1. Any Giacometti Sculpture
I am a blacksmith and welder, so I have an immense appreciation for metalwork. Alberto Giacometti's people sculptures have drawn me in since I was little and first saw them at the Met. This was the very first thing that popped in my head when I heard the assignment. There's something so beautiful but kind of bleak about them. I have thought so many times to myself that if I could have made anything in my life, I would have made these sculptures.
2. Any Josef Sudek Photograph, especially ones like this and this (apologies for the size, I couldn't find a larger quality version, but I just love it so much).
When I was in undergrad in Boston, I had an assignment to see the Damien Hirst exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. I cared very little for his work. I was feeling grossed out and defeated, and I happened to walk into a side room with a Josef Sudek photography exhibit. I'd never heard of him before, but I was going to Prague a few months later, and the subtitle of the show was called "The Poet of Prague" so I went in. I was so blown away by his photographs that I remember literally hopping up and down. I had been striving for the same kind of richness and contrast and subtlety in my work and this was everything I've ever wanted a photograph to be. Today, looking at it now, I realize it's been a while since I spent time with his work, and I was surprised to put together that my most recent work shooting panoramas was influenced by his amazing series. I am very much inspired by his work and life, and wish I could be him sometimes.
3. "Kalki" by Gore Vidal
I could talk forever about this book, but I will try to keep it condensed. This is my favorite book. I have read it 4 times, at different stages in my life, and each time it does something new for me. If we want to get into the idea of works I wish I had authored- I actually wrote an adapted screenplay of this book, and hope at some point to submit it somewhere. I just want everyone to know this story. It touches on all my main interests: feminism, religion, the apocalypse, among many other issues. It's just amazing.
4. "White Noise" by Don DeLillo
This is the first book I ever read that I felt was a real adult book that I enjoyed reading beyond a school assignment; I was I think 14 or 15. Heinrich (the main character's son) was probably my first literary crush. This book was much smaller and more personal in theme than Kalki. The areas that resonated with me had to do with anxiety, fear of death, and the hypocrisies of the adult world.
5. "The Edible Woman" by Margaret Atwood
I read this book more recently- maybe a year or so ago. 4 years ago, I experienced exactly the same situation that the protagonist, Marian, went through. I kind of stopped eating, fearing all food was somehow poisoned or tainted. It was a fascinating and terrifying period where I felt a lack of control of my own brain. When I read this years later, I couldn't believe how perfectly my experience mirrored Marian's. I had even started to write about my experiences before having read the book, but then felt- "well it was already done perfectly- there's not much more I can add!"
6. "The Royal Tennenbaums" by Wes Anderson
This is another one of those things that just popped immediately into my head when we were given the assignment. I just think of it as a perfect movie, that made familial craziness something to own and appreciate, and not just be mortified or frustrated by.
7. "It's A Disaster" by Todd Berger
If I ever made a feature film, this would have been it. I genuinely wish I had thought of this before so that I could have been the one to make it, although this is pretty close to perfect as it is. I love disaster movies and the idea of the apocalypse in art and literature (as mentioned before). This was just made so simply, and took a world ending event and made it so personal and funny. The relationships felt real and the reactions were exactly as I would imagine them. I'm insanely jealous of this movie, but I've still watched it 3 times in the last year.
8. "The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer"
I love animation, and it was hard narrowing this down from a few really amazing artists, but I went with Jan Svankmajer because the craft of the stop motion as well as the concepts in the shorts are unparallelled in my opinion. The amount of time and effort is apparent, but at the same time, the films are seamless and fun to watch. There's just nothing else like it, and I hope to produce something as original, and humorous, and well done as his films.
9. "Nantes" by Beirut
I am extremely un-musically inclined. I am actually confirmed tone deaf, so music in general is a mystery to me. I couldn't even begin to imagine how to compose a song. When I first heard "Nantes," my thought was 'this sounds like a dream I had.' It felt like it was part of my brain before I ever heard it. I feel like a really good song sounds like it comes from the ether; that no one made it, but that it always existed.
10. "Perfidia" by Xavier Cugat
This song gives me a very visceral reaction where I want to cry out of happiness when I hear it, but I don't know why. If I were ever to have been musically gifted, I would like to think I could have composed this song.