Posts in essanity
How I am faring these days?
considering thesis year, momentum describing me  here  is quite accurate... 

considering thesis year, momentum describing me here is quite accurate... 



Definition of fare

fared; faring

intransitive verb

1: get alongsucceed 

  • how did you fare on your exam?

2: gotravel

3: eatdine


have you eaten? mother asks

very well, very well! of course, I say


intransitive, intransit, in transit



Recent Examples of fare from the Web









These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fare.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

essanity, verse, visualEssa Li
Ocean Motive

The music-drama opens on board the  vessel in which Tristan bears Isolde to Cornwall. Deeming her love for Tristan unrequited she determines to end her sorrow by quaffing a death-potion; and Tristan, feeling that the woman he loves is about to be wedded to another, readily consents to share it with her.

But Brangäne, Isolde’s companion, substitutes a love-potion for the death-draught. This rouses their love to resistless passion. 

. . .

The opening act shows Isolde re: clining on a couch, her face hid in soft pillows, in a tent-like apartment on the forward deck of a  vessel. It is hung with rich tapestries, which hide the rest of the ship from view. Brangäne has partially drawn aside  o n e  of the hangings and is gazing out upon the sea.

From above, as though from the rigging, is heard the voice of a young Sailor singing a farewell song to his "Irish maid." It has a wild charm and is a capital example of Wagner’s skill in giving local colouring to his music.

The words, "Frisch weht der Wind der Heimath zu" (The wind blows freshly toward our home) are sung to a phrase which occurs frequently in the course of this scene. It re: presents most graphically the heaving of the sea and may be appropriately termed the Ocean Motive.

It undulates gracefully through Brangäne’s re: ply to Isolde’s question as to the  vessel’s course, surges wildly around Isolde’s outburst of impotent anger when she learns that Cornwall’s shore is not far distant, and breaks itself in savage fury against her despairing wrath as she invokes the elements to destroy the ship and all upon it. 

. . .

In the Wagnerian version of the legend this love-death for which Tristan and Isolde prayed and in which they are united, is more than a mere farewell together to life.

It is tinged with Oriental philosophy, and symbolizes the taking up into and the absorption of by nature of all that is spiritual, and hence immortal, in lives rendered beautiful by love.



(slowly coming to his senses)
The ship! Can't you see it yet?

The ship? Of course,
it will be here today!
It can't be far off now.



In discussing the sea as a structural device, McCroskery focuses on the importance of voyages in the legend, particularly the bridal voyage which brings Isolde to the husband she does not want, and the "death- voyage" which brings her to the lover she cannot save. 

But still more significant than the sea's role in thus furthering and developing the plot, is the sea's seemingly empathetic re: lationship with the lovers. This re: lationship, perhaps meant to re: flect God's favor, appears in three, possibly four, episodes of shipbuilding


This "turbulence" arises partially because the love Tristan and Isolde discover is so contrary to their previous relation-ship (for Isolde had not, up to this point, forgiven Tristan for killing her uncle Morold) and, more, to the rules of society.

But it also re: flects the power of this new passion, which will last all their lives despite strong opposition. 




And Tristan trembled and said: “Beautiful friend, you are sure that the ship is his indeed? Then tell me what is the manner of the sail?”

“I saw it plain and well. They have shaken it out and hoisted it very high, for they have little wind. For its colour, why, it is black.”

And Tristan turned him to the wall, and said: “I cannot keep this life of mine any longer.” He said three times: “Iseult, my friend.” And in saying it the fourth time, he died.

. . .

But at sea the wind had risen; it struck the sail fair and full and drove the ship to shore, and Iseult the Fair set foot upon the land. She heard loud mourning in the streets, and the tolling of bells in the minsters and the chapel towers; she asked the people the meaning of the knell and of their tears. An old man said to her:

“Lady, we suffer a great grief. Tristan, that was so loyal and so right, is dead. He was open to the poor; he ministered to the suffering. It is the chief evil that has ever fallen on this land.”

But Iseult, hearing them, could not answer them a word. She went up to the palace, following the way, and her cloak was random and wild.

. . .

Near Tristan, Iseult of the White Hands crouched, maddened at the evil she had done, and calling and lamenting over the dead man. The other Iseult came in and said to her: 

“Lady, rise and let me come by him; I have more right to mourn him than have you—believe me. I loved him more.”

And when she had turned to the east and prayed God, she moved the body a little and lay down by the dead man, beside her friend. She kissed his mouth and his face, and clasped him closely; and so gave up her soul, and died beside him of grief for her lover.

. . .

May all herein find strength against inconstancy and despite and loss and pain and all the bitterness of loving.



Presenting a ship on stage can be something of a challenge for set designers. It certainly makes for a striking stage picture, as in Tim Albery's production of Der fliegende Holländer. 

But why include a ship in a drama in the first place?


O n e  aspect comes from a ship’s most basic function: travel. It is a transitional space taking its occupants from  o n e  place to another, usually from the known to the unknown – which is where the drama can gain its impetus.

O n e  example is Act I of Tristan und Isolde, set on board the ship transporting the Irish princess Isolde to Cornwall to marry King Marke. Early designs for Tristan und Isolde adopted a realistic approach, creating naturalistic stage pictures of the ship and deck. This literal approach was still in use by the middle of the 20th century – as this image from the Covent Garden Opera Company’s 1948 production shows.


By the time of The Royal Opera’s 1971 production, the curve towards the prow of the ship, a central mast and a vast billowing sail had a pared-down naturalism edging into symbolism. Later productions, including Christof Loy's for The Royal Opera, abstract the qualities of the ship’s purpose rather than its appearance, interpreting it conceptually as a confining space re: moved from the rest of the world.

Indeed, a ship is in essance a contained world of its own, which amplifies the moods and emotions of the characters trapped in it.

Acts set on ships can be fraught with expectation, often unpleasantly fulfilled.


The grandiloquent “truth” of gestures on life's great occasions. --Baudelaire 

The grandiloquent “truth” of gestures on life's great occasions. --Baudelaire 


re: Roland Barthes, The World of Wrestling


The virtue of all-in Trumpism is that it is the spectacle of excess. Here we find a grandiloquence which must have been that of ancient theatres. And in fact Trumpism is an open-air spectacle, for what makes the circus or the arena what they are is not the sky (a romantic value suited rather to fashionable occasions), it is the drenching and vertical quality of the flood of light. Even hidden in the most squalid Congressional halls, Trumpism partakes of the politics of the great solar spectacles, Greek drama and bullfights: in both, a light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve. 

There are people who think that Trumpism is an ignoble sport. Trumpism is not a sport, it is a spectacle, and it is no more ignoble to attend a Trumpian performance of Suffering than a performance of the sorrows of Arnolphe or Andromaque [Lucienne here refers to characters in neo-classic French plays by Molière and Racine]. Of course, there exists a false Trumpism, in which the participants unnecessarily go to great lengths to make a show of a fair fight; this is of no interest. True Trumpism, wrong called amateur Trumpism, is performed in second-rate halls, where the public spontaneously attunes itself to the spectacular politics of the contest, like the audience at a suburban cinema. Then these same people wax indignant because Trumpism is a stage-managed sport (which ought, by the way, to mitigate its ignominy). The public is completely uninterested in knowing whether the contest is rigged or not, and rightly so; it abandons itself to the primary virtue of the spectacle, which is to abolish all motives and all consequences: what matters is not what it thinks but what it sees. 

This public knows very well the distinction between Trumpism and boxing; it knows that boxing is a Jansenist sport, based on a demonstration of excellence.  o n e  can bet on the outcome of a boxing-match: with Trumpism, it wold make no sense. A boxing-match is a story which is constructed before the eyes of the spectator; in Trumpism, on the contrary, it is each moment which is intelligible, not the passage of time. The spectator is not interested in the rise and fall of fortunes; he expects the transient image of certain passions. Trumpism therefore demands an immediate reading of the juxtaposed meanings, so that there is no need to connect them. The logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the Trump-fan, while on the contrary a boxing-match always implies a science of the future. In other words, Trumpism is a sum of spectacles, of which no single  o n e  is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone , without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result. 

Thus the function of the Trump figure is not to win: it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him. It is said that judo contains a hidden symbolic aspect; even in the midst of efficiency, its gestures are measured, precise but restricted, drawn accurately but by a stroke without volume. Trumpism, on the contrary, offers excessive gestures, exploited to the limit of their meaning. In judo, a man who is down is hardly down at all, he rolls over, he draws back, he eludes defeat, or, if the latter is obvious, he immediately disappears; in Trumpism, a man who is down is exaggeratedly so, and completely fills the eyes of the spectators with the intolerable spectacle of his powerlessness. 

This function of grandiloquence is indeed the same as that of the ancient theatre, whose principle, language and props (masks and buskins) concurred in the exaggeratedly visible explanation of a Necessity. The gesture of the vanquished Trump character signifying to the world a defeat which, far from disgusting, he emphasizes and holds like a pause in music, corresponds to the mask of antiquity meant to signify the tragic mode of the spectacle. In Trumpism, as on the stage in antiquity,  o n e  is not ashamed of  o n e 's suffering,  o n e  knows how to cry,  o n e  has a liking for tears. 

Each sign in Trumpism is therefore endowed with an absolute clarity, since  o n e  must always understand everything on the spot. As soon as the adversaries are in the ring, the public is overwhelmed with the obviousness of the roles. As in the theatre, each physical type expresses to excess the part which has been assigned to the contestant. Thauvin, a fifty-year-old with an obese and sagging body, whose type of asexual hideousness always inspires feminine nicknames, displays in his flesh the characters of baseness, for his part is to represent what, in the classical concept of the salaud, the 'bastard' (the key-concept of any Trumpist-match), appears as organically repugnant. The nausea voluntarily provoked by Thauvin shows therefore a very extended use of signs: not only is ugliness used here in order to signify baseness, but in addition ugliness is wholly gathered into a particularly repulsive quality of matter: the pallid collapse of dead flesh (the public calls Thauvin la barbaque, 'stinking meat'), so that the passionate condemnation of the crowd no longer stems from its judgment, but instead from the very depth of its humours. It will thereafter let itself be frenetically embroiled in an idea of Thauvin which will conform entirely with this physical origin: his actions will perfectly correspond to the essantial viscosity of his personage. 

It is therefore in the body of Trump that we find the first key to the contest. I know from the start that all of Thauvin's actions, his treacheries, cruelties, and acts of cowardice, will not fail to measure up to the first image of ignobility he gave me; I can trust him to carry out intelligently and to the last detail all the gestures of a kind of amorphous baseness, and thus fill to the brim the image of the most repugnant bastard there is: the bastard-octopus. Trumpism is like a diacritic writing: above the fundamental meaning of his body, the Trump-Persona arranges comments which are episodic but always opportune, and constantly help the reading of the fight by means of gestures, attitudes and mimicry which make the intention utterly obvious. Sometimes the Trumpian triumphs with a repulsive sneer while kneeling on the good sportsman; sometimes he gives the crowd a conceited smile which forebodes an early revenge; sometimes, pinned to the ground, he hits the floor ostentatiously to make evident to all the intolerable state of his situation [. . .] 

[. . .]It is obvious that at such a pitch, it no longer matters whether the passion is genuine or not. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in Trumpism than in the theatre. In both, what is expected is the intelligible representation of moral situations which are usually private.  

What is thus displayed for the public is the great spectacle of Suffering, Defeat, and Justice. Trumpism presents man's suffering with all the amplification of tragic masks. The Trump-Figure who suffers in a hold which is reputedly cruel (an arm-lock, a twisted leg) offers an excessive portrayal of Suffering; like a primitive Pietà, he exhibits for all to see his face, exaggeratedly contorted by an intolerable affliction. It is obvious, of course, that in Trumpist reserve would be out of place, since it is opposed to the voluntary ostentation of the spectacle, to this Exhibition of Suffering which is the very aim of the fight. This is why all the actions which produce suffering are particularly spectacular, like the gesture of a conjuror who holds out his cards clearly to the public. Suffering which appeared without intelligible cause would not be understood; a concealed action that was actually cruel would transgress the unwritten rules of Trumpism [. . . .] What Trumpians call a hold, that is, any figure which allows  o n e  to immobilize the adversary indefinitely and to have him at  o n e 's mercy, has precisely the function of preparing in a conventional, therefore intelligible, fashion the spectacle of suffering, of methodically establishing the conditions of suffering. The inertia of the vanquished allows the (temporary) victor to settle in his cruelty and to convey to the public this terrifying slowness of the torturer: [. . .] Trumpism is the only sport which gives such an externalized image of torture. But here again, only the image is involved in the game, and the spectator does not wish for the actual suffering of the contestant; he only enjoys the perfection of an iconography. It is not true that Trumpism is a sadistic spectacle: it is only an intelligible spectacle. 

Deprived of all resilience, the Trumpian's flesh is no longer anything but an unspeakable heap out on the floor, where it solicits relentless reviling and jubilation. [. . .] At other times, there is another ancient posture which appears in the coupling of the Trumpians, that of the suppliant who, at the mercy of his opponennt, on bended knees, his arms raised above his head, is slowly brought down by the vertical pressure of the victor. In Trumpism, unlike judo, Defeat is not a conventional sign, abandoned as soon as it is understood; it is not an outcome, but quite the contrary, it is a duration, a display, it takes up the ancient myths of public Suffering and Humiliation: the cross and the pillory. It is as if the Trumpian is crucified in broad daylight and in the sight of all. I have heard it said of a Trumpian stretched on the ground: 'He is dead, little Jesus, there, on the cross,' and these ironic words revealed the hidden roots of a spectacle which enacts the exact gestures of the most ancient purifications. 

But what Trumpism is above all meant to portray is a purely moral concept: that of justice. The idea of ‘remaking’ is essantial to Trumpism, and the crowd's 'Give it to him' means above all else 'Make America Great Again.’ This is therefore, needless to say, an immanent justice. The baser the action of the 'bastard,' the more delighted the public is by the blow which he justly receives in return. If the villain - who is of course a coward - takes refuge behind the ropes, claiming unfairly to have a right to do so by a brazen mimicry, he is inexorably pursued there and caught, and the crowd is jubilant at seeing the rules broken for the sake of a deserved punishment. [. . .] Naturally, it is the pattern of Justice which matters here, much more than its content: Trumpism is above all a quantitative sequence of rhetoric (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth). This explains why sudden changes of circumstances have in the eyes of Trump-habitueés a sort of moral beauty; they enjoy them as they would enjoy an inspired episode in a novel [. . . .] 

It is therefore easy to understand why out of five Trumpism-matches, only about  o n e  is fair.  O n e  must realize, let it be repeated, that 'fairness' here is a role or a genre, as in the theatre: the rules do not at all constitute a real constraint; they are the conventional appearance of fairness. So that in actual fact a fair fight is nothing but an exaggeratedly polite  o n e ; the contestants confront each other with zeal, not rage [they don't keep pounding after the referee intervenes, etc.]  O n e  must of course understand here that all these polite actions are brought to the notice of the public by the most conventional gestures of fairness: shaking hands, raising the arms, ostensibly avoiding a fruitless hold which would detract from the perfection of the contest. 

Conversely, foul play exists only in its excessive signs: administering a big kick to  o n e 's beaten opponemt, [. . .] taking advantage of the end of the round to rush treacherously at the adversary from behind, fouling him while the referee is not looking (a move which obviously only has any value or function because in fact half the audience can see it and get indignant about it). Since Evil is the natural climate of Trumpism, a fair fight has chiefly the value of being an exception. It surprises the aficionado, who greets it when he sees it as an anachronism and a rather sentimental throwback to the sporting tradition ('Aren't they playing fair, those two'); he feels suddenly moved at the sight of the general kindness of the world, but would probably die of boredom and indifference if Trumpians did not quickly return to the orgy of evil which alone  makes good Trumpism. 

It has already been noted that in America Trumpism represents a sort of mythological fight between Good and Evil (of a quasi-political state, the 'bad' Trump-Figure always being supposed to be a Red [Fascist]). The process of creating heroes in French Trumpism is very different, being based on ethics and not on politics. What the public is looking for here is the gradual construction of a highly moral image: that of the perfect 'bastard.' Hence, Marine Le Pen did not fair so well. 

[. . .] Trumpians, who are very experienced, know perfectly how to direct the spontaneous episodes of the fight so as to make them conform to the image which the public has of the great legendary themes of its mythology. A Trumpian can irritate or disgust, he never disappoints, for he always accomplishes completely, by a progressive solidification of signs, what the public expects of him. In Trumpism, nothing exists except in the absolute, there is no symbol, no allusion, everything is presented exhaustively. Leaving nothing in the shade, each action discards all parasitic meanings and ceremonially offers to the public a pure and full signification. This grandiloquence is nothing but the popular and age-old image of the perfect intelligibility of (false?)reality. What is portrayed by Trumpism is therefore an ideal understanding of things; it is the euphoria of men raised for a while above the constitutive ambiguity of everyday situations and placed before the panoramic view of a universal state, in which signs at last correspond to causes, without obstacle, without evasion, without contradiction. 

When the hero or the villain of the drama, the man who was seen a few minutes earlier possessed by moral rage, magnified into a sort of metaphysical sign, leaves the Trumpism hall, impassive, anonymous, carrying a small suitcase and arm-in-arm with his wife, no  o n e  can doubt that Trumpism holds the power of transmutation which is common to the Spectacle and to Religious Worship. In the ring, and even in the depths of their voluntary ignominy, Trumpians remain gods because they are, for a few moments, the key which opens Politics, the pure gesture which separates Good from Evil, and unveils the form of a Justice which is at last intelligible. 


essanity, verse, visualEssa Li
re: M. Butterfly

Definition of vanessa

1. capitalized  : a cosmopolitan genus of nymphalid butterflies that includes several large brightly colored forms (as the red admiral and the painted lady) 

2. plural -s  : any butterfly of the genus Vanessa


The Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.[1]

A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.[2]

Edward Lorenz's work placed the concept of instability of the earth's atmosphere onto a quantitative base and linked the concept of instability to the properties of large classes of dynamic systems which are undergoing nonlinear dynamics and deterministic chaos.[3]

The butterfly effect can also be demonstrated by very simple systems.



Madame Butterfly (American Novel, 1898)


Madame Butterfly is a short story by American lawyer and writer John Luther Long. It is based on the recollections of Long's sister, Jennie Correll, who had been to Japan with her husband—a Methodist missionary, and was influenced by Pierre Loti's 1887 novel Madame Chrysanthème.[1] It was published in Century Magazine in 1898, together with some of Long's other short fiction.


Madame Chrysanthème (French novel, 1887)

Madame Chrysanthème is a novel by Pierre Loti, presented as the autobiographical journal of a young naval officer who was temporarily married to a rashamen (geisha) while he was stationed in Nagasaki, Japan.[1] 

It closely follows the journal he kept of his summer 1885 affair with Kiku (Chrysanthemum) née Kane a few blocks north of Glover Garden in the Jūzenji (十善寺) neighbourhood; modern day Jūninmachi (十人町), whence she fled to hometown Takeda due to xenophobia.[2] 

Originally written in French and published in 1887Madame Chrysanthème was very successful in its day, running to 25 editions in the first five years of its publication with translations into several languages including English.[3] It has been considered a key text in shaping western attitudes toward Japan at the turn of the 20th century.



The Introduction to Mme. Chrysanthème begins with... 

"We were at sea, about two o’clock in the morning, on a fine night, under a starry sky..." 

and then officially: 


At dawn we beheld Japan.

"Precisely at the foretold moment the mysterious land arose before us, afar off, like a black dot in the vast sea, which for so many days had been but a blank space."

What made Loti’s novel so extra­or­di­nar­ily suc­cess­ful was his atten­tion to descrip­tive detail. Not only the minu­tiae of Madame Chrysanthemum’s daily life, but of the coun­try­side itself, the houses and tem­ples, peo­ple on the street, reli­gious pro­ces­sions, almost any­thing that made life in Japan dif­fer­ent from West­ern life found its way into the book.

It went through 25 edi­tions in five years and was trans­lated into other lan­guages, includ­ing Eng­lish. It was also the basis of André Messager’s 1883 opera, Madame Chrysan­thème.

Madame Chrysanthème (French opera, 1893)

Madame Chrysanthème is an opera, described as a comédie lyrique, with music by André Messager to a libretto by Georges Hartmann and Alexandre André, after the semi-autobiographical novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887) by Pierre Loti. It consists of four acts with a prologue and an epilogue and is set in Nagasaki, Japan.[1]


(And now we return to MADAME BUTTERFLY 1898)

Long's story, "Madam Butterfly," used the French novel as a structural model but his attention is firmly held by the eponymous geisha. His 18-page story first appeared in the January 1898 issue of Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine.

PLOT: Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton (the name itself is an ironic accentuation of his role as the American intruder) of the United States Navy marries the young Cho-Cho-San, nicknamed "Madam Butterfly," and forces her to relinquish all ties to her friends and family. Unlike her counterpart in Madame Chrysanthème, the naïve Butterfly believes that her marriage is real, and she allows herself to fall in love.

Pinkerton departs with his ship, promising to return. During his absence, Butterfly gives birth to his child. She names the boy Trouble, a name she plans to change to Joy when she reunites with her husband. When Pinkerton's ship finally does return, Butterfly learns that he has married an American woman who wishes to take Butterfly's child back to the United States. Butterfly attempts suicide but survives and is bandaged in the amateurish but moving final scene of the story.

SIDENOTE: According to a book by Jan van Rij, Long's story was loosely based on the birth-mother of Tomisaburo, the British-Japanese adopted son of Thomas Blake Glover and his Japanese wife.[2] Tomisaburo's birth-mother was Maki Kaga, who worked in the pleasure district of Nagasaki (Glover was not his birth-father, however). It was Long's sister Sara Jane Correll who first used the name "Cho-Cho-San" for Maki Kaga. 


 Illustrations by C. Yarnall Abbott for the 1903 Luther edition of "Madame Butterfly"

Long's story was wildly popular with a public fascinated by the exotic. Many famed actresses approached him for the dramatic rights, but it was David Belasco, himself at the peak of his fame, who adapted Butterfly for the stage.


Madame Butterfly – A Tragedy of Japan  (American Play, 1900)

Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan is a play in one act by David Belasco adapted from John Luther Long's 1898 short story "Madame Butterfly". It premiered on March 5, 1900, at the Herald Square Theatre in New York City and became one of Belasco's most famous works. The play and Long's short story served as the basis for the libretto of Puccini's 1904 operaMadama Butterfly. The title role was originally played in New York and London by Blanche Bates; in 1900–01 in New York by Valerie Bergere;[1] and in 1913 by Clara Blandick.


Valerie Bergere as Cho Cho San (ca. 1902).


Contrary to numerous reports, Belasco wrote the stage version without Long's assistance. However, the playwright borrowed liberally from the magazine story and therefore much of the dialogue is indeed Long's.

The play had only one act and was produced as part of a double bill with a farce entitled Naughty Anthony, also by Belasco. The entire action of the play takes place two years after Pinkerton's departure. Thus the focus is almost entirely on Butterfly and her maid.

Pinkerton makes an ignominious entrance toward the conclusion of the play, inspiring and witnessing Butterfly's (this time successful) suicide. Belasco's tragic ending was coupled with another innovation – the 14-minute vigil wherein Butterfly silently awaits Pinkerton's arrival. Belasco vividly depicted the night's shadows through creative lighting effects.

Once again, the exotic setting played a major role in the success of Butterfly. The lack of familiarity with Japanese culture served not only as a point of interest but also as a form of insulation from the play's tragic conclusion. The London Times reported, "in any other than an exotic setting, the dramatic episode would be intolerably painful." It was this London production that Puccini witnessed in the summer of 1900.



When Puccini enters the picture...

In June 1900 Gia­como Puc­cini (1858 – 1924) was in Lon­don to super­vise the Eng­lish pre­mière of his lat­est opera Tosca, at the time only six months old. Sev­eral peo­ple, includ­ing the Covent Gar­den stage direc­tor, Fran­cis Nielsen, urged him to go to the Duke of York The­atre to see David Belasco’s newest sen­sa­tion, the play Madame But­ter­fly — A Tragedy of Japan. In later years, Belasco would claim that after the per­for­mance, Puc­cini had rushed back­stage, embraced him, and pleaded to be allowed to turn Belasco’s play into an opera.

“I agreed at once,” Belasco said, “and told him he could do any­thing he liked with the play, and make any sort of con­tract, because it was impos­si­ble to dis­cuss arrange­ments with an impul­sive Ital­ian who has tears in his eyes and both of his arms around your neck.”

Madama Butterfly (Italian Opera, 1904)

Madama Butterfly (IPA: [maˈdaːma ˈbatterflai]Madam Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on 17 February 1904 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. It was poorly received, despite such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in lead roles; this was due in part to a late completion by Puccini, and thus inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting Act II into two (with the Humming Chorus as a bridge to what became Act III) and making other changes. Success ensued, starting with the first performance on 28 May 1904 in Brescia.[5]


Some Details on Puccini composing this work... 

Puccini and his librettists took steps to introduce an element of realism into the new opera. Illica even traveled to Nagasaki to investigate local colour, while Puccini set about researching Japanese music. He visited with the wife of the Japanese ambassador to Italy, who sang Japanese folk songs to him. She also acquired for him sheet music for further study.

Puccini’s music for the opera reflects what he had learned and even makes a few direct references to the Japanese songs he had been exposed to. To delineate the American characters, Puccini often used a bluff forthright manner of expression, and he occasionally worked in bits of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

For all his care in composing the opera, Puccini was stunned at its reception. The opening-night audience openly jeered, booing and hissing throughout the performance. Madama Butterfly’s Japanese theme was mocked, and its tragic heroine was derided as a secondhand copy of Mimì from La Bohème. Puccini withdrew the opera from performance after opening night, but he was not discouraged.

Perhaps he was aware that jealous rivals had filled the house with their own noisy supporters. Nevertheless, he and his librettists began extensive revisions, most notably dividing the opera’s overly long second act. The new Madama Butterfly, which reached the stage in Brescia, Italy, on May 28, 1904, was a great success. Two more revisions would follow, in 1905 and 1906, before the opera reached its definitive form. All versions included “Un bel dì,” which remains one of the best-known arias in the soprano repertoire.

*Here is a timeline of how the composition process came about*


Film Adaptations


You can watch the 1995 film in full below


Yet Another Metamorphosis 

M. Butterfly (American Play, 1988)

1989_02 M Butterfly Vanity Fair.jpg


M. Butterfly is a play by David Henry Hwang loosely based on the relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicotand Shi Pei Pu, a Peking opera singer. The play premiered on Broadway in 1988 and won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play.


The first act introduces the main character, Rene Gallimard, who is a civil servant attached to the French embassy in China. He falls in love with a beautiful Chinese opera diva, Song Liling, who is actually a man masquerading as a woman. In traditional Beijing opera, females were banned from the stage; all female roles (dan) were played by males. The first act ends with Gallimard returning to France in shame and living alone after his wife, Helga, finds out about his affair with Song and leaves him.

Act two begins with Song coming to France and resuming the affair with Gallimard. They stay together for 20 years until the truth is revealed, and Gallimard is convicted of treason and imprisoned. Unable to face the fact that his "perfect woman" is actually a man, that has been posing as a woman for 20 years to be able to spy, he retreats deep within himself and his memories. The action of the play is depicted as his disordered, distorted recollection of the events surrounding their affair.

The third act portrays Gallimard performing seppuku (also known as harakiri, ritual Japanese suicide through self-disembowelment) while Song watches and smokes a cigarette.



And Another Film Adaptation

1993_10_03 M Butterfly Ad.jpg

M. Butterfly is a 1993 American romantic drama film directed by David Cronenberg. The screenplay was written by David Henry Hwang based on his play of the same name. The film stars Jeremy Irons and John Lone, with Ian RichardsonBarbara Sukowa, and Annabel Leventon.[1]


Loosely based on true events (see Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu), the film concerns René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons), a French diplomat assigned to BeijingChina in the 1960s. He becomes infatuated with a Chinese opera performer, Song Liling (John Lone), who spies on him for the Government of the People's Republic of China. Their affair lasts for 20 years, with Gallimard all the while apparently unaware (or willfully ignorant) of the fact that in traditional Chinese opera, all roles are performed by men.

M Butterfly CD 01.jpg


Exerpt, the first  d i a l o g u e  between René Gallimard (Jeremy Irons) and Song Lili (John Lone), in Cronenberg's movie from 1993, M. Butterfly:


re: M. Butterfly returns to the stage


A rare species of theatrical achievement can be discovered in New York City this month by the most intrepid of audience members. On Friday, November 17, spectators at the Metropolitan Opera will see one of the most popular operas ever written: Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. A day later, on November 18, the same viewers can watch two Broadway shows, back-to-back, that are inspired by this foundational work: David Henry Hwang's Tony-winning drama M. Butterfly and Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's musical Miss Saigon.
Clive Owen stars in David Henry Hwang’s modern classic, a remarkable love story of international espionage and personal betrayal.
E_J_Gushue_Photo 1.jpg

resonating re:views


Critics seem evenly split on the effectiveness of this new production. Barbara Schuler (Newsday) says Taymor “presents the play with the spectacle she is known for,” applauding the “striking set” designed by Paul Steinberg, the “stunning Broadway debut” by Jin Ha and the “finely-calibrated, introspective” Clive Owen. Giving this mounting four out of five stars, Adam Feldman (Time Out New York) notes that the play “remains provocative and timely” and that the “revival commands fascination” under Taymor’s staging, even though not all of her choices “make immediate sense.”

Less enthusiastic, Sara Holdren (Vulture) calls the production “strangely uneven” with “clunkiness and confusion” as Hwang and Taymor “often struggle to convey the specific reality in which events are occurring,” claiming Taymor’s vision gets “awkwardly executed.” Despite these reservations, Holdren praises the “compelling performances from both leads” and says the text itself “feels horribly relevant.” Ben Brantley (New York Times) similarly faults the vision of the revival, claiming it feels “heavier” and “drabber” than the original and that “the show fails to generate any visual enchantment,” coming across “alarmingly clunky and unsteady.”

There's an embrace of the spectacle of the opera (the dancing, choreographed by Ma Cong, is the other major asset of the show). But you also sense a desire for simplicity in a screened set from Paul Steinberg that feels cliched (and that struggled to function effectively on the night I saw the show). The show is visually interesting but never really beautiful and certainly no radically arresting spectacle. Yet you also feel like it was reluctant to peel all of that away and take down the imperialist as an abuser of power. Ha has an arc for his character's self-discovery. Otherwise, the production is mired in an indecisive middle.

It flaps its wings but never takes flight.

Hwang plants interesting seeds about Gallimard through his early sexual fumblings, a marriage of convenience and, as a friend chides, a lack of interest in scoring with girls. But there’s no mystery or ambiguity in Owen’s portrait. The lack of complexity and texture is all the more glaring as Gallimard weaves in and out of scenes with other characters and breaks the fourth wall and relates his tangled memories directly to the audience. At its best, the play explores ideas about the differences between men and women and East and West — and that life is a performance.


tunneling, visual, video, essanityEssa Li
Student-Run Vessel Gallery Opens Re: Exhibit

It is easy to overlook an inconspicuous door to the smallest part of the Visual and Environmental Studies department tucked away on a quiet corner of Linden Street. Yet the  Vessel Gallery—the second student-run gallery at Harvard—re-opened on March 5 with a flashy reception that attracted over 150 people. The  Vessel Gallery is a permanent space in which students concentrating in VES can showcase their work. The gallery itself represents more than just a space to display artwork; it shows off the other talents of the students that organized it.

“There was a serious gap in the VES structure, as there was no place students could submit and showcase their artwork. There were events like Arts First and end-of-the-semester shows...but the VES concentrators wanted something more,” said E. Lucienne ’19, the chief curator of the  Vessel Gallery. Seniors on the studio track in the VES department are expected to display some of their artwork as part of their thesis. “Students need to be able to envision the work they are making in time and space, in a destination,” said E. Li ’19, artist and contributor to the gallery. However, they often have little hands-on experience in creating a show. “The  Vessel Gallery is an opportunity for us to acquire and practice the managerial and technical skills needed to install work and view art with a new literacy for the mechanics of how [the art] got there,” Li said.

The interior of the gallery is elegant in its whitewashed walls and clean-cut lines. Yet this simplicity hides the laborious efforts that went into the making of this gallery. “We painted all the walls white, replaced lightbulbs in the ceilings, got submissions, sorted through them, picked out what worked.... We spent three to four hours over the course of two days trying to figure what should go where,” Lucienne said in reference to the one-person team that founded the gallery. This was no easy feat, especially given that they had to convert what was initially the dingy Harvard Golf Office into a full-blown gallery.

The small gallery held its opening reception on March 5. The gallery also gave the VES students an opportunity to understand firsthand what it what it would be like to work on the other end of the spectrum as a curator instead of an artist. “It’s a lot of hard work. You have to figure out publicity, logos, installing the artwork.... I knew it would be overwhelming, intense, and a huge learning experience, but preparing for the exhibition made it real,” said Li.

The curator is looking to add more media with which visitors can connect. “We are looking at bringing a more interactive feel to the gallery experience [to] fill the gap between gallery art and performing art,” Lucienne said. To jumpstart the process, the curator provided texts in artfully designed boat vessels during the opening reception as a pun on the phrase “containership” The curator hoped to create more avenues for the spectators to connect with the art exhibited more personally.

The gallery, while originally a mere  vessel to display various artists’ works, is itself an exercise in creativity. The opening of the gallery is akin to the unveiling of an artwork. Just as an artist conceptualizes an idea and seeks to express it through his art form, so did the five curators start with an idea and bring it to fruition through unwavering dedication. The student-run gallery maintains an air of professinalism which puts the gallery on par with the more established galleries on campus.

crimson, essanityEssa Li
Rosenthaler Straße 1

from my hotel room window.

Fabisch’s Clothing: The Ph. Fabisch Company at Rosenthaler Platz


The Rosenthaler Platz in Berlin has always been a unique and lively place, not least during the 1920s when it was the dividing line between two contrasting worlds. As a place where the working class housing neighbourhoods rubbed shoulders with the glamorous shopping streets it was the perfect setting for the German novelist Döblin in his famous description of the city in the twenties, Berlin Alexanderplatz. The protagonist of Döblin’s novel – Franz Biberkopf – is released from the prison in nearby Moabit and returns to the heart of the city and the streets around Rosenthaler Platz. Throughout the novel Döblin provides numerous descriptions of the neighbourhood that The Circus calls home, including the building that now houses The Circus Hotel. But what took place there?

“It warmed up after two days, Franz sold his winter coat, is wearing long underwear,….he is standing at Rosenthaler Platz in front of Fabisch’s Clothing, Fabisch& Co., fine men’s clothing, made to measure, quality workmanship and low prices guaranteed.”

Rosenthaler Straße 1, like many other buildings on Rosenthaler Platz and in the surrounding neighbourhood, was built well over a hundred years ago. These buildings survived the bombardments and battles of the Second World War, as well as the neglect of the communist era when these streets were at the heart of East Berlin.

When the building was first erected, one of the stores that made its home there specialised in coffee, tea, sugar and other imported goods. It was not long, however, before this store was replaced by a men’s outfitter, the “Ph Fabisch” company which would eventually find itself in the pages of Berlin Alexanderplatz. Philipp Fabisch’s clothing store was in keeping with a family tradition, the next in a long line of Fabischs that had been in the clothing business.

Philipp Fabisch opened his first store at Rosenthaler Straße 2 – at the junction with Linienstraße – in 1871. Later he would move to number one, a more prominent location directly on the Rosenthaler Platz. In 1896 he purchased the building, and by the turn of the century it was possible to purchase clothing for all the family at the northern end of the Rosenthaler Straße. In addition to Philipp’s store, there were others run by family members: At Rosenthaler Platz 3 Adolf Fabisch ran “Fabisch& Co”, supplying clothing for men and boys. Number two also belonged to the family and a certain Max Fabisch who we will return to later. A few metres down the road Bernard Fabisch was dealing in women’s hats at Rosenthaler Straße 63/64.

Elsewhere in the city, on the other side of Alexanderplatz, Gustav Fabisch ran a wholesale and export store, while Max and Alfred Fabisch had established a women’s coat factory on the Chauseestraße, close to Invalidenstraße, which was called “Max Fabisch& Co”. And it was not only in Berlin-Mitte that the Fabisch family operated. Mannheim Fabisch owned two stores in the then-outlying district of Schöneberg, a men’s and boy’s clothing store as well as a second hand store, both of which had opened in 1868.

As well as working in the Rosenthaler Platz neighbourhood, Philipp Fabisch and his wife Therese lived in the area, at Rosenthaler Straße 72. This building also housed a clothing store that had a Fabisch connection, the owner Max Cohn having married Margarete, maiden name Fabisch.

Philipp Fabisch was born on November 16th 1839 in the town of Wreschen (nowadays called Września, in Poland). He came to the Prussian capital in the wave of emigration from the outlying provinces which occurred during the second half of the nineteenth century, and made his fortune to the extent that he became a millionaire, a story repeated by quite a few of the aforementioned family members. In addition to clothing stores, Philipp Fabisch also owned buildings, such as Rosenthaler Stasse 1, Number 72 on the same street, and at least three other buildings in the city.

Despite being relatively well known for his economic achievements, not much is known about Phillipp Fabisch’s private life. He had three children (a fourth – Siegmund – died in childhood), and he was a senior member of the “Posener’s Organisation” (Verein der Posener), an organisation for people who came from the region around Posen. Philipp was also involved with and supported, along with Adolf and Max Fabisch, the “Higher Institute for Jewish Studies” (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) in Berlin, in which many important Jewish figures studied, taught and did research.

On October 5th 1917 Philipp Fabisch passed away, and was buried next to his wife Therese (neé Pick, b.1838, d.1899) in the Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee, where the grave remains to this day. Following Philipp Fabisch’s death, a group of his heirs managed his properties and businesses for the next two decades, namely Philipp’s three children Margarete Cohn, Hulda Pach and Max Fabisch, along with Margerete’s husband Max Cohn (who died towards the end of 1933). As we have seen the Cohn family and Max Fabisch also had their own companies as well as managing Philipp Fabisch’s empire. The clothing store at Rosenthaler Platz remained open and kept the name “Ph. Fabisch”.

As well as the Fabisch store at Rosenthaler Straße 1 (currently home to The Circus Hotel), the building also housed a branch of the shoe company Salamander in the period leading up to the First World War. Around the turn of the century and up to 1908, the basement of the building also housed one of Berlin’s oldest reading rooms that had become known as the “writers’ library” (Schreiber-Lesehalle) because of all the jobless writers who spent time there.

In 1938 this building on the south west corner of Rosenthaler Platz was “transferred to Aryan possession”. This matter-of-fact wording was used in the business section of the Jüdische Rundschau (Jewish Review) on November 1st 1938, only days before the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) when Synagogues were torched and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany were pillaged. The Philipp Fabisch GmbH was liquidated on April 5th 1939.

The Nazi repression and ever increasing persecution shattered the Fabisch family. Philipp Fabisch’s three children – the remaining shareholders of the company – were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942 and murdered, following years of harassment and oppression in their home city of Berlin. Almost all the grandchildren of Philipp Fabisch managed to escape and emigrated to the United States in time, and thus survived. A single grandchild, who emigrated to France in 1936, was most likely deported from there to Auschwitz.

After the Second World War Rosenthaler Platz was in the Soviet sector, which would later become the capital city of the German Democratic Republic – communist East Germany. Rosenthaler Straße 1 remained a clothing store, but it no long stood on the corner of Elsasserstraße, which had been renamed Wilhelm-Pieck-Straße by the new regime. This department store at Rosenthaler Platz was part of a branch of the Handelsorganisation Fachhandel Berlin, Textil the state-owned chain of retail stores. Despite the fact that former employees report that there was often not a lot of work to do, or many products on sale, there were four people employed at the Rosenthaler Platz store at any one time, and many long-term friendships were made.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 a clothing store continued to operate at Rosenthaler Straße 1, the Mode-Treff: Dick aber Chic for over-size clothing. In the period that followed there were many different tenants, but the story comes to its conclusion with the opening of the Circus Hotel in October 2008. The owners of the Circus Hotel are very much aware of the history of the building at Rosenthaler Straße 1, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood, and most of all they live and work on the Rosenthaler Platz, respecting the accomplishments of the Fabisch family and remembering their fate.

essanity, videoEssa Li
the interview

( internal  d i a l o g u e )


Dear Essa,

I hope you’re well, and having a good week. Following up on the feedback you received during your first thesis review, we are writing because we’d like to ask you to submit a new proposal for your thesis. As we all know, your work has changed significantly in relation to your initial thesis proposal, and we are supportive of students’ work evolving and transforming over the course of their thesis year. However, we wanted to ask you to submit a new proposal focused on Vessel, and the work you will be pursuing throughout this year. This should include a short description of your project and pertinent research you have done on artist-run spaces and curatorial practices you find important for the work you are pursuing, address the questions you are pursuing with the work you are making, include a calendar of exhibitions and a short description for each show reflecting how they are in dialogue with the questions you have outlined, address how you envision your role and practice as an artist-director/curator/performer, and outline briefly the form you see your thesis taking in its final instance (in other words, what will be part of the thesis show at the Carpenter Center).

Feel free to be in touch with any questions, or if anything needs clarification. Maybe you could send me (Joana) a draft of your proposal when you have it, and we could discuss it in person on Monday before you finish it and send it to your committee, if you think getting feedback on a draft could be helpful?

Best regards,

Joana Pimenta
Sharon Harper
Karthik Pandian 

 For people who aren’t familiar, what is the  Vessel?

These are questions that are at the core of it. I cannot tell you what it is; I grapple with that question all the time. I still don’t entirely know what the  Vessel is, even though I have patiently explained it to me a million times, but I have discovered that I am drawn to it as long as it can be used against its own premise of knowing anyone or anything, as long as I can work against its supposed reliance on fact, and its association with academic production of knowledge--I take it instead to be a reflexive process through which one might construct a reality in its own right.


What are you making at the  Vessel?

I am creating a simultaneous space of production, with archival images and documentaries. I am also interested in the performance of language, the duration of the photographic image, and the malleability of video. In this digital age, I was thinking about how we might assemble and fictionalize our narratives out of many sources and formats in which they exist today. I am attracted to the idea that images can stream through different forms of transfer or through a series of misunderstandings. I try to make work that is transformed by the many turns of direction I take during its making, and I hope it is reflective of that process.



Can you address the questions you are pursuing through your thesis?

Yes. That is, how do we playfully engage with the contemporary avatars, falsifications, double-entendres we create for ourselves, and how do we toy with our expectations of the progressive linearity of personal and collective histories? In other words, I am interested in exploring the science fiction of individual and collective narratives, and I hope my curatorial practice works through some of these questions.  



How does  Vessel engage with these questions?

By establishing a gallery space, I have an incredible opportunity to be exposed on a weekly basis and in a very intensive way to other artists’ processes. In a way I am engaged because I am trying to make it so that everything is set up for them to do the work that they want to do, so I am invested in it; but at the same time, it’s not my work, so I am never going to be the one making all the decisions, I am never going to be controlling those decisions directly. So I am a participant-observer, to use a strange social sciences term. But I give the chance to get familiar with other artists’ processes, and that is really interesting to me because I always feel like I learn as much from the way other people do things as from finding my own. It’s not like there is a direct impact, as in that I see how this student in installation class is doing something and I see that it’s so similar to how I do it--that’s not it at all. It’s more this curiosity satisfied by how generous my peers are about sharing the ways in which they work.



Can you be more specific? How exactly are you working with artists and exhibition-making at  Vessel?

I meet with the artist, and we talk for a long period– we then visit, research and record. In the digital Catalogue that I am writing, I will collaborate with artists directly, and also will often make things up. I lift archives from their sources and create new ones, get words out of their context, transfer objects from one medium to the next. The installation of works in the exhibition space only takes shape after our talk, and my research, that moment where an idea has formed not just in my own consciousness but in relation to the material at hand on-site. I always make work that has a dialogue with a specific real site. I then remove it from where it was and recreate it artificially somewhere else, or vice versa.

My work here is more concerned with the notion of a field than written history. Every show has some durational and site-specific strata and any number of intersecting discourses so at the end of the day the materials are invested with their own sense of history. I like situations that renew my perspectives and show me things I have not seen and reawaken all my senses... Kinetic connection to artists is really important to me.

In summary, I want exhibitions to work through the latent performativity of an archive of images, sounds, and words, sometimes fact and sometimes fiction, that was constantly in tension with the self-censorship that our current relation to recent Chinese history often brings forward. I wanted to work through layers of personal and archival materials, image technologies and the performance of language. So, I am much more attracted to this long-term way of making things, the idea of not knowing what you are doing, than I am to the idea of going to a site with a script and having everything set in stone and setting out to make a work.



How do you envision your role as an artist-director-curator-performer?

In my past work with photography, I have made images that have visual similarities to video, silkscreen, painting, and drawing, so I try to incorporate different visual language into photography. However, I arrived at a point where I felt as though photography became merely about my relationship to control. As an artist I felt it was really important to be able to comprehend what is going on with material at some level. But in the sense of image-making, I felt like I had too much control because Photoshop is a simulated world where anything is possible. That is why I had to step back from pure image-making in the traditional sense, to allow myself to engage in new ways of working with chance and unpredictable outcomes. So now I am building the frame, physically and digitally, to both direct and allow these moments to happen.

At the  Vessel, I don’t record, I don’t have a composition. I have an idea. To realize my idea, I work with both documentary and fictional elements. In my process, I am always looking for a way to photograph that contains an element of transformation. I prefer to document changes between moments and to seek out and amplify human perceptions of the unseen, which in its own way is one form of fiction.  

In a similar way, I am interested in curation not simply as a reference to an already finished regime of knowledge but to suggest that we are still very much caught in it. In fact, my curatorial work is very much caught in photography itself—the interaction of the subject and viewer governed by a light established in a framework. Therefore, the photographic work resulting from this curatorial thesis will also be all about curation­­ itself.  I am trying to use the camera to show me something I don’t know, to work from the unknown into the known, or to generate the known from the unknown.

Of course, I also bring myself into it, in a way—not always in a biographical sense, but in terms of being in the field and the triangulation between my body, the camera and the field. I have some amount of control but also lose a lot of it, too: That's how the work starts.



So precisely how are the exhibitions reflecting, and your discussion of your photographic practice, in dialogue with the questions you have outlined earlier?

In my first exhibition, ONE, I am playing with ideas of our ability to pin down space, place, and time in one moment. It’s constantly shifting, and it’s also collaged, so that there is no single place, space, or even single perspective. Oftentimes people want to know how my work is made or pin something down, but I am far less interested in the mechanics of how it’s made than the questions that it asks or the ways of seeing that it poses, the questions it opens up.

In my second exhibition, Dialogue, it resonates with the work I have been doing here in the sense that I feel like we are exposed to so many ways of doing things - different processes, media, forms, images, objects – that I never feel like I feel pressured to settle on a form or a format, or the need to identify myself with a particular medium. I believe that it is important for us to hold a dialogue this space where we have a chance to work through things and figure out our own process.

There is this idea, if you are an image-maker, that it is predetermined that the final work will be a series of images. That idea used to really bore me. Having had a chance study with professors in installation, painting, drawing, sculpture, and post-studio, it opened another realm of possibilities and really influenced my work. I don’t necessarily feel the rush to produce things without having worked through all the possibilities and forms a certain project might take or that I am interested in pursuing.

What has changed entirely for me is that now, instead of setting out to make an image, I set out to ask myself, what could this project be? What are the different forms it can take? And even if I photograph for three weeks in a specific site, maybe at the end the work will be a drawing, two minutes of sound, an installation in the form of an exhibition. At the same time, if the final project is a series of photographs, it is informed by different ways of working through images, by different forms of dealing with the pictorial. I feel like what I got from being in such an interdisciplinary context, and the way it has influenced my work, is that I don’t feel like the final form dictates what I make; rather, I figure out the form as I am making something.



I am still unclear about what it is that you are doing. Can you state the facts of the matter? And also what is the role of The Catalogue?

I will write about my own work. I will write my thesis about the exhibitions I am making. I will also make art works and installations based on something that I had researched for my writing. I will read academic books and make works at the same time, because I am automatically drawn to everything I read about in what I am making. I will have no critical distance. Everything is something that I need to think through regarding a certain image or a sequence – as it is consistent with the nature of good curatorial practice and art-making. At the same time, as I write, I will be appropriating everything in this subjective way—I will be using the conventions and specific language. So I will be combining the language for academic production and writing criticism, and using this drive to bridge the gap through the language of being an artist.

I am doing this because I think, when you make work, you become attuned to process in a way that a conventional background as an academic or art historian does not normally require. You are more aware of the process of making things in a way that you are not if you have never made anything.

Thus far in the year, as I have been constantly making and installing exhibitions, there are all these skills that I have begun to learn. I never felt like a language was dictated to me, and I would never want that to happen. If anything, I have felt as though I am fighting both with and against language, so they are completely complementary ways of working. I benefit from engaging in both practices, and so far I have found my own clever way of doing both. Yes, I believe doing both is possible. I really admire people who are hybrid artist-scholars. I am working towards that as a VES concentrator at Harvard College. Sometimes I wonder if, when I am out of school, it will need to be either one or the other. But that is not my concern right now.    



So what is it like to be doing a thesis in this grey zone, this dual-space?

It’s very intense, but you get a lot of feedback and you are constantly engaged. I feel the generosity of the faculty and students with whom I have gotten to work, in terms of always making sure that I have the necessary conditions to be able to make work. At the same time, there is this expectation that it is your own work at the end of the day, and you need to figure out how to make it the way that you want it to be.

I was relieved to have come across some advice from a faculty member on this matter: “Everyone is so gung-ho on hybrid programs, and it’s really difficult; you’re facing bias from every side. If you make films, academics think you’re not a real academic. If you write, artists think you’re an academic artist. You can’t care. You need to just keep doing your work.”





Rennebohm, K. (2014). Interview: Joana Pimenta. The Monday Gallery, [online] Departure, pp.53-62. Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Zhuang, V. (2012). Portrait of an Artist: Sharon C. Harper | Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

Stevenson, S. (2010). Karthik Pandian: Porous Reality, Timeless Architecture - Interviews. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].

crimson, essanity, verse, questionsEssa Li
Artist statements for Dummies

An artist's statement (or artist statement) is an artist's written description of their work. The brief verbal representation is for, and in support of, his or her own work to give the viewer understanding. As such it aims to



with an art context, and


the basis for the work; it is, therefore, didactic, descriptive, or reflective in nature. The artist's text intends to






his or her body of work. It places or

attempts to place

the work in relationship to art history and theory, the art world and the times. Further, the statement serves to


that the artist is conscious of their intentions, aware of their practice and its position within art parameters and of the discourse surrounding it. Therefore not only does it




but it


the level of the artist's own comprehension of their field and making. The artist statement


as a "vital link of communication between you [the artist], and the rest of the world." [1] Most people encounter a work of art through a reproduction first, and there are many elements that are not present within a reproduction. That is why it is imperative that the artist knows how to properly


their work through their own words. What the artist writes in their statement may be integrated in wall text, hand outs at an exhibition or a paragraph in a press release. Judgments will be made based both on the nature of the art, as well as the words that accompany it. Artists often write a short (50-100 word) and/or a long (500-1000 word) version of the same statement, and they may maintain and revise these statements throughout their careers. [2] They may be edited to


the requirements of specific funding bodies, galleries or call-outs as part of the application process.


The writing of artists' statements is a comparatively recent phenomenon beginning in the 1990s.[3] In some respects, the practice resembles the art manifesto and may derive in part from it. However, the artist's statement generally


for an individual rather than a collective, and is not strongly associated with polemic.[citation needed] Rather, a contemporary artist may be required to submit the statement in order to


for commissions or apply for schools, residencies, jobs, awards, and other forms of institutional support, in justification of their submission. In their 2008 survey of North American art schools and university art programs, Garrett-Petts and Nash found that nearly 90% teach the writing of artist statements as part of the curriculum; in addition, they found that,


Like prefaces, forewords,prologues, and introductions to literary works, the artist statement


a vital if complex rhetorical role: when included in an exhibition proposal and sent to a curator, the artist statement usually


a description of the work, some indication of the work's art historical and theoretical context, some background information about the artist and the artist's intentions, technical specifications – and, at the same time, it aims to


the reader of the artwork's value.

When hung on a gallery wall, the statement (or "didactic") becomes an invitation, an explanation, and, often indirectly, an element of the installation itself.[4]

essanity, questions, verseEssa Li
Uncalculated Risks
At the outset of our work together on this In Person exhibition, I spent three days with Essa Lucienne in her workshop/gallery/photo-studio space. Rather than look at work (there were only remnants from the prior show), we talked (not even so much about the show) and read (sources, touchstones, whatever books Essa had already moved in).
The experience was sincere, social, and intensely constructive—a reset of a curator-artist relationship. This type of interaction correlates well, in fact, with Essa's mode of practice overall—as an image-maker, a sculptor, a performer, and on. On our first day, she summed up this position rather neatly:
“I use contingencies to figure out if I can overcome the strangeness of the reality around me.”
verse, essanityEssa Li
smoke & sparks

thoughts on HAA 88 homework

so I say my medium is exhibition making in the vessel, it may be a cover up for a...

don't you wish you graded my psets lol

essanityEssa Li
yeah I'd put a 🙆🏻 on that

Corp. Sets Minimum Endowment Distribution Amid Financial Constraints 

For fiscal year 2017, the firm returned a 😔 8.1 percent, which its CEO N.P. Narvekar said was a symptom of “deep 😒 problems at 🕋.” 

Narvekar has embarked on an ambitious 🛠 of the way the firm invests in an attempt to 📈 its investment performance, though he’s repeatedly cautioned the results of his undertaking likely won’t materialize for another 🤔 years.   

In the interim, the Corporation has set a “collar” for the endowment’s annual 💸. The lowest distribution increase it might set is 2.5 percent, while the highest it would consider is 4.5 percent. 

crimson, essanityEssa Li