Archive for July, 2019


Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019


Killing time before attending a panel discussion, I photographed these blue marbles in a toy store, East Village. Blue symbolized my nervousness about attending the panel, which I ended up loving. I sat in the front row, on a backless chair. I stared at the panel’s central participant, a handsome man who had been wearing blue overalls when I’d first met him, years ago. I always think of him as the man in blue overalls, though this epithet fails to encompass his fatherless charms. My hobby: losing my marbles, and then writing about the experience of loss.

I found, in the trash, a book with a corrugated cardboard cover. I tore off the cover and painted it thickly and sloppily with cheap blue matte acrylic. When the paint was nearly dry, I pressed watercolor paper against the corrugations, which left a raked imprint. A series of other, minor interventions on the paper occurred—gestures executed with a sensation of muted joy. The many marks constitute a stumbling language, nonverbal, as if in the lacustrine space where a knock becomes a throb, a fish becomes a portent, a red glyph (in baby guise) becomes a fever-chart’s oscillating, alarmist line. The line belongs to a landscape now, a vista I could call suckled by a borderline, an ambiguous phrase which suggests an origin-myth whose gory details I don’t have the strength this morning to unveil.

I denominate myself the figure in a horizontally striped shirt but in fact I rarely wear horizontal stripes. On a forgotten day in the early 1980s I wore a Breton mariner shirt with a neckline gaping open for my sliver-head (a merman’s) to slide through. The black horn-rims I wore, that day, that year, were too large, their oval apertures a technique of losing an unnamed sweepstakes. Who took the picture? Who asked me not to smile? Deracinated, pale, confrontational, I seemed to beg the so-called universe to uncover its unctuous alibi, to disclose the actual biography hidden beneath the fake front, a falseness I still embrace (or hold up for target practice) as a blamed nectar. Am I confusing or concrete? A devotee of the unnatural, I’m trying to speak now as plainly as possible.

My father’s mother died in 1943. Enigma, she oversees my entire life. Her non-existence offers a comforting container: I can be securely held by her absence, a flawless design. Her death notice appeared in a Caracas newspaper: invitation to the internment, taking place on the Avenida Las Acacias. I’ve never been to Caracas; I can’t picture an acacia. A tropical tree? The loveliness of an acacia tree is beyond dispute. If I could decode the acacia’s symbolism, I might forge a route, non-poisonous, through the future desolation that awaits us. Notice how quickly I flee from funeral particulars into abstraction. My grandmother’s name, Ilse Gutfeld de Koestenbaum, contains a suspect preposition: de. Was it meant to confer a momentary aristocracy? Or was it simply the custom of the time, to insert a “de” between the maiden and the married names? My father once told me that his mother’s ancestors had lived in Germany since the 1500s, a fact, or supposition, that gives me an unjustifiable sensation of security, as if my family were a pharmacy that had been in business for centuries, dispensing floral waters and healing powders.

To drag a palette knife, a broad utensil, across a paint-smeared sheet, and then print the shadow of these unchoreographed, spontaneous oscillations on rice paper, not even needing a brayer to enforce the print-marks upon the all-too-willing page—is this capitulation to painted impressions a plea? A plea for what? The words solitude or conviviality arrived on the scene of the monoprint through the sleazy yet magical gateway of Photoshop, a name sacrilegious to mention within the precincts of this mess hall, where you can opt for porn or Bambi, crowd consciousness or forty days in the desert. I made this casual monoprint in 2012. Seven years later, I found it in an ignored pile of drawings. I’m the miscreant who ignored them. Toward my own leavings, I sometimes play the role of villain. On good days, overstatement elevates me to the status of salvager.

Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet, critic, artist, performer. He has published nineteen books, including NOTES ON GLAZE, THE PINK TRANCE NOTEBOOKS, MY 1980S & OTHER ESSAYS, HOTEL THEORY, BEST-SELLING JEWISH PORN FILMS, ANDY WARHOL, HUMILIATION, JACKIE UNDER MY SKIN, and THE QUEEN’S THROAT (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist). His newest book of poetry, CAMP MARMALADE, was published in 2018. He has exhibited his paintings in solo shows at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (L.A.), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum. His first piano/vocal record, LOUNGE ACT, was released by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017; he has given musical performances at The Kitchen, REDCAT, Centre Pompidou, The Walker Art Center, The Artist’s Institute, and the Renaissance Society. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.


Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

June 12, 1979 / My 1st Birthday: My father & I in Santa Rosa, TX surrounded by the stacked, empty cans of all the baby formula I consumed during my first year of life.

Later, on June 12, 1979 / My 1st Birthday: I have been freed of the bonnet & my parents have loaded the “empties” of baby formula into a hatchback to drive to the dump. In my first year of life, I consumed enough baby formula to almost fill a hatchback.

I asked my mother (who took these photos) what made her & my father think to do this – collect empty cans of all the formula I consumed before my 1st birthday. She said she had copied my grandmother (her mother) who’d done the same thing with one of her younger brothers in the early 1960s.

By the early 1970s, more than 75% of babies born in the US weren’t breastfed & instead, fed on formula almost entirely commercially produced.

On July 4, 1977, a boycott against the Nestle corporation was launched in the US in response to Nestle’s “aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes,” especially in developing countries. According to a friend, “Nestle has been branding their Enfamil product with that tan color for a while so [the baby formula I was fed was] probably Nestle’s.”

The one other time I’ve seen photographs of children with empty cans of baby formula they’ve consumed was in an 2017 New York Times article “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked On Junk Food”

Photograph by William Daniels for The New York Times

In 1978 (the year I was born & a year after the launch of the Nestle boycott), the president of Nestlé Brazil, Oswaldo Ballarin, was called to testify at highly publicized United States Senate hearings on the infant formula issue.

From the article:

The home of Joana D’arc de Vasconcellos, 53, another vendor, is filled with Nestlé-branded stuffed animals and embossed certificates she earned at nutrition classes sponsored by Nestlé. In her living room, pride of place is given to framed photographs of her children at age 2, each posed before a pyramid of empty Nestlé infant formula cans. As her son and daughter grew up, she switched to other Nestlé products for children: Nido Kinder, a toddler milk powder; Chocapic, a chocolate-flavored cereal; and the chocolate milk powder Nescau.

The Nestle boycott continues to this day. As of 2013, it was coordinated by the International Nestle Boycott Committee.

Wendy Trevino was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She lives in San Francisco, where she shares an apartment with her boyfriend, friend & two senior cats. She has published chapbooks with Perfect Lovers Press, Commune Editions and Krupskaya Books. BRAZILIAN NO ES UNA RAZ, a bilingual edition of the chapbook she published with Commune Editions, was published by the feminist Mexican press Enjambre Literario in July 2018. Her first book-length collection of poems, CRUEL FICTION, was published by Commune Editions in September 2018. Wendy is not an experimental writer.


Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019


Accumulation energy:

1. Gathering cast-offs (resources)

2. Holding them in reserve

3. Allowing them to collect dust, i.e., entropy

4. Shaking them out after some time’s passed

5. Reconfiguring them to necklace form, each unique

Anna Sew Hoy was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her MFA from Bard College in 2008. Solo presentations of Sew Hoy’s work have been mounted at the Aspen Art Museum, CO; the MOCA Storefront, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Koenig & Clinton, New York; LAXART; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles; the San Jose Museum of Art; and the California Biennial 2008 at the Orange County Museum of Art. Her work is in the collections of the Hammer Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. She was awarded a Creative Capital Grant for Visual Art in 2015 to support her public sculpture PSYCHIC BODY GROTTO. She was awarded the California Community Foundation Grant for Emerging Artists in 2013, and the United States Artists Broad Fellowship in 2006. Sew Hoy’s largest public sculpture to date, PSYCHIC BODY GROTTO opened at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in Spring 2017.


Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

During the last Nuit Blanche Montréal, I was invited to raise my glass to something we should all forget in an attempt of mass amnesia. The exercise was both exciting and challenging.

I decided we should all forget the notions of FEAR, this unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, and likely to cause pain or a threat.

Nobody wants to live in fear.

Because fear lives in the mind, and sometimes also lingers into the body.

It comes with negative feelings of anxiety, nervousness and self-doubt.

We develop specific fears as a result of our education and learning process. And it is our social relations and our culture that shape individual fears of social rejection and failure.

We are taught by our parents to not talk to stranger to protect us. And most often we grow up being afraid of the unknown and of the other.

We tell ourselves stories and give ourselves excuses that allow us not to face our fears.

We blame minorities because we don’t want to take responsibilities.

And we fear anything that could disturb the comfort of our lives.

We live in a time of divided societies. Where the growth of extremism is fueled by anxiety and fear.

FEAR is a powerful tool. It is used politically and culturally to manipulate, persuade or dissuade.

When we are afraid, a manipulator can talk us out of the truth that we see right in front of our eyes. And then, words become more real than reality.

They say: “It’s for your safety”. “For the safety of the country”.

FEAR makes people build walls, block frontiers, deny entry access, and breaks family apart.

FEAR makes people follow in line, in order.

FEAR stops public emancipation

FEAR brings racism and discrimination.

FEAR is when people feel that other people’s rights are subverting their rights.

And in some cases, FEAR is a feeling all too familiar.

We FEAR for our youth committing suicide in astronomical rate in indigenous communities across North America.

As women, we FEAR of walking alone in the streets at night.

We FEAR of forgetting our traditional languages and knowledge.

We FEAR of forgetting our past and not being able to move strategically into our future.

The idea that FEAR has helped us to keep us alive is no longer accurate.

It is not keeping us alive enough. The FEAR of the world’s end is not strong enough.

The world is changing more and more rapidly, and we are perfectly aware that it will continue to change faster and faster. And yet, we do nothing. We continue to consume the Earth. We put more pipelines on indigenous lands, and there still no running water for most indigenous communities across Canada.

How can FEAR work for some of the most horrific and irresponsible things in humanity, but does not influence positive and constructive change?

This is why I think we should forget about FEAR.

FEAR cannot prevent catastrophes.

Acknowledging differences makes us grow. Because when we are surrounded by the same prejudice as ours, the same opinions, the same views, we start to stagnate.

When we know who we are, where we come from and our sense of values, we feel stronger in our identity. And when we are confident in our identity, we fear less the other.

Instead of freezing in FEAR, we can acknowledge the possibilities for the future. We could dream of friendships, trust and loyalty that would counteract feelings of solitude and ignorance.

I am trying to forget FEAR. And replace it by simply trust, joy, calmness, and courage.

We have a collective responsibility for our collective future. Is there something we can do, all of us together, to be able to face the future without FEAR?

Caroline Monnet was born 1985 in Ottawa, Ontario and now lives in Montreal. She is very involved and active in notions of Aboriginal identity and is one of the founding members of the Aboriginal digital arts collective ITWÉ. Her earliest short films were shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada), at Sundance and at Palm Springs (USA). In 2016, she won the Golden Sheaf Award for best experimental film at the Yorkton Film Festival for MOBILIZE. Being chosen by the Cinéfondation Paris for a residency allowed her to bring home the award for best script at Cannes the following year. More recently she was included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. She is currently working on a feature film entitled BOOTLEGGER.


Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

— I just returned from two weeks in the Pacific. I am in the airport right now. I have been traveling back from Honiara airport to San Juan. Tropic to Tropic. I was in the Solomon Islands to be precise, though that is not precise at all as it names a huge land area of about 30,000 square km and comprising many atolls as well as the ocean between and around. Of all the places I have ever been or seen it is the most liquid. The sea is the playground, freeway, main food source, mythical and spiritual ground (though this might seem contradictory).

I had to constantly remind myself that I was very far away from home, as far away as could be. How uncanny that in the Pacific tropics and in the Caribbean we move with the same rhythm, that logically the houses take the same shapes, raised from the ground of course to be away from all sorts of critters, to be cool and to create another outdoor shaded space, among other reasons. That the palm frond roofs are weaved in the same way, that we have the same histories of colonialism, the same american military trash in the waters. In Honiara, the biggest town we went through, and only for a few hours, students in their uniforms walk slowly and avoid the early afternoon sun. I felt at home. Same sweat, same road. We were in areas remote to us but not to themselves.

There are some remarkable differences though with what I know:

Children of all ages and gender manage their dugout canoes through distances that would be frightening to most adults. I was most impressed by two 7 year old girls crossing island to island on a tiny canoe. I could have lifted each one with one hand, their bodies were perfectly balanced, only one of them rowing. People get on canoes like on a bike, fully dressed, they arrive everywhere completely dry. Rowing from place to place does not mean at all that you will get wet.

I asked a few basic questions of a canoe maker: Everyone knows how to make a canoe: father, uncle, mother, each family must know how to. The fruit of the tree Atuna racemosa is used for caulking, the seed is made into a paste. The tree that is used to make the canoe is called tau tau on one island but something else on another island. On the last night I was there I learned from another rower with a bright blue patch of caulking on his canoe that melted Crayola will also work in a pinch.

If you have the time to go all the way to the Solomons, you’d better bring some goods and not just money. Money is an almost useless placeholder. People would much rather trade a carving for a wetsuit or a good knife. Money is maybe just another long trip to town to buy what is needed which is probably batteries or a dress. Might as well bring it with. One man looked up to D on our boat and one hand on the paddle the other on the USB stick asked her, “More music please” and then, “You have African gospel?”. Yes, D had some African Gospel.

And the sky! One moonless night we spent in a very dark ocean night, was so gloriously filled with stars that I finally was able to make some sense of the myth from my side of the world. The stars were very brightly reflected in the water, creating a disorienting double landscape. You really could confuse the stars with something lurking brightly below a canoe. In caribbean mythology Anacacuya, in a canoe, mistakes a starry reflection for a large beautiful shell in the water and dives in for it. He drowns. I had never understood the confusion of star for shell, until now. I was completely unfamiliar with the atoll geology, but every time we visited a small island that had already been through devastating logging 20 perhaps or even 15 years ago—there and only there— I could recognize the tree species. What the place looks after it has been wiped out…that is something that I recognize. I see maga, maría, mangle rojo, a jackfruit or two, coconut palm of course and almendros, lots and lots of almendros.

Next time I will bring a hammock to trade.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz was born in 1972, in Puerto Rico. She is an artist and filmmaker currently based in San Juan. Her films arise from long periods of observation and research to explore the social and political conditions of her native Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Her recent solo exhibitions have been held at El Museo del Barrio (2017), New Museum, New York (2016); Pérez Art Museum Miami (2016); Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City (2014); and Gasworks, London (2013). In 2017 she participated in the Whitney Biennial. She has been awarded the Creative Capital Visual Art Award (2015) and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2017). Santiago Muñoz is also a cofounder of Beta-Local, an arts organization in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Director of Sessions, a series of experimental seminars anchored in the specific geography and emerging art practices of Puerto Rico.