"Seeing comes before words.
The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.
It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world;
we explain that world with words,
but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it.
The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."
In memoriam John Berger and his groundbreaking work Ways of Seeing, we are introducing a new visual arts section to the projection elements of The Creative Process exhibition traveling to leading universities. We are inviting notable artists, curators, writers, and participating universities to suggest artworks which they feel are in conversation with certain culturally significant words.
Some of these words are so specific to a culture that they are almost untranslatable into other languages:
Saudade. Portuguese – A vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.
Mono no aware (物の哀れ). Japanese – Pathos of understanding the transiency of the world and its beauty.
Shěnměi píláo (审美疲劳). Chinese – Exposure to so much beauty that one ceases to appreciate it.
Waldeinsamkeit. German – The feeling of being alone in the woods.
Others expressions–angst, desire, beauty, love, grief, joy–carry so much compressed meaning that one word doesn’t feel sufficient to express the layers of collective memory which the word stirs, which is why we are reaching out to artists to help give expression to this complexity.
An exhibition of these “translations” from word to image will be shown as a part of the projection elements of The Creative Process traveling exhibition.
As a part of this international educational initiative, we invite professors, students, art historians, writers, and filmmakers from participating universities to respond creatively to featured artworks and a selection of these essays, poems, stories, and short films can be seen on our website and in the projection elements. The Creative Process is collaborating on a number of curriculum integration initiatives, inner city afterschool writing clubs, and special 4th-year courses combining film and literature with a view to inspiring imaginative inquiry and encouraging future generations of artists.
Meanwhile, everyone at The Creative Process appreciates the complexity of your body of work and your important insights into contemporary culture and would be honored if you would consider participating in Ways of Seeing.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is The Creative Process?
A travelling exhibition of interviews and portraits of writers and creative thinkers from around the world augmented by projection elements and short films made in collaboration with independent directors and participating film schools. After launching at the Sorbonne, The Creative Process is being exhibited at leading universities and selected literary museums during their important literary/humanities festivals and conferences, including Harvard's LITFest, KU Leuven's European Conference for the Humanties, University of Milan's BookCity, among others.
Some of the 40 participating universities: Oxford, Harvard, Sorbonne, Columbia, MIT, Princeton, UC Berkeley, McGill, University of Toronto, University of Milan, Stanford, Trinity College Dublin, NYU, University of Iowa, University of Edinburgh, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, University of Warsaw, University of Leuven, University of Salamanca, University of Hong Kong, and Tel Aviv University.
The Creative Process features interviews with George Saunders, Joyce Carol Oates, Hilary Mantel, Paul Auster, Neil Gaiman, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Richard Ford, Junot Díaz, Jane Smiley, Tobias Wolff, Michel Faber, T.C. Boyle, Ann Beattie, Jay McInerney, Geoff Dyer, Dave Eggers, Etgar Keret, Marie Darrieussecq, and Yiyun Li, among others.
For more information see: www.creativeprocess.info.
Which artists will participate in the project?
The list of notable artists is currently being finalized in collaboration with participating universities. As with the writers and universities taking part in our educational initiative, the focus is on notable artists with unique visions whose body of work offers important insights into contemporary culture and ways of seeing.
What is the exhibition’s focus?
While many of the works we are looking at focus on narrative, figuration, expressionism, or realism, we are interested in many ways of seeing and artworks which question our perception, reaching beyond language to reveal important truths about what it is to be human.
Can you give an example of some words for which Ways of Seeing seeks corresponding artworks?
Interpretation is open, so artists and curators are welcome to suggest words and artworks of their choosing. Alternatively, you may suggest artworks, and we can pair them with related expressions.
Below are some “Untranslatable” Expressions which may touch on themes you explore in your work:
Saudade, Unheimlich, Mono no aware, Shěnměi píláo, Waldeinsamkeit, Catharsis, Utakata, Sturmfrei, Eleuthería, Eigentlichkeit, Solivagant, Sabi, Kitsch, Ukiyo, Kawaakari, Komorebi, Nja, Chrysalism, Fernweh, Koev halev, Kintsugi, Kavanah, Ekstasis.
And here are some Eternal Themes & Subjects: Desire, Beauty, Angst, Love, Youth, Joy, Light, Shadows, Dreams, Eternity, Anxiety, Absurd, Pleasure, Force, Moment, Sublime, Stillness, Jealousy, Sex, Shame, Grief, Sadness, Loneliness, Happiness.
We are happy to provide a more complete list of expressions on request.
Can invited artists participate in an interview for the traveling exhibition?
Yes! In the beginning, we focused mainly on interviews with writers but are now beginning to interview artists and important creative thinkers. We welcome the possibility of interviewing you and hearing your insights into The Creative Process.