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GEOslant Around the World: Georgia Fee's Legacy in Writing
by Natalie Hegert

Many of you dedicated ArtSlant readers may remember that from the start, the GeoSlant blog was editor-in-chief and ArtSlant founder Georgia Fee’s own blog. Each week she posted travelogues, helpful tips and how-to’s, all written with her particular brand of wit and verve. Perusing the earliest entries in the GeoSlant blog from 2007-09, you get a glimpse of how ArtSlant grew, changed, and developed, how new features were added and with how much fanfare. Not only that, but reading these entries also gives you a glimpse of who Georgia was, and how she saw the world.

In the years since Georgia got too busy to find time for weekly blog posts and passed on the torch of the GeoSlant to other writers, the blog has had trouble finding its voice. It was a topic of many editorial meetings: What should we do with GeoSlant? It ended up becoming somewhat of a catch-all for ArtSlant writers who wanted to contribute pieces beyond exhibition reviews and interviews, a space for anything from reflections on art scenes in far-flung places, critical essays, light-hearted personal opinion pieces, art fair previews, and experimental art writing. It was all a bit too scattered for Georgia’s taste; we tried, usually in vain, to limit it to a few themes and threads, and were constantly trying to figure out ways to define it. The GeoSlant is now edited by Kathryn Garcia, and is beginning to find a new voice with a crop of new writers who favor the poetic, the sensual, and the sublime. For the next few weeks, however, we’re giving over the GeoSlant to ArtSlant writers and editors, former and current, who wish to share their own personal memories of Georgia. The GeoSlant will be Georgia’s again as we remember her and reflect on how she changed each of our lives.

Georgia and me in Paris, 2009; Photo by Frances Guerin.

I have many fun stories and fond memories of Georgia, especially from the time that she and I worked closely together in Paris. I’ve come to consider her like a member of my own family, and it breaks my heart that she’s no longer with us. But for my GeoSlant remembrance of Georgia, I want to look at a part of Georgia that we’ll always have with us: her writing.

The earliest GeoSlant blogs (besides being in hindsight somewhat embarrassingly formatted) were devoted to giving information to ArtSlant users about what new features were being introduced. In these blog posts, we’re introduced to Georgia’s zeal and exuberance, her drawings and photos, her penchant for alliteration, and her chirpy, staccato writing style. “A hundred miles per hour. That’s how fast I’m going. Doing this, doing that, going here, going there, packing and planning and Paris here I come.”

Some of Georgia’s best writing came in the form of travelogues detailing her exploits in art cities around the globe, from Rio de Janeiro to London to Basel to Buenos Aires. ArtSlant’s global perspective and scope most certainly stems from Georgia’s love of travel. But these globetrotting pieces also reveal Georgia’s personality and the absolute delight she took in everyday things. In Buenos Aires: “The marble tiles in the sidewalk clicked and clacked as I stepped on loose ones here and there. I liked the sound.” In Verona: “on a cold sunny morning with that clear sharp light of late fall covering everything and my hands wrapped around a hot cappuccino. Veneto-style with foam that never dies.” She had a copywriter’s flair for boiling everything down into a few expressive lines. London: “sloshing through the slosh.” Brussels: “get your Brueghels on.”

There are those moments of silliness that all who knew Georgia personally will recognize instantly: “Put some feathers on that!” “Zany!”

And every once in a while, Georgia threw in some of her elegantly simple life philosophies: “The art of deciding is deciding.” “A good café is a dream factory.” “The wonderful part of not speaking the language is that I can feign ignorance for everything....” “Rules for art openings…Don't touch; don't spill; don't expect to feel comfortable; don't stay long; don't stop moving (it won't be obvious that you don't know anyone); don't walk too quickly as you might crash into some art; and, if you really want to see the work, it's better to go early in the day when no one else is around.”

Georgia talking with Katharina Bosse at Galerie Anne Barrault; Photo by the author.

While reading Georgia’s art fair recaps and reminiscences of exhibitions, one gets the sense of the way Georgia appreciated art. For Georgia, art was a sensual experience. It was about looking and feeling. She had a weakness for painting, gorgeous paintings. She loved touching art (and the thrill that she experienced knowing she wasn’t supposed to). Certainly she appreciated conceptual underpinnings and literary and historical references, but I think that came second for Georgia. On Albert Oehlen: “I noticed how my eye hung on to the painted portions getting pleasure from the color and inherent energy in the drips and flings. I watched how I began to enjoy the experience simply because there was the aura of painting here and there. I was being seduced, ameliorated by Art.” Describing the “sound created by a huge sculptural machine by Jean Tinguely (Untitled, 1986, at Hans Meyer Gallery). It was made of wood and all sorts of things turned and rotated. Creaks and moans and pops and shudders emanated from the piece. Listening to it, I felt like I was on some Spanish galleon bound for the New World. I can still hear it.” On the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna: “I was…looking at the Byzantine mosaics, and I walked barefoot across the marble floors...unforgettable.” Even describing artwork is a sensual experience for Georgia: [on Ferdinando Scianna’s photographs] “Gorgeous. The word itself is held primarily in the throat and on the tongue...gorrrrrrrrgeoussss. Saying it is a sensual experience.”

Georgia riding around Paris with Frances; Photo by the author.

Most of all Georgia wanted it all, wanted to see everything, meet everyone, go everywhere. “I saw so much and only just caught the tip of the iceberg,” she wrote of Frieze in 2007, but it could have been written about her own life. ArtSlant was the vehicle for Georgia to experience it all and she loved that: “The ArtSlant community of artists and art professionals grows everyday and our writing teams keep the words flowing,” she wrote. “All in all, Mr. Toad, a glorious ride.” Indeed it was. Put some feathers on that.

Natalie Hegert

(Image on top: Jonas Mekas, detail from 2009 exhibition; Courtesy Galerie du Jour, Paris.)

Posted by Natalie Hegert on 12/21/12

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