Archive for October, 2022


Sunday, October 9th, 2022


Silk is called shattered when inner tears spontaneously fray the structure of a woven cloth. It is a reflexive tearing, motivated chemically and by light: silk threads come to weaken and shred as crystalized mineral salts absorbed from the wearer’s skin or applied during production as an augmentation of the textile’s traits— to make the silk heavier, glossier, of a more pronounced rustling— become minuscule blades. In time the crystals cut across the fibres. Weft threads shatter before warp threads. The cloth’s strength breaks. Yet one prefers a silk of a pronounced, weighted rustling. One is compelled towards crystalline manifestations. Silk ties shatter at the knot points; silk gowns shatter in the folds, which have touched the body and so have absorbed perspiration: inner elbow, waist, underarm, collar facing. What was heavy and opaque becomes translucent; the delicate warp is revealed. Shattered ribbons disintegrate when handled. They are filmic.

The now shattered three-hundred-year-old pink and silver scrap of ribbon stolen by the youthful Rousseau and returned upon its shameful discovery to his mistress Madame de Vercellis, I must imagine it for my friend, who is a fond lover of ribbons and brooches and similar baubles. I have given myself this task because this week the ribbon subtly appeared in a conversation we were having about garments and sentences and because he merits this mystical ribbon. All at once, there the coiled ribbon lay, in our mutual wondering, as if a tiny concealing drawer had sprung open. Rousseau recounts its story in his Confessions, which I had recently reread, skimming for textile references as I often do, and skimming also for references to the River Bievre. She, Madame de Vercellis, Rousseau’s mistress or employer, died of a cancer—it was breast cancer— shortly after the event of the theft. Who can say where the pink and silver ribbon went next, before this week appearing between us. Could Rousseau have taken it a second time? Was it gathered up by rag dealers, having some small value? I feel certain that it would have been silk ribbon. A ribbon made of cotton would have been called a tape or a lace— un lacet— and would have been utilitarian, perhaps less tempting to the boy, as in fact a tape or a lace would now remain: not very tempting, except to the admirers of the haberdashery of old, or perhaps to a Belgian clothing designer of the 1990s, say Demeulemeester or Margiela, who might place these cotton tapes on the exterior of certain garments, to dangle there decoratively or to loosely and insouciantly fasten a tailored wool crepe jacket or the nape of a black tunic. But a tape or a lace is more typically and traditionally relegated to the hidden interior of a garment, at the waist for example, to permit the closer or looser adjustment in fit by the wearer, to better hold the garment to the body, or to structurally stabilize a seam or a hem. Except to post-structuralist tailors, a tape is not ornamental as a ribbon is nearly inevitably ornamental and so tempting. By now this tempting pink and silver ribbon taken by Rousseau—it must have softly glinted a little, coiled together intimately on a dressing table loosely with other ribbons slightly less tempting in aspect—will certainly have decomposed, turned by innovating time to greyish glinting dust, helped along by its exposure to sunlight, which is detrimental to the stability of silk fibres, causing them to become brittle, to shatter, and helped also towards its decomposition by traces of the skin salts of the girl who wore it, perhaps at her throat or her bosom, perhaps in her ornately dressed hair. This ribbon now shattered or the pinkish or perhaps still-glinting greyish fibrous dust that remains of it rests enclosed I now believe in a small ornamental box of pearl-inlaid wood, the kind of box deemed better quality and purchased at a street market in Cairo in 2001 to be given as a gift. The enclosed dust, now scented a little by the sandalwood lining of the box, is what is left of the pink and silver ribbon whose shameful theft caused the whole two hundred or three hundred year history of confessional writing to unfold, as indeed the young thief would have unfolded the ribbon now and then to admire it secretly at night or whenever he wished to think of the chambermaid—employed now to prepare healing bouillons for the dying Vercellis, who no longer required the services of a cook—she could only now just sip at a little restorative broth— touching the ribbon so as to touch her absent skin or to touch her absent prettily upswept hair, thus adding the salts of his own skin to mingle with the traces of the chambermaid’s skin on the shattering ribbon, unwillingly hastening its decomposition. Grieve this.

For the right to grieve everything permanently. For the right especially to grieve what is inhuman: ribbon and earth and shattered ribbon and rivers and coolness and poplar trees and foetuses even though they’re not human and certain birds and all the languages that don’t exist anymore and hormones and ribbons now dust and arts of happiness lost arts of ornament lost arts of artifice lost arts of letting be and everything unutterable done against hags and girls. Add queers to hags and girls. That is to say the grief for the unnatural or antinatural or artificial, all that shimmers and glints in artifice, as well as the inhuman. Everything that’s historically burned, the books and the sinners and the wrong believers. Recalling that many people have burned and are still burned and often they are called women or they are thought to be like women in some fearful inhuman way. To grieve sin, which shimmers and rustles in artifice. For the right to be inhuman, to grieve what is inhuman without first designating it as human. Tumours. Shame. Ribbon. Dogs. For the right to be common. For the right to decisively not mother anything as well as the right to the grief of not mothering and the common grief of mothering, mothering which is a culture and nothing natural, not at all. Also for rightlessness, for silence, for not appearing, for the readers, for the hiders the listeners the tinkerers the leavers the thieves the touchers the sinners the hoarders the pausers the quitters. For what rustles. For the repetition of the word shame, for its shattering. For lichen, for clay, for spiders and webs. For the grief which is more real than dreams, and also to grieve the dreams and the dreamers, the whole rustling history of what has been dreamt. To dream inhuman grief. For the existence of inhuman grieving as a permanent state of being. For grieving dissent.

The river is a ribbon-like body of water moving downwards by force, and rustling. All senses are modifications of touch. This ribbon is for Derek.

Lisa Robertson is a Canadian poet and essayist. Born in Toronto in 1961, she was a longtime resident of Vancouver, where in the early 90s she began writing, publishing and collaborating in a community of artists and poets that included Artspeak Gallery and The Kootenay School of Writing. She has continued these activities for 30 years, publishing books, leaflets and posters, translating poetry and linguistics from French, lecturing and teaching internationally, and continuing her ongoing study into the political constitution of lyric voice. In 2017 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Letters by Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and in 2018, the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts in NY awarded her the inaugural CD Wright Award in Poetry. She has taught at Cambridge University, Princeton, UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Piet Zwart Institute, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and American University of Paris, as well as holding research and residency positions at institutions across Canada, the US, and Europe. Lisa currently lives in France.


Sunday, October 9th, 2022

The cutest little picture of me and my youngest brother Martin at the triangle square called in Dutch Sint Janskerkhof (Saint John’s Graveyard). This is where I grew up until I was six years old, in the shadow of the St. John’s Cathedral (de Sint Jan) in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in the south of The Netherlands. We lived and played in a large merchant’s house built around the 1400 hundreds. Not that I was aware of it, but to me as a kid this house was like a castle, the many rooms and secret stairs leading to other secret attics full of things to discover. In the picture I am wearing the blue coat my mother made for me. She made all my clothes. My eyes being blue, it is still my favorite color. A few years ago, I went back to the house. My parents had a furniture store there when I grew up. My brother Ad had continued the furniture business from my parents. This was on the ground floor from the streetside to the backyard. He kept the old house above for furniture storage, but many of the rooms had been unused for a long time and the house was neglected and in a bad shape. Ceilings were coming down. The roof had to be repaired and my brother wanted to fix it up for one of his kids to be a modern apartment with a decent bathroom, kitchen etcetera.

Then one day Ad brought to my attention that some historical building researchers had took advantage of these months where the house was unused, to do their work, because the researchers knew that some of the rooms had been untouched by renovations since 60-70 years. Under the plaster they discovered old wood structures that proved that some of the rooms in the house were from around 1470. In some areas, where plaster layers had not been damaged by previous renovations, old wall paintings slowly appeared which the researchers had exposed. In the narrow steep stairs leading to my parents’ bedroom where I was born in the fifties, fragments of texts were appearing. We could decipher them to be black Gothic lettering reading AVE MARIA, with beautiful realistic painted red drapery above the text. Just imagine what this house must have looked like. In this overlooked much too steep, narrow and unpractical stairway, and what we called as kids the blue room, a large room in which me and my brothers played with our “Lego” blocks and build kids stuff and crawled over the blue vinyl floor, proved to be the oldest room in the house. Beautiful red lily decorations in a regular pattern with below a paneling from the ground up of fake painted wood appeared from under the layers of paint. In another room they found ceiling paintings from the 18th century. This had been our living room when I was 1 to 6 years old. When I met the woman who was scraping the walls millimeter by millimeter with a tiny knife, I discovered her to be as devoted to her work as I am in my art. She told me it was her life’s work applying and waiting for subsidies to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to work on a residential house like this. Because these apparently didn’t come available that often for historians. And when she heard that after growing up in this house, I had become a wall paintings artist, she touched her heart, saying that playing as a kid in this blue room with these hidden wall paintings in it from various times, must have destined me to become a wall painting artist. And if you think of it, these paintings were made right in the time of Hieronymus Bosch’s life. In this neighborhood in this street, he must have made his visits and met people. For sure he visited across the street the house of the Swan Brothers Fraternity of which he was a member. We were fantasizing about how people would have behaved in this civilian house during those times. For a while I thought it must be my task to restore this house the way it once was. I fantasied about finishing the existing wall paintings into a completely decorated house with textiles and furniture’s. Like my own desire in my artwork at that moment to indulge in surrounding domestic and decorative patterns with colors and curls. But it was no more than a fantasy. It wasn’t my house anymore. It was good that it was going to be modernized for young people from today to live in.

The historian, Maike Tjon A Kauw, told me that usually churches and public buildings get restored but there is very little subsidy for restoring civilian houses from that time and keep them as they were. What remains now of the wall paintings of hundreds of years ago in Hinthamerstraat 119-121, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the place of my birth, are small remainders of them here and there in the house which are kept in openings in the plaster behind glass.

Lily van der Stokker was born in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in 1954, she lives and works in Amsterdam and New York City. Selected solo exhibitions include: Camden Art Centre, London (2022); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2019); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2018); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015); New Museum, New York (2013); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2010); and Tate St. Ives (2010). Van der Stokker has undertaken two large-scale public commissions. In 2000 she created The Pink Building, for which she painted the entire exterior and roof of a building for the World’s Fair in Hannover, Germany, and she designed a large ceramic teapot, Celestial Teapot, for the roof of a high-rise shopping centre in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 2013.


Sunday, October 9th, 2022


Theseus was, according to Greek myth, a legendary king of Athens, son of Aethra and Aegeus. One of the most famous episodes of his life was the release of Athens from the debt it owed to the island of Crete: every year, the Athenians had to pay tribute to King Minos of Crete by taking by ship seven maidens and seven young men who would be given to the Minotaur. Theseus volunteered to be part of the crew and went on the third shipment to defeat the beast.

The ship, which he navigated victoriously, was preserved by the Athenians for centuries, exchanging the worn wood for new whenever necessary[1]. So many times, this ship sailed that the parts that were replaced are incalculable. Thus, this ship became one of the great philosophical questions of its time: Are we facing the original ship knowing that all its parts have been replaced countless times since its construction? and if the old replaced parts were used to build another ship just like it, which of them, if any, would be the original ship of Theseus?[2]


1 In Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Volume I, “Life of Theseus,” XXIII, 1: “The ship of thirty oars in which Theseus sailed with the young men, and returned safe, the Athenians preserved till the age of Demetrius Phalereus, removing the worn wood, and putting in and interweaving new wood; so that this gave matter to the philosophers for the argument which they call augmentative, and which serves for two ends, taking for example this ship, and proving some that it was the same, and others that it was not.”

2 In Georges Didi-Huberman, Fasmas: Ensayos sobre la aparición: “The man who invented the verb “to photograph” lived in intolerable heat in the middle of an escarpment on Mount Sinai. He spoke Greek, at least that is what is believed, since no one could get the slightest hint of conversation out of him. It was as if the oppressive heat of the light, in that part of the mountain – a place called Batos and, supposedly, the precise place where the burning bush appeared – it was as if the suffocating and sacred air had forced this man into a kind of definitive silence. He would often go to sit near a bush, wet the branches with his saliva and all-day long braid them into plaits, while mumbling an incomprehensible phrase. In the ochre aridity of Mount Horeb…. he tried to drown his eyes in the burning solar flux. Imagining that he was becoming an image by just stepping into The Light. The only way, he thought, to see and be seen by something he called “God”. The man who invented the verb “to photograph” wished, then, to transform himself into an image, a diaphanous image. He would have liked never to drink and never to close his eyes. Deep down, he hoped to “abandon his body”, as he himself writes. We do not know the incomprehensible noun that marked the rhythm of his avid vision and breathing. We only know that the verb “to photograph” had appeared there, under his tongue, as if demanding no longer the pleasure of the image and the forms of reality, but the infinite enjoyment of the formless image: that pure tactile intensity that is the light streaming on our surrendered face.”

Felipe Romero Beltrán was born in Bogotá, in 1992. He is a Colombian photographer based in Madrid, Spain. Felipe focuses on social issues, dealing with the tension that new narratives introduce in the field of documentary photography. At the same time, he is currently preparing a PhD dissertation on photography at Complutense University of Madrid. His practice, characterized by its interest on social matters, is the result of long-term projects accompanied by extensive research on the subject.


Sunday, October 9th, 2022

Inside my mother’s home, inside the kitchen, inside the glass faced cabinet, sits a tiny strawberry tea pot. Remove its little leafy top, and find all of my baby teeth. The tea pot has never been used, nor have any from her collection. Most remain sitting in this cabinet, inside this house, in Northern California. Others rest on a thin white picture rail that runs across a pristinely painted wall. Shades drawn nearly always, there is no chance at discoloration.

My childhood bedroom was decorated from refurbished antique furniture. Dark ornate wood with carved flowers along the edges. Dressers with mini compartments for clothing no longer made so small. Between these statement “Our Darling Daughter” pieces, my chewed gum collection, displayed in a cubby shelf made of 2 inch boxes. Placed amongst the pink hued mounds: my pewter soldiers, tamagachies with dying batteries, spectacled turtles made of shells, and a silver llama stolen from my mother’s friend.

When I was thirteen I painted a mural on a thin strip of my bedroom wall. A bright acrylic beach scene with a lone boat going out to sea, yellow yellow sand and an exaggerated sky. I went to summer camp. Came back a week later to sanded and sparse white walls, neatly arranged dark wood furniture, and miniatures placed into cubbies—stained and speckled with the remnants of gum.

When I was fourteen I slammed my wooden bedroom door with its solid glass door handles. It was promptly removed and replaced with a green striped sheet. The walls of the house no longer vibrated with my adolescence. The thinly woven cloth fell back silently after I passed through.

By sixteen I had a fake ID and would go to the Make Out room, a dive bar in the city’s youthful neighborhood. On Tuesday nights Primo would play slow jams records. These songs carried me, their lyrics filled with sorrow and skimming on the surface of a slow tempo tune. Dancing in the center with other girls, hipsters in Salvation Army finds, we would twirl, glide, swoon to the melodies. Men would watch us, occasionally asking for a dance—but the fragility of this perceived freedom, to float around in worn and stained silk dresses, never permitted an acquiescence.

My family grew up and made lives for themselves in the late afternoon shadow of WWII: middle class was a structure to be built, its rigidity valued as strong supports of an American family. The roles expected were those prescribed by 1950s propaganda – nuclear families with tax brackets that supported a corporate run government and that made censuses easy. Family secrets were to be woven shut into buttresses, leaning on the cracked exterior walls of a home built from hope. Windows that rarely open for fear of outside smells and noises, not a spec of dust inside, carpets as if only ghosts crossed them.

Born in the 80s, I was the burgeoning element of chaos, a piece of gum stuck onto girlhood, teeth inside a tea pot, the strong vibration in a quiet home. In my 30s they sold the house and lamented the small melted hole in the carpet – as a teen I soldered motors to circuit boards behind the curtain-door and once dropped the torch. Forever shamed. The precariousness of youth and freedom: like an earthquake at a museum – all guards holding whatever they can in place. But the building is on a cliff, above the ocean, with foundations made of fantasies.

Elizabeth Jaeger lives and works in New York.


Sunday, October 9th, 2022

Since early 2020 I have been developing a work called ‘Stringer’. It is an application which produces a unique, temporary, suspended digital string sculpture in response to a user’s spoken statement. Below is a pencil study of a recent outcome of Stringer, using the text from a single page of a notebook where both my mother and sister had once written:

1 litre semi-skimmed evening primrose hello my name is amy

Toby Christian was born in 1983 in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. He lives and works in London. Recent and current solo exhibitions, projects and readings include ‘Stringer (Bone Behaviour)’, Parrhesiades, London (2022); ‘Lazy Bones’, Casanova, São Paulo (2021); ‘studioaudio’ with Good Gear (broadcast), Resonance FM, AICA UK and PEER (2021); ‘Old School New Body’, Celine, Glasgow (2019), ‘Trippy Scroller’, PEER, London (2019); ‘The News’ curated by David Dale Gallery, Glasgow for Swimming Pool, Sofia (2017) and ‘Railing’ (reading), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2017). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Interpolations II’ curated by Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot, Galerija Prozori, Zagreb (2022); ‘I Dialogue, Kinch’, Belmacz, London (2021); ‘Preliminares’, Casanova, São Paulo (2021) and ‘Der Bote ist der Tote’, Mauve, Vienna (2020). Toby Christian’s books ‘Commuters’ (2021), ‘Collar’ (2017) and ‘Measures’ (2013) are published by Koenig Books. He is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London.

Stringer developed by Gabriel Stones