Tartan, Pablo Neruda, Comme des Garcons


Still from Nick Relph’s “Thre Stryppis Quhite Upon ane Blak Field” 2010

I like putting things together that you wouldn’t normally connect. Once I Googled on “Pablo Neruda” and “Allen Iverson.”  Who else might connect the late Chilean poet and the hip-hop NBA star?   I got some weird links, but clicked on one which turned out to be a blog partly in English and mostly in another language. Which  I  couldn’t even identify. The only thing that came to my mind was: Tagalog? I wasn’t even sure what that was.

Turned out to be right! Tagalog is a primary language of the Phillipines, and I verified from towns mentioned in a blog post about shopping that the blogger was a twenty-something woman in the Phillipines who shared my fondness for both these guys with poetic crossover moves and a tendency to stir controversy.
A British artist living in New York, Nick Relph likes to come up with surprising combinations.

Still from Nick Relph, “Stryppis Quhite Upon ane Blak Field” (2011)

In this installation, Relph put together abstract American artist Ellsworth Kelly, fashion designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, and the history of Scottish tartan.   First, he got short documentaries about each subject.  Then he  saturated each film  in one of the three primary light colors (red, blue, green).  Then he projected them one atop the other in what the Tate St Ives called a “restless collage.”  See a clip here.

Nick Relph, Thre Stryppis Quhite Upon ane Blak Field (still), 2010 Courtesy Herald St, London and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York.

Nick Relph, Thre Stryppis Quhite Upon ane Blak Field (still), 2010

In an interview with Peter J. Russo on Triple Canopy, Relph explained the source of this collage film as an interest in color and how color got to be standardized.   The computer is today’s culprit, with its color management systems.  These literally decide what colors we can use.

But this isn’t a new phenomenon.  Relph’s earlier work, like  “A List of Incorrect Things,”  explored how commercial interests dictated the development of color.

Pablo Neruda wrote an “Ode to Common Things.” Here are some lines:

I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small –
and flower vases.
Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of pipes
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers –
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing.

Allen Iverson, of course, famously said, “We’re talkin’ ’bout practice.”

Put those ogether.

Image Sources:  Top   Middle   Bottom

Neruda poem

Neruda poem in Spanish

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