Cultural Commentary

Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim After Dark: Mystical Endeavors in Art by Sam Abelow

From October 2018 through April 2019 the Guggenheim Museum in New York City is exhibiting the monumental works of artist and mystic Hilma af Klint. The solo exhibition, “Paintings from the Future,” has on display astoundingly mystical, large format paintings, as well as exquisite works on paper. One notable gallery room —  which has become a must-Instagram for those in the art world — includes a dozen epic works that scale ten feet high.

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The Lover Archetype in Modern Men: Soundcloud Rappers, XXXTentacion as Dionysus by Sam Abelow

Both Orpheus and Dionysus are archetypes commonly active in the personalities of contemporary artists. An artist with an undeveloped “Orphic” disposition will tend more towards a longing, romanticization and dramatization —  a poetic, almost mystical love. The artist tinged more with an immature “Dionysian” typology will be affected by extreme emotionality and even reckless, violent behavior. These typical scenarios are caused by living out a collective pattern — an archetype — which has an impersonal disregard the individual wellbeing.

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The Lover Archetype in Modern Men: Dan Bilzerian, The Ultimate Playboy as Addicted Lover by Sam Abelow

Dan Bilzerian is a mega Instagram celebrity. He is known for a lavish life. Especially, audiences are drawn to his consistent presentation of voluptuous women, whom he flaunts, as a modern American playboy. His internet persona has made him famous, even infamous, for wild adventurousness, endless sexual exploits, large parties, as well as a macho-interests such as guns and weight-lifting. Many men admire him; they admit that, if they could, they would indulge  themselves — have sex with many enticing women without commitment, travel and adventure without restriction. Other men condemn him, labeling him superficial, or fake. They research and expose the fantastic tale of his success as false. The extreme wealth, detractors say, wasn’t achieved by high-stakes poker gambling alone; it was acquired through his financial criminal father. Either way, in open admiration or envious attacks, many men are mesmerized by his lifestyle. In many of his viewers, there is a part, either conscious or unconscious, that wishes they had what Bilzerian has. This is evident in looking through the comments on his Instagram, which boasts a massive 25 million followers.

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SEED Exhibition: Feminine Psyche and Mysticism in Art by Sam Abelow

It has been very joyous for me to discover a community of artists and enthusiasts exploring the matters of the psyche through art. SEED, a group show curated by Yvonne Force Villareal, focuses on themes of the feminine as mystery and the importance of the mystical mind. It does so with expressive excellence, in the form of paintings, sculptures and mixed media works.

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Demoiselles d’Instagram: Exploration of the Feminine in Society and Art by Sam Abelow

The “D’Madsoille de Instagram” series, presented by Tibor de Nagy, offers an opportunity to delve into these matters and contemplate what it means to consume and therefore support the production of objectifying, sexualized images today.

Whether it has been men’s reductive treatment of women, the courtesans of history, or Instagram models using their sexualized bodies as a basis for a career, an inner relationship to the archetypal feminine that is limited and ruled by libido is at the core.

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Sam Harris and David Benatar Debate Anti-Natalism: Breaking Through the Philosophical Quibble by Sam Abelow

David Benatar is a philosopher and writer who insists that a universe without human beings is better off than one with them. He believes, that because sentient beings can suffer, in varying degrees, it is better that they never lived. Additionally, once living, suicide is, in the majoirty of cases, a moral wrongdoing.This school of thought is known as “Anti-Natalism.” 

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New Age Ridiculousness at Columbia University Program by Sam Abelow

Among his seemingly random meanderings throughout the class, events that took place included, a girl crying to the class for 20 minutes about the very personal death of her grandfather, a loose discussion on the concept of time and how we don’t live in the moment, several aggressive table pounds by the professor, and a couple of phrases that made shallow sense, like “life doesn’t go fast, we go fast”.

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The Garden Soirée: Communal Transcendence by Sam Abelow

While ambient, acoustic music played over a speaker, guests arrived in their unusual outfits, which expressed an elegance of earlier centuries. Ken, who is in his late seventies, wore a Kaftan, and his wife a vintage Eastern robe, with an antique metal belt. Robin and her boyfriend Jason arrived in the utmost majesty. She wore a delicate floral headdress and Kimono-Like gown. Jason described his one-of-a-kind ceremonial robe.

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An Artist’s Case for the Moderation of Technology by Sam Abelow

The excessive technological stimulation causes many of us to ignore the Life which exists in slow and open moments when we are able to absorb each other and the world around us. Recognition of the downtempo pace of a pre-technological existence is a needed counterbalance.

Flashy screens, moving images, endless songs to stream and infinite news stories are all alluring. Widely accessible content, from comedy to calamity, becomes addictive to our minds which are designed for curiosity. Please, in the days after reading this pay attention to your own habits.

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Trumpism and the Neglected Archetypal Feminine by Sam Abelow

In order to bring a more comprehensive scope and even more depth to the study of the archetypal dynamics at play in politics and social movements today, we must recognize the role of the archetypal Feminine[1]. The social turmoil and divisive politics in the United States and Europe, all of which terrify, yet also excite and stir change — as seen in movement and countermovement, progression and reaction — are all contained within the most essential and primordial archetype of all: The Great Mother.

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A Revival in Motherhood: Viral Video of Home Birth by Sam Abelow

For a long time I have been fascinated with the processes of conception, pregnancy and birth. This interest was sparked when I saw the Business of Being Born. The documentaries overview of the modern history of birthing practices is fascinating and disturbing.

I find the trend towards simplifying, back to a woman's natural, instinctive power, combined with use of breath and mindfulness to be an astonishing revival, rich with everything good about humanity.

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My Party Polemics by Sam Abelow

    On a humid evening in the middle of Brooklyn, as thunderclouds indecisively condensed, threatened and then broke apart, I arrived at a long warehouse. There my friend Rachel and older sister Lizzie were putting together the final touches to the event space . At midnight I was to turn 25. But this year was monumental for another reason then my being on this planet for a quarter-century.

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Artists Role in a Selfie Generation: Melody Mouthpiece Versus Authentic Artistry by Sam Abelow

Some of the most influential and idealistic songwriters, like John Lennon, have claimed that music can change the world. Other musicians, like Bono, have used their fame to effect political change. On the other hand, much of the popular music today self-orientated and superficial. Even still, this is entertainment; an example of music as not-so-much saving the world, but making it a less shitty place to be.

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Rosko Green Music Video: Thick Skin by Sam Abelow

Throughout the process of directing this video I had no conceptual idea as to why I was doing the stop motion animation. Certainly, it all was inspired by the fact that I had amassed a large collection of collage materials: tear outs from vintage esoteric magazines, stolen images from newspapers, textiles, prints, scraps of drawings my sister brought home from college. Drawers filled with these images and textures inspired me to create.

As I began to piece together the segments of initial stop motion, I realized I needed more content. I went to my journals and began to do stop motion, moving through the pages, zooming in on compelling illustrations and crouching to the camera, overlooking the notebooks, until my knees crippled. When Interpreting this strong element in the video, the exposing of my journals, there is an obvious connection to the song "Thick Skin" which lyrically is so raw and upfront with vulnerabilities.

please enjoy watching the video before continuing...

In the lyrics of the song I honestly explain shortcomings, fears and struggles, which are usually left unsaid; remaining in a journal, therapist office or hidden behind brief glances, slammed doors and in between the brief silences of telephone call. In other words, I say out loud, in the song, troubles and doubts many of have experiences, but never wish to announce.

This song isn't just about a bad day, an unlucky week, or even a dark winter which persists in weakening our willpower or mood, it's about a dysfunction and disillusionment much more prolonged and interwoven into the most fundamental foundations of the psyche, which make the world and society seem unfathomable. It's a vast, overwhelming fear which makes everything seem undo-able, where all of life towers in its vastness.

Undeniably there is a sarcastic tone to the song, as if to say: "Yes, I know I'm complaining." There is something inherently ironic about a rock song, a John Lennon, George Harrison, or Lou Reed style guitar lick juxtaposed with such depressing lyrics. In a dramatic way, I exaggerate the theme, inspired by real emotions, and say during the refrain "everything seems to get at me."

During this phrase I imagined the food being splattered at my face, in the dimness of night, with contrasting light. The setup was relatively simple, but it all had to happen in one shot. Once my white shirt and face where spoiled with the blackness, the crud, the gloppy grossness, the shot could not be redone. We left the camera rolling for the whole song and what you see are the results of that moment.

The uncomfortable feeling you see is real and so is the fundamental theme of the song. In conclusion I can add something uplifting and say that life seems more inviting these days, girls easier to talk to, dreams much more pleasant and everything doesn't seem to get at me.