An Angelic Angle

fred moten on looking at mondrian’s victory boogie woogie.

Seeing that painting made me realize that my ninety-degree relationship to the painting was off somehow. In order to really see paintings, I had to see through the painting and see with the painting. I had to get down on the ground on the painting. I had to put my ear to the painting so I could hear it. Do you understand? …And in hearing the painting, what was incidental to that but at the same time totally fundamental, right, was that my angle in relation to the painting was being transformed. I was being drawn down to the zero degree of social conceptualization. What was happening was that I needed to be moved from the position of looking at to the position of looking with. And seeing through. Not seeing through because the painting is transparent or nonexistent, but rather seeing through the painting, seeing by way of the painting, seeing what was on the other side of the painting by way of the painting, seeing the social aesthetic force and practices and life that were on the other side of the painting, and of which the painting is an emanation. …Our angle becomes angelic in this regard. And in so far as our angle becomes angelic, we move from a practice of critical scrutiny to something on the order of devotion.

— Fred Moten on looking at Piet Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie

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