Archive for May, 2018


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

In fall of 2016 I collected a little water from the North Pole.

From the North Pole or near it. New rain or centuries old ice melt. This or that. Pregnant or not? Actually due to cataclysmic climate conditions it was probably from deep in the glacier or deeper than it should have been. Deeper, older. Now people keep asking me from the Kickstarter: “When can I have my water?”

“It’s been 2 years,” they say, when they write. But then we had a baby and everything got effed up. Effed up for the better, but still effed up.

Effed up is a place I have been trying to get for many years, believing that, when done right, it means you don’t have a body. A Piscean event on a 3-D plane. For a brief moment (10 months) our baby was suspended and so, once I gathered it, was the 6 ounces, divided into two 3 ounces plastic bottles, of water. For my part I was also suspended: on a snow-bedecked artist-crammed boat.

One night, as I lay against my bed board, my porthole wept foam on my head. One night my bunkmate was yelling from sleep about what violence she would do to her ex-husband. One night it was 3 am and I was talking to the Captain, who was topless in pasties and a grass skirt, about my gender. “But what I want to know is what do you FEEL, Jess!!??” he slammed his beer mug on the bar top/his chest.

“More boy,” I said. (=more comfortable for Captain, allows more body swimming for me.)

And anyway, hasn’t this all been such a FLUID experience?

Except I live in Los Angeles, land of cracked sidewalks + drought. This morning at the organic grocery store a woman refused to enter the bathroom with me, even when I assured her: “I’m a woman?”

Now the first year of our baby’s life has sped by. Still, sometimes I squander my small ration of free time on Etsy or eBay looking for the right vessel so I can finally send the water off. I want to honor it with a container that’s vintage or scientific, but not “too.” It came from a place that resists bullshit/commodification: Fjortende Julibukta glacier, near 79 degrees North.

It must have rained 5 inches just that hour. We all know THE WATER, in Tsunmai-like portions, is coming. Nowhere on Earth to put it! My best conversation of the week? “I don’t like masturbating,” I admit.

“But what about showing up for self-love?” she says back.

It’s the paralysis of email, of contact. I leave replies unsent, easy texts unreturned. Even this started fun but became burdened by its eventual sending. We parents are so tired, our spirits shaved down to nubs. Our baby Osa flicks my eyelids open. There are flecks in the bottles, salt and minerals. When I finally scooped it up, knee-deep in icy slush, I was collecting bear follicles/long stretches of personless time/Osa’s kismet-like, still-occurring entrance into all our worldly stuff.

Is an aqueous state better? Do we have to be here, to be here? Walruses, those giant porous screens, nap for a week if they want.

Jess Arndt was born in Washington State, and lives and works in Los Angeles. They received their MFA at Bard and were a 2013 Graywolf SLS Fellow and 2010 Fiction Fellow at the New York Foundation of the Arts. They have written for Fence, BOMB, Aufgabe, and the art journal Parkett, among others. They are co-founder of New Herring Press. Their debut collection of short stories, LARGE ANIMALS was published in 2017 by Catapult Press.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— It is in homage to the artist Bernice Bing that I share the following photographs of parts of paintings I’ve made over the last 10 years, which no longer exist because I painted over or destroyed them.

Bernice Bing (1936-1998) was an abstract expressionist painter in the Bay Area who participated in the art world alongside people like Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Wally Hedrick, Carlos Villa, Jay de Feo. Unlike myself, she even had teachers who were of Asian descent, including the zen master painter, Saburo Hasegawa. Her ambitious work is large, gnarly and physical, but subtle and commodious, and expands upon American abstract painting, considering calligraphy, landscape, and spirituality. She was among the first residents at Esalen Institute! In the 60s and 70s she organized neighborhood art programs in Chinatown, including work with youths involved in Chinese gangs which were violent at that time. She said it was the first time she felt re-immersed in Chinese culture since her childhood, and she continued in this work into her late 40s. By all accounts, it exhausted her.

I see her work as held hostage by the needs and taste of two communities who had little awareness of or interest in each other. White authorities and artists perceived of her as an activist and “member” of the Chinese community, a group whose specific cultural commitments, in turn, forced her to neglect her own work at crucial periods. She was left out of larger conversations about painting, while those who knew her hallowly recount her commitment to painting, her courage, her complexity.

In thinking about the photographs I had taken of paintings now “lost,” I’ve been reflecting on the labor that goes into painting… material processes, creative phases, decision making, as well as all the surrounding activities in life that are needed to support the work of painting. Also on a larger scale, the networks of people and communities that contribute to the production of painting. These photographs represent the temporal flux of working in the studio over the years. As I reflect on my process and ways to move ahead in my work, it makes me think about Bernice Bing, and how historical, social and economic conditions (and her reactions to them) have shaped her legacy. What evaporated off, and what was distilled?

Jamie Chan was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1984. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She attended Bard College and before that UCLA. Her work adopts the allegorical spaces of Renaissance painting, plumbing art history with an inverted telescope.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— Here below a few scattered notes I wrote in Bangalore (India), where I was filming the very first rushes of Beyond the One. It was Autumn 2014. Seems so long ago.

# A filtered coffee, blue walls and men only. The town all around. (I had no way to control where the rickshaw was driving me on the way here). How to compose my camera in this vast dimension? How to compose this vast dimension through the camera? Not psychology nor sociology nor “representation” of India. Only these close and closest things. I can only work there where I happen to live (for a while long enough). Now, in Malleswaram.

# Filming for the first time out of Europe. Why would I be allowed to hold a camera here? Jean Rouch went to Mozambico, gave cameras to young people and encouraged them to invent each one’s cinema, each one’s reality. (Was I allowed to film in France having grown up in Italy, or in Abruzzo having grown up in Padova? Identities blurring at every corner. Was I allowed to film with people I don’t share the same addictions with? With my own friends and family being other than me? No chance not to end up being “nombriliste” at this rate). I take the risk. Humani nihil a me alienum puto. I care so I can perhaps live and film through all these differences. The film can perhaps create something that breaks through the existing ones and becomes pertinent to them all.

# Nor individualistic nor holistic: substance as multitude. But in this multitude, the very same mechanism that creates social solidarity also supports the explosive spread of violence. How to include these emotions and transform them? So tiring and yet! “Someone has to clean up”, as the poem of W. Szymborska goes. Someone has to reinvent bridges. To take care of feeding. Microscopically, tenaciously. No absence of conflict is possible nor violence for ideal purposes is wished, but constant negotiations. “Photogenic it’s not, and takes years. All the cameras have left, for another war”.

# I get barefoot in the middle of the street. For 20 rupees I leave my shoes to the shoes-keeper nearby. 20 mt on the public pavement and I enter the Sai Baba temple in Sampige Road. Anu says: basically be humble. We wash our feet and hands. We walk around the Sai Baba’s statue one time. When you turn around the God you are much closer to him than standing in front of it. The impossibility of a direct sight/contact. (The direct defeat of Icarus). The need of a medium, like a circle or a mirror. (The indirect victory of Perseus on Medusa). Turning around. Aesthetically fascinated by the temple’s structure and rituals. I seat among other people on the floor. Their deferent expression breaks my amazement. The radical example of one man turned not into a source of singular inspiration but into a system. At the same time, how I can deeply understand this need. See Gregory Bateson’s pages on the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and the necessity of abandoning the idea of individual strength to overcome the addiction. The myth of autonomy is indeed broken.

# Since I left Italy, I’ve been living in different places, being a foreigner in all other languages I attempted to speak. It was painful and lucky to unlearn the idea of a perfect language, to peel off its power. Still my amazement towards words remains intact. Which way out then? I tried to compose a film through the others’ languages. I tried to break the self by composing with the others’ words.

# Not metaphors but contiguity.

# The fact is holding a camera in our hands does not give us any extra right than without it, in spite of many harmful examples. So the word “love” does not give us any extra right on the people we call companions.

# Not to smoke in public! Not to kiss in public! Not to eat in public while walking! Not to drink alcohol in the streets! Finally the owner of the alcohol shop around the corner murmurs hello when I go get myself some whisky. He wraps the small bottles in black plastic bags.

Anna Marziano was born in 1982, in Italy. She has been based in Berlin since 2012. Her films have been screened internationally as festivals such as, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Torino International Film Festival, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, MediaCity Film Festival Detroit, FRAC.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— That summer is fuzzy. I was a feral adolescent nobody who clowned around with fireworks and puked in ditches. Between ODing on repeated viewings of the horror movies I read about as a milk-toothed vampire and nocturnal excursions with my dog where he’d devour abandoned McDonalds meals through decaying paper bags, I decided to bring the two joys together in a cute mutant creature. The horror dog was born: the diagram of a prank; goth knowledge applied to flesh and bone.

You can get hyperreal mutt anatomy drawings or creepy virtual hounds flayed to show off their liver and heart but I liked this one with the fangs best: an alien cover version of a dog. He’s a Lewis Carroll rabbit hole (trap door?) leading to witchy ballerinas, Ghostwatch and Freddy Krueger. I was really into Carroll’s world distortion trick of reciting knowledge which is wrong but wrong in a weirdly logical way. ‘Tony’ being the mouth was meant to echo the sepulchral croak of Danny’s imaginary friend in The Shining; ‘Coil’ being the dick summoned ghouls from Hellraiser. The dog’s tail is the Renfield, natürlich, freaking out at the master’s presence. R.I.P. Heather O’ Rourke.

But he’s also encrypted with sadness. I just deleted a big fade-out thing about this picture, Zero from A Nightmare Before Christmas, and the void between what is alive and what is tragically not. My childhood dog, the horror hound’s 3D brother, is dead. I dream about him a lot. His ghost still barks.

Charlie Fox was born in 1991, he lives in London. His work has appeared in many publications including frieze, Cabinet, Sight & Sound, ArtReview, The Wire and The White Review. His book of essays, THIS YOUNG MONSTER, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Safe Travels, 2017, courtesy the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary

Shambhavi Kaul has exhibited her work worldwide at such venues as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, The New York Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Edinburgh International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, and Experimenta Bangalore. Her work was featured in the 10th Shanghai Biennale, and she has presented two solo shows at Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai. She was born in Jodhpur India, and lives in the United States where she teaches at Duke University.