Archive for March, 2022


Saturday, March 12th, 2022

Subjects and Sequences: A Margaret Tait Reader,
Publisher: LUX, Editor(s): Peter Todd and Benjamin Cook

Twenty-four years later in spring 2019, Sarah Neely in Glasgow asked me as one of 10 filmmakers to contribute a film to her “Margaret Tait 100” project. It took me a while before I decided to edit a film with the footage Margaret and I filmed during my visit with her in 1995. So, GLIMPSES FROM A VISIT TO ORKNEY IN SUMMER 1995 (2020, 4,5min, 16mm, silent) includes one or two images we had filmed for Margaret’s project VIDEO POEMS FOR THE 90s and other images I filmed during my visit. I combined these glimpses of Orkney with out-of-focus colors filmed in 2005 originally for THE BUTTERFLY IN WINTER (together with Maria Lang) and not used in that film.

Ute Aurand was born in 1957, in Frankfurt, Germany. She is a filmmaker, programmer and educator working primarily in the form of 16mm film portraits. She studied filmmaking at the Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie from 1979 to 1985 and has been a central figure in Berlin’s experimental film scene since the 1980s. Aurand has been an active film programmer for more than three decades; from 1990 to 1995, she curated Filmarbeiterinnen-Abend for Arsenal, Berlin, and in 1997 co-founded FilmSamstag, a monthly screen series at Kino Babylon, Berlin, with a particular focus on championing the work of female artists and filmmakers.


Saturday, March 12th, 2022


I came out to myself as a lesbian at the age of 9. By the time I was 12, I was actively searching for language and images–some confirmation that a like-minded, parallel world could align with my internal one. I found proof of that life, one that refused conventional heterosexual and gender expectations and appeared as a utopic universe of women free of men and the oppression of patriarchy at Sisterhood Bookstore in 1975. In a few years, I evolved from a burgeoning lesbian-feminist at 12 and 13 into a radical lesbian-feminist separatist aged 14 to 19.

Our neighborhood feminist bookstore was opened in 1972 by Simone Wallace and her former sister-in-law, Adele Wallace, and was the refuge that ratified my awakening. I found a language for my refusal and desire on the densely packed walls, shelves, and in the magazine and periodicals stacks in the rear of this peaceful store where I lurked for hours, raptly observing Sisterhood’s few daily customers. All while distractedly “reading” Sinister Wisdom perched on a small wooden stool. The two women who sat at the checkout area on different days became my patient and protective guides as I gingerly queried them about their own coming out experiences and attempted to imagine the details of their lesbian lives to foresee my own.

At Sisterhood, my sexuality was first mirrored in photographic work in posters and books by lesbian artists Tee A. Corrine, JEB (Joan E. Biren), and Cynthia MacAdams. Corinne’s visceral, solarized images of lesbian lovemaking mesmerized me. They hung high on the walls as posters over those advertising womyn’s music releases, graphic images with text and announcements. The work was powerful in its shadowy reversals of realism and explicit sexual encounters between actual lesbian couples.

Cynthia MacAdams produced polished photographic books (with forewords by Kate Millett), Emergence (1977), a series of black and white portraits of second-wave feminist women, and a paperback volume, Rising Goddess (1983), that featured the nude female body somewhat abstracted in landscapes. Emergence is an irreplaceable record of a time and captures striking images of women of note liberated by new ideas of female autonomy and solidarity. Rising Goddess pictures lesbians in mythologizing terms, with a full arsenal of formal devices that remove the body from life into the realm of classicism by way of Eros.

JEB’s slim paperback book of black and white photographs, Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians (1979), were lesbian portraits that functioned like a catalog of lesbian difference and linked experience. The images were documentary, and her photographs’ unadorned aesthetics were an aspect of their appeal. Intimate, necessary, and driven by the need to describe lives as they actually were, JEB’s photobook was a profoundly political gesture and remains a loving touchstone within my psyche, a pivotal article in imagining a future life.


Tee A. Corinne, SINISTER WISDOM magazine cover, 1977

From Tee A. Corinne’s YANTRAS OF WOMANLOVE: DIAGRAMS OF ENERGY, published by Naiad Press, 1982

From Tee A. Corinne’s YANTRAS OF WOMANLOVE: DIAGRAMS OF ENERGY, published by Naiad Press, 1982

Cynthia MacAdams, EMERGENCE, Published 1977, Chelsea House

From Cynthia MacAdams’ EMERGENCE, Kate Millett, 1977

From Cynthia MacAdams’ EMERGENCE, Lily Tomlin, 1977

From Cynthia MacAdams’ RISING GODDESS, 1983

From Cynthia MacAdams’ RISING GODDESS, 1983

JEB, EYE TO EYE: PORTRAITS OF LESBIANS, published 1979, Glad Hag Books

Flo, Flint Hill, Virginia, 1978. From JEB’s EYE TO EYE: PORTRAITS OF LESBIANS

Priscilla and Regina, Brooklyn, New-York, 1979. From JEB’s EYE TO EYE: PORTRAITS OF LESBIANS

Jane, Willits, California, 1977. From JEB’s EYE TO EYE: PORTRAITS OF LESBIANS

Monica Majoli was born in Los Angeles in September 1963. She received her BA in 1989, and her MFA in 1992 from UCLA. Her paintings, drawings and prints consistently integrate the photographic documentary sexual image into images as source material. Her practice engages queer experience and history while exploring shifts in materiality in distinct bodies of work executed over multiple years. She is a professor at UC Irvine and lives and works in Los Angeles.


Saturday, March 12th, 2022


L’amateur ~ The amateur

The Amateur (someone who engages in painting, music, sport, science, without the spirit of mastery or competition), the Amateur renews his pleasure (amator: one who loves and loves again); he is anything but a hero (of creation, of performance); he establishes himself graciously (for nothing) in the signifier: in the immediately definitive substance of music, of painting; his praxis, usually, involves no rubato (that theft of the object for the sake of the attribute); he is—he will be perhaps—the counter-bourgeois artist. — Roland Barthes

Don Luis Beltrán, my neighbor in the house across the street, was an amateur photographer. He was also a door-to-door almanac salesman, a bricklayer, a builder, and a staunch supporter of the dictator Pinochet.

Everything I know about him comes from what I remember as a child and teenager. He died in the early 90s when I started studying photography at the art school in Santiago de Chile. Don Luis had a passion that I admired: portraiture.

The street, the place where my friends and I would meet to play, was for Don Luis the setting for his photographs. He always asked us to pose in groups or individually, always in the afternoon and with the sun shining in our faces.

I cannot speak about his artistic ambitions. I don’t know how important it was for Don Luis to perfect his craft. His photographs inhabit a mysterious zone. There are more mistakes than one would ordinarily allow. There is magic in them.

His niece asked me if I wanted his negatives, some documents and personal letters. I did. Among them there was only one photograph that he had not pasted in an album. A black-and-white portrait of a baby, framed in glass with a border of gold paper. On the back handwritten, the name Alejandro Beltrán. Possibly his son.

I do not know why Don Luis started a new life in Santiago. He was born in the South. Order prevailed in all aspects of his family life and work. I was always surprised that in spite of the dirty street, his shoes were impeccably shined. His house and front yard were also impeccably tidy; nothing was ever out of place. He made all the furniture himself in light-colored wood. The sofas had a custom-made slipcover to protect them from dust. Light came in from all sides and I loved being there. At night the blinds were always closed. I never saw artificial light through them.

Every other year my family would receive a formal invitation to their home for Christmas dinner. It was a very special occasion and highly valued by my parents.

While the adults were talking, sometimes engaging in heated political debate, I would look through the albums. They were each like a little universe that not only contained family and close friends but also neighbors and above all many children. He pasted in all of the pictures chronologically, regardless of subject. I saw myself growing up as I flipped through the pages. In some of the photos we children were unkempt and dusty, in others we were in our Sunday best. I loved finding pictures that were familiar but it was also fun to look for pictures that seemed funny to me. There were portraits where children had burst into the frame uninvited, testifying to moments of chaos in which the photographer’s patience was put to the test. Everyone wanted to be in the picture.

Within the chronological order, there was a remarkable variety of almost wild and insurrectionary visual otherness. The more I looked the more astonished I was and I would concentrate on a particular aspect, for example, the stains. I found the inclusion of these images in the album mysterious. Sometimes light had filtered in and in the color photographs there were real dramatic emulsion burns. In the black-and-white film the light leaks produced dreamlike backgrounds where the characters seemed to float in a thick fog. All the photographs were printed in 9×8 or 9×9 format, arranged side by side, and covered with the plastic typical of albums in the 1980s.

Don Luis seems to have been indifferent to the technical errors that his camera produced as long as some detail of the person or object portrayed could be recognized. One of the envelopes of developed pictures returned from the laboratory specifically states that the client requested copies of all negatives, including those ordinarily discarded.

To me, this act of reclaiming the full negative prints signifies a generous validation of the “distorted” and “defective” images. I could imagine he was disappointed or disillusioned by his early photographs and that he gradually accepted them because they were unrepeatable and unrecoverable. Don Luis was a very enthusiastic amateur photographer. A photograph that portrayed a loved one, a familiar street or some local children became a loved object that is difficult to reduce to the error or success of technique or artistic expression.

When I was studying photography, these memories intrigued me and I went to look for Don Luis’ camera. It was a plastic toy camera of very simple construction. I remember that I was quite disappointed because, in my memory, Don Luis was a proper photographer with a proper camera.

Plastic cameras built in China were cheap and users were often fully aware of their poor quality. But for someone like Don Luis it was by no means a cheap activity. The financial investment was significant: the film, the development of the negatives and the prints were a luxury that very few people in my environment could afford.

The light leakage, blur and vignetting of the plastic cameras were inherent qualities. Don Luis’ photos transcend these factory imperfections, although not intentionally, of course. In his photographs we find double exposures that are hard to believe were intentional. They must be the result of defective or erratic transport of the film. The framing is so unusual that it borders on the intrepid. Some pictures show severed heads and amputated bodies. There was a dramatic humor in those pictures and my childish eyes interpreted it humorously as well. Possibly, since Don Luis wore glasses, framing with a direct viewfinder camera may have been difficult for him.

What is remarkable to me is that these photos also find a place in his final selection. They have a value in themselves. Just like a classical statue that has lost its head or a painting cracked and blurred by the ravages of time. He included them systematically in his albums; he accepted them all with the same generosity and tolerance.

What emerges most beautifully at the intersection between various forms of non-intentionality is indebted to both maker and apparatus; the result eloquently brings to light what has always been there—the world.

All photography copyright © Don Luis Beltrán
Translation by Catherine Schelbert

Jeannette Muñoz was born in Chile and is based in Switzerland. As a independent artist-filmmaker, she makes 16mm films since 2001 that circulate primarily in a non-fiction film context and art galleries. Her films have been exhibited in many festivals and venues including; Centro de Bellas Artes Madrid, S8 Mostra de Cinema Perisférico, l-e Tokyo Japan, New York Film Festival, Rotterdam FF Spektrum, Images Film Festival Toronto, Media City FIlm Festival Ontario Canada, Arsenal-Berlin, Ourense Film Festival, Festival Punto de Vista Pamplona, CGAI Centro Gallego de Artes da Imaxe, Xcèntric CCCB Barcelona, Palais de Glace Buenos Aires, Festival Internacional de Valdivia, Videoex Zürich, and many others.


Saturday, March 12th, 2022

The phone rang early that morning. The landline phone was on the floor next to the bed. His father jumped up immediately. He had been waiting anxiously all night for that phone call. His mother sat up after him. Through the mosquito net she looked at his back while he picked up the phone. The call lasted less than 10 seconds, for the information was brief and predictable: “Father is dying. Come quick!”

His grandfather was a distant man. He was absent most of the time during his childhood as much as his father’s. He remembered his naked silhouette standing in the bathroom, water splashing. The floor was evenly cemented and there was a small open window high up. His grandfather had many secrets, for he had many mistresses. His grandmother had given up holding on to him. Cleanliness was her constant concern, she changed clean clothes every day, and making a jealous scene was for her unclean. She pretended nothing had happened every time he returned home in disgrace after being dumped. She still cooked (three meals a day, three dishes per meal), washed his clothes and hers (by hand) every morning, mopped the floor (by hand) at least once a day. She served him without a word of condemnation, having left the condemnation to his own conscience. But each time, before she could be satisfied with her move, he disappeared: he came back to the one who had just dumped him, or to someone else, or maybe he just ran away from the silent punishment at home.

He now lay motionless on the wooden divan. His breaths were intermittent. He had been diabetic for several years. When it got worse, he came back home to his wife (caretaker). Someone placed next to his ear a cassette player, playing the Amida sutra at low volume. Everyone had accepted that he would soon die, and the chanting sound helped him depart peacefully. What did his grandfather see between his intermittent breaths? A couple, the same age as him, appeared at the front gate, each holding a pack of incense and a bouquet of gladiolus (flowers for the dead). When the couple learned that their friend was dying and not yet (completely) dead, they felt extremely embarrassed, apologized for their misunderstanding, quickly threw away their offerings. When he came home from the morning class, he saw that his grandfather’s face was covered by a piece of paper ripped from a student notebook. Next to his ear, there was no longer the cassette player, but a long knife.

The wooden divan lied next to the entrance door, where the wind slipped in through the gaps. Sometimes the paper on his face breathed in and out slightly.

His grandparents’ house stood at the top of a steep slope. The road leading up to it was just wide enough for two scooters to pass at the same time. On one side of the slope were the rows of house roofs below. Once he and his cousins blocked the door gaps with clothes and rags, opened all the taps so that the water flooded the whole house. Then they slid up and down, splashed the water, soaked their bodies and swam on the floor. When their grandmother came back, they all hid under the bed. She said nothing, went to a hedge nearby, broke off a long branch and plucked off all the leaves. With the stick in her hand, she sat beside the bed and called each of them out. They only pretended to be afraid.

The second time the house became a chaos was when his grandmother and grandfather had the biggest fight. That was the first time he saw his grandmother let out her anger. She threw and broke everything that was within the extension of her hands: bowls and plates, pots and pans, cups and glasses, tables and chairs, papers and newspapers… No longer water, the house was flooded with the shards of an endured marriage. A moment later she cleaned up the house. Nobody helped her.

In the kitchen, his mother and aunts gathered to prepare food and offerings for the funeral. They talked about what each of them should do in the next few days. They all seemed to be shy about wearing the funeral costume. One of his aunts said as if to comfort herself: “Well, we don’t get a chance to wear it every day.” His father was the host of the funeral. Besides wearing the white muslin shirt and trousers like everyone else, his father wore a white muslin hat with a straw rope wrapped around his head and held a long bamboo stick in his hands. With the special costume, the visitors, even if they did not know him, knew that the man standing in front of the coffin and bowing to the visitors was the eldest son of the deceased. The old couple returned with a new packet of incense and a new bouquet of gladiolus.

The wooden coffin, painted gold and polished on the outside, stood in the middle of the living room opposite the entrance door. His grandfather lay in that golden box. He couldn’t remember how he was dressed because he didn’t dare glance at him. Years later, what he would remember most about his face was when it was covered by the white paper. The funeral lasted three or four days. Usually at a funeral, a band of musicians played day and night. But his grandmother did not like to bother the neighbors, so she omitted that ritual. At night, the clearest sounds were the chanting on the cassette player and the cracking of melon seeds between the teeth of the visitors and his family.

On the first day of the funeral, he had to go to school to hand in the application for leave. Having failed to find a normal blue or black pen, his father wrote and signed the application with a green pen. It took him only 15 minutes to cycle to his school. He deliberately wore the funeral costume. When he entered the class, his classmates were all leaning their heads on their notebooks and writing something. Everyone looked up at him in bewilderment. The teacher, who was grumpy every day, gently accepted his envelope and let him go. The white scarf wrapped around his head had convinced her much more than his father’s squiggly green letters. That day, he felt a little proud to be the only one of his classmates who had the chance to wear such a costume.

The staff from the funeral home poured dried green tea leaves into the coffin. With their hands, they filled the space between his grandfather’s body and the coffin walls with tea. He smelled a faint fragrance. They closed the coffin and hammered nails into the rim (fortunately his grandfather was truly dead, who would hear his cries for help had he resurrected?). The sound of the nails hammered into the coffin had a strange spiritual force, causing everyone to suddenly burst into tears, rush to the coffin and try to touch it with their hands. Some tried to outdo the crying of the others.

An obituary customarily ended with the following sentence: “In this moment of confusion, please forgive the bereaved family for any mistake.” Confusion. Who wouldn’t be confused by the death (of a family member)? The most difficult question for his father was, “How to start?” There were so many things to prepare, to buy. There were many unknown rituals to follow. Who should he inform of the news? Where to find a coffin? What kind of coffin (and the price)? Which monks should be asked to come and do the chanting? What would be the right time to go to the cemetery? Funeral homes operated on the mechanism of confusion. The family didn’t have to do much, they just needed to confuse and be confused. The services took care of the rest. But the extent of this care depended on the package chosen.

Like their house, his grandfather’s tomb also stood on a hillside. The cemetery had one of the best views in the city. It was quiet. The rows of pointy tomb roofs aligned all the way downhill. At the hill foot was the area for newborns: small nameless graves. Some tombs, enormously and extravagantly built, with steel gates guarded by snarling stone lions, belonged to the dead rich in the eternal realm where a clock was handless. His grandfather’s tomb was an average one, like most. Sitting by the tomb, he could see small human figures farming the banana, pepper or coffee gardens on the hills opposite. As far as his eyes could see, there was a gigantic mountain range over the horizon. He preferred to think that blurry mountain was a dam that would protect this city and this cemetery from a deluge.

Right next to his grandfather’s tomb was a lot with an empty grave pit. The pit was sealed with concrete and could easily be opened in due course. The lot had been bought for his grandmother.

He still feared every time he heard the phone ring early in the morning. Was it not that death always came with-in a phone call? “Are you the mother/father/husband/wife of X? I’m sorry, X is …” His grandfather’s passing was the closest encounter, nose to nose, between his father and death. Writing the application in green ink showed how lost and confused his father was. Soon it would be his turn. What had he done to prepare for this? He didn’t want to be confused, but he couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t write in green ink when the day came.

By chance he saw his birth certificate (certified) copy. The yellowish paper with the worn-out edges grew so thin that one could see through it. It said on the paper:

Surname and first name: X | Male or Female: Male | Date of birth: MM-DD-YYYY | Place of birth: Medical Post of ward A, B town | Ethnicity: K |

There was a frame with the information about the parents:

Mother’s surname and first name: Y. Occupation: housewife | Father’s surname and first name: Z. Occupation: mechanic |

Reading this certificate reminded him of how reluctant he was every time he had to fill in the ‘Place of birth’ section on administrative documents. Where was his birthplace? ‘Place’ here meant a specific location: that small medical post (no longer existed)? Or was it a geographical space: the town of B (as well as this country)? And he could easily write that his birthplace was on the clinic bed. What about place of death? Where was his grandfather’s deathplace? This town? Or the house? Or the wooden divan?

In 2020 and 2021, funerals took place on Zoom. Technically, everything on the screen was streamed live, but again, technically, the images were always delayed, even if only by a few hundredths of a second, and when the connection was weak, the images froze and slowed down. Relatives and friends attending the deceased’s funeral on Zoom were, to a certain extent, watching archive footage. Did this distance in space and time lessen the pain?

To mark its 50th anniversary, Doctors Without Borders displayed a large poster in bustling public places: Hundreds of makeshift tents crammed onto a patch of land somewhere in Nigeria, a group of women and children standing in the foreground, some looking at the camera; blocking the horizon was a slogan half the size of the whole poster, printed boldly in red: WHEN WE SUFFER FAR, DO WE SUFFER LESS?

In 2022, those in Switzerland who wished to have euthanasia had the choice to use a capsule machine instead of medication. Below were the (rephrased) quotes from the inventor of the machine:

“The machine can be towed anywhere for the death.

The capsule is sitting on a piece of equipment that

will flood the interior with nitrogen,

rapidly reducing

the oxygen level to 1 per cent from 21 per cent in about 30 seconds.

The person will feel a little disoriented


may feel slightly euphoric


they lose


Death takes place


hypoxia and hypocapnia,

oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation,


There is no panic,

no choking feeling.

The person will get into the capsule

and lie


It’s very comfortable.

They will be asked a number of questions


when they have answered,

they may


the button


the capsule


the mechanism





Trương Minh Quý was born in Buon Ma Thuot, a small city in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Quý lives and works here and there in the vibrancy of memories and present moments, his narratives and images, lying between documentary and fiction, personal and impersonal, draw on the landscape of his homeland, childhood memories, and the historical context of Vietnam. His films have screened at Locarno, Berlinale, New York, Clermont-Ferrand, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, among others.


Saturday, March 12th, 2022

In 1998, Jackson made this sculpture. I purchased it. It lived in my home, which was an old barn in the middle of a field. It now lives in the kitchen.

Jackson built our house and tends it. For the last twenty some years, he has made sure my sculptures “stick together.” He has invented forms for that job.

In most recent work, his humor and pleasure in making has infected my sculpture.

Nancy Shaver was born in 1946, she lives and works in Jefferson and Hudson, NY. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute. Shaver’s work has been exhibited in the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; MoMA PS1, Queens, NY; MoMA, White Columns, Feature Gallery, Curt Marcus, and Derek Eller, all New York, NY. She has been visiting artist at Massachusetts College of Art, Vassar College, Harvard College, and Rhode Island School of Design. Shaver has been a teacher at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College since 1999. Shaver is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Anonymous Was A Woman. In 2010, Shaver was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. In addition to running her shop, Henry in Hudson, NY, Shaver is the co-director of Incident Report, an experimental viewing station for visual projects.