Archive for September, 2018


Monday, September 24th, 2018

— Sifting through hundreds of pages of my mom’s writings about working in the shipyards in the San Francisco Bay Area from the mid-1970’s to the early 1990’s—with the intent of finally making a book from her notes—I found these photos of her with some of her students, after she’d left the yards to become a teacher. At the end of fifteen grueling years working in the shipyards as an electrician, one of only a handful of women, she took out a loan, went back to school and got a teaching credential to teach English as a Second Language to immigrants, mostly from Latin America. In the writings, fluid connections interlink workers, immigrants, women, citizens, race and class. Labor, survival, emotion and outlook cycle, making explicit the ways our very bodies let alone our thoughts and words, are shaped by the flows (and stoppages) of power.

Sandra passed away in 2015 from complications related to dementia. She left a chronicle of her extraordinary, and also ordinary life in file cabinets of photos and writings (on typed pages and in hand-written notebooks—she never owned a computer,) some of which seem meant for the world to read.

In this dangerous time now, with fascism and xenophobia on the rise, I thought I’d share these images and some of her own words toward a picture of humanity, a reminder of love and agency. The words that follow are culled from various pages, written over the course of some years, by Sandra Kahn. Photos by students. Black and white photo by Stanya Kahn, 1986.


ESL studies is teaching me that it’s worse for the
young than I thought
traveling here from Central America from Viet Nam from Hong Kong
leaving cultures, looking for gold
only to find a more subtle war bastardizing their essence.
looking for laughter and rivers
finding only dried up wells with a sprinkling of methods
that lie about relief.
how did we let the sun get so hidden?

why don’t we women just mass together and seize the White House?
turning it into a home—into a seat of humane understanding
the man’s wars with the dick on a flag post raised high have undone the planet.
to carry on becomes a huge task

Leonore, Gui-fang
Luis, Jose, Guadalupe and Enriquita
Angel, Alma and Salvadore
They all work so hard at learning English.
Nestor, Esther, Leticia, Isabel, Marina, Angelica…

Morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics and a class
of adults who need to get it
in this system that doesn’t want them—immigrants/us/women
no room in the inn
where we didn’t want a room anyhow.
It’s dread and fear they say for those who don’t believe in that
fairy world of a god… one is left without pretense.
raw fucking shit.


In LA, the new Rodney King trial
In Waco with craziness and too much money spent on the fire arms/alcohol division
In Bosnia/Herzegovina, people vulcanizing each other
And Hillary Rodham spends hours delving into the corporate healthcare system and her plan will still come up light-weight. She’ll fail to recommend a single-payer, national health system. Sorely needed.
Brothers are shooting brothers.
Any health care plan whichever way it’s addressed, does not address the wounded.
Greed is in tact.
Today I signed a petition for single payer. The petition holders believed.
Not me. I said not without a revolution.

The lotto is at $51,000,000.
I would help my kids, buy them each a house, send medical supplies to Cuba
take an unoccupied S.F. building and turn it into an alternative school
paying teachers at least $40,000 a year
Set up an ESL center in S.F.
Give myself some help at organizing.

You know what kills people?
The lack of love coming in.
Community strength.

You are dynamite.
flow with that.

Got a new job now
A healthy change
A life-line of communication
Warm receptive folks, newly arrived and determined to cope

From fifteen years in the shipyards
pulling cable, hard hat, steel toes, tool belt, security badge
swaying on the gangways high above cold down below,
supplying steel with 440 volts of electricity
to now supplying the language—English.

No more whistle sounding, reverberating every single nerve
at the punch-in-clock
I walked into the shipyard
knowing that the whistle was a plot
to deafen, destroy
and mess with my morning.

Now I’m writing a proposal for a scholarship to teach
an ESL workshop on poetics
How do I tell a board of decision-makers
that I qualify for the rights of poetry?
Maybe you wanna hear the flowers of light
that were my companion at dawn
when I leathered my neck and steeled my soul
to hook up yet another ship
in the yards of San Francisco.

Maybe I should dedicate this proposal to Joe Massey
with cajun freckles and a morning smile.
We worked long hours that night.
Put lights on the scaffolding going up the rudder
of that ship in drydock 2
50 feet.
Joe was at the top.
Circled the rudder.
Grabbed the rail
It was rusty. It gave.
Joe went down, down
to the steel on the dry dock’s floor.
We tried every which way to revive
never being able to compete with the 50 foot fall.

At the funeral in Oakland,
the laborers, the riggers, the electricians, the welders…
we locked hands around some words
I don’t even remember.

That was before John Ring got crushed between the pier
and the gangway on a hurry-up job
and it was before my foreman got electrocuted
on a gamble that the
power was secured—
on the other end of that voltage.

How do I take all this paper and turn into something
that will tell you
I have the right to poetry

Stanya Kahn was born in 1968 and grew up in San Francisco. She lives in Los Angeles. Kahn is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in video with a practice that includes drawing, sound, writing, performance and sculpture/installation. Recent solo exhibitions include shows at the New Museum/NY, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Marlborough Chelsea/NY, Weiss Berlin, Cornerhouse/Manchester, UK. Kahn is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in Film/Video. Her recent film STAND IN THE STREAM is currently on view in the Gwanju Biennial (’18) and will screen at LACMA this month. Her writings and drawings appear in multiple publications including DIE LAUGHING (2nd Cannons), MOVING IMAGE (MIT Press), IT’S COOL, I’M GOOD (Cornerhouse), and ABSTRACT VIDEO (UC Press.)


Monday, September 24th, 2018

bobby with a y. bobby with a tie.

When i met Bobby they always wore a tie. I met Bobby in 2001 and they always wore a tie. If you saw Bobby they were wearing a tie. Without question.

And a nice shirt that was made by a tailor. And pants that were also tailored. They were jeans. Tailored jeans. And very expensive trainers, as Bobby would say. Not sneakers, trainers.

Bobby is German. They grew up in a village somewhere in Germany I don’t know exactly where.

Bobby’s mom would sew the clothes they requested–even in college and grad school. Bobby would send a request and their mother would comply.

When Bobby was very young they played soccer very well on a team with mostly boys. Bobby was asked to leave the team even though they were an excellent player. From Bobby’s kitchen window there was a view of the soccer field which was tantamount to torture and added insult to injury. Bobby’s dad, noticing how sad they looked staring out from the kitchen window at the boys playing soccer, decided to buy them a ping pong table. Within a few months they were playing competitively and winning every game. They were winning in every direction. They were boarding a bus in a little uniform and were driven here and there winning every game. Bobby was just a child, traveling around Germany beating everyone at ping pong.

Bobby has very good taste and high expectations. Most of these expectations can’t really be met by Americans but Bobby forgives us. Easily. The thing is that Bobby can do most things and can make most things very well. And they try. They try to make everything very well. We don’t try to make things well. We just don’t care. Americans. We don’t care because we are used to plastic and kmart and, in general, junk. But when we see Bobby’s things we say “oh I you made that? How can i get one of those? That looks really nice”. They probably think we don’t know how to do anything. They are absolutely right. We don’t. But Bobby is good at most things. Here’s a list of things they are good at;

Personal politics

making shelves, clothes, bag, making the house nice. Picking objects for the house and clothes.

Bringing people together.


making decisions

reading–taste in books

I have a feeling making art

helping friends

I have to come back to this list later. It will be a long list.

The reason I am writing this brief description of my good friend Bobby is because I am practicing remembering something. I am practicing remembering gender non conforming pronouns. Out of respect.

Also, I enjoy remembering key things about Bobby. The gender pronoun preference isn’t the key thing about Bobby. All these other things make Bobby who they are but they are more sensitive and compassionate having had to deal with a parade of idiots who think a boy is a boy and girl is a girl.

Or waiters who want to know how you ladies are doing tonight.

Eve Fowler was born in Philadelphia, in 1964, she lives and works in Los Angeles. She graduated from of Temple University (BA, 1986) and Yale University (MFA, 1992), and organises Artist Curated Projects in Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Participant Inc, New York; Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland; Mier Gallery, Los Angeles and Artspace, Sydney. Her work was included in SITES OF REASON: A SELECTION OF RECENT ACQUISITIONS at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in the MANIFEST DESTINY billboard project, organized by LAND in 2014. Her book ANYONE TELLING ANYTHING IS TELLING THAT THING was published by Printed Matter in 2013. Her second book, HUSTLERS, was published in 2014 by Capricious Publishing. Fowler’s work is included collections such as The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, San Fransisco; and The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC.


Monday, September 24th, 2018

Here is a selection of images that I have been collecting on eBay to inspire future work.

Cheryl Donegan was born in 1962 in New Haven, Connecticut. She received her B.F.A. in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and an M.F.A. at Hunter College in New York. She was an artist-in-residence at ART/OMI, and Banff Center for Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada. Her videos have been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, and festivals including, in New York, at NYC 1993: EXPERIMENTAL JET SET, TRASH AND NO STAR at The New Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Guggenheim Museum Soho, White Columns, the 1995 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Film and Video Festival and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; 1993 Venice Biennale; Galerie Rizzo, Paris; the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Donegan has had one-person shows at Nicelle Beauchene, New York; Galerie VidalCuglietta, Brussels; Hidde Van Seggelen Gallery, London; Lotta Hammer, London; Baumgartner Galleries, Washington, D.C.; Basilico Fine Arts and the Elizabeth Koury Gallery, New York; as well as solo exhibitions in Nice, Paris, Berlin, and Milan. She lives in New York.


Monday, September 24th, 2018

— While visiting Karachi for my solo exhibition titled All Divided Equally at the Canvas Gallery, I recorded a conversation between myself and a Careem driver (local transport service similar to Uber) on August 31, 2018. I booked my ride from my hotel to the Gallery where I was going to attend the opening. The video shows a screen of my phone, while we both are trying to find a way to the gallery in a city which is unfamiliar to me. He said he is completely unaware of a gallery name, and never took a passenger like me before, who is an artist. We spoke about my work and his work, I explained him the work I do as an artist and why I do it. He told me his sister drew a picture of him, that he framed and kept. He said she could have been an artist, but the family think it’s not respectful enough. I told him it is respectful, we laughed!

When we reached the gallery I invited him to the opening, he said he would come later but he never came.

Basir Mahmood was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1985. He studied at Lahore at the Beaconhouse National University, and received a yearlong fellowship from the Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany in 2011. Since 2011, his works have been widely shown, including: THE GARDEN OF EDEN, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012; III Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Russia, 2012; Inaugural Show, Broad Museum, Michigan State University, 2012; Asia Pacific Triennial (APT 7) at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2012; Sharjah Biennial 11. (2013); At Intervals at Cooper Gallery Project Space, Duncan or Jordanstone College of Art & Design, 2014; Des hommes de mondes at college des bernardins, Paris, 2014; TIME OF OTHERS, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2015; Yinchuan Biennial, Yinchuan, 2016, China and Abraaj Group Art Prize Show, 2016, Dubai.


Monday, September 24th, 2018

Shot from studio wall, August 22 2018

“There is a too-much of the voice in the exterior because of the direct transition into the interior, without defenses; and there is a too-much of the voice stemming from the inside—it brings out more, and other things, than one would intend.” – Madlen Dolar

Mary Helena Clark is an artist working in film, video, and installation. Her work brings together disparate sounds and images to explore dissociation and embodiment. Using the conventions of narrative, language, and genre, her films explore shifting subjectivities and the mechanisms of sense. Her work has recently been exhibited at DOCUMENT, Chicago, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany, JOAN, Los Angeles, Kadist, San Francisco, the 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Finland, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania, and at festivals including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the New York Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.