Archive for April, 2012


Monday, April 30th, 2012

— The best part of my job is getting to work with a lot of amazing people. I’m actually not much of a builder myself – I’ve worked on a couple remodeling jobs, but always as the low guy on the totem pole. I know my way around a hammer, I know how to weld, but not too well. After years of working with concrete I still have a very crude understanding of it at best. But it’s what I like to do. And I’ve been very lucky to be able to learn on the job, working with people who know a lot more than I do.

Oscar Tuazon was born in 1975, in Tacoma, Washington. He lives and works in Paris, where he co-founded the collective-run artists’ gallery castillo/corrales. Recent solo shows include MANUAL LABOR, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich (2012); DIE, The Power Station, Dallas (2011); STEEL, PRESSURE-TREATED WOOD, OAK POST, OFFICE CHAIR, INDUCTION STOVETOP, ALUMINUM, Standard (Oslo), Oslo (2011); AMERICA IS MY WOMAN, Maccarone, New York, USA (2011); MY MISTAKE, ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2010); Oscar Tuazon, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2010). Selected group exhibitions include Whitney Biennial 2012, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); THE LANGUAGE OF LESS, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011); ILLUMINATIONS (curated by Bice Curiger), 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2011).


Monday, April 30th, 2012

— Last year I went to see Peter Hook, the bass player from Joy Division/New Order, perform their debut album Unknown Pleasures at the Henry Fonda Theatre. I was with my friend Stephanie. We got tickets without thinking too much about it. As the event drew closer, it became obvious that it was terrible idea. Still, I was hopeful that Hook and his band could somehow pull it off. Maybe he knows what he’s doing and this isn’t just a way to make some quick cash now that he’s left New Order.

The place is packed. Old and young people, couples with kids are standing around waiting for the show to start. A transmission of knowledge. We sit at a booth and exchange trivia about Joy Division with a couple, while a documentary retracing the band’s career is projected on stage. The show finally starts and after hearing the first song, we completely lose hope. Stephanie leaves during the third song to go to our friend Heather’s Christmas party. She wants to buy a t-shirt but I convince her not to. I promise her that I’ll make her one. I think about the band’s off-grooves etchings and describe them to her. The one on Still, released after Ian Curtis’s suicide, says, “The chicken won’t stop” and “The chicken stops here.” The chicken tracks across the grooves on the opposite side would make a cool t-shirt. They reference the ending of Werner Herzog’s 1977 movie, Stroszek, where the character played by Bruno S., a street musician, leaves Berlin for the US, to escape the constant bullying his girlfriend’s ex-pimp subjects him to. After his trailer gets repossessed, and an absurd attempt to rob a bank, he ends up committing suicide. The film ends with a sequence showing a chicken dancing. Presumably this is the last movie Curtis, who was a fan of Herzog’s, saw on the BBC the night he hanged himself. All of this, and pretty much everything else, is common knowledge now, and features in the film’s Wikipedia page.

I walk upstairs to smoke a cigarette. I am vaguely hopeless but not angry as I gaze dreamily at Hollywood Boulevard. I think about what Joy Division meant to me then, what the sound signified and triggered. A floating atmosphere of defeat. Things that would unfold later, once I’d patiently deciphered the clues and researched the influences contained in the records. The two news stories I remember most from that time: the Tenerife Airport disaster in ’77, the deadliest accident in history and so close to Morocco. Jim Jones’s Guyana cult suicide on the cover of Paris Match in December ’78, a green-tinted black and white photo of bodies face-down on the ground. Leaders of men, made a promise for a new life.

An atmosphere in search of a sound. Where I grew up in Morocco, the only music we ever heard on the radio or at home was hippie music, preferably from those who had spent some time there in the ’60s—The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Buckley. Or reggae and Arabic pop music. Flashbacks of hanouts, tiny Moroccan convenience stores, plastered with posters of Bob Marley playing soccer or Bruce Lee. They both died tragically. Men out of work hanging out inside smoking and drinking mint tea. How to describe it? Shanty towns a couple of blocks from my father’s house; the poverty, Sunday weddings, a procession, donkey carts, wild dogs tortured by children, unpaved dusty roads, a pungent smell of garbage in the summer that is almost sugary and pleasant. None of it belongs to me.

The country, in economic turmoil, stopped importing goods in the late ’70s, and the record stores that remained open just kept selling their stock as if history had stopped. The first 7-inch I remember buying was Visage’s Fade to Grey during a summer vacation to France in 1980. It was a total aesthetic shock to hear that particular mix of dance music tainted by melancholia, the sound that would later be perfected by New Order, Depeche Mode, and the Pet Shop Boys. An atmosphere in search of a language. ESL, half-understood lyrics, words became triggers. The meaning was always delayed by the discrepancy between the music and the lyrics.

I remember how unhappy I was then while listening to Closer. The drum roll at the beginning of Atmosphere a secret signal, “Don’t walk away in silence.” I can’t listen to their music very much anymore. Its meaning has been emptied out. “Oldness comes to rile the youth who dream suicide,” sang the Red House Painters. I think of the last page of Pierre Guyotat’s Coma, about what replaces that space, “a heart that only pumps blood, and blood that is no longer warming.”

Hedi El Kholti is a cultural presenter who has worked with Tony Duvert, Abdellah Taïa, Gary Lee Boas, Grisiledis Real, Holy Shit and other intellectual luminaries. He is Managing Editor of Semiotext(e).


Monday, April 30th, 2012

— I have a notebook which I had forgotten writing, some 5 years ago, and I came across it in the Fall. Each page, which I never do in a notebook, was part of a sequence of some 50 pieces or more. I find/found myself doing this over the past 12 years or so, perhaps it was another way to kind of forget that I had written something, to then come across it sometimes, quite a few years later, and read it as a ‘stranger’. Similarly some of the poems below, such as The Artist, I found written on a Neruda book.

Some index for clerical men and clerical women.
Some shadows. Some thin green.
Some index for men and women of the clergy.
A patient throbbing meant for them.
Pain: found. Loneliness: to a wound and an ear.
Starlight odd, much else. Death
in reverse, minimized, backwards.

“I don’t mean
north of 14th Street,
I mean north of

A bed in another corner of the house.
Or the house in the dreamer’s dream.

Darkness and more darkness and then a face renamed.
In a neighborhood without much space.

Eva Hesse – partly killed or diseased by necessary chemicals.
Which were also as part of the structures killing the structures.

The space is altered.
Not tiny like your changed name but tiny and still.

Michael Burkard was born in 1947 in Rome, New York. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including ENVELOPE OF NIGHT: SELECTED AND UNCOLLECTED POEMS 1966-1990. He has received numerous awards, including the Alice Fay DiCastagnola award (1986) and the Whiting Writers’ award (1988). He teaches at Syracuse University.


Monday, April 30th, 2012

— Existing imagery, eg. postcards and their vantage points are a great point of reference and I often use them when researching ‘new’ photographs – there is no point to start from scratch on a picture that has innumerous predecessors. More copies of a subject make it more valuable to me.

Which is easy for the Alps, as they have been photographed plenty from the early days on (think of the Bisson brothers, or Eduard Spelterini) and it lives on in its cheap brother, the post or travel card.

The sameness of these postcards, sort of the consensus on subject and vantage point might off-set the idea of originality; to me they validate and prove right the depicted scene, and are a reason to acutally take the photograph myself.

My kind of landscape photography is less expedition than reenactment. It is not about the landscape and spritual experience, nor about a pioneer vision. It is just about an ‘original’ picture of a worn-out genre that I hope to find and I am usually happy when I am back home from the adventure.

Snow has always been a tremendous phantasy for me and – growing up in Germany – there was never enough of it. I only got snowed in once in my life in the Swiss Alps: It was an unforgettable 2 days.

In my pictures snow becomes a blank sheet of paper, an imaginative white space. It is the romantic counterpart to the technical side of photography, the fictional over the rational.

Looking at images of the Furka region in Switzerland – the Grimsel- and the Furkapass, all the imagery happened to be taken in the summertime. Since those passes are snowed in and therefore closed during the wintermonths, there are no images of it in the wintertime. Moreover the streets hardly exist anymore, covered and temporarily erased under the white snow.

When I hiked up the Grimselpass in March 2012 – on a maintained trail – unusual amounts of snow had blanked out the entire area, but my photo, almost the reverse of the found postcards, can’t keep up with the spectacular summer scene, so I am not sure what to do with it yet.

Florian Maier-Aichen was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1973. He studied at the School of Photography and Film, University for Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Essen, Germany before earning his M.F.A from the University of California Los Angeles, CA. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid and his work is included in such public collections as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Denver Museum of Art, Denver, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. He lives and works in Cologne, Germany and Los Angeles, CA.


Monday, April 30th, 2012

The terminus of the Dialectic as a photomicrograph.

Mike Davis is the author of several books including City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear, Late Victorian Holocausts, Planet of Slums, Magical Urbanism, and Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb. Davis has been a fellow at the Getty Institute and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1998. He teaches at the University of California, Irvine.