were were the pieces about a woman artist ageing.

The extended breathing series came from her asking herself   "At 60, can I stand perfectly still for an hour?"  Time lapse photographs over a period of 60 minutes show the ghosting of the world around her while she stands still and strong.

"A celebration of breath and life"  Suzy Lake


  1. Wow! I always liked Suzy Lake's work, but I haven't seen the later stuff until now. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  2. hmmm.... feminist performance art from the 70's always left me pretty cold, it was important, it needed to be done but it was often a bit too visceral for my sensibilities and almost totally off topic at nearly 60 one of my gardening customers challenged me a few weeks ago to stand on my non dominant leg with my eyes closed... try it, practice improves the sense of balance

  3. What if you didn't even think about art (or making it) till the you missed the entire feminist revolution in the art world because you were living (some) of it in the medical/business world and you're 62 now ans you wonder...? What then? What now?

  4. Margaret, what now?

    Not to Know but to go On!!

    I put this post up NOT for the feminist revolution part of it, but for the endurance of being a 60 year old woman who is going on.

    and Mo, I was attracted to Suzy Lake's extended breathing pieces because of that question she asked herself. "At 60, can I stand still for an hour?"

    I can't. And I bet I am not the only one. And I like that this is something to make art about. It's relevant.

    The idea.
    The essence of each of us.
    standing. still.

  5. I like / want art and words that make me pause for a moment, causing a chain reaction deep inside, the ramifications of which may, or may not, emerge from the deep pool at at later time, in a different space. Your offerings / posts always leave me musing.

  6. one of the best trainings for being still as an artist is to work as an artist's model, it teaches what it feels like to hold space with your body for 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours & the extended sessions for a few hours each week for a major painting class. It not only teaches empathy for the model but literally informs the concept of negative and positive space when you yourself become the line, especially in the tensions that can be created in the body to the point of collapse within a few minutes if the body is not in balance!
    BTW we are never too old to be artist models the folds and sinuous lines of the aging process are appreciated!

  7. Wonderful thought provoking post & comments.

  8. I feel a bit narcissistic, seeming to always view other people's art as a portal to my own life. Is that natural, I wonder? is it okay? Nice girls are decidedly not self-indulgent, and all that. Having gotten that out of the way (at least shoved aside enough to go on), I love the question of Can I stand still for an hour at age 60 - my answer is absolutely not. Then I launch into the reasons - most of them having other people's names attached - and being on the finite side of infinity, that makes me anxious and rather sad. There's so much I (imagine that in all caps and bold) want to do (as in to write and stitch), yet I still argue with myself over whose life comes first, and most of the time, I lose, my own life crossing the finish line last. Another thing your good post made me ask myself is What have I done consistently since becoming a (so-called) independent adult? And the thing that came immediately to mind: breathe, love my husband, and change (as in evolve). There are worse things I suppose, but you know what I mean: I wish I'd done something to mark the time. As in something tangible. Heading back to look at more of Suzy Lake's work. I'm especially drawn to using specimen boxes as frames . . .


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx