Author Archive

LISA ROBERTSON

Sunday, October 9th, 2022

THE RIBBON [FOR DEREK MCCORMACK]

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.

LILY VAN DER STOKKER

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.

www.kaufmannrepetto.com

FELIPE ROMERO BELTRÁN

Sunday, October 9th, 2022

REPLICA: ON THE PHOTOGRAPHIC MEANING

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]



Footnotes

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.

www.feliperomerobeltran.com

ELIZABETH JAEGER

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.
www.elizabethjaeger.com

TOBY CHRISTIAN

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.

www.casanovaarte.com
www.belmacz.com
www.parrhesiades.com
www.buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de

Stringer developed by Gabriel Stones

SARAH ZAPATA

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

My father told me that our family turns off lights. I’ll be walking outside in the evening, and notice a street lamp go out. I’ve always taken it as a sign that I’m exactly where I need to be, a message from the ancestors that perhaps it’s time to look up. The sky is a grounding presence that helps when life can feel so consuming, the moon expels any other noise from the room no matter what part of the world you’re in. Any time I’ve needed to come back to earth, I look to the sky.







In March 2020, I was working on my first solo show in Peru: I was fulfilling a lifelong dream of showing in a place that was so dear to me. On the 15th, the president closed the borders and the whole country closed down. Grocery stores, pharmacies and banks were the only businesses that were open. No private cars were allowed on the street, it was illegal to go to a different neighborhood. I was locked down in a home by myself in Barranco, and could not finish my work. Perhaps we flew too close to the sun.










To be alone in such a crazy time is hard to describe, but my roof proved to be my paradise. I noticed how empty the sky was after the border closed. Before, you could see planes punctuating the clouds, but now only birds sailed through the air as the streets echoed in their emptiness and fear.







My roof became my laundry room, studio, living room, bar, social barometer. It made a particularly lonely and scary time feel bearable. For weeks I waited to hear if I had been placed on a flight home by the United States embassy. The night I finally got the call, I enjoyed some Pilsen Callao on my roof for the last time in the thin night air beneath the moon. Down on the street, I saw one of the street lamps turn off.






Sarah Zapata was born in 1988, in Corpus Christi, Texas, she lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Zapata is a Peruvian-American textile artist who delights in using a wide range of colors and materials. She received a BFA in studio art from the University of North Texas, Denton. She has had solo shows at the Museo MATE, Lima, Peru; Performance Space New York; Institute 193, Lexington, Kentucky; Deli Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; and El Museo Del Barrio, New York.

www.sarah-zapata.com

QUINN LATIMER

Sunday, July 17th, 2022





Conditions

The wind was a seven or an eight—a hard seven he said. In our cabin on the rocking ship, throwing us back and forth, I tried to read the book I had brought, Christa Wolf’s Cassandra. The subtitle of the book was A Novel and Four Essays, but I was mostly taken with the title Wolf had given to the whole enterprise, which appeared on page 141: Conditions of a Narrative. I thought about the conditions of our current narrative—the long night boat to Anafi, the wild crossing of the windy Aegean, our ship stopping at a series of Cycladic islands until it would reach ours at dawn.

Page 141: “Ladies and gentlemen,” Wolf begins in the middle of her book, “This enterprise bears the title ‘Lecture on Poetics,’ but I will tell you at once, I cannot offer you a poetics. One glance at the Classical Antiquity Lexicon was enough to confirm my suspicion that I myself have none.” Instead, she offered: “I want to set a fabric before you. It is an aesthetic structure, and as such it would lie at the center of my poetics if I had one.”

Poetics

I had picked up Cassandra on a trip three months ago to LA to see my father. The book was my mother’s, part of her enormous library, which I had inherited but was too superstitious or too poor, or a bit of both, to put onto a ship to Europe, where I lived. I remembered Wolf’s book’s beautiful faded cover from my childhood. It had sat by my mom’s bed for years. When I started reading the book, it seemed a strange mirror: The book began with a trip Wolf took to Greece, where I have lived, in part, for some time. The book took form when, after a trip to Athens and Crete, Wolf was given the Adorno lectureship at the University of Frankfurt. Four lectures became four essays. The fifth became a rewriting of the Cassandra myth, a novel, about a woman whose voice was not heard, not to be believed.

The Frankfurt lectureship Wolf was given was to be devoted to poetics, though the East German feminist writer insisted she had none. I felt that strange mirror again, looking back at me. I was currently curating a show I had titled “SIREN (some poetics),” which was to open in New York in the fall, and which brought together artists and poets whose work dealt with technologies of gender and sound, the bodies we build and break around the voice to make sense of it. That is, the visual languages in which our poetics sometimes take shape. The relations of text and textile were one aspect of the exhibition, so when I read that Wolf wanted to set a fabric before her reader—“an aesthetic structure”—in place of a poetics, I felt a jolt, some thrill.

Wolf writes: “‘Poetics’ (the definition reads): the theory of the art of poetry, which at an advanced stage—Aristotle, Horace—takes on a systematic form, and whose norms have been accorded ‘wide validity,’” Wolf notes. “New aesthetics positions are reached (the book says) via confrontation with these norms (in parenthesis, Brecht).”

I thought about that parenthesis. A week before the boat trip to Anafi, I had been with my students in Frankfurt, where we were part of a Städelschule project on Xenia, that is, hospitality. One morning I sat in on a lecture by the political theorist Nikita Dhawan, who noted Adorno’s (seemingly ungenerous and erroneous) comparison of Brecht and Beckett. But it was early and she kept confusing their names—B for B—which in the large warehouse room on the edge of the Rhine in industrial Frankfurt, a loud storm banging against its high, thin windows, seemed very Beckettian indeed. After her long and nuanced lecture on post-coloniality, drawing on the Frankfurt School, Dhawan made a joke about the misdirection of our desires, using as an example women and heterosexuality, and we all cracked up.

Prefaces

Accompanying me on the shuddering ship to Anafi, where Cassandra would go unread, unheard, were my partner Ion and two friends, Iris and Lisa, who all seemed less concerned about the wind than me as we picked at fries in the boat’s restaurant during a lull in the storm. It was our second trip together in a month. We had all been in Graz two weeks previous for Iris’s opening at the Grazer Kunstverein. To accompany her show, which Iris called “Appendage,” she had made a small book with the curator Tom and designer Julie, called Prefaces to Appendage. For it, Iris had asked each of us to write a preface to her exhibition. Iris and I lived near each other in Athens. We had spent years discussing our lives and our works, that is, our poetics (if we had one), so I used this material to write the poem I gave her for the book. I also used quotes from some of the artists and poets who would be in my exhibition in New York, Bernadette and Rosemary Mayer, for example.

Its title, I stole from Wolf.




Installation view of Iris Touliatou, untitled (oral) and untitled (sweet and low), 2022, as part of appendage, 2022, Grazer Kunstverein. Courtesy of the artist and Grazer Kunstverein. Photo: kunst-dokumentation.com

*

Conditions of a Narrative, that is, an Exhibition: A Preface

To write before one writes is to set a scene, to state the conditions of the narrative.

To prepare for happiness she arranges a prime-time spot of rehearsal, that is, yes, all preface.

Before she faces her face, she reads the epigraphs in the dirty mirror, which might strobe her book’s first pages, all allusion to be continued.

Before the Tibetan nephew of the physician of the last Dalai Lama gave her as supplement, pills for happiness, she packed a floor that made her strong.

Before I write I make coffee to pour over ice, then water the store-bought fern and the scavenged island succulents and the toxic oleanders, blooming pink and white in different measures across the terrace, always brighter along the dusty freeways than some windy city center block, but nevertheless an easy seed in a climate of exceptional heat and excellent women and weekly resignation.

To begin I pick up the book on the desk and read:

“I have this idea to imitate you though I do it in secret and attribute simple love to your idea of pleasure but before that I had an idea to write a book that would translate the detail of thought from a day to language like a dream transformed to read, as it does, everything, a book that would end before it started in time to prove the day like the dream has everything in it,”

Before I turn the page, I continue reading the stanza-like sentence, rising like a room of holding walls all around me:

“…to do this without remembering like a dream inciting writing continuously for as long as you can stand up till you fall down like in a story to show and possess everything we know because having it all at once is performing a magical service for survival by the use of the mind like memory.”

Before the exhibition, is the before of the mind, slowly turning on, like magic or memory.

Before she has it all at once her memory clicks on not as recording device but as material for creative function, and she hears, distantly told, a joke in which the architectural imaginary and the literary imaginary go on a date in which they discuss poetics and practicalities and the writing of rooms in rooms of rhymed quatrains.

Before I continue inside my hot, bright room, my little penthouse aquarium, I think about how she and I often talk about survival under the gloss of other words, other styles, our little drinks on the street and tête-à-tête a magical performance in service of poetics and possession and the rocky and mineral unholding of the present.

Before I move on, I remember that men in service were the goals on the short island vacation, as our friend manically suggested—a joke that lingers in our phones and in our minds.

To preface the text, I wrote thirty-three emails and ran three laps of Mount Lycabettus.

Before I begin the lecture I note that writing a letter is a practice of possession: to possess your reader by writing to them, binding them in your own language, your love, your address—Dear XX—being bars, being chain, being thread, being rope, being ribbon, being the ribbon of patisserie boxes, so collected from mothers. It blows around in the kitchen wind because the shutters are open.

Before the collection of prefaces is published, the book is bound and the exhibition is mounted.

Before the exhibition opens, before your eye opens, before the day opens, you take a drink of water.

Before the rains come, there is a half century of drought, and then super-drought, which no one attributes to the lack of ritual observance and symbolic sacrifice for which religions in arid regions have been organized for myriad millennia, per the German art historian.

Before we thought historically, we thought episodically, and this was the same thing.

To preface my interest in failure, I failed many times.

To preface a life of “nonreproductive making, unattained logistics, perverse infrastructures and missed opportunities,” there was a childhood in an arid coastal climate in the south and many trips to the north and the east. There were lab coats and bathing suits and bitter orange in winter.

To preface her movement around the apartment, she read: “Movement is what distinguishes infrastructures from institutions, although the relation between these concepts and materialities is often a matter of perspective.”

Before the boat departs, the island rooms are reserved and the tickets purchased.

Before she watches the video, she reads about historical realities and considers the art-trade in which she practices and the historical and structural schools to which she is indebted.

To begin her life, she must already be in debt.

To prepare for her life, she will take a long nap in the dark libraries with a pencil tucked behind her ear and a phone in hand.

Before she can sleep, she cannot sleep, and never will again. She fucks.

Before the drawings are shipped and hung on the walls, they are cared for and violently handled, again and again.

Before the lights burn out, they blink and buzz and stutter their light languages of green fluorescence down the dark reliquaries of deserted office hallways for about a year.

Before she had hope, she didn’t dream of hope—she walked in the ludic, ironic desert of factuality, alive with its insects and low animals, and studied the landscape’s red and pink contours which stared back, like an opaque, much-adored face.

After she woke up from the dream, she woke up from it again: this is what is called desertification or glitch or contemporary art history.

Before her current country, there was a previous country, and before that, another country—to each she looks back, strangely. To each she attributes an infrastructure of loving or shameful assembly, which previously she would have attended, but now knows nothing.

Before the animal lost its appendage, it understood its body as an assembly of iterations, performances, literary histories, bacterial commons, and it will again.

Before language streaks my screens, it wets and dries and wipes my mind, which is also a screen.

Before she held her attention, she held her in an infrastructure of desire in which they were both complicit and unaware and inextricably attracted.

Before the anthropological, there was the art historical, and before that the cellular and the ancestral, which are the same thing. Before I there was she.

Before the woman, there was the word, “woman.”

To preface “woman,” roll your eyes and open your mouth.

Before the myth of pale patriarchal supremacy, there was the pre-patriarchization of myths, in which every distance was not whitely strobed by colonnaded institutions of granular cruelty.

To prepare for cruelty, she acted cruelly.

Before the streets were burned every Friday night, the cops assembled so that the streets would be burned every Friday night. They smoked, bored, and drank cold coffees.

Before the elections, there were elections, and before the elected officials, there were the unelected officials.

Before she bought the organic eggs, she checked the date and her wallet.

Before the land borders, there were the water borders, and before that were international waters and underwater volcanoes and an ancient seabed studded with mytho-historical communities in which women labored for an aesthetics and a good time and were mostly held prisoner.

Before the book falls apart, it is thoroughly communicated in sober or excited tones at various sweaty gatherings of increasing and decreasing import.

Before the relationship falls apart, there is the feeling of true knowledge and some mineral and laconic pre-knowledge that you, like a child, attribute falsely to fate and its special offerings.

To preface the public online conversation, she tells them she loves them and then sits with an odd expression and in anticipatory silence.

To prepare for her preface, she takes one suspect pill and rubs in two drops of oil.

Before the gallery, there is another gallery, and before that, another. Each have a door, and before that, a light breeze, pausing thoughtfully. The doors are open and the artworks wave you in with their infrastructural violence.

Before the letter can be sent on letterhead, the paper is ground to a pink pulp then thoughtfully distributed by some light breeze to its intended recipient.

Before they wanted light, they wanted dark, and before that they wanted nothing. This is a lie: we have never not wanted. It is like a succulent: how much do you water it?

Before the apartment there is the terrace and before that a fragment of the expected economy—broken for most, stupendous for a few—and excellent view.

To preface the day of meetings, I arranged my face into a poetics of inaction, an aesthetic structure.

To prepare for sleep, they left the taverna for a terrace where they drank warm beer under an enormous cypress which sometimes bent in the wind like a woman in black.

To prepare the rooms, the fixtures were tightened, the fake silver armatures traced with a deft, tired finger.

Before the infrastructure was some desire—like a room, outfitted with fixtures for future furnishings, but unlit by light as of yet—which the hungry body contemplated, with style and anxiety and a kind of literate and ardent buzzing, like the hum of energy-saving fluorescence.

Before the speculation, there was poverty, and after it there was too.

To prepare the rooms, she ground the paper to a pink pulp: letterhead with no letters, love with no addressed object.

Before I write this, I read her emails, text messages, litanies of material and anecdote and fixture and gossip and citation and adoration and anger, all of our shared and seismic languages.

To prepare the exhibition, a studio is shaped in her own image and in the image of the communities that live in the streets around it. There are exactly four languages spoken and seven languages forgotten. A community is angered and the addict’s clothes are ripped from him. A neighbor tosses more down from his terrace.

To preface the sacred music of the community’s conversation, a drone is sounded through the streets, its long notes as ambient and granular as sugar, and they thought it was siren, not beautiful.

To prepare the public, they held a series of private encounters in which negotiations were led by bodies tanned in discrete infrastructural parts, that is, outdoor labor.

Before they left for summer, they paid the rising bills of public utilities and read the strange taxes in small fonts offered in two languages, both economic. The taxes were more than the bills themselves.

To prepare the closing of the company, they started a company. Failure like some easy ambient music filled the room.

To deinstall the show, they first installed it, drilling holes and hanging frames and taking time for lunch, which they ate at their desks, quickly, answering emails with untoward and accidental affection and delayed clarity.

Before she could hold or be held she had to build and stabilize the holding walls, and before that she had to be born.

To preface their friendship, there were a series of economic collapses, personal collapses, mixed feelings, and educational opportunities taken and professional paths waylaid. There was an inoperable system in which they would appear to operate, that is, live.

Before the war, there was the interwar period, and after, the postwar.

Before the art institution, there is a city, and before that a universe of things, actions, and bodies, and as both preface and afterword an index of excavations of previous settlements and a poetics.

To preface her poetics, she had to state she had none.

To preface her exhibition, she had to find a language in which to accurately state the conditions.

To preface their relationship, they must have moved to the same city.

To preface a preface, you touch the dirty screen with your dirty mouth. You move your fingers over the sticky keys. You take a drink of water.

To preface the performance of making an exhibition, you set inside the rooms an aesthetic structure.

To preface what I write here, I must state: It is a language of making and memory that runs forward, like a machine. The body is not a machine, though, moistened. It is dry appendage, all fluorescent limb, brightening and dying. It is a theater of gesture: iteration, rehearsal, electric and clerical, it is a loop. It is a floor, a period piece.

To preface the chorus, she sings: we work on the floor / on the floor / on the floor / we work on the floor.

To preface the next I have the mind to imitate you, your labors and pleasures. In language.

To preface the chorus is a circuit, liquid and hissing, staging some formal—what—desire for what comes next. On the floor, open the doors.

Note: With nods to and citations from Lauren Berlant, Bernadette and Rosemary Mayer, Christa Wolf, J. Lo, and Iris Touliatou—for their words and fixtures.

Quinn Latimer
July 2022

“Conditions of a Narrative, that is, an Exhibition: A Preface,” first appeared Prefaces to Appendage: Iris Touliatou, edited by Tom Engels, designed by Julie Petters, texts by Tom Engels, Lisa Holzer, Quinn Latimer, Arnisa Zeqo (Grazer Kunstverein, 2022).






Quinn Latimer is a California-born poet, critic, and editor. Situated between the performance and the page, her writings take in feminist imaginaries of literature and the moving image, culture and its many natures. She is the author of LIKE A WOMAN: ESSAYS, READINGS, POEMS (2017), SARAH LUCAS: DESCRIBE THIS DISTANCE (2013), FILM AS A FORM OF WRITING: QUINN LATIMER TALKS TO AKRAM ZAATARI (2013), and RUMORED ANIMALS (2012). Her writings have appeared in Artforum, The Paris Review, Texte zur Kunst, The White Review, and elsewhere. Her readings and visual collaborations have been featured widely, including at Chisenhale Gallery, London; Centre culturel suisse (CCS), Paris; REDCAT, Los Angeles; the Poetry Project, New York; Sharjah Biennial 13; and the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. She was editor-in-chief of publications for documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. Most recently, she is the co-editor, with Kateryna Botanova, of AMAZONIA: ANTHOLOGY AS COSMOLOGY (2021). She is curating SIREN (SOME POETICS), set to open at the Amant Foundation, New York, in Autumn 2022. Latimer is Head of the MA program of the Institute Art Gender Nature HGK FHWN in Basel.

ALIZA NISENBAUM

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

I have worked on site at various institutions and my work increasingly responds to a particular community. I engage with these communities on various levels through pedagogy, the sharing of resources, skills and, ultimately, social representation. This way of working was started when I participated in Immigrant Movement International, the community center started by the Cuban-born activist and performance artist, Tania Bruguera, in 2011. I volunteered and taught an English language class there, through a course titled “Feminist Art History” to a group of undocumented women. I was so impressed by these women and their stories of immigration that I later went on to paint many of them in the community center itself.

At Immigrant Movement International in 2012, I met Veronica and her family, who would become my first and longest running sitters, and close friends. Veronica and her husband, Gustavo emigrated to Mexico over two decades ago, settling in Queens, where they had their daughter, Marissa. I have painted over a dozen portraits of this family, watched and painted Marissa grow up from a round-faced adolescent to a teenager. This family joined me at the opening of the 2017 Whitney Biennial where their portraits were on display. At the Whitney, Veronica and I lead a group of immigrant youth through the museum to speak about her own work as a community leader, and to encourage immigrant youth to follow their dreams and ideals. I have remained in contact with this family to this day. I was happy to help Marissa with her college entrance essay and I am thrilled she was accepted to an Ivy League University.















Aliza Nisenbaum was born in 1977, in Mexico City, Mexico. She lives and works in New York, NY. Nisenbaum studied psychology at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico, from 1997-99, and earned a BFA in 2001 and an MFA in 2005 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL. Recent solo exhibitions include AQUÍ SE PUEDE (HERE YOU CAN), Atrium Project, Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO (2021); ALIZA NISENBAUM, Tate Liverpool, United Kingdom (2020); FLORA, DRAWINGS BY ALIZA NISENBAUM, Anton Kern Gallery, NY (2020); among others. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including REFLECTIONS ON PERCEPTION, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH (2022); PICTURING MOTHERHOOD NOW, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (2021); 100 DRAWINGS FROM NOW, The Drawing Center, New York, NY (2020); NINE LIVES, Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL (2020); among others.

www.antonkerngallery.com

AISHWARYA ARUMBAKKAM

Sunday, July 17th, 2022





Aishwarya Arumbakkam is a multidisciplinary visual artist working with photography, filmmaking, and drawing to create narrative installations and artist books. An artist from Chennai, India, Aishwarya is currently pursuing an MFA in Studio Art at The University of Texas, Austin. Arumbakkam was honored as one of the ‘Ones to Watch’ by the British Journal of Photography in 2019. In 2020, she was awarded the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited at various places including The South London Gallery (UK), Ishara Art Foundation (UAE), and the Visual Arts Center (USA).

www.aishwarya-arumbakkam.com

LISA OPPENHEIM

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

As an artist who works in photography but seldom takes photographs I am amazed witnessing the photographic acumen of my four and a half year old daughter. Until recently, she photographed seemingly randomly (after sneaking off with my iphone) but in the last few months has been more carefully composing and choosing what to photograph. She even has figured out iphone filters and selectively uses them. I now let her use my phone to photograph whenever she wants. And in return she gives me the gift of seeing how she frames her world. This is some of her most recent work.























Lisa Oppenheim was born in 1975 in New York City, where she currently lives and works. She received her BA from Brown University in 1998, and later and an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College in 2001. She also attended the Whitney Independent Study Program from 2002-2003 and the Rijksakademie van beeldedne kunsten in Amsterdam from 2004-2006. Oppenheim’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2017), the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2016), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (2015), Kunstverein in Hamburg (2014), Grazer Kunstverein, (2014). In 2014, Oppenheim was the recipient the AIMIA|AGO Photography Prize from the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Shpilman International Photography Prize from the Israel Museum. Notable group exhibitions include:  LIGHT, PAPER, PROCESS: REINVENTING PHOTOGRAPHY, The Getty Center, Los Angeles (2015), PHOTO-POETICS, Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin and Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015), AIMIA|AGO PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE EXHIBITION, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2014), and NEW PHOTOGRAPHY at The Museum of Modern Art (2013).

www.lisaopp.net

PAYAL KAPADIA

Monday, June 6th, 2022










Walking down the main street inside the campus of the Film and Television Institute of India, at 1 am, the trees were illuminated by the glows of the pale tube lights. We were recording the sounds of the night and taking pictures of the old buildings that were covered with graffiti. We stopped to have tea at Dilip Bhau’s tea stall where he prepared Maggie noodles for midnight wanderers like ourselves. Suddenly Riku turned and saw something and called out to me to look. The flickering tube light shone on a few words scratched on a black board. On a normal day the board would announce the names of films that were going to be playing that day in the Main Theatre. Perhaps it could have been a film by Istavan Szabo or a film from the Czech New Wave if it were the beginning of spring. Or perhaps Ozu or Ritwik Ghatak or even Eisenstein if a new batch of students had just arrived. But there was no screening that day. We had been on strike for three months already. The board outside had a poem written by an unknown poet:

‘A Night of knowing nothing,
Another one of being sad
No more my love
Give me freedom’







Payal Kapadia was born in Mumbai in 1986. She earned a degree in economics and studied film directing at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. Her short films have screened at numerous film festivals, including Cannes and the Berlinale. Her first feature film A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING was awarded the L’Œil d’or for best documentary at Cannes in 2021.

CINDY JI HYE KIM

Monday, June 6th, 2022

I started a dream journal about three years ago. In the morning I would wake up with a certain feeling, a feeling that wasn’t necessarily tied to anxiety or terror, but a residue of something unresolved. I would get frustrated with myself for not knowing why I was feeling the way I did, then I’d suddenly remember my dream in the middle of the day. Despite knowing full well that nobody really cares about other people’s dreams, I couldn’t help but tell my dreams to whomever happened to be around, usually my roommates. I would begin with what I thought was an accurate description of the dream, and at some point I’d catch myself making stuff up, knowingly or unknowingly, adding and omitting details to make the dream into a sensible narrative. I can now see that recounting my dreams was a self-soothing reflex, an attempt to outline the unresolved tensions of the unconscious using the tools of language.

The sensation of recounting my dreams felt very much like that of making art. I found myself trying to make sense of something, and in that process of “making sense”, a lot of things became distorted. In remembering my dreams I felt like I was witnessing myself from a distance, peering into my own psyche from the threshold between my conscious life and the unconscious–I felt as if I had become a foreigner to my own mind. I’m interested in this aspect of dream analysis as it relates to art-making: each requires the ability to observe from the threshold of subjectivity and the courage to stand firmly on that threshold of mystery. What I’m starting to realize is that both dream analysis and art-making are about resisting the urge to fully understand.

Here are some of the entries from my dream diary that I found to be exceptionally hilarious. Time after time I find it amusing that my mind is working very hard (and overtime) to say something very simple, predictable, and ultimately not that interesting. Another part of my dream journaling was jotting down my own analysis and making a quick sketch from what I could remember.


March 28th 2021

I had a dream that I had just opened an exhibition. A stranger came by the gallery, and I pretended not to be the artist of the show. We started talking, and looked at the paintings in the gallery together. The stranger began telling me that he really didn’t like the work. And he kept telling me why he didn’t like the work, and I’m not sure what he said exactly but his comments were all negative. At first I was curious, so I kept our conversation going, asking him more questions and listening to his replies. I remember I wasn’t angry or offended, but intrigued by the stranger. And at some point in our conversation I looked up and saw the paintings on the walls, and I was genuinely horrified by what I saw. The paintings were truly awful. They all sort of had this web art look, like abstract marks all over the canvas but they were made with MS paint scribbles and they had all these overlapping texts, which I couldn’t make out. In the dream it was clear that they were my paintings. I was just in total shock that I had made them and they were on display for everyone to see.





Notes:
Projecting/displacing my own doubts about my work (figurative/representational) onto artworks that clearly don’t look like mine (abstract/process-based). Coping with my own insecurity because I can only be horrified by works that don’t look like my work–> in denial of my own failure.



March 24th 2020

Just had a dream that I was at my cousin’s wedding in Korea. I don’t remember which cousin it was, it was a generalized idea of “a cousin”. The wedding wasn’t held at a church but the place reminded me of a gym or a convention center, a kind of place I’d associate with bible camps I used to go to as a kid. As part of the wedding celebration, my cousin started playing his guitar and it felt like he was singing a gospel. All the guests were now sitting on the floor, in a circle, and they were singing along, clapping, crying, swaying, speaking in tongues, almost like the over-the-top evangelical services I would see on television. People in the dream were all very ecstatic. I looked around the crowd and at first I felt really embarrassed for them. And then later I thought to myself, in the dream, that I wished I had their conviction and their ability to feel this religious joy, which is God’s love, and not be ashamed by it. I looked at the people with a kind of awe. Then I woke up.





Notes:
Desire and repulsion towards the past. Anxiety about conformity, longing for a communal/group identity. Nostalgia for Korea.



September 26th 2019

I had a dream that I was in a mansion with my family, a place similar to one of those gilded age Newport mansions. The mansion was gaudy and excessive, but was also beautiful in a strange way, filled with antiques etc. The context of the dream was that we were invited to live there with some important people. The people at the mansion were dressed in Victorian gowns and acted very properly and sort of robotically. There was a super old woman in a wheelchair, who seemed to be the head of the household. Everyone followed her around and people tended to her needs.

Far into the dream I realized that I can perform some kind of magic, one of those mind-command type psychic powers. For example, I could think “move that vase” in my head and the vase would float in the air, and I could move it around in the space with the tip of my finger. I was really excited to have this magical ability, and in the dream it was understood that this magic could only be performed within the confines of the mansion.





It was like a scene from Matilda. I was playing around in the mansion, moving objects around in the air, rearranging them in different rooms, when suddenly my dad whispered in my ear: “Look carefully. You think you are moving those things, but they are exactly where they had been. You didn’t do anything.” I was so surprised, but it was true. All of the objects that seemed to be floating in the air sort of disappeared and reappeared where they were originally. I was super confused at first but we somehow figured out that the people in the mansion have been putting hallucinogens in our drinking water. So I told my dad that we must not be fooled or seduced by the magical apparitions that were happening around us. Then my dad challenged me, telling me how we can’t really decipher what was real or an illusion, how we don’t actually know if we are hallucinating or we just think we are. Like, how could we know that we didn’t just make up the fact that there were hallucinogens in the water, and that our drinking water was actually fine, and that I could really perform magic? And I just remember feeling super frustrated and almost manic, because I couldn’t answer him. I think after a bit of arguing I yelled at him something like “There is a way! We must try!!” Something very melodramatic like that.

Sometime later we had to go find my brother and my mom, to tell them that we had to get out of this place, but during the search around the mansion we stumbled upon a secret room, where we found all of the mansion people performing some sort of an operation on the old woman (the head of the household in a wheelchair). We found out that the old woman was actually dead, but the people in the mansion were able to swap out her organs to make her corpse look fresh and alive. We realized that she had been dead the whole time, and that because of the water we’ve been drinking, we hallucinated that she was alive, and that the mansion people were actively taking hallucinogens so that they could lie to themselves and see her as being alive.

After learning about this, my dad and I kept trying to find my brother and my mother, and the mansion people realized that we knew what was going on, so they chased us with guns. We somehow got out of the mansion, and there were gunshots and bombings in the background, and my dream sort of stopped there.

Notes:
Anxiety and paranoia about assimilation. Aspirational wasp-ness as self induced spell. Dad as a philosophical guide who challenges my ego.

Cindy Ji Hye Kim was born in Incheon, South Korea, in 1990. She received her B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013 and her M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Art in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include: Casey Kaplan, New York (2022); Francois Ghebaly, Los Angeles (2021); MIT List Visual Art Center, Cambridge (2020); Helena Anrather and Foxy Production, New York (2019); and Interstate Projects, Brooklyn (2018). Kim’s work has been featured in ArtForum, Art in America, ArtAsiaPacific, Bomb Magazine, Brooklyn Rail, Cultured Magazine, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Her work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Collection Majudia, Montreal; Sifang Art Museum, China; and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence. She currently lives and works in New York City.

www.cindyjihyekim.com

DURGA CHEW-BOSE

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Has anyone ever asked Martin Scorsese what the flower budget was for The Age of Innocence? Or Stephen Daldry, for The Hours? The way Meryl Streep’s character, Clarissa, sails into a West Village flower shop on a cold winter morning, looking especially purposeful in blue jeans and her hair half up. The way she dips her sunglasses and reasons that lilies are “too morbid” but hydrangeas are exactly right. The way she insists on ordering “buckets of roses.” How she says “buckets of roses” in that arranged, typically Streep depiction of joy, smiling not just with her eyes, but with an intelligence for her face and its tapered eloquence.

And as if those buckets weren’t enough, Meryl scoops up the florist’s entire morning delivery of ranunculus right before she exits the flower shop. It’s a movie-amount of ranunculus, there’s no other way to measure it. Wrapped in brown paper, the flowers look like a giant cannoli. This image of Streep standing beside snow banks is like a Jane Freilicher painting, or maybe, more accurately, this image of Streep is what anticipates a Freilicher painting, before the flowers are brought inside and placed on a windowsill that faces downtown.

Everyone feels like they are in a movie when they return home with flowers. Everyone hopes to be seen crossing the street, holding a bouquet. Everyone looks like they’re running late—even if they’re right on time—when crossing the street, holding a bouquet. Everyone has only one friend who arrives on time, and with flowers. That same friend remains the light version of a mystery; she is known to you, intimately, but at a considered distance, too. Few have seen the inside of her home. When she shares photos, it’s always the same chair or flowers in a vase. This friend possesses an imagination compelled by control. She is intense, but no one would know it, or describe her as such. Awareness and showing up on time (with flowers) are both intense qualities that are explained instead as “reliable,” but being reliable is, actually, really intense. Being thoughtful is actually really intense. Everyone has a friend like this who has spent most of her friendship with you dodging the question, “How are things?” She is also the friend who taught you about carnations, how they last the longest, sometimes two, even three weeks. Everyone has a friend like this, who teaches you which flowers last longest for the price and who knows which drugstore lotion does the trick just fine. She’s also the friend who organizes the group gift. She remembers everyone’s birthdays. She arrives on time with a bouquet. She has a really good trench coat; smart, not too long, perfect with an ankle. She bought it because she saw one, just like it, in a movie. And it’s nice to arrive places and receive a compliment, and have a line ready about—not life, nor your commute—but a movie.

Speaking of movies and flowers. Apparently, Hitchcock chose Podesta Baldocchi—the flower shop in Vertigo near Union Station, besieged with gladiolas and pink roses—because he liked the Italian tiled floor. That’s a nice thought: to bet on flooring when the main event was flowers, or Kim Novak. Her two-piece grey suit. Her stillness, her spiraled coif. Her strange aspect. The way she sucks you in and lingers in the air like a perfume you’ve only encountered once in your life. It’s a performance that comes with the Italian tiled floor, because Hitchcock knew to film her full-length among the flowers; her stems among those stems. And that grey suit—how Hitchcock invented a world where flowers in big, beautiful bloom are expected to compete with, of all things, the color grey.





Durga Chew-Bose is a writer and editor. Her first book of essays TOO MUCH AND NOT THE MOOD (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was published in 2017.

BANU CENNETOĞLU

Monday, June 6th, 2022

I have been snapping from my kitchen window since a while, well actually from all the windows. I guess the last few years I am spending more time in the kitchen.

‘Oh yes, suddenly I realised what a good thing death can be, how just and fair, like a disinfectant, or a vacuum cleaner.’ Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk





















Banu Cennetoğlu is an Istanbul-based artist engaged in a wide range of cross-disciplinary practices. Her practice incorporates methods of archiving in order to question and challenge the politics of memory, as well as the production, distribution and consumption of information. Cennetoğlu had solo exhibitions at institutions including K21 Ständehaus, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Sculpture Center, New York; Chisenhale Gallery, London; Bonner Kunstverein; Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest; Kunsthalle Basel. She has participated in the Berlin, Istanbul, Liverpool, Gwangju, Athens and Venice Biennials, as well as Manifesta 8 and documenta14. She is the founder of BAS, an, artist-run space in Istanbul dedicated to artists’ books and printed matter.

www.rodeo-gallery.com

SOHRAB HURA

Monday, June 6th, 2022

MOVING LIKE CHILDREN

At that time, perhaps in my own naivety, a beautiful naivety that I lost somewhere along the way, the question of honesty stopped me. It wasn’t the kind of honesty that photography has forever been burdened with: that unrealistic expectation of being representative of some sort of truth that for some inexplicable reason we continue to mark photography with, instead, ‘honesty’ that mattered to me at the time was one where my work felt aligned with the intent with which I made it. It was about having a position from where I could take responsibility for my work. ‘Life is Elsewhere’ was intended to be a journal but towards the end of it, I had begun to realize that I recognized how to make photographs to perform a particular act and to invoke in the viewer a desired reaction. If that was the case, then was I starting to perform for the camera as well? Was I unconsciously or even consciously trying to use a certain kind of photography to protect myself from points of vulnerability? In that case was my work ever real? You see… For someone who had to teach himself everything from scratch and more importantly for someone who had barely found his feet in this world in general, there could be nothing worse than an onset of doubt whose depths seem to swallow him in its flow.

Around then I had started to work with children and I was charmed by the way they moved with the camera: Carefree, raw, and unconscious of the baggage that came with being a photographer. Awkwardly unabashed in the physicality of their movement with the camera and approach to whatever and whoever they photographed, it made me realize the stiffness in the formality, or more precisely, in the consciousness of my own process. Today this very idea of the physicality of movement turns to an important push in my approach. It helps me to slow or fasten the pace of the material I create for my work, I can now willingly be more aggressive or tender or even indifferent in the way I photograph. How I weave in and out elements like pace, distance, time, pitch and intensity in my work matters to me over the starting point of form, even if the use of the latter is at times indispensable for me to achieve my objective, whatever that may be. It is this malleability of photography, not only in my perception of it as a viewer but also in my usage of it as a creator, that forms the skeleton upon which the flesh of my work is laid. Back then it had started to become clear that I had to unlearn everything I knew and in fact I had to let go of being a photographer altogether and the acceptance of that initiated the beginning of the work ‘Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!!’ I couldn’t be surer that, the distance that existed between myself and my home, my mother and Elsa, all of whom I had photographed at the time of ‘Life is Elsewhere’, now needed to be removed or at least reduced. Think of it as a scab on your knee that you keep picking on. You keep peeling off different layers of brown, then pink and then ultimately it starts to turns more and more red and beautiful with the peeling of each layer. It can be painful along the way but it’s also a bit obsessive. Hitting that sweet spot of red is what I needed to do.

(An excerpt from A PROPOSITION FOR DEPARTURE, 2017)







































































Photos by Lomrong, Borit, Pengly, Rattanak, Rattana, Amphai, Phanna, Preuk, Kimmuoy, Srepech, Mony, Sovann, Sokchan, K-Sok Chea, Champai, Karona, Sreylane, Tokay, Sokly & Odam

This is a tiny glimpse of the magic archive of Anjali House photo workshops… The children’s photography workshops as part of the Angkor Photo Festival around 2006. The photography workshops were started to introduce extra-curricular activities for the students at Anjali House who were mostly between the ages of 10 and 16 years. I started teaching in the children’s workshop in 2008 (I was a student myself at the main Angkor Photo Workshops the year earlier in 2007) and I continued on as the coordinator of the workshop for many years thereafter. The thing is that I was never the one ‘teaching’ but instead thanks to the kids I ended up seeing the world in the most beautiful way. Being part of these workshops is perhaps one of the best things to have happened to the way I started to see the world. These workshops are still run every year and in fact now so much more is part of the class curriculum through-out the year. You can have a look at their website anjali-house.com to see what they are up to. They are always looking for support.

Anjali House is a locally-run Cambodian NGO based in Siem Reap, supporting vulnerable children through education, scholarships, and community engagement.

Sohrab Hura was born in 1981, in Chinsurah, West Bengal, India. He is a photographer and filmmaker. His work lies at the intersection of Film, Photographs, Sound and Text. By constantly experimenting with form and using a journal like approach, many of his works attempt to question a constantly shifting world and his own place within it. Some of his recent solo and group exhibitions include SPILL (Huis Marseille voor Fotografie, 2021), THE COAST (Liverpool Biennial 2021), VIDEONALE (Kunstmuseum Bonn 2021, 2019), SPILL (Experimenter, India 2020), COMPANION PIECES: NEW PHOTOGRAPHY (The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2020), HOMELANDS: ART FROM BANGLADESH, INDIA, AND PAKISTAN (Kettle’s Yard, 2019), THE LEVEE: A PHOTOGRAPHER IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH (Cincinnati Art Museum, 2019). His films have been widely shown in international film festivals. THE COAST (2020) premiered at Berlinale 2021 while BITTERSWEET (2019) was awarded the Principal Prize of the International Jury at the 66th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2020. THE LOST HEAD & THE BIRD (2017) had previously won the NRW Award at the 64th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2018. Sohrab Hura has self-published five books under the imprint UGLY DOG. His book THE COAST (2019) won The Aperture – Paris Photo PhotoBook of the Year Award 2019 and LOOK IT’S GETTING SUNNY OUTSIDE!!! was shortlisted for the same award in 2018. The exhibition GROWING LIKE A TREE (2021) opened in January 2021 at Ishara Art Foundation marking his inaugural curatorial project. The second iteration of this curated exhibition titled STATIC IN THE AIR opened at Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai over six slow transformations in September 2021. His work can be found in the permanent collections of MoMA (New York), Ishara Art Foundation, Cincinnati Art Museum and other private and public collections. Hura lives and works in New Delhi, India.

www.sohrabhura.com

UTE AURAND

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.

www.uteaurand.de

MONICA MAJOLI

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

TO SISTERHOOD BOOKSTORE, WESTWOOD CA 1972-1999:




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, WOMAN IN A WHEEL CHAIR WITH AN ABLE BODIED LOVER #1, 1979






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.

www.monicamajoli.com

JEANNETTE MUÑOZ

Saturday, March 12th, 2022

LUIS BELTRAN, PHOTOGRAPHER

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.

jeannettemunoz16mm.blogspot.com

TRƯƠNG MINH QUÝ

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

and

may feel slightly euphoric

before

they lose

consciousness.

Death takes place

through

hypoxia and hypocapnia,

oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation,

respectively.

There is no panic,

no choking feeling.

The person will get into the capsule

and lie

down.

It’s very comfortable.

They will be asked a number of questions

and

when they have answered,

they may

press

the button

inside

the capsule

activating

the mechanism

in

their

own

time.”

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.

NANCY SHAVER

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.

www.nancyshaverartist.com

ROSA BARBA

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

In the beginning of 1998, during my film studies in Cologne, the Balkan War was in full rage and disturbed many of us deeply. The Yugoslavian community came in waves to Germany, similarly to many of us from Italy, and felt very close to me and others. Even if it had fell apart already as an entity, it belonged still to many of us—as a real idea. One day, a few of us gathered in the auditorium of our art school in order to debate what we could do with our art and in our films. What contribution could we make with our tools to alleviate the suffering? Different pledges where made to each other. Mine was that no one should die in our films ever.

Right after I started to work, in 1998, on my first longer film, Panzano (2000). It is named after the Tuscan village where I spent over six months as a student. This film initiated many methodologies and established tools that I would continue to use for later films. It uses the camera as a drawing instrument that follows and dialogues with the erratic decisions and expressions of the non-actors who play the film’s protagonists. The non-actors came to the stage with their desires, which were released during these sort of collective performances. Panzano also uses sound recordings that include the accidental sounds that occurred while constantly recording the whole set. The fire crackling in the fireplace turned into a carrying “hum” for the whole film.

The residents of Panzano included a handful of people who lived together in a kind of day home, having been released from mental care homes in the 1970s as part of the “mental care revolution” across the whole of Europe at that time. I developed relationships with some of these residents, and my wider interest in psychiatry and the Italian health care system became rooted in their individual experiences of “a significant change in [Italy’s] mental health sector, with a radical shift from old mental institutions to new community based psychiatric services.” These experiences also had resonance outside of Italy, as “the Italian experience attracted international attention and, in some instances, led to similar changes occurring abroad.”

While in Panzano, I worked from a cafe on my script. There I met an elderly woman named Valeria, who visited the café several times a day and would always drink an espresso, smoke a cigarette, leave, and return again. Each time she returned she was wearing a new ensemble, always with heavy makeup. I was intrigued by this ritual and I eventually discovered that Valeria was a resident of the local psychiatric clinic, where she had been sent decades earlier by her family for becoming too attached in her romantic encounters—in other words, for falling dangerously in love. I invited Valeria, along with Claudio and Dino, two other long-term wards of the day home in Panzano, to be part of the film shoot, where they would be able to choose their own roles—the type of roles they were not able to play in their present life.

I returned a few months later with Ulrike Molsen, a classmate of mine, to shoot the film together. Although the film was devised with a loose plot framework, we allowed the three to improvise their roles and collectively they chose to play parts they had been denied in real life: to be members of a family unit with all the different constructions around the idea of belonging to a family or other similar formation.

In the eighteen years since this film was made, the strategies and motifs I employed in it have become defining features of my artistic practice. From the technical: shooting on analogue film and composing an abstract soundtrack with existing surrounding sounds; to the methodological: the use of nonprofessional actors who enfold their inscribed stories and desires, filming unscripted performances with dialogue, and the conflation of fact and fiction; to the thematic: focusing in particular on instability, both geographical and emotional.

Panzano also explores how each character inhabits the home given to them by the premise of the film through the idea of embarking into another space where they can act in a suspended mode.


Rosa Barba currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. As an artist and filmmaker she merges films, sculptures, installations, live-performances, text pieces, and publications that are grounded in the material and conceptual qualities of cinema. She also creates installations and site-specific interventions to analyze the ways film articulates space, placing the work and the viewer in a new relationship. Questions of composition, physicality of form and plasticity play an important role in the perception of her work. She interrogates the industry of cinema with respect to various forms of staging by inviting the viewers to participate in her cultural observations. This happens through shifting of gesture, genre, information and documents, that she takes often out of the context in which they are normally seen and reshapes and represents them anew. Her film works are situated between experimental documentary and fictional narrative, and are indeterminately situated in time. They often focus on natural landscapes and human-made interventions into the environment and probe into the relationship of historical record, personal anecdote, and filmic representation, creating spaces of memory and uncertainty, more legible as reassuring myth than the unstable reality they represent.

www.rosabarba.com

KATRIN KOENNING

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

> spend the morning learning with my students, then gather my things ~ walk through the cemetery, think of living and the chaos of death, performing mourning and a recent ritual grief ~ go to the big park, loop around, re-photograph like often jackie’s tree and let my left hand touch it ~ missing jackie ~ lie down in the grass to see sky ~ close my eyes to know the moment (this one) ~ eyelids flicker in warm summersun ~ a magpie is an urban lyrebird ~ radically tender, high and low ~ make a magpie thing of love, i note ~ hear a far dog ~ wind is through everything and carries laughs and chitchat ~ what if i could simply stay this way, leaning with earth looking up looking in + my hand touches tree again after i rise, this one small soft silky ~ summer flirts with me from garden beds < walk towards the sea and then turn left, pet archie and his ice pack ~ walking always gives me language ~ make a picture of shadow and light ~ turn a corner ~ try to photograph a butterfly ~ buy an almond ice-cream, sit on the sidewalk to lick it ~ if you practice slow looking, the street may offer a reading for every occasion ~ here is another broken book, the bitsy pages give me this: something about breathing and being a rock * my mind goes to drifting + is it the multi-positional (meandering, non-directional, liquid, open) that lifts the spirit high? ~ i think of words i shared with sean in which we trace a kind of floating-like-a-river with intent, a delicate entanglement of meeting, senses, revelation ~ exchange is magic ~ send a message to john, carry on walking, a man in a delivery car smiles and i smile and together we lift our hands to each other, hello! oh hello to you, too, it’s a beautiful day! ~ when the moment is over it’s not really gone, it stays in lifted corners of my mouth and maybe his, the face is always witness ~ a greet that is meant is a meet ~ walk on and make a picture of a light grey cat sitting in a window high ~ she sees me and I see her too, light begins to fall a little lowly now, while life is life goes away + humdrum of the street, i hear a summerradio ~ pass by the yard that re-appears in pictures through the years and through the seasons ~ the exquisite delight of returning to things ~ to be present may seem like a thing of no motion (resting, stationary, certain, here is this and there is that) but I feel it to be oppositional to this: that presence is liquidity, a perpetual non-arriving, transitory and transitional ~ my eyes see a young woman with a dachshund and a deep yellow skirt, we hold each other with a smile across the street ~ a different dog makes a light bark ~ the air is a caress, i smell faint fire ~ the beauty and the madness of it all ~ a little boy bounces a ball, the ball is green, his right hand does the bouncing and his eyes look soft and happy, i think of privilege and peace ~ one two three four five other smiles with masks that mark our time + a slowly sinking sun ~ to see the sunset is a miracle ~ the act of photograph as love not distance ~ wind is still in everything (hair bird balloon bike soul) ~ trees tremble ~ I see a swans sign in a window, mind goes to lakes and animals, I sit on a bench while cars roll on by, an ant is in a rush ~ ~ today i think that slowness is resistance ~ my fingers smell like grass ~ a banner on a tree says lost cat roy <








Click image to view larger






01. notes, september (lockdown), december 2021
02. magpie lark, three steps, 2018
03. three daffodils in spring, 2020
04. conversation with my friend Sean, december 2021
05. double setting sun, 2005
06. portrait of Wendy, 2020

Katrin Koenning is a photographer from Bochum, Germany. Today she lives and works in Naarm (Melbourne Australia), on unceded Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country

www.katrinkoenning.com

BRANDON SHIMODA

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

The last time I saw Etel Adnan was at a pizzeria in Paris. She and her partner Simone Fattal took me and my partner Lisa (Dot Devota) out for lunch. The pizzeria was around the corner from their apartment. No, that wouldn’t have been the last time, because we left the pizzeria and went somewhere else, maybe back to their apartment? Was the last time I saw Etel on the sidewalk outside her and Simone’s apartment? Did we go inside? We ordered pizza. Etel ordered a salad. We sat at a table by the window. Etel sat against the wall, facing the door. I don’t remember what we talked about. I watched Etel eat her salad. The wall behind her was purple or green. Spring. Etel was wearing a large coat. Afterwards, on the sidewalk, I asked Etel if her best friend was a mountain. I chided myself for the question, but she said Yes. Mount Tamalpais. That was years ago. Etel is dead, has been dead for __ days, but I’m not ready to write about her in the past tense.

I’m not ready to read her books either. I’ve tried. When a writer dies, a writer who means a lot to me (usually a poet), I turn immediately—I turn reflexively—to their writing. It’s as much an attempt to locate and hang onto them where they are—which, I want to feel, is where they will always be—as it is a manifestation of mourning, although what’s the difference? When Etel died, I didn’t do that.

When I say I’ve tried, I mean I started with the book I co-edited with my friend Thom Donovan, To look at the sea is to become what one is, which Nightboat Books published in 2014. I took the two volumes off the shelf thinking I would open them and read something, anything—because you can, with To look at the sea, as you can with all of Etel’s books, open it anywhere, and be immediately transported—but I didn’t. I haven’t. Maybe because—and I’m guessing, because I have no mind, it’s been blown a few heads over—looking at or even thinking about To look at the sea reminds me of making it, which is the memory of seeking out and reading all of Etel’s work and emailing back and forth with Thom and with Nightboat and with Etel, hundreds of pages of emails, about it, but it is even more so—and especially—the memory of becoming friends with Etel, which makes me sad, in both a simple and not entirely straightforward way.

Is sadness ever straightforward? Is sadness the word we use to assuage a less maneuverable feeling? Because I have felt, since To look at the sea, that I am always—that I am still—becoming friends with Etel, that there is so much more for us, that there is so much left for us in becoming friends. Isn’t friendship the process of constantly becoming friends?

I feel like some part of me has gone out, some part of my life, a part that is becoming difficult to retrieve. Looking back, or trying to remember—it’s like being thrown against the back wall of my mind, sliding down the wall to the floor, and falling asleep, yet wanting desperately to stay awake, while the fragments of my life dematerialize beneath me.

I started writing a paragraph here about the origins of To look at the sea, but I stopped. It felt like I was writing something for posterity. For the archive, future study.

Is it inevitable? I remember a night or two before the pizzeria, Etel and Simone invited Lisa and me to their apartment for dinner. Chicken in red wine, I think, but I remember more clearly the bowl of oranges that appeared and seemed to replace everything that was on the table. At the end of the night, Etel, sitting behind the bowl of oranges, talked about her distrust of—maybe her disdain for—the archive, and the tendency or the desire to archive everything, to save everything. It was almost as if she said anything, and that she preferred for it all to disappear in death.

Lisa keeps asking, Where is Etel?

dear Brandon, as usual, I think “where is Brandon,” Etel wrote, on March 11, 2016.

dear, dear Brandon, so many clouds crossed the skies since we heard from each other, where are you? she wrote, on June 10, 2014.

Even though I haven’t been able to open Etel’s books, I have been reading our emails, which begin on July 27, 2009.

I started writing a paragraph here about the first letter I wrote, by hand, to Etel, in July 2009, and about Etel’s response, by email, later that month (July 27), but I stopped. I started writing, in that paragraph, about my and Lisa’s visit to Lebanon that summer, about Lisa meeting Etel and Simone after I had returned to the US, about Lisa and Etel going to a documentary film festival together and seeing Khiam by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, but I stopped.

I started writing a paragraph here about how Etel is an element, i.e. a primary constituent of matter, but I stopped.

A few years, maybe five, after the pizzeria in Paris, Lisa and I drove to Etel and Simone’s house in Sausalito. We were staying with my sister in Oakland. The house is a few roads up from the highway. The grass in the yard was shaggy, Easter hay. There was an apple tree, maybe two. All the apples were in the grass. We peered through the windows of the house. Empty. No furniture, nothing. We walked up to the front door and, despite the house being empty, rang the bell. I don’t know if there was a bell, actually, but we put our finger on the house and gently pushed the house. Then we turned around and there, opposite the house, was Mount Tamalpais.

I emailed Etel about our visit, the apples and the mountain, but I can’t find the email, nor her email back. Maybe I didn’t email her about it, maybe she didn’t email back. She started an email to me once by writing, dear Brandon, not writing to you simply means that I think of you all the time (April 17, 2015). I developed the habit, over many years, of telling Etel things that I was seeing without actually telling her, without actually writing. Even then I was already starting to talk to myself. That is the actuality, these days, of my relationships with my closest friends, whom I love and rarely see, and whom I have, more terribly, no absolute guarantee of ever seeing again: that our relationships consist in large part and most presently of me talking to myself.

Brandon Shimoda is a yonsei poet/writer. His recent books include THE GRAVE ON THE WALL (City Lights), which received the PEN Open Book Award, and THE DESERT (The Song Cave). In 2014 he co-edited, with Thom Donovan, TO LOOK AT THE SEA IS TO BECOME WHAT ONE IS: AN ETEL ADNAN READER (Nightboat Books). He has two books forthcoming: HYDRA MEDUSA, poetry and prose, from Nightboat, and a book on the afterlife of Japanese American incarceration, from City Lights. His front door faces a mountain.

SHARON LOCKHART

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

LOVE IS FLEETING. PASSION IS FOREVER, JEAN-PIERRE BEAUVIALA

When asked to contribute something to this journal, I went back through my projects to see if there was something that might be appropriate to the forum and help me in some way rethink my process. I came across the beginnings of a project I had started with the inventor, Jean-Pierre Beauviala. In a notebook I had started for the project, I found the epigraph to this essay, a quote from JP when I had interviewed him. I was reminded of all the reasons I found him to be a fascinating figure: he was an engineer involved in an extremely structured mechanical device, he was a passionate human being who loved his practice, his friends, co-workers, and lovers, and he was committed to re-envisioning society to make room for these interests. For him, work and love were the same thing. I rethought my own relationship to cameras in general and my Aaton and the films I made with it. I also thought about the theme of love in my films, one that, in retrospect, was the undercurrent of everything I’ve done, but that I rarely spoke about and always submerged beneath a rigorous structural approach.

In 1994 I made my first film, Khalil, Shaun, A Woman Under the Influence, a combination of disfiguring makeup tests and a reworking of the last scene of Cassavetes’ film. Having never made a film before, I hired a camera operator to take care of the technical requirements. I found the physical nature of film provided a very satisfying structure to work with. The size of the magazine provided very distinct and limited time segments based on the repeated opening and closing of the shutter, and the fixed lenses defined the image in a similarly limited and structured way. I also discovered I was much more effective in front of the camera with the subject, moving back and forth between the view behind the camera and in front of it, communicating physically. What I had originally seen as a handicap (my inability to operate the film camera) turned into a positive way of engaging the image for twenty plus years.

My next three films, Goshogaoka, Teatro Amazonas and No, were all defined in part by the technology that produced them (the 400-foot magazines of 16mm cameras, the maximum time you can get out of a 1000-foot 35mm magazine shot on a 3-perf camera, and the optics of a normal lens’ field of view). But, looking back, each of them really was about the people in front of the camera and my relationship to them. Goshogaoka became something of a community project over the three months I spent working with the girls and their families and, after the project was completed, I continued to stay in touch with many of the girls years later when they had their own children. Choreography, meanwhile, worked as a great device to help me negotiate my relationship in front of and behind the camera. It gave a structure to those relationships that mirrored the repetitive, mechanical operations of the camera. One might miss the tender relationship between the husband and wife in NO and the months I spent getting to know them and their land because the rigorously structured optics and choreography of the film are foregrounded.

It was in the midst of the NO project that I began researching 16mm cameras to make a film of children in a small rural town in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. If I brought a camera person or a team of the size I had worked with on the previous three films, I knew that it would alter the results. There had to be a level of intimacy in the process and, since the film would be shot amid the landscape, the camera had to be fairly mobile. I was looking for a model that was easy to operate and had a large viewfinder for the kind of precise framing that had been an important part of my practice. I spoke with filmmakers, tried out their cameras and read everything I could about different models. I was discouraged by the complexity of most cameras and how it was impossible to frame an image due to their small viewfinders. Eventually, my research led me to the Aaton camera and then to its inventor, French engineer Jean-Pierre Beauviala.

The Aaton was completely different in its approach. It was designed to be nimble, quiet, easy to use and repair, yet logical and precise in every way. It was designed for filmmakers and not camera technicians. I purchased an Aaton LTR-7 with a 25mm Zeiss lens and two 400-foot magazines, and it was perfect for the project that I had bought it for.

Shot over the course of three years, Pine Flat was different from anything I had done. It took years to make and I got to see many of the children grow up in front of the camera. We formed a strong bond that grew even tighter than the community I formed during Goshogaoka. Although the twelve ten-minute takes again used the maximum footage a 400-foot magazine could produce, each shot was set in a different landscape and planned out with my subjects based on activities they enjoyed. Together with the children I scouted locations, lugging the camera up hills, to waterfalls, down river embankments, in rain, snow, and hot summer days. Over those years I grew to love my Aaton. Its relative mobility allowed us to film in truly beautiful and somewhat remote landscapes. Its quiet mechanics allowed for intimate shots with very simple sound recording. Its large viewfinder and diopter allowed me to precisely frame each shot and show the children what the image was going to look like. They became experts at knowing the frame they were performing in and how the light moved within it. I loved the daily labor of loading and downloading the film and cleaning the camera after each shoot. The camera’s physical attributes—the way it sat on one’s shoulder like a cat, the smooth, hand-carved walnut grip—were unique. For me, the Aaton was a truly remarkable machine.

Through my camera research and in the production Pine Flat, I became more and more interested in, and curious about, the inventor of my camera. In the winter of 2002, I was invited to Harvard University to screen Goshogaoka and begin conversations about an exhibition. My initial proposal was an exhibition engaging Beauviala’s archive. I decided to visit Grenoble for a week, meet Jean-Pierre, interview him, and approach him about developing a project.

He was incredibly welcoming. In my first encounter with the archive, everything was dusty; letters and drawings were rotting, prototypes were haphazardly thrown in boxes. It consisted of boxes and boxes of important but unorganized history. JP was more interested in the invention he was working on in the moment than looking back at his past, but he humored me by going through boxes and introducing me to his team. What struck me about all this material was the very personal nature of it all. I loved the many humorous advertisements he made and the films he shot of his girlfriends, always while testing inventions. In many ways they were like home movies, recording the history of his love life, yet each one was shot in service of his camera and recorded the history of its development and life in the world. For example, I remember a girlfriend, naked in bed, reading a book about philosophy or mathematics. He worked like an artist, engaging the world around him. There was no rigid separation between work and life. I wanted to make a film out of his tests, a film about his love life and his passion for cinema. I imagined an ode to love constructed of bits and pieces gathered from the archive, a history of both camera and passion.

He was resolutely local and thought of his manufacturing site as a response to urbanist critiques of the 1960s. His laboratory/factory was located in the center of the city amongst a set of storefronts on either side of a small street close to shops, cafes, and restaurants. JP prided himself on joining his collaborators daily in the shop windows on both sides of Rue de la Paix. People would always tell him he was wasting his time (and money) going back and forth between the locations. He insisted upon a resistance to a functionalist approach to production, saying, “We will never leave to an industrial zone, the so-called functional, which translates to me as car, work, sleep. At Aaton, a lot of people come by bike or foot.” He liked the glass storefronts and believed that passers-by should be able to look in and see what was being built and that workers should have an engagement with the street and be part of the fabric of the neighborhood.

Among the founding principles of Aaton was that labor should not be invisible. On my visit, he introduced me to everyone who worked for him. He was not interested in the normal hierarchies of the workplace. He claimed, “decisions here are the responsibility of everyone.” At Aaton, the organization of the workplace and the products they created were political. The simplicity of the Aaton cameras allowed a more flexible, mobile kind of filmmaking and revolutionized documentary film. Not surprisingly, there was a humanism present in everything they did. For example, in Jean-Pierre’s office, and where possible in the rest of the site, there was no artificial lighting. He told me, “when the light leaves us, that is the end of the day.” Although, at the time, he was working on groundbreaking digital cameras and sound recorders, he had an appreciation of the analog. He asked me not to use a recording device when interviewing him, saying the words had go straight through my hand.

As we poured through the boxes of materials, we encountered a virtual history of the last half-century of French cinema. For instance, I found a wonderful original negative reel of Godard with a color chart on the banks of a river. The film was a product of a lengthy collaboration between him and JP. Godard’s wish was that the camera would fit in his glove compartment. JP was so pleased that I liked the footage, he casually ripped off a foot of the film and handed it to me. I had to refuse his offer and admonish him for not giving these materials their due. On another occasion he showed me the first synch-sound test that worked. My memory of the test is that it was shot in a mirror, reflecting the camera, his little son, Julien, sitting on a table, and the scene of cars going by outside the window.

His collaborators included many of the figures I saw as role models and they would visit him in Grenoble to test new equipment and repair their trusted cameras. On a later visit to Grenoble, Raymond Depardon was there because his camera had fallen in water while he was filming. That same visit I photographed a copy of the LTR made of tin soda cans by participants in one of Jean Rouch’s African films. JP had never really thought of these bits and pieces of his life and research as interesting to those outside his close circle of friends, but I knew that this history needed to be preserved. I was introduced to someone at the French Cinematheque, and eventually the institution was able to purchase the archive in its entirety.

In the end, the interview never took a form one could read, and I never got to make the film I envisioned. After the Cinematheque had purchased everything, my experience with the material was different. There were rules in place limiting interaction. A great deal of the archive had been moved to Paris and JP had a different sense of his and the archive’s importance. It was clear, at this point, that there was no way to move forward with my project.

Yet many of the ideas that my encounter with JP inspired became part of my later work. My next project was about labor and I thought a lot about Aaton’s windows onto the street as I researched and filmed Lunchbreak. Exit, a document of workers leaving the Bath Iron Works shipyard, was filmed with my Aaton, as was Double Tide, a document of a woman clam digger on a rare occasion of two high tides in one day. In all of those three films I was hoping to address the invisibility of labor. Double Tide had a particularly satisfying rhythm of shooting, downloading and reloading the magazines, sleeping three or four hours and then repeating the whole process each day for a week. For each 45-minute shot we had four magazines. The film would not have been possible without the ease of replacing those magazines quickly.

Jean-Pierre’s ideas about the vibrancy of city life were present, as well, when I filmed Podworka in the Polish city of Lodz in the summer of 2009, again on an Aaton LTR. The last time I used my Aaton was for a short film I made in the summer of 2014 with one of the children I met in Lodz and kept in touch with, Milena. Milena had lost both her parents and was living in an institution when we discussed making a film about her life. We ended up recreating the final sequence of Truffaut’s 400 Blows on the Polish Baltic coast. If this was the last time I ever used my Aaton, it would be a fitting end because it really was a work of love.

In 2009 I also started a project that would allow me to work with an archive as a kind of portraiture. The project involved working with the archive of Noa Eshkol, a choreographer in Tel Aviv. Together with her collaborators I was able to honor her life and activities in a project that included archival materials, two film installations, and a suite of photographs. In many ways Eshkol’s activities mirrored Jean-Pierre’s. She was a maverick who insisted on her own way of doing things and was surrounded by a group of devoted collaborators. As I met the women of the Eshkol foundation a year after her death, they lived a fairly communal lifestyle in their workdays. Eshkol was also an inventor, having invented the only system of movement notation able to account for all animal locomotion, and she kept her process close to her daily life. It was only fitting, then, that the sound recordist for the films I made with Eshkol was a huge fan of Aaton’s Cantar digital audio recorder.

As I reflect back on the connection between the work I had envisioned with the Beauviala archive and what I was able to do with Eshkol, it strikes me that film is a medium of love. When I encounter compelling objects, landscapes or people, I use film to share them. As a way of avoiding the sentimental or nostalgic, I often submerge these relationships under a structure that might allow a viewer to experience them anew. There were seven dusty wire spheres hanging in the corner of Noa Eshkol’s dance studio. I asked the dancers what those sculptures were, and they replied that they were just diagrams Noa had used and had been there as long as anyone could remember, so the dancers had stopped noticing their presence. Each sphere was a model for describing the movement of a limb on the axis of a joint. We took them down, polished them, and photographed them in a studio rotating like a spinning dancer. Jean-Pierre and his archive were lost subjects for me. Perhaps it would be better to think of it as a lost love.

[First published in Les Saisons Cinema Journal]




Sharon Lockhart
cat-on-the-shoulder, for Jean-Pierre Beauviala, 2011
20×25 inches
chromogenic print

Sharon Lockhart was born in 1964, in Norwood, MA. She lives and works in Los Angeles. Educated at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and the San Francisco Art Institute, Lockhart teaches at CalArts in Southern California. Working with communities to make films, photographs, and installations that are both visually compelling and socially engaged, Lockhart’s practice involves collaborations that unfold over extended periods of time. Her practice often involves architectural elements, extensive periods of research, and longterm relationships with her subjects and collaborators.

www.lockhartstudio.com

LAURIE KANG

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

Inheritance

I recently learned that seeds inherit memories from their mother seed. This inheritance is a genetic imprint of the environment’s temperature at the time of the mother seed’s germination, so the offspring seed now remains dormant and latent until this same optimal temperature is reached. This inherited record of the environment and the eventual sprouting of the kin seed conveys embodied knowledge, while also enfolding a part of the past or mother seed, into the future, or offspring seed. This imprint is transmitted by an epigenetic mechanism – epigenetics being the study of how our genes are affected, expressed or repressed, by internal and external environments. The mechanism influences the expression of certain genes without altering their sequence; the paternal gene is silenced by biochemical methylations, while the maternal gene is expressed, encoding the seed with memories of sprouting.


Seed Woman

My paternal grandmother fled North Korea mostly on foot with her 6 children and her husband. There may have been more children, it’s been suggested that some of them were lost or died along the way. They eventually settled in Seoul where she opened up a modest shop selling grains and beans. Her husband passed early on, and she became the sole provider, mostly sleeping and living at her shop to keep mouths fed – there were now 7 of them, my father being the last born. Marketplaces in Seoul at the time were strewn with many floor bound straw-woven vessels, and bags filled with seeds, beans, rice, dried fish, fruits and numerous other foods. The last time I visited Seoul in 2018 I found the site of where her shop once was, now a luxury department store. Just adjacent to this building were a handful of older women sitting on the street, selling vegetables and foods out of plastic and straw bags and vessels. The city is still full of stark contrasts like this, with South Korea transforming from a poor nation to a hyper capitalist economy within just few a generations. I was grateful to see them there, selling their foods, selfishly to better imagine my own grandmother some time ago, but also to recognize that the past is full of stories of labour, hardship and love, and isn’t easily swept away. I wonder what will happen once this older generation fades out, but I know Koreans make powerful ghosts.


Possession

I’m curious about stretching the idea of inheritance towards an obsolete definition of it: possession. Then, pulling that further to an alternate definition of possession: to be dominated by something – a spirit, an energy, an idea – and that this state of being possessed is also an inheritance. Possession as ownership, yes, and – possession as one’s self-ownership being tenuous, shared, multiplicitous.

When my grandmother later immigrated to Toronto, her and my father became wormpickers, spending nights and dawns on golf courses and other lawns, crouched low to the ground, digging at the soil and pulling worms out from the earth and into paint cans strapped to their legs. Hers is a story of resilience and making do. It’s also the story of a gatherer, of vessels, of slimy figures, of bags full of dormant sprouts, and her body’s proximity to horizontality and the ground. It’s a story full of holes – each time I ask my parents for information some details seem to change, and my father’s memory is foggy and lacking. I didn’t know her, she died when I was a baby, but I think about her and her gathering, the holes and gaps, her labour and survival. I think about what’s seeped across membranes to me and my porous double helixes.


Keepers and Transmitters

Truth is when it is itself no longer. Diseuse, Thought-Woman, Spider-Woman, griotte, storytalker, fortune-teller, witch. If you have the patience to listen, she will take delight in relating it to you. An entire history, an entire vision of the world, a lifetime story. Mother always has a mother. And Great Mothers are recalled as the goddesses of all waters, the sources of diseases and of healing, the protectresses of women and of childbearing. To listen carefully is to preserve. But to preserve is to burn, for understanding means creating.

Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Grandma’s Story (1989)


Mother (detail)
Stainless steel mixing bowls, pigmented silicone, rubber, polymer clay, power mesh, paint can, cordyceps fungus, steel machinery, peach pit, lotus seed, pewter, cast aluminum ginseng, cast aluminum cabbage, cast aluminum peach pit, cast aluminum lotus root, cast aluminum Asian pears, cast aluminum anchovies, cast aluminum clay forms, aluminum mesh, sand bag, plastic wrap, copper chainmail made by Hanna Hur, reflective foil, plastic bags, copper garden mesh, slippers, dried mung beans, dried fish bladder, dried magnolia flowers, dried hibiscus, ground mung and adzuki beans, cast bronze, hats.
2019 – 2021


Bloom (detail)
Mesh fruit bags, polymer clay, paint cans, reflective sheeting, cordyceps fungus.
2019


Worm (detail)
Flex-C track, sand, powermesh, cast aluminum lotus root and perilla leaf.



Great Shuttle (details)
Flex track, steel studs, airline cable, hardware, unfixed and continually sensitive film, photograms, spherical magnets, silicone, thread; cast aluminum anchovies, lotus root, perilla leaf, and cabbage leaf.
2020 – 2021


Carrier II
Plastic bag, pigmented silicone.
2019


Molt (detail)
Unfixed and unprocessed photographic paper and film (continually sensitive), silicone, construction bags, sand.
2019


Origin Gate (detail)
Bronze, cast aluminum lotus root, thread.
2021

Laurie Kang was born in 1985, she lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include EARTH SURGE, Helena Anrather, New York (2021); HER OWN DEVICES, Franz Kaka, Toronto (2020); EIDETIC TIDES, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Canada (2019); BEOLLE, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada (2019); and CHANNELLER, Interstate Projects, Brooklyn (2018). Her work has been shown in group exhibitions at SculptureCenter, New York (2020); Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada (2019); Cue Art Foundation, New York (2019); Cooper Cole, Toronto (2017); and The Power Plant, Toronto (2015).

www.lauriekang.com

NAZLI DINÇEL

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

I applied to the Guggenheim last year with a pandemic-specific project but it was rejected.

Against the Signifiers

Brief
I am proposing to undertake a project that aims to subvert the traditional use of the billboard, turning it into a platform of public art. The project will bring the voice of an immigrant woman into rural Wisconsin, to unsuspected patrons who do not encounter public art as commonly as people living in larger cities. This will also function as a sign of solidarity to the surrounding underrepresented communities where the billboards are placed.

Intent
It feels like 2020 hasn’t hit inland woods of Wisconsin. I have not been up here since August of 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic began, and the research trip is leaving me feeling more isolated than expected. There are no people wearing masks in sight, no Black Lives Matter (BLM) signs while I drive through the small town of Kewaskum. I have the odd feeling of being the only person of color for miles around. This feeling, although familiar while living in Wisconsin as an immigrant, is of course not true. This section of the Wisconsin state park along Long Lake, one-hour north outside of Milwaukee, is where I frequented to camp and take hikes before the pandemic hit. The area traditionally belongs to the peoples of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Myaamia, Menominee and Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi.) These are now marginalized communities around Long Lake, over the majority presence of privileged upper middle class families that maintain a weekend home.

There are 15 recognized active hate groups in Wisconsin, according to the 2019 data of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mostly categorized as “White Nationalist” or “Neo Nazi” or “Anti-Muslim”, all of these groups have a deep history and presence throughout the state. On June 12th, 2020 in the midst of mass protests in support of the BLM movement, CBS 58 reported: “a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, was seen walking along a highway in Conover, Wisconsin. The man was spotted with his dog on County Highway K at Monheim Road. Authorities noted he was drinking a beer and waving at traffic. The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office said multiple callers reported seeing the man.”

Billboards in the rural Midwest seem to largely consist of hospital, hospice and restaurant advertisements and anti-abortion ads. According to Lamar advertisement in Madison, a company with a large amount of billboards in rural Wisconsin, it is also not uncommon to run into advertisements of adult entertainment stores on the side of the road and religious banners calling to salvation.

“Signs of Times” is a 21-minute video from 1993, made by artist Portia Cobb who was also one of the few black female faculty members at UW-Milwaukee in 1993. Shot with the help of youth from the Midtown neighborhood association ages ranging from 7 to 14, Signs of the Times addresses widespread alcohol and tobacco advertising in the inner city billboards in Milwaukee. We watch as the kids interview people from affluent neighborhoods where no billboards exist. They continue interviews with habitants of the inner city in their own neighborhoods, where alcohol and tobacco use among children are statistically the highest. Mario who is 8 years old claims that it’s easy for him to buy cigarettes, if he just tells the clerk that it’s for his father. We watch Mario go into the store and shortly returning with a pack of cigarettes. “It was easy”, he says. It is evident that this is still the case almost 30 years later while driving through Capitol Street in Milwaukee, which runs throughout the entire city West to East. I see the countless smoke shops and liquor stores and associated advertisements as I enter back into the city and see their decline and eventual stop right before entering the affluent neighborhood.

Against the Signifiers aims to subvert these traditional uses of the billboard, turning it into a platform of public art where it could be a sign of solidarity to its surrounding underrepresented communities. The idea of turning the billboard into an exhibition space is not new. This project is not necessarily about turning commerce into art, or revolutionizing an exhibition space. And although I imagine this will be one of the safest places to view art for at least another year with the pandemic still unfolding, my concerns with this project have nothing more in common with the mission of previous billboard art initiatives (The Billboard Creative in LA and Save Art Space in Brooklyn, NY) as in exposing underrepresented artists in high traffic commercial spaces.

Against the Signifiers aims to bring the voice of an immigrant woman into the middle of Wisconsin, to unsuspected patrons who do not encounter public art as commonly as people living in larger cities. The project will take place in the summer of 2021 over 10 billboards in mid-Wisconsin for over a month. The locations will vary from interstate highways to more rural country roads. I’ve located a billboard between Eagle River and Conover where the man wearing the Ku Klux Klan robe was spotted back in June. I am planning to use this billboard for the project and other locations are to be decided.

The design of the billboards will feature original work created for the occasion, some including texts and some with only graphics. I imagine them to be mostly featuring text, and conveying very subtle signs of solidarity, as in immigrant rights, native peoples rights, pro-choice statistics and solidarity with the BLM movement. I anticipate an uphill battle with billboard companies, but I also believe in my negotiation skills to present these designs as art. If all else fails, the funds will support building a single billboard on a privately owned land (with highway views) that may have a longer-term function after this project ends, similar to the billboard art initiatives mentioned above.

I am planning to travel and document each billboard in order to publish the entire collection of signs as a catalogue, so the project can reach an audience beyond rural Wisconsin.

The Covid-19 pandemic has halted all of my in person visits and other opportunities that cinema brought in indoor enclosed spaces. This presents itself as an ideal opportunity to execute this project and shift into further radical acts. This is why I am not applying for the Guggenheim Fellowship with a film, but with an expanded proposal that engages with similar concerns as my filmmaking practice, outdoors. A Guggenheim Fellowship would help support my career in the arts, and I look forward to contributing to the expansion of diverse voices within the art community.

Nazlı Dinçel was born in Ankara, Turkey, and immigrated to the United Sates at age 17. Dinçel resides in Milwaukee, WI where they are currently building an artist run film laboratory. They obtained their MFA in filmmaking from UW-Milwaukee. Their works have been exhibited globally including the Museum of Modern art in New York, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Vienna Modern art Museum, Buenos Aires International Film Festival, Walker Art Center and Hong Kong International Film Festival. They were recently a 2019/2020 Radcliffe Institute fellow for advanced study at Harvard University, and a 2019 Emerging Artist recipient of the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship. In addition to exhibiting with institutions, Dinçel avidly self-distributes and tours with their work in micro-cinemas, artist run laboratories and alternative screening spaces in order to support and circulate handmade filmmaking to communities outside of institutions.

www.nazlidincel.com

NIKKI GIOVANNI

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

This century is a bicycle. We’ve got to learn how to ride it. May the good people balance; may the others fall.

Nikki Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 7, 1943. Although she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, she and her sister returned to Knoxville each summer to visit their grandparents. Nikki graduated with honors in history from her grandfather’s alma mater, Fisk University. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech, where she is a University Distinguished Professor.

ANJALIKA SAGAR

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

It began with 4 days in Rome in Jimmy’s place drinking tons of red wine and listening to his great stories… he later met my Baba which was thrilling for me. I had a crush on Jimmie Durham, he was brilliant and tender… a great artist. May the Great Spirit absorb his light back into magnificent fold and condolences to Maria Theresa Alves and all whom he loved and loved him.

Approach in Love and Fear
by Jimmie Durham

For a long time there were only plants. Although in their initial ascendancy they killed most of the existing life on earth by releasing large amounts of poisonous oxygen, plants are not basically aggressive. They process sunlight and a few minerals.

When animal life developed its very definition was to move about and eat other life. Without other life to consume, animals die. Therefore animal life developed more and more proficiency in attacking and consuming. First, the mouth evolved; then, concentrated bunches of nerves better to direct the mouth; then, a sense of smell to help the mouth differentiate; then, senses of hearing and sight; then, a continual increase in complexity of the bundle of nerves, organizing into actual brains. Our brains are close to our mouths because their primary purpose is to serve those weapons of destruction.

When I was child, I grieved that we killed any animal which crossed our paths and ate its flesh. We would often pull plants completely from the earth, so that we could consume the roots as well as the leaves. And I saw that we were not the only ones. All the other animals had the same voracious cruelty, We had to cringe in fear. Any animal unable to fear would not be successful. You must kill, and fear death.

Mammals, then, as a strategy for survival, developed emotions. We might say that emotion is the secondary definition of mammalian life. But we cannot say that the emotion of fear is primary. Love and fear must be simultaneous. Because every animal, even your boyfriend, has a mouth with some sort of teeth, one cannot easily permit approaching.

Non-mammalian animals overcome the problem of reproduction by what we call “ritualistic instinct” — patterns of behaviour that automatically trigger certain responses. But mammals have overridden the instinct for reproduction with an emotional (and of course it is also physical – everything is also physical) desire to mate, to have a mate. We have developed emotions of love and of delight in the voluntary denial of fear.

Moreover, mammalian mothers can love and fear for their young. This allows us to produce fewer young so that the individual can be better protected. Those two kinds of love can easily be expanded into a phenomenon that is more important that survival. Recently I saw, on the highway to Mexico City, a stray dog risking her life to try to save another dog which had been hit by a car. Saint Dog – a Holy Dog, but not uncommon.

With humans, every individual is capable of what we call “motherly love,” and we can even extend it to the love of other species. We can love each other and the cat and the mouse. We also articulate it. A fox in a cage knows sorrow and grief for the dangerous freedom of her lost home, and I can miss individual hickory and black walnut trees and the little translucent salamanders of my lost home, even as I remember the constant death and suffering. We live under such a beautiful curse, all the more a curse because we find so much beauty here. What is there other than this physicality? Not “transcendence,” not “heaven.” but our knowledge of the intolerable situation and a love for all.

Anjalika Sagar was born in 1968, in London, where she lives and works. She studied social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Her work includes curatorial projects, essays, films, videos and photographic works. She is interested in the relationships between sound, text and image, archives and the potential legacies of film. She has produced numerous projects that have been seen in museums around the world, such as the large-scale production NO ARRIVAL NO PARKING, with the composer Heiner Goebbels, for the Almeida Theatre, London. She is co-founder of The Otolith Group and founder of Multitudes.

www.otolithgroup.org

LYNNE TILLMAN

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

In London, Heathcote met me at the door of their squatted house on Westbourne Park Road. He, Diana, and China, their daughter, lived there. I’d known Heathcote for about two years, but pretty well, and that was before I knew him with Diana and China, which is another story.

They offered me the airy, blue room on the second floor, mine except at Christmas, when it transformed into the Christmas room, because of its non-working fireplace, and, on Christmas Eve, Heathcote read us A Christmas Carol.

My adventures in London were different from those I had in Turkey and Greece, less dangerous, though often foolish and usually complicated.

There were no stairs to the first landing of the house, only a long piece of lumber, a plank about a foot wide. I had a debilitating fear of heights, so I hesitated at the bottom of the stairs, and, also there was my suitcase to carry that first day, or maybe it was my shapeless, tree-green Italian Army backpack. Probably Heathcote brought it up. Somehow I walked the plank, I had to have, then I navigated it better and better, and lived on Westbourne Park Road for about a year.

Like the stairs, the toilet wasn’t working. Diana showed me how to use it: to flush it you had to fill it with water from the bathtub, there was a pail in the tub. Next to the toilet was a basket full of toilet paper and tissues. Diana didn’t say so but I assumed that paper couldn’t be flushed down the toilet, so I used the toilet and threw the dirty toilet paper into the basket.

One morning, maybe a month later, I went into the kitchen for breakfast, where Heathcote and Diana were already sitting at the table. Like English people of any class, they immediately offered me a cup of tea, and in no way out of the ordinary. Also toast and maybe an egg. But the quiet at the table was different, and there was an awkwardness.

Finally, Heathcote spoke.

Leonard, he said, solemnly. (Leonard was his pet name for me.)
What? I said.
Leonard, about this habit you picked up in Turkey.  
What habit?
In Turkey, those toilets ….your putting toilet paper in a basket….
It’s not something I picked up in Turkey.
Oh. But this custom, this habit….
It’s not a habit. You told me the toilet wasn’t working when I arrived, and the basket was full of toilet paper. So I did what you did.
Oh, he said, looking at Diana.
When I arrived, the basket was full. And it kept being full. I did what you did.
We only used the basket because you did. We didn’t want to embarrass you.
You mean all this past month you were throwing toilet paper into the basket because I did.
Yes.
Because you didn’t want to embarrass me.
Yes.
You couldn’t have just told me?

We finished breakfast, and it was never mentioned again.

Lynne Tillman is a novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Her most recent novel is MEN AND APPARITIONS (2018); her latest story collection, THE COMPLETE MADAME REALISM AND OTHER STORIES (2016), was published in Spanish in Argentina (2021).

P. STAFF

Thursday, November 25th, 2021

A moodboard/prep work of sorts.


 

 

P. Staff is an artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, USA and London, UK. Their work combines video installation, performance and publishing, citing the ways in which history, technology, capitalism and the law have fundamentally transformed the social constitution of our bodies today. Staff’s work has been exhibited, screened and performed internationally.

PAUL P.

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Full of life, prepared for doom; this was the pervading atmosphere in which gay men in Toronto lived during the mid-90s, as I encountered it. I walked in – so to speak – on tragedy, but an exhausted state of tragedy penetrated by exuberance, ambition, and the bathos of ongoing daily life. As the losses of AIDS compounded it became a collective loss, yet the broken hearts and the bitter waste of lives remained and remain acutely personal, untouchable. I was born in 1977, and my self-awareness developed in relative lockstep with the ravages of the epidemic. I had missed the halcyon days of gay liberation, and was sheltered from the initial waves of chaos that had ensnared so many. My particular generational aspect was of coming after, incarnated along with the newly dawning reality. Recently, I came across my 8th grade yearbook and noted how many of the dedications expressed, mostly in rhyming couplets, variations of: “don’t get AIDS (but hope you get laid this summer).” The link between sex and death was unassailable, and any acted-upon desire seemed a tacit agreement with fate.

The fantasies and foreboding of my teenage compulsions suffused my suburban bedroom. When in time I discovered the gay village downtown, its climate – that admixture of energy and doom – felt as if I were, at last, breathing my native air. The village rag, Xtra!, littered my backpack, the spaces under my bed, and indeed my psyche, throughout my high school days. The final pages of each issue were a multitude of short obituaries titled Proud Lives, laid out in columns, accompanied by stamp-sized portraits. The penultimate pages were escort ads with business card-sized photos, which functioned as free porn. I reconciled both sections naturally and without analysis. Eros and Thanatos, youthful beauty’s destructive end, permeated the present just as it does queer history, as I was learning. During my last year of high school, a kid who liked comic books – I did not – turned me on to David Wojnarowicz’s Seven Miles A Second, which had just been published and was available at the comic book store in the mall. I was consumed by its sexy, hellish vision. Around this same time, looking through piles of magazines in the back of adult and gay bookstores, I was struck by the profound erotic variety in pornography from the early 80s and the pre-AIDS 70s, versus the contemporary iterations which seemed homogeneous, even philistine, in their narrow range of voyeurism. I was too young to feel nostalgia for this era, so I begun to see the anonymous faces and minor stars as heroes; as remote and worthy of adoration as the ancient Greeks felt their gods to be.

In 1997, at the age of 20, in my second year of art school I made Snapping Off; a rare video in my oeuvre, which has never screened outside of one lone Video and Performance class. Still, at the time, video was to me the most promising route for disgorging my sensibilities. I didn’t yet believe that art making should take time, and art making held a mythic, even spurious, relationship with livelihood. It seems like fiction to recall that I paid only $80 a month for the bedroom that provides the video’s setting (though $80 wasn’t always that easy to come by). Although Snapping Off seems like a slacker provocation, it was one of my first expressions of melancholy, a base Romantic yearning. It is a picture of me flailing, groping for some channel of communication. I had fled the suburbs, religion and family: I was the son of born-again Baptist minister; he himself had fled Peru as a teenager, and his own demons. The snapping rhythms were my attempt to send, receive, and respond to messages from a homosexual past I felt buzzing through me. Semaphoring from my side of the river Styx.



Paul P. first became known for drawings and paintings of young men that re-imagined found erotic photographs along nineteenth century aesthetic modes. The artist’s interest in transience, desire, cataloging and notation has expanded to include landscapes, abstraction, and sculptural works in the form of furniture. Solo exhibitions include Queer Thoughts, New York, 2021; Morena di Luna, Hove, 2020; Cooper Cole, Toronto, 2020; Maureen Paley, London, 2016; Massimo Minini, Brescia, 2011; The Power Plant, Toronto, 2007; Daniel Reich Gallery, New York, 2003.

MARK MCKNIGHT

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

September, 2021

I recently moved to New Mexico, a kind of familial mother country (my family history here presumably dates back thousands of years, before colonization and before “the border crossed us” as they say). I had never lived here but have known it intimately. New Mexico is the site of so many historical traumas: colonization, repeated displacement, and the resulting social, sexual, and psychological violence that have all been brought to bear on my now-fractured family history. My grandmother, an Indigenous woman, was raped and impregnated by the Mestizo man who is technically my grandfather; someone I never met but for whom I feel a mixture of contempt and empathy. My grandmother didn’t have many options. She was married to him. Painfully and paradoxically, trauma can sometimes beget intimacy. It also begets more trauma. My grandfather was soul-sick, a product and perpetrator of the violence he experienced. He struggled with substance abuse and his place in society, two not-uncommon results of said violence to which I can relate. I’ve been sober for nearly a decade. Though we never met, I understand my grandfather and his alcoholism intimately, too. In 1944, driving under the influence, he accidentally killed a woman. In order to avoid charges, he compensated her family with his farm and fled from New Mexico to Los Angeles, his own family in tow, before anyone could change their mind. That’s how my mother (and therefore, I) would be torn from our history in New Mexico and become products of LA. More violence.

In the months before my recent move to New Mexico, I thought repeatedly of my family’s history. I also thought about the meaning of “home.” I returned to a location in the high desert in Southern California, not far from where I grew up, among rolling hills on the periphery of Los Angeles proper. When I was younger, this little enclave was a place in which to take respite. It has been a place where I have intermittently made photographs over the last five years. It was the site and subject of my first monograph. Upon this return in the months preceding my move, the landscape had changed. In the absence of the beauty I had become accustomed to was an even more austere scene: gone was the tall, desert grass I had come to expect. Instead, everything was barren, save for a family of skeletons: one goat, several sheep. I immediately felt sadness. Later, I wondered about the sequence of events. Had the animals consumed the grass and then died of starvation? Had they been left there intentionally to clear the grass and pre-emptively avoid damage from wildfires that have become all too common in the face of climate change? Perhaps they had been there all along, hidden among dry foliage and thus invisible to my eye? I thought about the histories we can’t see and also about photography. I still don’t know what happened. What I do know is that I felt compelled: at first to take photographs, and later, to take these skeletons “home”, whatever that meant. Choiceless. I had inherited in them, like so many other things. They had become my bones. In the days leading up to my departure I thought of my mother and my grandparents as I began to wash, scrape, and clean them. It stopped mattering how or why they got there, only that I had become their custodian. No longer a subject of curiosity, the bones, and my care-taking, became an act of meaning-making. It’s not unlike the experience of making pictures, which often begins with discovery, and if I’m lucky, ends with metaphor.

The smell of the bones was unimaginable. I moved them from place to place: at first to my partners home and later my parents. These people love me, and in turn, I love these decaying objects to whom I feel similarly beholden. In the process, the bones accrued more psychic baggage and subsequently more meaning. The whole thing felt like a strange dream. I, who spent most of the pandemic without a home, found myself dragging these bones from place to place trying to find one for them.

Several weeks ago I finally left LA. I drove the bones 14 hours straight. At some point along the way, they stopped being objects and started to become family. I returned again to thoughts of my grandparents and my mother, the uncles who died of their addictions, and the aunts who loved them. Thoughts not just of violence but also love and redemption. Suddenly the trip from one “home” to another had become more about these things and less about me. My car smelled like decay. It made me think of the Silver Gelatin paper I print on, itself a product of animal-fat and precious metal. It made me think about the way in which, almost alchemically, it transforms light into latent image. I thought about the images we carry with us but can’t see. I thought about the limitations of the medium and the poetic potential therein. “Photography is only ever surface”. But it’s not.

I arrived late at night. First thing in the morning, I moved the bones out of the darkness of their respective bins and into the light. I placed them on the roof of the small casita I’m renting in rural Northern New Mexico. I resumed my task of cleaning while I watched the sunrise. It has been several weeks and they’re finally clean. Cared for. Most days my bones sit in the sun on the roof atop my small home facing the sky which is constantly changing here. My cousin says that’s why we’re so moody, that the sky is in our DNA. When it rains, I bring the bones inside. I think that means they’re home now. I feel lighter. I think that so am I.



Mark McKnight is an artist whose work has been exhibited internationally. His work has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Interview, The New Yorker, GQ Magazine, Aperture, Art in America, Frieze, ArtForum, Brooklyn Rail, Mousse and BOMB Magazine, among others. Mark is the recipient of the 2019 Aperture Portfolio Prize, The 2020 Light Work Photo Book Award, and a 2020 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant. His work is in the collection of The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His first monograph Heaven is a Prison, was published by Loose Joints in September 2020. In 2021, his work was the subject of two concurrent solo exhibitions at Klaus von Nichtssagend (NY) and Park View / Paul Soto (LA) as well as a commission at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson. Mark currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Albuquerque, where he is an Assistant Professor at The University of New Mexico.

markmcknight.xyz

JESSICA JACKSON HUTCHINS

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

END OF EVERYDAY LIFE




There were many days in 1998 when I tried to understand what a straight life could look like. It was a crisis of identity and of meaning. My friend Jack and I discovered we could find examples of domesticity and labor in iconic rock and punk images. We restaged Bringing it all Back Home, Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation, the Heartbreakers, Patti Smith’s Easter and Horses, but transformed them from and to another kind of everyday life; one where “You Make Me” is about making a sandwich, and the tie Patti Smith wears on the cover of Horses is the one you wear to your temp job. You gotta put the ketchup of your broken heart back in the fridge, and every one’s gotta eat sometimes.















Jessica Jackson Hutchins lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Hutchins’s expressive and intuitive studio practice produces dynamic sculptural installations, collages, paintings, and large-scale ceramics, all hybrid juxtapositions of the handmade. As evidence of the artist’s dialogue with items in her studio, these works are a means by which the artist explores the intimacy of the mutual existence between art and life. Her transformations of everyday household objects, from furniture to clothing, are infused with human emotion and rawness, and also show a playfulness of material and language that is both subtle and ambitious. Based upon a willingly unmediated discourse between artist, artwork and viewer, Hutchins’s works ultimately serve to refigure an intimate engagement with materiality and form.

TAYSIR BATNIJI

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Since 2011, images of the war in Syria (destruction, burned bodies, armed men, refugee camps, migrants trying to cross sea and borders, often at the risk of their lives…) have been haunting the screens of our TV sets. Commissioned by the Belgian fund CoopMed, I went to Beirut where I was able to meet Syrian migrants who found the strength, despite the difficult reality of their journeys, the loss of their homes and loved ones, the economic distress, to rebuild a present in Lebanon. I have tried, through my photographs, to present each person, each individual, in his or her humanity. Out of the numbers and take the time to pose with dignity. Adila, Amani, Howaida, Eman or Hanan, all these women – because they are women! – have lent themselves, more or less spontaneously, to the meeting, have taken the time to retrace their journey, their adaptation to the Lebanese context (sometimes not very open to their person), and to present their activity to me. I hope that my images, which are more like ‘interviews’, will convey their ability to hope and their life force.




Adila Mohammad Lotfi Abdo

Adila comes from Idleb, in northwestern Syria. She settled in the Chouf region of Lebanon with her family in 2011, when the war broke out and after the death of her eldest son, leaving a son in prison. After three years of effort, she managed to get him released. He joined them. Adila has been working for six years in a soap factory. Her first credit application to Al Majmoua allowed her to buy olives for her own soap production. She now has a good number of clients. Every year, she makes an additional loan to buy her raw materials and live a little easier. “The loan is very small, but I live well”, said Adila.













Howaida Mohammed Al – Qabalawi

Howaida comes from Dar’a, in southwestern Syria. Fleeing the war, she arrived in Beirut with her husband and 3 children in 2012. She was able to survive thanks to the help of the United Nations. She followed a training in the field of aesthetics (cosmetics), which allowed her to work a little. But living conditions in Beirut were difficult and the family moved to Tripoli. There, her husband abandoned her and her children without giving any news. So she decided to move to Aley where she started working in a beauty salon. Her contract was of short duration: Syrians were not really welcome… Then Howaida learned about Al Majmoua’s micro-credits. This is how she was able to set up her modest hair salon at home in Aley. When asked if she wanted to return to Syria, Howaida replied that she could not do so, as her home region, about 100 kilometers south of Damascus, still under siege.
















Hanan Mohammad Al Sabbat

Hanan is also from Idleb. She left Syria with her family at the beginning of the war, in 2011, to settle in Lebanon. When they arrived, they only had a thousand dollars in their pockets and their financial situation was no longer sufficient to pay for the care of Hanan’s husband, a diabetic. His retina has been damaged and since then he can no longer work. Hanan requested a loan from the group Al Majmoua and trained at the Lebanese Solidarity Association Basmeh & Zeitooneh. Thanks to Al Majmoua’s credit, she opened a modest clothing store in a room of her house. Every Saturday and Sunday, she is supplied in the Al-Rihab district, near the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila. Hanan does not wish to return to Syria until tensions, particularly in Idleb, will not have ceased. Their house was demolished by the bombings and they have nowhere to go with their four children.
















Amani Mahmoud Romieh

Amani comes from Al-Salihiyah, in eastern Syria. She arrived in Lebanon in 2011 with her twins. Her husband had to stay in the country because of of a tendon rupture in the leg. Before the war, Amani sold clothing in Syria. She therefore decided to continue her work in Lebanon. Thanks to its loan from the group Al Majmoua, she opened her own store in clothes to Aley, where she moved in. Amani seems satisfied with the stability of her new life in Lebanon. Her children are in school and no one, for the moment, is thinking of going back to Syria.













Iman Salman

Iman comes from Ghouta, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. She left Syria because of the war in 2013. She says her husband was trapped in their home for ten days, which pushed him to leave in a clandestine way to Lebanon shortly before his family. He took time to find accommodation in Aley, a job and then brought in his own.The remoteness of her country and her Syrian family was very hard to Iman. Until the day when the Terre des Hommes association proposed to her to become a volunteer teacher at home to refugee children, two hours a week. After that, she was offered a job and began to develop and organize educational activities for children. In addition, she requested a loan from Al Majmoua in order to create her own company of sale of artisanal preserves.









Taysir Batniji was born in Gaza, in 1966, and studied art at Al-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine. In 1994, he was awarded a fellowship to study at the School of Fine Arts of Bourges in France. Since then, he has been dividing his time between France and Palestine. During this period spent between two countries and two cultures, Batniji has developed a multi-media practice, including drawing, installation, photography, video and performance.

taysirbatniji.com
sfeir-semler.com
eric-dupont.com

ESTELLE HOY

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

13th April 2020

Dear Sabrina,

Here’s the story I wrote for you. Don’t tell me I don’t do anything for you.
(Didn’t Seth Price get some hot cha-ching for writing a second-rate story? Fuck Seth Price)

Cleo
4:48 Psychosis

I had a friend who I liked to tell what I really thought about things–or people–mostly people who were disgustingly enthusiastic about life and around whom I immediately felt superior. Maybe because it seemed like most of the time she’d agree, and if not agree, at least understand. She was the kind of girl who looked like she didn’t sweat. I could be wrong. She told me I had a large head for a skinny person, like a greyhound or Chupa Chup, so there’s obviously something missing in her, and unquestionably me: faulty brain synapses perhaps from our 4-year bout with alcoholism, but it’s because of this that neither of us noticed. To me, this gave her credibility. I was jealous of her sunny Los Angeles; it gave her an advantage in life, all that vitamin d, botox, favors from Silicon Valley, superfoods, and anorexia. But it was also true that Berlin had abbreviated itself over the past several years; Gorlitzer Park’s speed-pushers, weed dealers, patchouli, and vigilante’s had been nudged out by yellow unisex visors and frisbees, kites and seagulls. Which is to say: good riddance, Berlin drumming circles. I despised being in circles just generally, in the middle of them, on the edge of them, all of it. I hated introducing myself in theatres of the round with declarations of nationality and one fun fact because my idea of fun fact is to others, personal atrophy.

It’d been a busy week for her, ticking non-gendered or full-blooded Sioux boxes on art funding applications so she’d have the marginalized advantage; she was a fraud, and I was pretty supportive of it. That type of forgery makes people way less judgmental and puts me at ease with my own secret revelations; few people won’t judge you for pasting fake tattoos in nautical themes on your three-month-old newborn, and equally reassuring is knowing there are other people on earth as shitty as you. She didn’t know about a lot of things, pre-fab houses, for example, or confessional booths, or dangerous wildlife: things I knew a lot about.

I told her I was writing a new book with nine short essays, an ode to Salinger I told her, before admitting nine was just a modest number and I’d relinquished delusional ambition some time ago– around the time I realized I didn’t have any specific talent in life, mostly just the ability to make small nods to people that had actual talent. I didn’t mind. I had lots of ideas for career paths that I floated by her. Confused aspirations but still, solid options: private eye, sous chef, porn star, navy seal, career jobseeker on benefits, but I guess that’s basically the same as an artist. She didn’t have a shred of sanity, so I knew she’d humor me and my half-baked ideas. We’d toast to almost everything.





It was a Tuesday night when she rang, Arthur Russel’s ‘A Little Lost’ playing in the background, which always reminded me of the time I slept with my boyfriend’s friend in Copenhagen, then tried to cover it up. My childhood nemesis called me a slut every day for years, even when I was a virgin, so I figured since I had the reputation, I should make the most of it. I would’ve been pretty happy to take it to the grave, but Zuckerburg double-crossed me. I’ve since gotten over it—the Zuckerburg bit, not the cover-up. A moment later, she’d sprung into action. It was over Skype, so I saw her leave the room looking cute in a golden Dolce and Gabbana dress worth a cool 3k she’d scored for $40, not because she paid for it, just the cost of the Uber getaway all the way back to Pasadena. She disappeared for a good twelve minutes, came back without justifying her absence, and started talking–to herself more than me, but I had Pringles, so I didn’t really mind. I listened through crunches of salt n’ vinegar, missing a third or maybe half of what she said; it was an uncivilized hour in Berlin, but it wasn’t accounted for in the conversation, which required stacks of concentration and a nimble leap from salt n’ vinegar pringles to soft, and then hard liquor. She was deep in the dumps writing a diary entry for Artforum without getting any kudos for it, a ghost (blow)job for an artist who wanted the authorship credit and an editor who didn’t mind–an ethical merry-go-round hard to get off in the art world. Luckily, she was the daughter of a street light and cinnamon bun, which is to say she was sweet but harsh and confronted people easily, which went a long way in the art world. She said something to the editor like, ‘If I die and my name isn’t in there, I’m going to be really angry, and if I die and my name is in there, I’m going to be really angry, just not at you.” Her ethics were impeccable, but then again, your ethics don’t actually matter when you’re hot and a genius. She was a genius, sure, but I was ingenious (though my friends called it Machiavellian), so I had more experience getting what I wanted in ways that were unconventional… which is why she called me in the first place.





She was ‘privileged’ the task of applying for sizable funding to pay related costs to review the FIAC Art Fair–flights, crack motel, haircut, retinol, money to research the article, to write the article, then scratch out her face in the photograph. The artist getting the credit was also a tenured professor at CUNY with 76 articles and 6 books to his name that his research assistants wrote on smart drugs like Modafinil from their nine-person share-house in Skid Row. It was a routine story in the art world so I could multitask, loads of tabs open on my computer, shopping for Majesty Palms online, buying books by Donna Haraway, researching dictionary meanings for words in books by Donna Haraway. While she made good points, I watched her flatmate Keke float around in the background looking ill but sexy, like a picture of a serial killer on his deathbed–it was one of the reasons I started the pen-pal program at San Quentin. Life: I was obviously not in command of the situation.





In addition to ethical issues, hers was a cash-flow problem since the tenured academic and his combustible hairdo would get the favored percentage of the agreed-upon fee, and she the remnant, which was probably just enough to reimburse that Uber ride. She had his contact details saved in her phone as dial-a-god but wasn’t terribly committed to answering the lord. The professor was attached to his phone, tuned into his ringtone like it was his son since his underlings were scoring him hot authorships and publications in A+ peer-reviewed’s and modest returns from all the art crits his name had been commissioned, which I guess was his side gig and kept his readership broad. I took a covert screenshot of our Skype call; maybe I’d make an artwork out of it. Keke would be the surprising ghost you sometimes find in the background of photos, a talky background ghost, kvetching his crummy existence in some cringy Los Angelian vernacular I couldn’t know. I tuned him out at gnarly or any other street slang that ruined his sexy serial-killer vibes and watched him eat a pricey grapefruit like the surveillance camera that I was. He was studying supernovae and neutron stars at UCLA, though I was yet to understand how that was going to be useful. Keke wasn’t in our conversation but thought he was, and tipping his grapefruit spoon to the camera, lied, ‘Oh, I’ll be back,’ before sliding out of the room playing the harmonica.

She asked me what I thought of the whole charade, whether or not to debase herself, whether or not she should spar for authorship, and a few other things I accidentally crunched Pringles over. I went straight to the voice of authority that comes to me after 2am saying something like ‘If you don’t do it, there’s plenty of those enthusiastic types that would, and for free,’ which wasn’t really an answer, but it was the best anyone could do in their pajamas. She looked unconvinced, so I told her by the time I’d woken the next morning, I’d have a solution. I don’t think she believed me, but I was a woman of my word and enjoyed making life really difficult for myself–it’s how I dated my ex so long. My answers for myself were pretty uncompromising, but I was too out of shape to advise others and just generally unseaworthy–I found simple life practicalities difficult to navigate, once getting myself trapped behind one of those little tray tables on the plane. But I wanted to be helpful. I flapped around trying to find the book I’d been reading, a quote I’d underlined in Natasha Stagg’s Surveys, maybe that’d be helpful, or not, but my apartment had become the Bermuda Triangle since I’d had a kid, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I Googled it quickly and read it out to her like I’d memorized it verbatim:

“People who watch and do not want to be watched, people who listen and do not want to talk, people who live vicariously, are just perverts, and no one should want them around.”

She was listening but also flipping through the San Fran Chronicle, eventually saying, ‘‘What’s that supposed to mean.” I told her I didn’t know, and we moved on.

We bitched about life for a while, complaints about our finances, the art world, climate change, Jehovah’s witnesses, our careers, the false bottom in academia, all while eating reckless foods and scheming up our next book collaboration that would rewrite the history of 18th-century pirates through a feminist lens, and be undeniably brilliant. Her very distant aunt on her mother’s side, Anne Bonny, the daughter of an Irish servant girl, had been a pirate of the Caribbean during the 18th century–she was very proud of her mother’s side. Anne was illegitimate, so her father disguised her as a boy, ‘Andy,’ and put him to work as a lawyer’s clerk. Lawyers often become pirates, I’m told. It was all very cliché, the red hair and fiery temper, yadda yadda yadda.. and the story culminates, if my friend’s version is to be believed, at the Beetle’s hit pop-song ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,’ a delicious piece of pop-culture baklava, but whether or not I actually believe this changes from day-to-day. We swung wildly on ropes from buccaneer piracy to art writing piracy, where we’d remain for the rest of the night.





I had a distinct slackening of interest in the art world that’d made life pretty easy, I wasn’t stymied in its asthmatic shrubs and had an intractable position on the whole affair, but unfortunately, people don’t always want to know what you think, even when they ask you what you think. You’ve got to be able to tell the difference. She’d reject the contract if she had any integrity at all, but passing it on made her complicit in a whole other way. Keke was now back in the frame, eavesdropping like an underfed watchdog with the moral code of Nelson Mandela, and would’ve said his piece if my friend took on the article and fed the machine. Knowing this, she changed the subject abruptly; life was humiliating enough… ‘Everyone’s having kids, it’s disgusting, eleventh-hour kids, which is even worse…I hope to catch HPV, so I don’t have to get my tubes tied.’ The change of topic was obvious, even to a person wearing hibiscus flowers at 10am. I said something in thinly veiled code like, ‘Get HPV, don’t get HPV, it’s all the same in the end, but one of those is much easier to live with.’ She nodded like she’d understood, and Keke looked approving in the background, announcing his departure for his weekly dumpster dive, gleaning rotting fruit and the occasional rosehip oil from Health Food City. Our version of dumpster-diving wasn’t as romantic, but you have got to take what you can get.

‘You’re right, she said, ‘I’ll take the gig, and besides, there’s always San Fran Bridge.’

e x

Estelle Hoy is a writer and critic based in Berlin. Her second book, PISTI 80 RUE DE BELLEVILLE (After 8 Books, 2020) was just released, with an introduction by Chris Kraus. Her forthcoming, MIDSOMMER, cowritten with Sabrina Tarasoff, is scheduled for release from Mousse Publishing in 2022.

ARTHUR OU

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

OBSERVER EFFECT

In photographs of my grandfather’s childhood, signs of Taiwan’s colonial past are everywhere. One that has stayed acutely imprinted in my mind is a group portrait of my youthful grandfather and relatives taken in the 1920’s. I remember the traditional yukatas worn by the men and the Japanese style school uniforms worn by the children, their stiff countenance and stance probably due to the prolonged exposure needed to make the picture. But what was striking were the unusually large leaves of a banana tree sprouting behind the assembled group. Its leaves were black and oily, each leaf disproportionately larger than the heads of the adults. If the tree had tentacles, it would be not unlike a type of carnivorous plant, engulfing the posing subjects standing within its grasp. Capturing the apparent incongruity of the elements in this photograph—my grandfather and relatives, the tropical climate of Taiwan, the Japanese clothing—was undoubtedly not the intention of the photographer, but the image stands as a compositional view of the contrasting forces shaping life in Taiwan at the time.





The act of seeing is never passive. The idea of the observer effect goes something like this: When one casts their gaze onto something, the observer changes or has influence over the future path of the subject or object’s being, however minutely. Seeing entangles the observer to the observed. Seeing requires the presence of light. So the mere presence of light and the observed object subjected to reflecting the light already causes a shift in its state on a subatomic level, since an electron changes course when it comes into contact with a photon. The photographic act is perhaps even more consequential to the subject depicted. There are countless numbers of examples supporting this proposition, from photography’s role in influencing behavior, shifting public opinion, changing the course of conflicts, and shaping history. In the photograph of my grandfather, did they decide themselves to dress in traditional Japanese clothing? Or did the photographer ask them to?

It is common knowledge that the etymology of the word “photography” is rooted in Greek; “fotografía” translates to “drawing with light.” It is also accepted understanding that a photograph, although indexical, is more of a subjective transcription rather than an objective, evidentiary document. We can broaden this notion of photography’s role in shaping reality through other cultural understandings of the medium. In Japanese, “photography” is translated to “写真” which are the characters for “writing reality,” while in Chinese, the characters “攝影” means “recording shadows.” A photographic observation is an intervention and changes the course of the subject’s future path. This photograph of my grandfather is part of his identity, putting the colonial forces shaping his life on display. And in turn, these forces, represented through this single photograph, have since been weaved into the fabric of my worldview.

Arthur Ou was born in 1974 in Taipei (Taiwan) and is based in Queens, New York. He has exhibited internationally, most recently in the 2018 Queens International at the Queens Museum, “99¢” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, and “Astoria” at the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria. His work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Aperture, Blind Spot, Camera Austria, and Art in America. His work has also been considered in published surveys “THE PHOTOGRAPH AS CONTEMPORARY ART,” by Charlotte Cotton, “THE BEAUTY OF A SOCIAL PROBLEM: PHOTOGRAPHY, AUTONOMY, ECONOMY,” by Walter Benn Michaels, and “PHOTOGRAPHY IS MAGIC,” also by Charlotte Cotton. His book, “THE WORLD IS ALL THAT IS THE CASE,” was published by Roma publications in 2019. He is an associate professor of photography at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

www.kathrynbrennan.net
www.koroneougallery.com

MONIQUE MOUTON

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

I’m thinking about a blend.

My dad is Cajun, my mom is Swiss, and I think those two very distinct backgrounds could account for a lot of my sensibility. It’s easier for me to locate if I look at my grandparents. My parents are too close to get the same wide view, so instead I consider what each of their parents bestowed upon them.

There’s a Thích Nhất Hạnh talk where he describes an exercise he did with children: he gave them each a corn kernel and had them tend to it until it sprouted. He then instructed them to talk to the plant and ask, “My dear little plant of corn, do you remember when you were a tiny seed?” The plant was suspicious in response, its green leaves having no resemblance to the kernel. It needed to be gently reminded that yes, it did come from a seed and that this seed is not dead or gone, but living in all its cells.

Later Thích Nhất Hạnh goes on:

“I’m pouring some tea in my glass. And uh, I’m doing this mindfully. And when I do it mindfully I see that this tea has come from a cloud. Yesterday it was a cloud in the sky but today it is tea. So there is a connection between the cloud and the tea. When you look at the tea and if you don’t see the cloud, you have not really seen the tea. You believe that you have seen the tea, but you have not really seen the tea. You have to see the cloud still alive in the tea. The cloud has not died, it has simply become the tea or the ice or the rain or your ice cream. So next time you eat the ice cream look more deeply to see the cloud in the ice cream. That’s meditation. Meditation allows us to see things that other people cannot see. So when you look into the tea you see a cloud and when you are drinking your tea you are drinking your cloud. There’s already a lot of cloud in yourself. You are made of clouds. Among other things. So I see clouds in me, I see clouds in the tea, and this cloud is going to join other clouds, in my body.”












Monique Mouton is an artist living and working in New York City.

www.bridgetdonahue.nyc
www.spazioveda.it

S*AN D. HENRY-SMITH

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Four portraits of Lucie March on a September day last summer in shifting sunlight. Just before noon, I believe. I imagine that these frames were made in a span of about 15 minutes, though it may have been more. Possibly less. Portraiture as a durational medium is tricky; it can last forever should you allow. I am tempted to dwell, always. We took turns taking pictures of each other on each other’s cameras. I think often of Lucie’s late grandmother’s compass necklace she wears in these; I was transfixed with it then already. I make sure our matching “NEW DOCUMENTS” tattoo is in sight for at least one frame. It’s photography that introduced us in the first place. A large cloud cast over us, made everything blue, then went away again. It had rained the night before—the evidence is on the fence. The grass wasn’t wet, but not exactly dry.

I was on my way out, and she had just gotten in. Me, relocating to the Netherlands; Lu, just back from France. One of the anchors of our relationship is our comings and goings, a commitment to meeting up in the middle. Looking at each other closely when we can. We have been making portraits of each other as long as we’ve known one another: that summer in 2014 catching eyes, wearing some version of the same clothes (something gay, liberal arts, New York City summer), until we soon after went out one night, making photographs around/at/after a Cakes da Killa performance. (Sadly, a lot of my negatives didn’t come out. I was borrowing a Hasselblad that night and couldn’t get my groove. Now, I’m obsessed with the rectangular, but I want to try square again.)

Before we part, Lucie reads to me. I make a recording, this time in audio. It was nearing a year since we’d seen each other last, and it wasn’t clear when we would see each other next, though I know now it wouldn’t have been too long. And we would make more photographs then, too.

 

 


S*an D. Henry-Smith is an artist and writer working primarily in poetry, photography, performance, and publishing. They are the author of WILD PEACH (Futurepoem, 2020), and the director of LUNAR NEW YEAR.

www.seanhenrysmith.com

GELARE KHOSHGOZARAN

Monday, August 23rd, 2021


Gelare Khoshgozaran is an undisciplinary artist and writer who, in 2009 was transplanted from street protests in a city of four seasons to the windowless rooms of the University of Southern California where aesthetics and politics would be discussed in endless summers. Gelare’s work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Queens Museum, Hammer Museum, LAXART, Human Resources, Visitor Welcome Center, Plug In ICA, Cell Project Space, LOOP Barcelona, Beursschouwburg, and Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual among others. Gelare was the recipient of a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2015), an Art Matters Award (2017), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2019) and a Graham Foundation Award (2020). With words published in CONTEMPTORARY (co-founding editor), THE BROOKLYN RAIL, PARKETT, X-TRA, LA REVIEW OF BOOKS, TEMPORARY ART REVIEW, ART PRACTICAL, AJAM MEDIA COLLECTIVE, AND SATURATION: RACE, ART, AND THE CIRCULATION OF VALUE (C. Riley Snorton and Hentyle Yapp. MIT Press co-published by the New Museum), Gelare is an editor at MARCH: A JOURNAL OF ART AND STRATEGY.

www.gelarekhoshgozaran.com

MICHELLA BREDAHL

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

“I AM WHOLE” REFLECTIONS AND THOUGHTS ON MAKING NATURE SACRÉE IN TUNISIA BY MICHELLA BREDAHL IN CONVERSATION WITH ACHREF BALHOUDI




While I attended the National Danish Film school in 2018, a part of the program was to go and make a film abroad on your own. I was sent to Tunis in Tunisia. I had never been there before. Through Facebook I found a little room I could rent in Salammbo. It was late March, which is winter there and very cold at night. The guy I rented the room through told me that the bricks that the building was built with were made of a fabric to keep the heat out. With colder and colder winters in Tunisia, we were both freezing a lot at night, so he gave me several blankets that would keep me warm. I felt like I was sleeping outside some nights. I would keep all of my clothes on when I would sleep. The first week I spent a lot of time wandering around the streets. I noticed that there were a lot of wild cats everywhere. This was a very atypical view for me, because where I’m from in Denmark, most cats are domesticated. You would never see cats gather together in groups like this on the street in Denmark. It was like they were living parallel to the city and its people. The cats later came to play an important role in my short film, Nature Sacrée. I later met up with a Tunisian girl, Siryne, who I met at an exchange program at my school. She was a filmmaker too. We had become close friends. I went and stayed with her for a few days. She spoke with me a lot about not feeling able to express herself in her country. Most of her days, she spent time dreaming about living in Europe. She told me, “One day I will go to Europe and study, this is my way out of this prison”.

She explained to me that in Tunisia it is illegal to kiss on the street. Most cafés were only for men in her area. I had already noticed this myself. She was not allowed to bring any boys home or go out at night. Instead, she would rent a place to date a boy and meet them secretly during the day. I then had an idea for my film to create a space where she and her friends could move and express themselves in juxtaposition to the rules and the government, like the cats in the street. A place where you could kiss and study each other. A place where you could feel free to be yourself. She helped me get in contact with her friends, who said yes to be a part of it as well. We then found an apartment that we could borrow for it.

We all met on the street outside the apartment. I remember everyone feeling shy and excited at the same time. When we got up in the apartment, we were told we could only use the place for an hour. I remember feeling really nervous, because I knew that I was about to ask strangers to make out in front of my camera. We had all agreed that this was going to happen, but I was still nervous and worried about it becoming awkward or it not being a valuable experience for them. This is where I met Achref for the first time. He was very shy. He had this angelic way of moving his body around. He didn’t say much and had this expression on his face that would make anyone smile. I remember everything went so fast. We only stayed in the place for an hour. It felt really special filming them all. I remember my hands were shaking when I stopped the camera for the last time. It felt like I had seen something extremely real in all of them, and especially in Achref something magical appeared in front of us all. This memory has stayed with me up until today. After we left the apartment we found a little café, where we went and sat down and ate some food. I don’t remember what we ate or what we spoke about. I remember I shared my contacts with Achref and told him I wanted to see him again. He told me he wanted to move to Paris and work as a model. I told him I would help him if he came. We said goodbye and I didn’t see him ever again. We kept in contact on social media. I would often see things that he would post online that would touch me.

One day in December, of the past year, I read that he was happy to announce that he had got his residency in Germany. He was going to be able to be himself and love whoever he wanted without fear for his life. It saddened him to think of all the friends he had left behind and of the fact that people are still in danger, living in fear because of ignorance and violence. Their crime is love and self-expression. To my queer friends I say, I am sorry and we will as a community continue to keep fighting for change. Always.

When I was asked to contribute something for “This Long Century” I knew I wanted to share my experience with Achref and give him space to say something about his experience, his thoughts on the world and his current situation in Germany. It was two years ago, when I had filmed him and I had grown older, reflecting a lot about how I as an artist could give people in front of my camera space to express themselves, give them a voice and not only be seen through my eyes, through the camera. I asked Achref a week ago to watch the clip that I had filmed of him two years ago, to share with me his thoughts on it and let me know about his situation today. This is what he wrote:

“My only clear memory of Michella is of her sitting under the shade of a tree with Siryne eating a Shawarma sandwich in a coffee shop, wearing sunglasses in Tunis. She seemed distant, her camera felt like her way to grasp this world, to hold it, and to understand it. That’s how she exists in my mind. When I was filmed by her it felt like I was being seen for the first time. I didn’t need to speak. I was never good at that. Words seem to escape me and my attempts at communicating and connecting with others have always been lost, leaving my mouth only to find a barrier between myself and whoever I was trying to reach. It is probably one of the many survival mechanisms that I developed to hide behind, but for a moment sitting there in silence I managed to express what I was never able to. Through the lens of Michella, I was able to be free in this liminal space. Being queer and non binary was an offense in my country, something that can land you in prison, and definitely get you ostracized from the rest of society. This is where I found myself on the fringe craving freedom and belonging. Freedom for me is to be able to express myself without fear, to have the space to authentically be and for the first time this year I was able to experience that. It really hurts my heart that so many of my LGBTQ friends can’t experience it as I am typing this, and maybe never will. It really shouldn’t be like this. Coming to Germany wasn’t really a choice for me. I couldn’t live in fear in Tunisia anymore. It was eating at me from the inside and it felt as if I was holding my breath for too long. I needed freedom and community. I needed to breath. I thought I’d find that here, in Europe. I found safety, but I gave up on community. I didn’t think I would be confined by the Government to a small district for a year because of my nationality and to Saxony for a few years. I thought I’ll go to Berlin and meet other people like me, that I’ll belong, but instead I found myself alone and isolated, with a lot of trauma and emotional baggage to try to heal. I think I’ll always be on the outside looking in.”





The last conversation I had with Achref was on facetime, Friday the 18th of July. We spoke about freedom and what it meant for both of us. We both felt that social media is a strong weapon to connect between the people you relate with, a tool to find connectivity and light. We can create forces that can change things for us. I told Achref that I will soon be seeing him. My heart hurts to think of him alone in Germany. Instead I choose to think of that moment on the bed, when he felt free, and it seemed like his light came out and maybe for the first time we are looking at him from the outside.

Edited by: Tyí

Photography-based visual artist and documentary filmmaker Michella Bredahl (1988, Denmark) was educated at the Danish Photography School (2011) and the National Danish Film School of Denmark (2019). In her work, she focuses on certain groups of people and communities, such as teenage girls and mothers, capturing the vulnerability of her subjects. Her latest short film Chassé premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2020). She lives and works in Paris. Filmography: Nature Sacrée (2018), Chassé (2019)

ZADIE XA

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

I miss my dog.

He came into my life one month before my 24th birthday.

It’s been 3 years since he died.

One morning I tossed him a stick and as he ran to grab it, he collapsed. Initially I thought the tumble was due to his back legs which were giving him some trouble (he even wore protective booties to ensure his nails didn’t wear down from the dragging caused by an irregular gait). Instead I found a dog in shock, panting with a dry mouth and white gums unable to get up. Internal bleeding I later learned.

We had his spleen removed to prevent not only the possibility of cancer but a painful death that can happen if the embedded tumours rupture. Unfortunately, the removal of his spleen did not save him from the cancer as it had already begun seeding itself throughout his vascular system. Although I was heartbroken, I pummelled through the situation with desperate optimism and put my dog through a mild form of chemotherapy. This was not a cure but it would hopefully prolong his life by a few months and if we were really lucky, a year.

During this time I tried hard not to cry or be sad around him and I did my best to act cheerful. I’d bring him to the park a few times a day and generally spoiled him with new toys, treats and suffocating cuddles. Some days were okay, other times he’d suffer from exhaustion and minor internal bleeds leaving me to struggle as I carried his 14 kg body home. In these moments when his illness could not be hidden I felt ashamed and angry as other dog walkers with their healthy pets would look at us with pity. I often wore sunglasses in an attempt to obscure my puffy crying face.

I joined various Hemangiosarcoma cancer Facebook groups with other depressed pet owners. We welcomed unfortunate newcomers and collectively grieved when members would tearfully announce that “so and so” “crossed over the rainbow bridge”. I obsessively followed the holistic supplement and food regiments of the folks whose dogs managed to outlive their splenectomies and diagnoses by a full two years (most die a few months after their operations). These cases made me hopeful, until my dog died only a month after his surgery and then I became jealous of the few success stories. After his death, I carefully packed all of his holistic medications (which were fucking expensive) and sent them to another woman whose dog had just been diagnosed. She never sent a “thank you email” which admittedly really pissed me off. Soon after I exited all the FB cancer groups.

During the end of my dog’s life, I was scheduled to present a performance at Palais de Tokyo. Instead of cancelling, I convinced myself it was okay to travel for the four-day trip. I had already implicated others in the event, performers, the curator, the institution, etc. I “felt bad” to abandon my commitment and thought it would make me seem “unprofessional” and irresponsible if I pulled out due to “personal issues”. While I was gone, my husband took care of our dog, sending me many photos and videos, assuring me not to worry.

I returned home late in the evening on April 8th and the next morning I took my Chicho out for a morning coffee and a long walk. I posted a few Instagram stories of us together in the café and park. He seemed happy and energetic and I was relieved to be with him again. That afternoon he suffered another internal bleed and was taken to the vet and “put down”. I have never been able to reconcile my decision to go to work when what I should have done was stay at home.

It’s been 3 years, 1 month and 22 days since he died and I still miss my dog.


Zadie Xa was born in Vancouver on the unceded and traditional territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and is now based in London, UK. Her work is informed by her experiences within the Korean diaspora, as well as the environmental and cultural context of the Pacific Northwest. Her work often features garments, including cloaks and masks, used for live performance and within installation or moving image. Throughout her practice, Xa uses water and marine ecologies as metaphors for exploring the unknown, whilst also alluding to abstract notions of homeland. Zadie earned an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2014 and a BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2007.

www.zadiexa.com

ELI CORTIÑAS

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

My contribution is a compilation of albums I compose during the long research processes for my installations and video essays. Those albums contain quotes, reflections, texts I write for publications and endless notes I take in the form of text fragments, images or moving pictures, which I usually collage together as a first way to establish relations between the very heterogenous material, before I enter the editing process. The poems are part of an album I started writing shortly before the pandemic hit and is part of an ongoing writing process, without any conscious aim, but to find an expression parallel to the painstakingly process of artistic research and editing. Most of the imagery I use for my contribution comes from a project I’m developing now revolving around the feminisation of AI and the historical racial and gender bias embedded in technology. The project will include a video installation and a publication which will be exhibited next year at the Screen City Biennial in Oslo.



Eli Cortiñas is a video artist of Cuban descent, born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1979. She was a guest professor at the Art Academy Kassel and the Art Academy Mainz and is currently sharing a professorship for Spatial Concepts with Prof. Candice Breitz at the University of Art Braunschweig (HBK). Cortiñas has been awarded numerous grants and residencies, including Fundación Botín Grant, Kunstfonds, Villa Massimo, Berlin Senate Film/ Video Grant, Villa Sträuli, Goethe Institute, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Rupert and Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff among others. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions at museums such as Museum Ludwig, Kunsthalle Budapest, CAC Vilnius, SCHIRN Kunsthalle, SAVVY Contemporary, Museum Marta Herford, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Centre Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art Moscow, Kunstmuseum Bonn and MUSAC et al., as well as in international Biennials and festivals such as Riga Biennale, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Mardin Biennale, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, International Curtas Vila Do Conde and Nashville Film Festival. She lives and works in Berlin.

CATARINA VASCONCELOS

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

THE POPPY AND THE VOLCANO

May is the month in which the flowers are stronger than the city’s concrete. The month of May always makes me believe that if we raise the city ground, we will find entire gardens beneath it.

In Portugal, May is also the month of Spike Day: the day that marks a timeless tradition related to the earth, where we pick daisies, an olive branch, spikes, rosemary and poppies. We gather them into a bouquet and place it behind the door of our house, so it will watch over us until the next year, when the bouquet should be replaced. Each component of this bunch has a meaning. The spikes, which should be an odd number, symbolize bread, the main source of sustenance. The daisy represents wealth and earthly goods. The olive branch refers to peace and light. Rosemary conveys strength and resilience. The poppy signifies life. But, for me, the poppy has always been a flower between life and death: its great beauty didn’t seem to belong to this world and its utter fragility made me think that its passage through this life was necessarily brief.

I was born in the outskirts of Lisbon, in a paradise of reinforced concrete where the flowers and weeds had to fight hard against the cement to gain the right to exist. But high up on my 12th floor we could see a mountain, the proof that nature was our only salvation. My only daily contact with nature was through my eyes, which every day peeked at the mountain from the 12th floor.

In the week of Spike Day, the fragments of nature that resisted the concrete became essential. My mother, who never cared for Catholic traditions (“Yes, Catarina, Jesus might have existed, but to say that he brought people back to life takes a leap greater than Armstrong’s on the moon!”), but who had an inexplicable relationship with all things natural, felt the need to pick that bunch in the middle of the city. From early on, my brother and I got used to my mother’s impulses, who despite not believing in God was the most ardent believer in nature. Nothing could stop her. The mountain that we could see from the 12th floor became our main pilgrimage site. It was there that we learned how to make the Spike Day bunches. Poppies were always the hardest to find. Nonetheless, we sniffed out their color and when we finally made out a sliver of red in the landscape, my brother, my mother and I ran towards it as if it were the Holy Grail. And it was. For us, the poppies had to come from the center of the Earth, from that place that is also painted red and where the gods of the underworld reign. We couldn’t have invented any of this, since for the Greeks (and my mother taught us to believe in them) the poppy was the symbol of sleep, oblivion and death. In the part of Greek mythology concerned with mystery, poppies are abundant and cover entire fields: Hypnos, the god of sleep, with wings sprouting from his head, carried poppies with him. He inherited the symbol from his mother, Nyx, the night, so frequently crowned with the red flower. Morpheus, god of dreams, capable of taking on any human shape and appear in anyone’s chimeras, walked around in eternity holding poppies. When the Romans came along they dragged the poppy from the invisible world and made it the symbol of Ceres, the goddess of plants, fields and fertility. In the Middle Ages, Christians placed the poppies inside Christ’s body and believed they saw his blood in them. In the 20th century these red flowers became the symbol of the soldiers killed during the First World War, since it is said that poppies bloomed in the fields where they died.

When we finally pulled the poppies from the earth, we knew that we had in our hands a treasure as fragile as our existence. Finding the poppies on Spike Day meant finding the element that brought the most joy to the bouquet and also its most ephemeral: from the moment we plucked the poppy we knew that it was only a matter of days before its petals started falling like silk paper and the poppy quietly returned to its invisible world.

While writing The Metamorphosis of Birds it often occurred to me that cinema, like art, lives between life and death, in an endless plunge into the center of the Earth and of ourselves. With The Metamorphosis of Birds I was lucky to spend six years working in that limbo where the poppies live: between the invisible world of our dead and the world of nature, which is full of consolation. During those six years I carried with me the passage that begins the film The Beaches of Agnès: “If we opened people up, we would find landscapes. If we opened me up, we would find beaches.”

This year, after not having done so for a long time, I went back to the mountain to gather the spike bouquet: it had rained a lot that week and the poppies had all returned to the earth. Like in the movies, when I was about to give up, convinced that the poppies had become invisible to my adult eyes, they appeared in the moment when day and night meet.

I thought:
If I were a landscape, I would like to be a poppy field.

Polaroids by Catarina Vasconcelos (Lanzarote, 2021. Carnaxide, 2021)

Catarina Vasconcelos was born in Lisbon in 1986. She holds a B.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon and completed a post-graduate course in Visual Anthropology at the ISCTE-IUL. She received a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art, in London, where her final project was the short film Metaphor, or Sadness Inside Out (2014). The film premiered in the Cinéma du Réel festival, where it received the award for best short film. It also screened in numerous festivals, including RIDM – Montreal International Documentary Festival (Best International Medium-Length Film Award), DokLeipzig, Moscow International Film Festival and Doclisboa. Her first documentary feature The Metamorphosis of Birds premiered in the new Encounters section at the 70th Berlinale, in February 2020, where it received the FIPRESCI award of the International Federation of Film Critics. Since then, the film has been shown in various festivals, such as New Directors/New Films or San Sebastian-Donostia International Film Festival where it was awarded best film in the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section. The film won as well the best film award at the Vilnius Kino Festival, in Lithuania, the Special Jury Award at the Taipei Film Festival, best film award at New Horizons, Poland, among others. In this moment, Catarina Vasconcelos is preparing her first feature fiction, ‘Pintura Inacabada’ (Unfinished Painting) which is taking part of Torino Script Lab 2021.

JUMANA MANNA

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

73 years to the Nakba. We continue to resist and speak truth to power. Words by @rabeaegh










Jumana Manna was born in 1987, she lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She was awarded the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s Young Palestinian Artist Award in 2012 and the Ars Viva Prize for Visual Arts in 2017. Manna has presented solo exhibitions at various spaces internationally, including at Tensta Konsthall, Sweden (2020); Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain (2019); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2018); Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (2018); Mercer Union, Toronto (2017); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2017); Malmö Kunsthall, Sweden (2016); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); and SculptureCenter, New York (2014). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions and festivals, including Toronto Biennial of Art (2019); 11th Taipei Biennial (2018); Nordic Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); Liverpool Biennial (2016); Marrakech Biennale 6 (2016); 54th and 56th Vienna International Film Festivals (2016 and 2018); 66th and 68th Berlinale (2016 and 2018); and CPH:DOX, Copenhagen (2018), where Wild Relatives (2018) won the New:Visions award. Solo exhibitions of her work are forthcoming at Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, and Berkley Art Museum, San Francisco, both in 2021.

www.jumanamanna.com

WILDER ALISON

Sunday, June 6th, 2021


Found family photos of Justine and Richard’s porch (undated), with my notes c. 2014
Click image to view larger


My maternal grandmother, Justine, died in September of 2003, weeks before my mom outed me at 16. The same year saw the release of a film that had been shot on my step-grandfather Richard’s defunct farm, where Justine also lived, in rural central Vermont. The Mudge Boy stars Emile Hirsch as Duncan Mudge, a fey fourteen year old reckoning with his strict and emotionally unavailable father in the wake of his mother’s death. The film is spare, and explicit. Duncan’s closest companion is a rooster named “Chicken,” whose head he (both suggestively and forebodingly) places in his mouth several times throughout the film, “to calm him,” according to the advice of his late mother. The film traces the sexually charged relationship between Duncan and Perry, one of Duncan’s bullies whose own father routinely beats him.

I’m not sure what Justine and Richard knew about The Mudge Boy when their property was scouted, or whether they saw the finished film. I assume they needed the income from the shoot, which must have been burdensome to undertake given Justine’s hoarding tendencies, and the routine grime of farmhouse living. After attending a local screening, a disgraced relative recounted The Mudge Boy to my dismayed mother. Various family members felt violated by the film, which includes a (gay) rape scene involving Duncan and Perry, among the hints of bestiality. Though I doubt she ever saw it herself, my mom forbade me from seeing The Mudge Boy. As a newly emboldened queer cinephile, I naturally ordered the DVD.

The sequence of these events is hazy to me. I assume that The Mudge Boy was shot in 2002, and that I obtained the DVD in 2004. I haven’t visited Mount Holly – where the farm was, and where my mom grew up – since Justine’s funeral in 2003. I visited Justine during her last summer, but only because I had a meltdown at the debate camp I had received a scholarship to attend, and quit after coming down with an interminable stomach ache. Quitting debate induced my resolve to become an artist, which also corresponded with my queer revelation – just before Justine died in heart surgery.

I don’t have many photographs of the inside of Richard and Justine’s house, but I revisit it – rendered unnaturally spartan in film – seventeen years after my first viewing of The Mudge Boy.



Wilder Alison is an interdisciplinary artist and a graduate of the Bard MFA Painting program. In recent years, Alison has exhibited work with Gordon-Robichaux, Gaa Gallery, Rachel Uffner, CUE Foundation, 247365, Primetime, and Garden Party Arts, among others. Recent solo shows include Slit Subjects at White Columns (New York), $PLIT $UBJECT at Marlboro College (Vermont), and new wools at the Hudson D. Walker Gallery in Provincetown, MA. Alison was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in 2016-17 and 2018-19, and has also participated in residencies at Triangle France-Astérides, Lighthouse Works, Fire Island Artist Residency, and Lower East Side Printshop. Alison performs as N0 ST0NES, with recent engagements at SUBLIMATION Projects, H0L0 NYC, CUE Foundation, and LaKAJE in New York. Alison will be a fellow at Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2022.

www.wilderalison.tumblr.com

ONYEKA IGWE

Friday, May 7th, 2021

I have a ‘sliding doors’ story.

Two women, grow up roughly at the same time, in the same part of North East London. Their histories faintly mirror: early adventures playing on the Wanstead Flats, Saturdays in the shadows of mothers haggling at East Street Market and everlong teenage meanderings down Romford Road. They arrive at 188 Grosvenor Square. Mayfair, London on the same day, at the same moment. They don’t even notice each other.

Their childhoods were spent in the mid nineties, in the shadow and aftermath of the squatted communities of the M11 link road protest camps. Protestors campaigning against the construction of a new motorway created micro-nations with names like Munstonia and Wanstonia across the area, building community with the locals, including a lone 92 year old resident holdout of the government compulsory purchase orders named Dolly Watson. Our protagonists weren’t quite old enough or present enough to remember the squats themselves with any kind of clarity but the freedom of that living seeped into them. It was redolent in the atmosphere of the three intersecting outer London boroughs they circumnavigated. One of them thinks this must be the explanation for her persistent desire for communal living.



L: Munstonia, the last house on Fillebrook Road, in 1995, during the M11 Link Road protests. R: The eviction of Munstonia.


The moment of intersection is October 2008, a midpoint in ‘The Great Recession’. Politics is on the tip of their tongues, in both crytalising and oblique ways. They are both lost, looking for anchor(s); a vocation, a calling or at least a home.

They are separated by three years and five months — an Aries and a Virgo. One has just finished sixth form college and the other has recently returned to London from time away at university in another part of the country, a part they didn’t know existed until they were there.

One of them is nervous. She dilly daddles outside the front of the building, reading the ‘literature’ on display — zines, leaflets and propaganda. She feels out of place, sensing the whiteness of the room even before she opens the door. She is black and alone, here. She wonders why she didn’t ask anyone else to come with her, why she never thinks of it. She remains in the well of the staircase summoning courage to climb the stairs and participate in this thing she has always been curious about, always needed.

The other, perhaps we might say, has the energy, naivety and gumption of the eighteen year old that she is. She doesn’t know the rules, or recognise the sneers she will surely encounter once she enters. She is wearing the wrong clothes, has the wrong accent and is ignorant of the right terms. She is oblivious to these social cues, or she has been trained, by her performing arts background (another thing they both share), to pretend that she does not notice.

The older woman does eventually make it up the stairs but her incongruity consumes her, dampening her reserves of confidence. She cannot open her mouth to respond to any entreats that might lead to a conservation, so she does not charm, and is charmed by no one. Instead she sits for a while, sees through smiles and then ghosts, returning to the shared flat she rents in the east of the city. She never comes back.

The younger of the two bounds up the stairs, asks questions and catches the eye of an older man (of course!). That man invites her in, attracted by her sweetness, and for the next five years she squats, with him, and others that she meets here or through here, across London in homes with names like THE GYM or COLORAMA.


The staircase at 188 Grosvenor Square.


They could have met here, but they don’t. They meet at another communal home in North East
London four years later, when the dreams of collective living, for them both, have warped,
romanticised, subsisted, morphed, extinguished and petrified.

Now they are old friends.

Onyeka Igwe is an artist and researcher working between cinema and installation, born and based in London, UK. Through her work, Onyeka is animated by the question — how do we live together? — with particular interest in the ways the sensorial, spatial and non-canonical ways of knowing can provide answers to this question. She uses embodiment, archives, narration and text to create structural ‘figure-of-eights’, a form that exposes a multiplicity of narratives. Her works have been shown in the UK and internationally at film festivals and galleries. She was awarded the New Cinema Award at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2019 and the 2020 Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Experimental Film. Onyeka is part of B.O.S.S., a sound system collective that brings together a community of queer, trans and non binary people of colour involved in art, sound and radical activism as well as a curatorial and research initiative on alternative and anti ethnographies, together with Rachel Rakes and Laura Huertas Millán.

www.onyekaigwe.com

SALOMÉ JASHI

Friday, May 7th, 2021

Below is the transcript from various conversations, which we recorded while filming Taming the Garden. The film tells about a hobby a wealthy and powerful man, Georgia’s former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, which is to collect century old large trees. He commissions his men to uproot these trees and to bring them, via land and see, to his private garden.

These conversations spoken in Mingrelian language were left outside the film either because they were recorded poorly or the images, the scenes did not fit in. Written here, they seem like an extract from a play the setting of which needs to be imagined.


Scene 1. 2 Workers sit on the roots, having a lunch break.

– It is a beautiful tree, ha?
– Sure, it’s really pretty.
– Really great. If they take it…
– Now, when they will take this, it will arrive there plucked. It will be bare without leaves, but it’s a beautiful tree…
– Will they cut the sides too?
– This will be trimmed and that will be trimmed… They said let’s cut this, that and I wonder, what will remain.
– How can it fit, man!
– In fact they cannot take it. And then that tree in Orsantia. I don’t know how they plan transporting it.
– Is it big?
– Ah! It’s twice as big as this one.
– Really?
– It belongs to the Chkholaria family. Haven’t you seen it?
– No. Is it in the courtyard, or?
– It was an ancestral tree and the family could not divide it [referring to the compensation]. They offered them 250 000 but still they did not give it away.
– And what is this tree? Is it an oak?
– Yes, it’s an oak.
– It’s magical.


Scene 2. Women stand by the road, waiting

– Did you know, that man has a tree and they say they were offering him 2 millions but he refused to sell it?
– A woman was telling me about it yesterday. That he didn’t give away the tree. It’s two centuries old.
– I wish my ancestors had planted something nice!
– There’s the apple tree… but…
– They don’t want apple trees.


Scene 3. People stand by the road, observing

– I would have never imagined this tree would walk like that.
– Come father!
– What do you want, dear!
– Look, it moves! I must follow.
– I hope it won’t fall over! We won’t even have time to run.
– Everything changed suddenly!


[Bidzina Ivanishili acquired approximately 200 trees from villagers and the state. These conversations are precious to me also because they refer to one family, who were one of the very few who refused the deal. They preferred to keep their magnificent beech tree in their yard declining any sum of money, even if their living conditions were modest. And they kept low about it, not wanting to be part of the film.]

Salomé Jashi was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1981. She is a documentary filmmaker and a video artist. She has been attracted to filming micro environments from the very beginning of her career. Her visual approach is minimalist, poetical, sensitive and rough. Salomé Jashi’s TAMING THE GARDEN (2021) premiered at Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition and Berlinale Forum. Her previous film THE DAZZLING LIGHT OF SUNSET (2016) was awarded the Main Prize at Visions du Réel’s Regard Neuf Competition, as well as at ZagrebDox, Jihlava IDFF, FIC Valdivia and several other festivals. Her earlier work BAKHMARO (2011) was nominated for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. All three films were produced in collaboration with Arte’s La Lucarne. She holds an MA in documentary filmmaking from Royal Holloway, University of London (2006) as well as an MA in journalism from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (2003). Salomé Jashi was a fellow of Nipkow Scholarship in 2017 and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2020.

www.salomejashi.com

DIANE SEVERIN NGUYEN

Friday, May 7th, 2021

The perfect cracker would have:

black sesame, black pepper, pink volcano salt, minced garlic, chili powder, matcha powder, green onion, rosemary, basil, nutritional yeast, lemongrass, cinnamon, turmeric, charcoal, ginger, cardamom, and nori flakes …all embedded onto a rice flour crust and pounded into thin rectilinear planes, abandoned to scorch in the hot sunlight, internally bubbling up tiny pockets of warm air as evenly dispersed as a beehive.

Biting down should feel like crushing into an exoskeleton with no guts. Bumpy surfaces are relatable because they confuse inside and outside. An inclination towards dry foods because I am a hollow shell.

Shaking crumbs from my pillowcase, my mother would threaten me in her watered-down Buddhist way that I would surely become a cow or an ant in my next life. She never understood that this only invigorated my empathy with animals, envisioning their souls, to the point where I would often pretend to be an animal, as most children do, on my hands and knees, observing human life from a more knowing future (confusing the punishment of reincarnation as eternal suffering with Christian notions of transfiguration via the embodiment of christ).

Plasticity describes the deformation of a solid material undergoing irreversible changes of shape in reaction to applied forces. It should be clearly differentiated from elasticity which is the ability for a material to resist a distorting force by returning to its original form once that influence has been removed. In engineering terms, the transition from the elastic material to the plastic material is quantified as yield, which is to ask, how many times must it hurt before a new body emerges, but also raises the question of if a house quivers at the slightest breeze, is it still a house? Regardless, we all need a place to live. Regardless, the wind brings angular ships from cold, northern hemispheres towards humid landscapes with long coastlines.

Colonizers, who are notorious for their bad digestions, brought over gluten to Vietnam primarily in two innocuous forms: firstly, the thin lines of wheat noodles from northern China, and secondly, the rigid and narrow baguette from France. In both cases, the Vietnamese re-fleshed out these shapes with rice flour, resulting in lighter, crispier mouthfeels and gentler absorption into the gut. The oral history I vaguely remember is that rice originally appeared as a large ball falling from the sky into each and every home, on a daily basis, as an answer to mass prayers. Somewhere along the way, a woman eternally damaged this blessing by shattering her daily ball of rice with a broomstick. Grains reverberated off her kitchen walls and were spit onto the ground. Like heaps of white snow on hot asphalt, the magic liquified and from then on rice had to be grown by hand, with knees submerged in water. This was a vulnerable position to work from, for any body type, with limited visibility and muddy traction.

And so the Chinese imperialists came in, and stayed for over 1000 years, directing these bodies from the shores of drier land which offered misty panoramic views. The French did not arrive until 1887, but when they did, they quadrupled the amount of territory designated to rice growing by drowning solid ground previously being used to live on.

There is a specific kind of poverty, which is the kind that forces you to mine your own sustenance so deeply to the point where you don’t know how to take sustenance when it is being given to you, because you are so used to giving it over. Today, rice is one of the country’s top exports. Rice persists as the cause, the symptom, and the cure. Rice is born and dies and rebirths in literal wetness, elastic only to itself as individual grains, and continually yields as a collective stickiness, clinging to one another from within the shells of hegemonic shapes, but also deforming them through an inherent malleability.

We almost never meet one another at the right time, in the right bodies, and if we do the moment is so brief we spend the rest of our lives attempting to recreate it, the very attempt at which takes us in a direction further away from where we started. The bánh mì, in postcolonial terms and at this perspective in time, might be described as a hybridity. Within the framework of genetically modified foods and a western canon that enables eugenic processes, it’s crucial to clarify that hybridity does not consist of two distinct lines intertwining like strands of DNA, fusing into an eternal code. There is nothing so primordial about your cultivated taste buds that could have validated the formation of the bánh mì, and yet prevented the popularization of central region foods, which are sometimes so slippery it feels like parts haven’t died yet. The baguette cushions your cheeks from the impact of overwhelming flavor, a different life.

I can’t allow you to romanticize the meeting of the French and the Vietnamese, because hybridity is not about reproductive sex. Hybridity is rather an impotence that glides along the form of an asymptote, which can be visualized as two lines getting closer and closer to one another but never being able to touch as they arch toward infinity. The recognition of hybridity is standing in this gap which grows all the more tragic the smaller it becomes, but also it is within this gap where we can see the other without losing ourselves. Loneliness is a predicate for seeing. The moment you speak about something it has separated from you. When your mouth is full and chewing you cannot speak. We eat to lose ourselves, to consume the literal body of the other, or our great grandparents. We claim eating is supposedly not intellectual, eating is instinct, which makes us animals, whom we rely upon for our humanness as we eat them. Eating is a reminder that we can die, which is expelled in the exhale of most satisfying pleasures.

As another French hybridity, phở is certainly the most popular Vietnamese American fare, sometimes valorized for its health benefits. But one might recall that the bone broth which gives phở its savorable depth was born out of the necessitation of using every part of the animal or else there wouldn’t be enough, letting the creaturely bits simmer while the people slept, to eradicate the kind of bacteria that arises from not being able to manage disparate moments of decay, of having someone else’s time imposed on you, of always running behind, of being left with the scraps. There are no heroics to this sort of urgency, no particular moment of revelation, just time passing by and allowing the unfamiliar parts to stew long enough so that they are eventually digestible, carried through the mundane and generous elasticity of a soup. Within this mixture of oxtail and cinnamon, swimming with rice noodles, is the taste of desperation and resilience and surrender and comfort and devastating victory after 1100 years of being called by a different name.

Now, from here, with no imminent threat, phở performs with each iteration for us as the motherland. A sip of broth is atemporal, as is your mother who never stops being your mother no matter how old she gets, how cruel she is, or how you are convinced that you are nothing like her, if you choose to see her only once a year, on the coldest day, and your mouth turns away the soup she makes you, it’s because you won’t allow her to claim innocence under the guise of cultural transmission.

Some things that my mother made me as a child growing up in America:

orange juice swirling in milk
vanilla ice cream baguette
spaghetti sauce with canned pineapple chunks
carved out watermelon domes filled with rice
escargot porridge
the entire surface of a birthday cake covered in peanuts when I asked for sprinkles


















Diane Severin Nguyen is an artist who uses photography and time-based media to transform natural and inanimate objects into something uncanny. She currently lives and works between Los Angeles and New York. Nguyen earned an MFA from Bard College in 2020 and a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Her work will be included in the recent exhibition MADE L.A. 2020: a version, at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at Bad Reputation, Los Angeles (2019) and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong (2019). Her film TYRANT STAR has screened at Yebisu Festival, Tokyo (2020); IFFR Rotterdam, Netherlands (2020); and the 57th New York Film Festival, New York (2019).

www.bureau-inc.com

BALARAMA HELLER

Friday, May 7th, 2021

Linking a causal chain of events together in an attempt to understand the origins of my existence is a task with no obvious starting point. One must draw clear boundaries, set parameters and definitions otherwise it is “turtles all the way down”.

On a macro scale we can start with simply being a child of the American 1970’s counter culture. My mother, who ran away from her suburban Long Island home at 17, joined a silent hippie commune in the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado. On Sundays, they came down from the mountain to eat the free vegetarian feast at the Hare Krishna temple. There she was exposed to the philosophy of self realization, which deeply resonated with her lifelong seeking of connection to a higher power or God. Months passed and one day her commune all dropped acid. At the height of the trip, their de facto leader broke his vow of silence and said these words. “To be free, you must die”. She interpreted this as, “the ego must die”. The next day she left the commune, walked down the mountain and into town where she joined the Hare Krishnas. Robed with makeshift saris that were simply saffron dyed bed sheets, she and her new spiritual family hit the streets of Boulder, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and selling Back To Godhead Magazine for a quarter.





She took the initiation vows from the guru, the founder of the modern Hare Krishna movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada who had arrived from India to NYC in 1965. Soon after she had an arranged marriage, according to Vedic tradition. She adopted an infant boy whose mother was in no position to care for the child. They were then instructed to go help establish a self sufficient farm community in rural West Virginia. There, they lived in an abandoned school bus, while my father built a house equipped only with two oxen and an ax.








Things at the community quickly deteriorated as their leader, Kīrtanānanda Swami, revealed himself to be a violent megalomaniac, racketeer, and child abuser among other things. My parents, who now had two other children, left to start a farm in upstate New York, where I was born. Kīrtanānanda Swami was eventually involved in murder and drug trafficking all of which landed him in prision. He and the entire West Virginia community were excommunicated. I have often tried to fathom the impact he and Prabhupada had on my life. Prabhupada arrived in NYC in the 70’s, with no money and no support. He had a mission to spread the spiritual teachings of Bhakti Yoga to the West. His strategy was simple, he would sit down under the large tree at the center of Tompkins Sq Park and chant Hare Krishna. People began to gather, soon he had a small following which grew to a global movement of thousands in less than 5 years. There is a city plaque next to the spot he used to sit, enshrining it as “The Hare Krishna Tree”. This unlikely place has become a site of pilgrimage for devotees of the faith. On most days you can still find flower offerings and incense burning under the tree, paying homage to Prabhupada. There is no astounding epiphany here, only the plain strangeness that this tree is like a cosmic navel around which my very existence in this world revolves.








While my mother was in Boulder and in West Virginia, my grandfather who was a self identified secular atheist Jew, took a supportive, loving and anthropological view on my mothers choices. While visiting her, he made 36 minutes of super 8mm film of her activities and wedding. This is a short compilation of those films. I present the films as a meditation on young idealism which speaks to my mother as an individual, and the culture as a whole.



Balarama Heller lives and works in New York City. His practice reimagines archetypal symbols found in the natural world. He explores primal symbols and patterns, both real and imagined, working towards a visual language of preverbal awareness. These symbols interact in a ceaseless cycle of creation and destruction, referencing the cosmological, mythological, and atomic scales.

Recent exhibitions include Sacred Place with Aperture Foundation / Artsy. Recent group shows include Maelstrom, at 303 Gallery, New York, You Can’t Win, Jack Black’s America curated by Randy Kennedy at Fortnight Institute, What’s Outside the Window at ReadingRoom, Melbourne AU, Agnes B New York, New Artists at Red Hook Labs and the 2015 Aperture Summer Open. In 2014, he published his first artist book, Into and Through. Zero at the Bone received 1st place for the 2017 Center Awards Editor’s Choice and runner-up for the 2017 Aperture Portfolio Prize. His 2019 project Sacred Place was featured in Aperture Magazine issue 241, with text by Pico Iyer.

www.balaramaheller.com

LYNNE SACHS

Friday, May 7th, 2021

LETTER TO HÉLÈNE CIXOUS

“I want to see what is secret. What is hidden amongst the visible. I
want to see the skin of the light.”

— Hélène Cixous from “Writing Blind: Conversation with the Donkey”, in Stigmata

Dear Hélène,…I begin by conveying to you the shock of what I have witnessed. These words are a translation of the visual experiences I had last night and early this morning. My words will be absolute, nothing left to interpretation. From my lash to your lobe. Trust me. Forget the perfidy for which I have become so renowned.

Tran T. Kim-Trang, a Vietnamese-American artist who lives in Los Angeles, dares to call her video work Aletheia, the philosophical concept of truth and possibility. To me the word is a proper name, an ethereal girl I might have known, Aletheia. I begin a precise tracing of the Aletheia image path that Tran lays before me. Go blind now, with me, Hélène. I will not let you loose in the darkness.

“Night becomes a verb. I night.”
— Hélène Cixous

We hear screeches. Mechanical hysterics. Braille surfaces flip and flop across the screen, overlapping, flowing by … completely unreadable without fingers of course. I wonder what this surface feels like to touch. Tran tells us that Trinh T. Minh-ha writes about reaching out through blindness. I think she finds the same freedom in the darkness that you discuss with the donkey. Hélène, vision is there within you but you too refuse the ease in life that it offers.

I am watching a woman’s mask being pulled off. Can you hear the woman’s voice? She’s accusing them (the people who claim to make history) of not being able to see into her “little squinting eyes.” They don’t reveal a thing!! Asian eyes are extremely good at closing out, keeping secrets, says the voice. So why do the little girls start slicing their own eyes? To my mind the slits are power! They open and close when they damn well please. Like the vagina, don’t you think, unless it is raped. Tran continues. She thinks about having her lids DONE. Her camera is slowly, slowly pulling out to reveal a cosmetic surgeon holding the face with the mask. I’m watching hundreds of Asian faces, listening to punk rock music screaming “I can’t see what it’s all about! Lights out, lights out!!!!”

“Let us close our eyes. Where do we go? Into the other world. Just next door… In a dash, we are there. An eyelid a membrane, separates two kingdoms.”
— Hélène Cixous

I listen to addresses of plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, revealing locales on Sunset Blvd. I am eavesdropping.

I see a sign that reads “the Jew as blind.”

Then a parable of a child and the story of Cambodian women who have witnessed war horrors about becoming blind, then suicidal.

Aletheia is Tran’s farrago of blindness metaphors, her textual defense of an obsession with the receptacle of sight. She plays brazenly with the allusions, spinning them around like riddles we must decipher in order for a laugh and then…. a poignant sigh of tragic recognition. Tran is angered by the constraints put on the slanted eye in the modern kingdom, the West. As I watch this modern kingdom, I find nothing appealing about it, at least her view of the wealthy kingdom donned Los Angeles. I’d much rather close my eyes.

Next. There are more listings of addresses in LA. We’ve tumbled into the hell of Hollywood! Richard Pryor, blind groping men at peep holes … Sidney Poitier with a blind white girl,…blonde woman in vulgar, pornographic Hollywood movies about sex and blindness. A lascivious doctor talks about a cure for blindness. I am nauseated and wish I could close my eyes, Hélène. I never mentioned how much of life I would prefer not to see.

Return to mapping of LA, then ranting, ritual, obsessions with fashion, animals, a Native American parable in which a white man borrows an eye from an animal but it does not fit. “A candy colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night” croons Roy Orbison. Oh, how I long for the dirt in my eye, the unconscious filtering of grit before it enters my consciousness. A clean, soporific blindness.

“…but I say that he who looks into my eyes for anything but a
perpetual question will have to lose his sight.”

— Frantz Fanon, from Black Skin, White Mask

Tran ends with Frantz Fanon’s rigorous, righteous eyes demanding only a perpetual question. Do you think that Tran would agree that eyes with this brilliant, curious questioning are windows into that rare thing — a lucid mind?

Tran’s next film is called Operculum An operculum is the plug of mucus that fills the opening of a woman’s cervix. It is also the bony flap covering the gills of a fish. An operculum also has something mysterious to do with fungi. Here flora and fauna are merging in a bewildering visual confluence. Tran is also thinking about cosmetic surgery to reshape her eyes, another approach to the sculpture of the face. She is doing research with her black and white video camera by visiting cosmetic surgery doctors who specialize in blepharoplasty (eyelid crease surgery) and learning that “the Vietnamese have a better crease.” I read text scrolling on the side of the screen about hallucinations after a lobotomy, while we are hearing seemingly objective descriptions of eye surgery for Asian people. I believe that Tran is telling us that both operations are a form of shock therapy. They both use a prick.

It is 4 AM. I am watching Tran’s Kore (sexuality, sex, fantasy, AIDS). Feeling promiscuous, but unaroused. “The eye, like the camera, seeks out its owner’s reflection.” The phallic gaze, horror movies, loads of ugliness, club dance music – all bombard my psyche. Kore suggests that the clitoris is another eye that can be shut: lesbian love making then takes on an all-powerful presence on the screen. A female AIDS health expert talks about blindness and drug treatment, like a perverse Public Service Announcement. She tell us to choose between death or blindness, that there is a problem with so many women being infected by men. We watch a penis image, graphic and grotesque. Kore seems to find an assertive comfort with the abject: “No erotic act has any intrinsic meaning.”

Again, I watch lesbian lovemaking with technomusic, one of the women is blindfolded. Do her eyes inhibit desire?

“the eye-penis”
“the phallic gaze”

— Luce Irigaray from Speculum of the Other Woman

I am reminded of that revolution I experienced in my mind and in my body the moment I laid eyes on Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman. It was as though she were bringing a hidden awareness I had always treasured to my epidermal layer, finally visualized and sublimely conscious. With Tran, the meeting with Irigeray is not only beautiful but also violent, at least on the level of the imagination. Like a confrontation. For me, you Hélène Cixous and Luce were and are dear, dear friends. Everything in both your writing feels so lustful and wild, yet somehow completely outside the sensual.

Ocularis is another piece on surveillance as erotic. It’s more aggressive. Now the eavesdropping feels transgressive and dangerous, problematically pleasurable. I hear the narrator tell me about a childhood bully who called her a “rice head” on the bus. The story feels like a rant from a standup comedian, and I am entranced without really seeing the performer’s face. The woman remembers the surveillance camera documenting a racist picking on her on the bus. “Kent began his harangue on the bus, then he beat me up on camera.” This recorded act of violence, becomes the pivotal weapon against the bully. It is a GREAT STORY. We are watching buses in a garage depot and hearing this fantasy. We are listening, feeling fascinated without seeing the cause of our satisfaction.

Later, a woman editor falls in love with the man she sees on a surveillance camera. She knows him but he does not know her. Then there is the story of a small Asian teenager whose best friend was the largest girl in class. The large girl was attacked by a man who was a friend of the family. We hear this while we watch two good friends trying on clothes, the white girl asks for the opinion of the Asian girl. We hear about a young girl who carries a camera in her teddy bear. Counter surveillance services are discussed while we watch police at work. A young woman surveillance expert gets fired for a mistake she made on the job.

This movie has a sense of humor. It asks us if surveillance creates anxiety and boredom at the same time. Has all behavior become spectacle?

Finally, the sun is beginning to peek her head out from the lip of the horizon. Morning is knocking on the window, and I am watching Amaurosis. Amuaurosis is the word for vision impairment, especially when there is no obvious damage to the eye. All night, I have been inundated with cinematic reflections on the effects of blindness. I must admit I am feeling disconcerted by the light. I somehow find it difficult to remember that there may be something out there I would want to see. Then Tran introduces me to Nguyen Duc Dat, a blind classical guitar player to whom she has offered a flute in exchange for writing a song, or maybe for doing an interview. It appears to me a blissfully innocent arrangement that spins lovingly around a deep respect for the music this Vietnamese American makes with his instrument.

Tran begins this movie with a black screen as I hear a poem dedicated to childhood’s hour. “I have not seen as others saw… All I loved I loved alone.” These words are accompanied by guitar playing that I later realize might be Duc’s. Then I see a boy alone, walking the streets. The images are old, like a home movie, and the textures tell me this may be Vietnam. Tran then reveals the story of this blind musician through his own recounting, his philosophy of living in darkness, his commitment to active listening. He speaks eloquently about delivering speeches to an audience, really being heard and feeling more alive than ever, knowing that his words are able to open his mind to others. Duc articulates a concept of beauty in his blind experience that is so distilled and precise. He wonders if this connection between the lip and the ear, or between the guitar string and the ear, might be ruined by sight. Tran decides to illustrate this dichotomy, scientifically, with humor I believe. We are watching two large scale depictions of the cell, a biomorphic metaphor I would call it. One cell is imagery. The other is perception. Can a blind man appreciate the difference? Does it matter? Duc asks us: How far is close? He saw light as a child. Noticed that the sound of thunder had a fraternal twin, lightening born just moments later. In silhouette, Tran does her final interview. She breaks all the rules of good photography, covering the details of Duc’s face with darkness and allowing the sun to surround him with light.

I am almost finished watching ten years of Tran Kim-Trang’s opus on blindness. I listen to Duc speak of the ocean: it is big, it is horrible, the seaweed smells, the waves are music. This man has no need for blue. As you said “Night becomes a verb. I night.”

Lynne Sachs
2004 – 2021

Films by Tran Kim Trang:

Aletheia, 16 min, 1992
Operculum (cosmetic surgery on the eyes), 14 min, 1993
Kore, 17 min, 1994
Ocularis, 21 min, 1997
Ekleipreis, 22 min, 1998
Alexia, 10 min, 2000
Amaurosis, 30 min, 2002

Lynne Sachs was born in 1961, she is an American filmmaker and poet living in Brooklyn, New York. Her moving image work ranges from documentaries, to essay films, to experimental shorts, to hybrid live performances. Working from a feminist perspective, Lynne weaves together social criticism with personal subjectivity. Her films embrace a radical use of archives, performance and intricate sound work. Between 2013 and 2020, she collaborated with renowned musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello on five films.

Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project. Between 1994 and 2009, Lynne directed five essay films that took her to Vietnam, Bosnia, Israel, Italy and Germany – sites affected by international war – where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own perception. Over the course of her career, she has worked closely with film artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Ernie Gehr, Barbara Hammer, Chris Marker, Gunvor Nelson, and Trinh T. Min-ha. In tandem with making films, Lynne is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first book YEAR BY YEAR POEMS

www.lynnesachs.com

HILAL BAYDAROV

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

This is a still from my new film called Crane Lantern. My father was a worker in this petroleum field and I spent too many days there. I was sitting near this oil well and waiting for my father to finish his work to go home. The mysterious sound of derricks is always on my mind. I was sitting there and looking at the sky, observing the birds, cranes, and crows. I truly believe that landscapes have a strong effect on the human soul. I can’t film anywhere in which I don’t have memories. Life was a mystery when I was a child and sitting near this oil well, that almost all the people see as pollution and especially as a tool for the rich countries to control the country, like us. And now I am almost my father’s age and I am quite full of mixed emotions when I see it, especially when I go there because the sound of it is still the same, and cranes, crows, and other birds are still in the sky, but my father gone years ago.


Hilal Baydarov was born in 1987 in Baku, Azerbaijan. During his high school years, he won the national championships of mathematics twice in 2004 and 2005. In 2011 he lead the Azerbaijani team at the informatics olympiad. After a master in computer sciences, Baydarov studied at the Sarajevo Film Academy under acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr before going on to make his feature debut HILLS WITHOUT NAMES (2018), which premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival, the same year his documentary debut BIRTHDAY won the Docu Talent Award at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Since then Hilal has completed an award-winning trilogy of documentaries set in Katech Azerbaijan: WHEN THE PERSIMMONS GREW (2019) which won the Heart of Sarajevo for Best Documentary at the Sarajevo and the Interreligious Award and Special Jury Mention at Visions du réel; MOTHER AND SON (2019), which premiered in the main competition at IDFA; and NAILS IN MY BRAIN (2020) which premiered at Cinema du réel. Baydarov’s second feature, IN BETWEEN DYING premiered in the main competition of the 2020 Venice Biennale Film Festival.

www.ucqarfilm.com

NATHANIEL DORSKY

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

This is a draft essay on Hours for Jerome, from 1982.


Nathaniel Dorsky was born in New York City, in 1943. He is an experimental filmmaker and film editor who has been making films since 1963. He has lived in San Francisco since 1971. His films have been screened at museums, universities, and festivals around the United States and Europe, and he frequently exhibits new work at the New York Film Festival’s VIEWS FROM THE AVANT-GARDE and Toronto International Film Festival’s WAVELENGTHS program. Dorsky’s films were screened as part the 2012 Whitney Biennial. In 2015, the New York Film Festival honored his work with a thirty four film complete retrospective at Lincoln Center. He has received numerous awards and recognitions including a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the LEF Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the California Arts Council.

www.nathanieldorsky.net

DEA KULUMBEGASHVILI

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

At the moment, I travel around East Georgia … Spring is mesmerizing here. The weather changes several times a day, and everything on my way comes unexpected. I am fascinated with the views of the mountains, walk through the fields, meet people, listen to the sound of the machines that cultivate land during a day, and cry of jackals at night, whistling sound of the wind … I do read at night while I stay at absolutely unremarkable hotel rooms. Even though how can I define anything as unremarkable? There is nothing that is unremarkable. I am fascinated by the contrast of the beautiful natural light and the light of the electric bulbs in the interiors.

I do not have a photo camera and I take pictures with my phone. I have thousands of pictures in my archive from my travels. Strangely enough I do not feel much need to have a photo camera anymore. Even though I do shoot analog while making films, digital images taken with my phone serve as my inspiration for compositions, for places and spaces. This is the easiest way to catalogue the thoughts and inspirations.

Something from what I read at nights and what comes back to my mind while walking through the villages during a day. My friend sent me some of the poems by Yeats and now I read them all obsessively. I tend to obsess over things, poetry, images, sounds … And I like to travel alone, to spend time alone. It allows me to have space for my obsessions, for just doing nothing, that I do consider the main part of the creative process. I love to walk with no aim, no reason…

    He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
    by William Butler Yeats
    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Below are some of the pictures from my recent travels … and some from the travels before I made Beginning…




This image is taken close to where I grew up, and where I shot Beginning… It did serve as an inspiration for the composition and the color palette of the film.






This one I took last week, in the same area. What fascinates me about this image is the magic moment of the nature and the mundane, plain objects and the building … This white warehouse looks so out of place but at the same time, it does exist and I cannot imagine this image without this building…






This is a portrait of my grandmother that I took maybe 10 years ago … I did recreate it as one of the shots in the film but in the film, it is my mother’s portrait…





Image by Arseni Khachaturan

My family is always my main source of inspiration. I could make films with them only




This is an image of my grandmother in her living room that I took maybe a month ago. I do not know why did she sit there in front of a TV that was not even on, and what was she looking at… or was she really looking at anything? She seemed to be focused on something, maybe lost in her thoughts… something she was remembering from the past? I did not ask. I do not need to know.











A photo of my nephew that I took a few years ago while working on a script for Beginning. He as well acts in a film the part of George, Yana’s son.


All images copyright of Dea Kulumbegashvili, unless credited otherwise

Dea Kulumbegashvili was born and raised in Georgia. She studied film directing at Columbia University School of the Arts in New York. She wrote and directed the short films INVISIBLE SPACES (2014) and LÉTHÉ (2016). BEGINNING (2020) is her first feature film.

TRINH T. MINH-HA

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

This lecture was first delivered at Viewpoints: A Conference on Women, Culture & Public Media at Hunter College, New York, in 1986. Later it was published in The Independent (Film & Video Monthly), May 1987.

QUESTIONS OF IMAGES AND POLITICS

Let me start by asking myself: what do I expect from a film? What I expect is borne out by what I work at bringing forth in my own films. The films I make, in other words, are made to contribute to the body of film works I like and would like to see.

Through the way a film is made, the way it relates to its subject, as well as through the viewers’ receptions, I expect that it solicits my critical abilities and sharpens my awareness of how ideological patriarchy and hegemony works.

    The commercial and ideological habits
    of our society favor narra­tive with as
    definite a closure as possible once the
    narration is consumed one can throw
    it away and move on to buy another one.
    clear linear entirely digestible.

More and more, there is a need to make films politically (as differenti­ated from making political films). We are moving here from the making of a genre of film to the making of a wide range of genres of film in which the making itself is political. Since women have for decades worked hard at widening the definition of “political”; since there is no subject that is “apolitical” or too narrow, but only narrow, apolitical representations of subjects, a film does not neces­sarily need to attack governmental institutions and personalities to be ”political.” Different realms and levels of institutional values govern our daily lives. In working to shake any system of values, a politically made film must begin by first shaking the system of cinematic values on which its politics is entirely dependent.

    never installed within transgression
    never dwells elsewhere

Patriarchy and hegemony. Not really two, not one either. My history, my story, is the history of the First World/Third World, dominant/oppressed, man/woman relationship. When speaking about the Master, I am necessarily speaking about both Him and the West. Patriarchy and hegemony. From orthodox to progressive patriarchy, from direct colonization to indirect, subtly pervasive hegemony, things have been much refined, but the road is still long and the fight still goes on.

    It is thrilling to think – to know that for an act
    of mine, I shall get twice as much praise or twice
    as much blame. It is quite exciting to hold the center
    of the national stage, with the spectators not
    knowing whether to laugh or to weep
    —Zora Neal Hurston

Hegemony is most difficult to deal with because it does not really spare any of us. Hegemony is established to the extent that the world view of the rulers is also the world view of the ruled. It calls attention to the routine structures of everyday thought, down to common sense itself. In dealing with hegemony, we are not only challenging the dominance of Western cultures, but also their identities as uni­fied cultures. In other words, we call attention to the fact that there is a Third World in every First World and vice-versa. The master is made to recognize that his culture is neither homogeneous nor monolithic, that he is just an other among others.

    One’s sense of self is always mediated by the
    image one has of the other. (I have asked myself
    at times whether superficial knowledge of the
    other, in terms of some stereotype, is not a way
    of preserving a superficial image of oneself).
    —Vincent Crapanzano

What every feminist, politically made film unavoidably faces is at once: 1) the position of the filmmaker 2) the cinematic reality 3) and the viewers’ readings. A film, in other words, is a site that sets into play a number of subjectivities—those of the filmmaker, the filmed subjects, and the viewers (including here those who have the means or are in a position to circulate, expose, and disseminate the films).

    The stereotyped, quiet, obedient, conforming modes of
    Japanese behavior clashed with white expectations of
    being a motivated, independent, ambitious thinker.
    When I was with whites, I worried about talking loud enough;
    when I was with Japanese, I worried about talking too loud.
    —Joanne Harumi Sechi

    Walking erect and speaking in an inaudible voice, I have
    tried to turn myself American-feminine. Chinese
    communication was loud, public. Only sick people
    had to whisper.
    —Maxine Hong Kingston

The assumption that the audience already exists, that it is a given, and that the filmmaker merely has to gear her making towards the so-called needs of this audience, is an assumption that seems to ignore how needs are made and audiences are built. What is ideolog­ical is often confused with what is natural—or biological, as is often implied in women’s context. The media system as it exists may be most efficient for reaching the audience desired, but it allows little direct input from the audience into the creative process (critics and citizen groups are not defined as part of the audience for ex­ample).

A responsible work today seems to me above all to be one that shows, on the one hand, a political commitment and an ideological lucidity, and is, on the other hand interrogative by nature, instead of being merely prescriptive. In other words, a work that involves her story in history; a work that acknowledges the difference between lived experience and representation; a work that is careful not to turn a struggle into an object of consumption, and requires that responsibility be assumed by the maker as well as by the audience, without whose participation no solution emerges, for no solution exists as a given.

The logic of reaching “everybody” often encourages a leveling of differences—a minimum of elements that might offend the imagi­nary average viewer, and a standardization of content and expecta­tions.

    Apartheid precludes any contact with people of different
    races which might undermine the assumption of essential
    difference.
    —Vincent Crapanzano

To work against this leveling of differences is also to resist the very notion of difference, which defined in the Master’s terms, always resorts to the simplicity of essences. Divide and conquer has for centuries been his creed, his formula of success. But for a few decades now, a different terrain of consciousness has begun to be explored among marginalized groups. A terrain in which clear­cut divisions and dualistic oppositions-such as counter-cinema versus Hollywood, science versus art, documentary versus fiction, objectivity versus subjectivity, masculine versus feminine-may serve as departure points for analytical purposes, but are no longer satisfactory, if not entirely untenable, to the critical mind.

    What does present a challenge is an organization that
    consists either in close association or in alliance of black,
    white, Indian and Coloured. Such a body constitutes a
    negation of the Afrikaan’s theory of separateness,
    their medieval clannishness.
    —Ezekiel Mphahlele

I have often been asked about what some viewers call the “lack of conflicts” in my films. Psychological conflicts are often equated with substance and depth. Conflicts in Western contexts often serve to define identities. My suggestion to this so-called lack is: let differ­ence replace conflict. Difference as understood in many feminist and non-Western contexts, difference as foregrounded in my film work, is not opposed to sameness, nor synonymous with separate­ness. Difference, in other words, does not necessarily give rise to separatism. There are differences as well as similarities within the concept of difference. One can further say that difference is not what makes conflicts. It is beyond and alongside conflict. This is where confusion often arises and where the challenge can be issued. Many of us still hold onto the concept of difference not as a tool of creativity—to question multiple forms of repression and domi­nance—but as a tool of segregation—to exert power on the basis on racial and sexual essences. The apartheid-type of difference.

    difference, yes, but difference
    within the border of your homeland, they say
    White rule and the policy of ethnic divisions

Let me point to a few examples of practices of such a notion of difference.

The positioning of voices in film: In documentary practice, for example, we are used to hearing either an unified voice-over, or a string of opposing, clashing views from witnesses which is orga­nized so as to bring out objectively the so-called two sides of an event or problem. So, either in unification or in opposition. In one of my films, Naked Spaces, I use three different voices to bring out three modes of informing. The voices are different, but not opposed to each other, and this is precisely where a number of viewers have reading problems. Some of us tend to consumer the three as one because we are trained to not hearing how voices are positioned and to not having to deal with difference other than as opposition.

The use of silence: On the one hand, we face the danger of inscribing femininity as absence, as lapse and blank in rejecting the importance of the act of enunciation. On the other hand, we understand the necessity to place women on the side of negativity (Kristeva) and to work in ‘undertones’ (Irigaray) in our attempts at undermining patriarchal systems of values. Silence is so commonly set in opposition with speech. Silence will not say or a will to unsay, a language of its own, has barely been explored.

The Veil: (As I stated elsewhere), if the act of unveiling has a liberating potential, so does the act of veiling. It all depends on the context in which such an act is carried out, or more precisely, on how and where women see dominance. Difference should neither be defined by the dominant sex nor by the dominant culture. So that when women decide to lift the veil, one can say that they do so in defiance of their men’s oppressive right to their bodies; but when they decide to keep or to put back on the veil they once took off, they may do so to reappropriate their space or to claim anew difference, in defiance of genderless hegemonic standardization. (One can easily apply the metaphor of the veil here to filmmaking.)

Making films from a different stance supposes 1) a re-structuring of experience and a possible rupture with patriarchal filmic codes and conventions; 2) a difference in naming—the use of familiar words and images, and of familiar techniques in contexts whose effect is to displace, expand, or change their preconceived, hegemonically accepted meanings; 3) a difference in conceiving “depth,” “development,” or even “process” (processes within processes are, for example, not quite the same as a process or several linear processes); 4) a difference in understanding rhythms and rhythms and repetitions—repetitions that never reproduce nor lead to the same (“an other among others”); 5) a difference in cuts, pauses, pacing, silence; 6) a difference, finally in defining what is “cinematic” and what is not.

The relationship between images and words should render visible and audible the “cracks” (which have always been there; nothing new …) of a filmic language that usually works at gluing things together as smoothly as possible, banishing thereby all reflections, supporting an ideology that keeps the workings of its own language as invisible as possible, and thereby mystifying filmmaking, stifling criticism, and generating complacency among both makers and viewers.

Working with differences requires that one faces one’s own limits so as to avoid indulging in them, taking them for someone else’s limits; so as to assume one’s capacity and responsibility as a subject working at modifying these limits. The patriarchal conception of difference relies heavily on biological essences. In refusing such a contextualization of difference, we have to remain aware of the necessary dialectics of closure and openness. If in breaking with patriarchal closures feminism leads us to a series of must’ s and must-not’s, then this only leads us to other closures. And these closures will then have to be re-opened again so that we can keep on growing and modifying the limits in which we tend to settle down.

Difference is not otherness. And while otherness has its laws and interdictions, difference always implies the interdependency of these two-sided feminist gestures: that of affirming “I am like you” while pointing insistently to the difference; and that of reminding “I am different” while unsettling every definition of otherness arrived at.

Trinh T. Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer, composer and Professor of Rhetoric and of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work includes eight feature-length films (including Forgetting Vietnam 2016, Night Passage 2004, The Fourth Dimension 2001, A Tale of Love 1996, Shoot for the Contents, 1991, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, 1989, Naked Spaces, 1985, and Reassemblage, 1982) honored in numerous retrospectives around the world; several large-scale multimedia installations, including L’Autre marche (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris 2006-2009), Old Land New Waters (3rd Guangzhou Triennale, China 2008, Okinawa Museum of Fine Arts 2007), The Desert is Watching (Kyoto Biennial, 2003); and numerous books, such as Lovecidal. Walking with The Disappeared (2016), D-Passage. The Digital Way (2013), Elsewhere, Within Here (2011), Cinema Interval (1999), and Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (1989), Her many awards include the 2014 Wild Dreamer Lifetime Achievement Award at the Subversive Festival, Zagreb; the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from Women’s Caucus for Art; the 2012 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association; the 2006 Trailblazers Award at MIPdoc in Cannes, France; and the 1991 AFI National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award.

www.trinhminh-ha.com

TANOA SASRAKU

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

A Tower to Say Goodbye


Born in 1995, Tanoa Sasraku examines the intersections of her identity as a bi-racial, gay woman raised in Plymouth (UK). Her practice shifts between filmmaking, drawing and flag-making, juxtaposing and performing British, Black, Ghanaian and queer cultural histories in her navigation of self. Sasraku’s appliquéd, newsprint flags are inspired by the visual and material structure of the Fante Asafo war flags of coastal Ghana, which the artist’s paternal ancestors fabricated in resistance to British colonial rule. Her own flags map personal stories of a life lived in modern Britain, as classroom materials are fused together to create cryptic, ceremonial objects. In her practice as a filmmaker, Sasraku engages in queer, black retellings of traditional British folklore, as well as producing more diaristic journeys through her past, via the medium of analogue film. The presence of her figure, set against the sublime, British landscape throws into question ideas of “deep” England and what it means to claim ownership over the rural. Tanoa Sasraku is based in London, England. She graduated from the BA Fine Art course at Goldsmiths College in 2018 and will be commencing her studies at the Royal Academy Schools in 2021. She was the recipient of the Arts Foundation Futures Award for Visual Arts in 2021.

www.tanoasasraku.com

MING SMITH

Monday, February 15th, 2021

This blouse was given to me 30 years ago from my Aunt Stella Talbert; my then 97 year old Great Aunt. She lived most of her life in Detroit. When visiting New York she’d go shopping at Sax Fifth Avenue. This multi -colored blouse had originally been bought for herself and also had been worn.

The day I visited her she opened up her meticulously packed and organized closet and said to pick anything I wanted. I chose a few items but this particular item still remains-occasionally I still wear this blouse. So this blouse is at least 40+ years old. When seeing it I’m reminded of the love she bestowed to me. I’ve worn it to a few important art events and somehow I feel her power, her sense of beauty and pride, the strength, her sophisticated style, her worldliness (going to New York to shop); quality was important and was a must.

Also on that trip Aunt Stella told me that her deceased husband( I never met) was a pianist and played in the band with Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle. While on the road,they lived in New York and would stay at the Theresa Hotel and shared the same kitchen. On that same trip she told me about her husband’s father who had taught literature at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Her husband’s name was Virgil and because Virgil was a twin, the father named the brother Homer. (Virgil and Homer)

While walking in Harlem with a friend I was casually introduced to Janet. My friend said this is Janet Talbert. I jokingly said you could be my cousin. I asked her where did she grow up? and she said Detroit. I then said oh you really could be my cousin! After chatting -more questions and answers- going back and forth we finally discovered we were family. The story of Virgil and Homer definitely was the defining moment. And to make a long story short my Aperture Book came from this per chance meeting- one of a million New Yorkers.

But was it a per-chance-meeting or was it a spiritual connection ? Hmm direction? from both of our favorite aunt; Aunt Stella Talbert.


Ming Smith was born in Detroit and raised in Columbus, Ohio. A self-taught artist and former model, in the 1970s, she published her early work in THE BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS ANNUAL. Smith’s work has been collected by and presented in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; Brooklyn Museum; National Museum of African American History and Culture, and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; and Serpentine Galleries, and Tate Modern, London. Beginning in 2017, her work was included in the celebrated traveling exhibitions WE WANTED A REVOLUTION: BLACK RADICAL WOMEN, 1965 – 85 and SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, as well as in Arthur Jafa’s exhibition A SERIES OF UTTERLY IMPROBABLE, YET EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS, which traveled from London to Berlin, Prague, Stockholm, and Porto, Portugal. In 2019, Smith’s solo exhibition with Jenkins Johnson Gallery was awarded the Frieze Stand Prize at Frieze New York. Smith lives and works in New York. In 2020 MING SMITH: AN APERTURE MONOGRAPH was published by Aperture and Documentary Arts.

www.stevenkasher.com

YUJI AGEMATSU

Monday, February 15th, 2021

When I started to collect objects around 1985, I would do it very subconsciously and without purpose. It would just be one part of an activity, and touching an object was the first reason I would have to pick something up. But then I began to notice that walking had also become very important, maybe even more than the picking up.

I used to carry a pedometer at that time, and would take note of every step I took. Each Avenue has a different length so I counted and found, for example, that crossing Second Avenue took about 23 steps. Remembering steps became a kind of ‘practice time.’ I would concentrate on the steps without thinking about picking up objects, or encountering an object, pushing them out of my mind and totally forgetting about picking them up. It was a kind of psychological experiment. But all of a sudden, an object would jump into my eye — the objects themselves are like a signal for me.

I made these drawings in 2003 when I lived in Midtown Manhattan. It is an area totally designed according to a grid structure, as we know, allowing us choose many different ways to walk around. I had been living at 308 East 53rd Street, but after fighting back against the developer that had bought the building, I was offered a settlement and a new apartment in one of his other buildings. Shortly after 9/11 I moved to 711 Second Avenue, between 38th and 39th Streets. Even though I was all the way on the east side of the island, I was able to walk west across Manhattan to Eleventh Avenue and extend my route, block by block.

In those days I was reading Samuel Beckett’s “Quad” performance (in a Japanese translation of L’Épuisé, Gilles Deleuze’s book on Beckett that I got in the 1990s). I’ve seen it performed two or three times. Four actors or actresses start to walk, and where they walk is already designed so that they never run into each other. Beckett’s idea was how to consume a square space through walking. This really inspired me to walk, and to make my own diagrams.

Because these walks were part of a monthly project, I would have already set up and made diagrams for the next month before it began. For example, I drew the October walks in September. These drawings then are like scripts, planning for the day. I memorized them each morning and would usually take my walk around 9am, before going to work. Because I was a freelance worker I had to be on time, either to the Judd Foundation, or Nam June Paik’s studio, otherwise it was going to be difficult to send the invoice. Life in the city means we have to take measurements, and I was able to calculate and note how many steps I took, how much time I spent, at what time I would start to walk, and at what time I would return to my apartment.

Because of the lawsuit against my former building owner, I had received a good deal on my 2nd Avenue apartment and was able to live rent-free for a while. I could afford to buy a film camera and put the extra money towards developing slide film, and in December 2003 I started taking photographs in Times Square and decided to stop doing these kinds of walking projects. Instead, I continued photographing all the way through 2004, before stopping and then starting again in 2007.


Yuji Agematsu was born in 1956, in Kanagawa, Japan, he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Agematsu studied with Tokio Hasegawa, a member of the band Taj Mahal Travellers, and the jazz drummer and choreographer Milford Graves. He has had solo exhibitions at Miguel Abreu Gallery (New York, 2017, 2019 & 2020), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius, 2019), Lulu (Mexico City, 2019), the Power Station (Dallas, 2018), Artspeak (Vancouver, 2014), Real Fine Arts (Brooklyn, 2012 & 2014), Anthology Film Archives (New York, 2004), and TZ’Art & Co. (New York, 1994). In 2014, Agematsu mounted a large scale exhibition at Yale Union (Portland, OR), which was accompanied by the monograph ZIP: 01–01–14…12–31–14, published by Yale Union, Thea Westreich Wagner/Ethan Wagner Publications, and Artspeak. Agematsu was prominently included in the 57th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2018), and was previously shown in SPEAK, LOKAL, Kunsthalle Zurich (2017), SERIALITIES, organized by Olivier Renaud-Clément, Hauser & Wirth (New York, 2017), THE KEEPER, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, New Museum (New York, 2016), and LOOKING BACK / THE 7TH WHITE COLUMNS ANNUAL, selected by Richard Birkett (2013). His performances have taken place at the Swiss Institute (New York, 2018), Artists Space (New York, 2017), and as part of the solo presentation WALK ON A, B, C, organized by Jay Sanders for the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, 2016). His work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, The Israel Museum, The Columbus Museum of Art, the Loewe Foundation, and the Pinault Collection. In March he will have a solo exhibition at The Secession (Vienna, 2021).

www.miguelabreugallery.com

LYLE ASHTON HARRIS

Monday, February 15th, 2021

“It doesn’t matter to me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for, and it you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Prompt:
Tell me about your heart’s longing**

12/22/2020
I love this as it speaks to what I yearn for, to be full trusting of myself and to love more deeply, more erotically without judgement and to live more fully in my authenticity and to trust my voice more.

I ache for my understanding of myself and to grow more deeply in my compassion for others.

I want to share more deeply, with my work, to share and heal more deeply. To use my vision to be more vulnerable and to practice boundaries and to trust this container, not to doubt as much and feel this is possible.

To trust these gifts of life and to speak and to amplify my vision to heal others.

I ache for a deeper connection with intimacy, an erotically charged and intellectual enriching experience that I can be present for and not mother, manage or run away from. An affair of the heart that respects the time, energy and life experiences we each bring to the union yet trusting to know a deeper, physical, erotic and emotional connection

My heart aches to be fully present with the fullness of my life. Letting go of the imagined fears and limitations and to rest deeply in the maturing of life, and to enjoy the magnificentness of this journey.

I long for a warm place. A second home where there are brown bodies with warm hearts, lush vegetation and ritual. A space that is safe where I can entertain friends, family and enjoy the solitude, as well as the intimacy of my lover, where I can enjoy the warmth of the sun, the healing nature of the sea, and I can give my abundant heart and be safe. Affirmed and loved.

I long for financial abundance that comes from the well spring of my creativity and the vision to execute a plan of longevity and legacy building for my estate to be shared with the next generation of BIPOC queer folks. An institute that would be a retreat, a library and a platform to heal the devastating violence of whiteness and the self-hatred within our community.

I yearn to get out of the way and to let my voice be heard. To write a memoir in simple yet deep language that is accessible, heartfelt, healing. A memoir of affirmation and community building.

**In late March my dear friend Tommy Gear invited me to join him for a weekend Writing intensive with Laura Davis called Writing Through The Pandemic. This led to me taking Laura’s weekly writing class, The Writer’s Journey which meets every Tuesday 1-4pm EST. This prompt was given by Laura the weekend before Christmas


Lyle Ashton Harris was born in The Bronx, New York in 1965 and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He received his BA from Wesleyan University, his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studies Program. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including most recently at LUMA Arles, France; the Cinéma Du Réel, 40th Edition, presented at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York; the 2016 São Paulo Biennial, Brazil; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the 52nd Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy, among others. His work is represented in permanent collections including The Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles; Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Pérez Art Museum Miami; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Harris received a 2016 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among other awards and honors. He currently lives and works in New York City and is an Associate Professor of Art at New York University.

www.lyleashtonharris.com

ESTELLE HANANIA

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Part of my digital notebook diary.


Estelle Hanania was born 1980, in Paris, where she still lives and works. She is a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and winner of the Hyères Festival Photography Prize. In 2008 she began working with the director, choreographer and artist Gisèle Vienne, a collaboration that resulted in the book IT’S ALIVE! A TRAVERS L’ŒUVRE DE GISÈLE VIENNE published by Shelter Press, which presents a large number of photographs taken over a period of about ten years. With artist Christophe Brunnquell she realized a long-term photographic collaboration entitled LA GUERRE DU FEU, which will be published in book form in 2021 and presented in a series of exhibitions. Estelle’s work has been exhibited around the world and published in magazines including M le magazine du Monde, Another magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Mémoire Universelle. She has published several books including HAPPY PURIM and GLACIAL JUBILÉ (Shelter Press).

www.estellehanania.com

MATT KEEGAN

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Growing up, my father owned a travel agency in New York called Merillon Travel. Merillon coordinated all of the flights for Major League Baseball’s National League umpires. This provided my dad with special access to Mets games, which came in handy as a kid, as the Mets won the World Series in 1986, when I was ten and cared about baseball. More importantly, Merillon supplied my family with discounted airline tickets, which allowed me the luxury of visiting Europe for the first time at the age of eight.

In 1988, my father sold the travel agency to one of his employees and opened a bar-restaurant in up-and-coming Long Island City, Queens. Unlike Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Long Island City had a much slower process of gentrification. Coupled with the economic downtown of 1987, the bar closed after six years of business. My dad went bankrupt and was hired by a former regular as the trucker for a now-defunct art-moving company called Modern Art Services. My father was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, which helped in navigating the city, and he perfected the timing of what became known as his “no-lunch lunch”—his unrecorded lunch hour. I don’t remember what the connection was, but Modern Art Services often employed Irish and Scottish artists who were in New York for their studies or for art residencies. My dad worked on his truck with an Irish artist named Gerard Byrne. Gerry’s first significant video, from 1997, is called “Why it’s Time for Imperial, Again” and it costars my father as the former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca in conversation with an actor portraying Frank Sinatra. The script for the video came from an advertisement that ran in National Geographic. The intro text to this ad stated that Iacocca and Sinatra sat down for a conversation on July 18, 1980, to talk about Chrysler’s 1981 luxury car, the Imperial. Gerry’s video went on to be screened at various international venues and returned to New York for inclusion in a group show titled “The American Effect” held at the Whitney Museum in 2003. I was in grad school at Columbia University at the time, and was inspired by the way Gerry had used a seemingly inconsequential advertisement to perfectly frame the conservatism of 1980s America.

On July 3, 1981, a year after Frank and Lee talked about the perks of that year’s Chrysler Imperial, the New York Times ran its very first article about the “Rare Cancer seen in 41 homosexuals” that would later be known as AIDS. The article mentioned that most of the patients resided in New York or the San Francisco Bay Area. It quoted Dr. Alvin E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center describing the appearance of the outbreak as “rather devastating.” That same week, the Federal Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, published its first description of the outbreak. Dr. James Curran, a spokesman from the center, was quoted as saying that “there was no apparent danger to non-homosexuals from contagion.” As the death toll continued to grow over the following year, the crisis did not receive significant coverage. It met with utter disregard from the Food and Drug Administration and President Ronald Reagan, as was glaringly evidenced by an October 1982 interview with White House spokesman Larry Speakes:

    Q: Larry, does the president have any reaction to the announcement –– the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
    Mr. Speakes: What’s AIDS?
    Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” [Laughter] No, it is. I mean, it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the president is aware of it?
    Mr. Speakes: I don’t have it. Do you? [Laughter]

The first Times report on the emergence of AIDS appeared on page A20 to a near-full-page ad for Independence Bank that featured the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” to be sung the following day to celebrate the Fourth of July. Independence was my bank at that time; I can remember the passbook my mother gave me as a child. Every time I would deposit birthday or holiday money, the bank teller would stamp it. This passbook is long gone, but I remember that it was close to the size of my passport and had the same pleather exterior. The correlation between income and literal mobility was made clear.

On August 3, 1981, exactly one month after the Times’ story, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association striked, leading to an unprecedented firing of federal employees by President Reagan. After they ignored his decree to return to work, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air-traffic controllers. This firing is regarded as the single most public and impactful attack by government on organized labor in this country. Thirty years later, on February 7, 2011, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, pulled out a picture of President Reagan and said to his advisers, “You know this may seem melodramatic, but thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just of his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers.” Now it was time to follow his example. Walker went on to present a bill that would remove public workers’ right to participate in collective bargaining via their union representatives. This, as author Joseph A. McCartin points out, misrepresents Reagan’s full handling of the PATCO strike and also ignores his earlier stint as president of the Screen Actors Guild, where Reagan led a strike in 1952, and his signing of collective-bargaining legislation in California when he was governor in 1968. In his book Collision Course, McCartin writes about how the emergent social conservatives used PATCO as a sign of a broader cultural shift. Conservative columnist George Will wrote that “in a sense, the ’60s ended in August 1981.”

My first and only tattoo, on my right wrist, is of an airplane. It was a gift for my twenty-fourth birthday from my first love, Boris. The airplane came from a par avion stamp, and I got it because I felt like my life in New York was beginning and also as a physical reminder to always travel. In 2013, I had my first solo exhibition in Lisbon, Portugal. Email correspondence and intermittent phone calls with a friend’s mother, Helena Cardoso, helped to generate the content of the show. In 1968, Helena became a flight attendant for TAP, the national airline of Portugal. At that time, Portugal was under a dictatorship and few people were traveling, let alone a woman in her early twenties. Helena fell in love with Rio, Angola, which was then a Portuguese colony, and New York. She traveled to these cities over the next twenty years, before retiring in 1988. I keep returning to the thought of being in the air for that many years and seeing cities change both incrementally between each trip and significantly over decades. And I love thinking about how much time she had been in the air in total. Based on the travel time from New York to Lisbon, I guessed it to have been a full year—Helena says it was approximately 19,000 hours, or just over two years. Over two years, hovering between locations and their ever-changing population and political landscapes.

In 2007, I was commissioned to make an artist book by the New York nonprofit Printed Matter. At the same time, I was invited to have my first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. These two projects developed in tandem. I knew that I could not have a solo exhibition on the other side of the country, in the fall of 2008, without addressing the impact of the second Bush administration, the fractured state of this country, and the forthcoming presidential election. While thinking about the potential content for both book and exhibition, I remembered “Hands Across America.” A national event that occurred on May 25, 1986, in which people joined hands between Battery Park, Manhattan, and Long Beach, California, in support of America’s homeless population. Although it was a failure as a fund-raiser, millions of people participated, including President Reagan and First Lady Nancy. I found this event fascinating for a variety of reasons, foremost among them that Reagan and his administration worked meticulously to undo social programming for the impoverished of this country. Secondly, the AIDS crisis, by this point, had entered the public consciousness, but Reagan did not speak about AIDS until May of 1987 and American citizens were far from establishing countrywide support for AIDS advocacy. In fact, the same year Hands Across America took place, the Supreme Court held up Georgia’s sodomy law, “dismissing the notion of constitutional protection for gay sexuality.”

In the summer of 2007, I made a cross-country trip along a route loosely based on the original Hands Across America map, meeting with mayors between New York and New Mexico and making casts of their hands. I stopped in many small towns as well as larger cities, including Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, and Santa Fe. It was a fascinating way to see parts of the country I had never traveled to before and to get a sense of the local and civic levels of government in this country.

After completing this road trip, I realized I did not want to make a book or show that revolved around Hands Across America and became focused on the similarities I found between 1986 and the lead-up to the election of 2008, in which Reagan emerged as a totemic figure invoked by both Republicans and Democrats as a politician whose legacy we should uphold. I conducted interviews with artists Mark Dion, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Peyton, Collier Schorr, and T.J. Wilcox and reprinted writing by Gregg Bordowitz; all had graduated from School of Visual Arts in 1986 and 1987. Additionally, I photographed twenty-three arts-related students who were born in 1986 and about to finish college at New York–area schools in 2008. Generationally, I fall between these two groups, and I was interested to hear about the older artists’ earlier lives in New York and their activism. I was also interested to hear about the frustration they had with what they viewed as apolitical twentysomethings. I then asked these younger participants how they would respond to this portrayal of their generation.

Last fall, I released a book called 1996 that looks back on that year to assess the rightward shift of the Democratic party under the two-term presidency of Bill Clinton. AMERICAMERICA served as a template for this book, for which I interviewed Becca Albee, Malik Gaines, Chitra Ganesh, Pearl C. Hsiung, Jennifer Moon, Seth Price, Alex Segade, and Elisabeth Subrin, all of whom finished undergrad in 1996. Again, I photographed a group of people born that year. I’m closer in age to the ninety-six graduates, and like them, I also voted for Clinton when I first came of voting age.


Matt Keegan lives and works in New York. Keegan’s work has been widely exhibited in venues including the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Grazer Kunstverein (Graz, Austria), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum (NY, Bilbao and Berlin), The Kitchen (NY), The Art Institute of Chicago, and the New Museum. In 2019, he presented a public sculpture commissioned by SculptureCenter (New York, 2019). His book ‘1996’ was published in 2020, by New York Consolidated and Inventory Press. He’s a Senior Critic in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Yale University.

mattkeegan.info

DANNY LYON

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

OUR POLICE – WHICH SIDE ARE THEY ON?


Clarksdale, Mississippi Police Force, 1964

There is something very attractive about police. The handsome guardian, a Glock at his side, a radio on his belt, perhaps a flashlight clipped to his back, a regular Batman ready to protect us. When the 2004 RNC nomination of Bush and Cheney was about to take place in Manhattan, they brought 10,000 members of the NYPD into town. At the time it was larger than many standing armies. Many New Yorkers left town, as they expected violence from the coming demonstrations. Using my NYPD press pass, affectionately called “The Shield”, I filmed for the next five days assisted by my daughter, Rebecca Lyon. A sergeant gave me his card. “If you get arrested, just call me.” A NYPD press pass is like Dumbo’s magic feather. It lets you step across police barriers, stand where you will and get up close to events that they try to keep the public away from. It’s empowering. I have worked in the field, usually with press credentials for over fifty-five years. I have been clubbed unconscious by police. I have been jailed at least three times as a journalist. I have been threatened repeatedly by police at times with their guns and rifles pointed at me.



George Washington formed the first federal police force, the US Marshals. They still exist, their job being to guard federal buildings. One of them put six stitches into my head. The 1967 March on the Pentagon was stopped with extreme police force. Men with clubs and bayonets surrounded the building which the protesters never got near. If you look closely at the news reel footage you can see the first arrest. It’s me! That is my unconscious body being dragged across the plaza by helmeted MPs. The man arrested after me with the homemade American flag is Mark di Suvero.



Seven hundred were arrested trying to reach the building. The following year’s 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago has correctly been called a police riot. Six hundred demonstrators were arrested. One hundred of them had serious injuries inflicted by the police. Both these protests were highly integrated. During the civil rights movement in the South, protesters usually dreaded the police. I certainly did. We called the FBI the Federal Bureau of Intimidation. When the 1961 Freedom Riders pulled into the bus station in Montgomery, Alabama, the police, who expected trouble, were absent. An enraged mob of one thousand greeted the integrated group of men and women with bats and bricks, practically beating some to death. John Lewis lay in a pool of his own blood when Floyd Mann, head of the the Alabama Highway Patrol appeared over his body, shot his gun into the air and yelled, “They’ll be no killing here today.”

Maryland National Guard arrest Clifford Vaughs of SNCC 1964

I don’t like any authority telling me what to do, especially police. I find it very intimidating to be confronted by an armed policeman. Yet it’s hard to imagine society without police. On January 6th, everyone knew there was going to be a march on the Capitol. Trump said so on live television. But the Capitol was not ringed with police. The mob walked right in.

In 1923 Hitler tried to seize the government of Bavaria with armed men in Munich. His group of Nazis failed because the Munich police fought back, with guns. A dozen or so men were killed. Unfortunately, the Fuhrer was not among them. Hitler emerged from jail after eight months and swore he would never try a putsch again. Hitler wanted to seize power legally. He insisted he had to be legally elected. Hitler also had a private army called the SA. What Trump instigated was not legal. And he has no private army, though some have suggested that that is what ICE is. He also, thank god, has none of Hitler’s many talents. But like Hitler, Trump has lots of very devoted followers, apparently millions of them. Can it happen here? Sure it can. All they need is the police to be on their side and not on ours.

Police are para military forces. Albuquerque, near where I live, has eight separate police forces. That includes Homeland Security, the Railroad Police, the APD, the Bernalillo County Sheriffs and Immigration. There are too many police and they are much too heavily armed. So it’s a quandary. But sometimes we need them. The police failed us miserably yesterday as they handed the Capitol of the American government over to a mob. They didn’t need machine guns to protect the Capitol. They did need the political will to have the building circled by police before the mob we all knew was coming arrived.

In a way, what happens today and in the coming days is more important than what happened on January 6th. Anyone watching television and the net could identify a dozen leaders of the mob. The police could probably identify fifty or a hundred who committed a series of serious federal crimes. Had Hitler been given a five-year sentence in 1923 he would have been finished as a politician. No World War II. No Holocaust. No hundred million dead. The friendly Munich judges gave Adolf Hitler six months and he was held for eight. Just enough time in his resort like cell to write Mein Kampf, a best seller. When he emerged he was a hero of the right and a major player in German politics. As Chancellor he returned each year to Munich to celebrate the failed beer hall putsch that made him famous. What happens now? Does the guy smashing the window with a shield go to prison or get his own TV show? Does the thug in the colorful shirt go to prison or start a company selling designer T-shirts? What about the guy that rappelled down into the Senate chamber? Five years in Leavenworth or a job with REI selling climbing equipment?

The Police are the army of the people. Whose side are they on?

Danny Lyon is a photographer, filmmaker, book maker and publisher whose work holds a pivotal place in the postwar American canon. His books THE BIKERIDERS (1968), THE DESTRUCTION OF LOWER MANHATTAN (1969), CONVERSATIONS WITH THE DEAD (1971) and MEMORIES OF THE SOUTHERN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT (1992) are classics of documentary-based, socially involved art. In 2016 and 2017, the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco and the Whitney Museum of American Art hosted DANNY LYON: MESSAGE TO THE FUTURE, a comprehensive retrospective of his work. AMERICAN BLOOD, comprising almost half a century of Lyon’s uncollected writings, was published by Karma Books in early 2021, and Lyon’s most recent film, SNCC — about the early days of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Representative John Lewis, one of the civil rights group’s founders and leaders — was completed in 2020. Lyon was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and educated at the University of Chicago. He lives in Bernalillo, N.M., and New York City.

www.bleakbeauty.com
@dannylyonphotos

GUADALUPE MARAVILLA

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

In 2020 I raised money for undocumented families who were especially vulnerable during the pandemic. I started by redistributing my own stimulus check to four families and then reached out to my online networks for donations. Overall I raised over $80,000 to help marginalized families with rent and food. Kenia Guillen helped me distribute funds and took some of the photographs.


Guadalupe Maravilla is a transdisciplinary visual artist, choreographer, and healer. At the age of eight, Maravilla was part of the first wave of unaccompanied, undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War. In 2016, Maravilla became a U.S. citizen and adopted the name Guadalupe Maravilla in solidarity with his undocumented father, who uses Maravilla as his last name. As an acknowledgement of his own migratory past, Maravilla grounds his practice in the historical and contemporary contexts of immigrant culture, particularly those belonging to Latinx communities.

Maravilla currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Additionally, he has performed and presented his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Queens Museum, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and many more.

Awards and fellowships include; Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 2019, Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space 2019, Map fund 2019, Creative Capital Grant 2016, Franklin Furnace 2018, Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant 2016, Art Matters Fellowship 2017, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship 2018, Dedalus Foundation Grant 2013 and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award 2003. Residencies include; LMCC Workspace, SOMA, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Drawing Center Open Sessions.

www.guadalupemaravilla.com

AWOISKA VAN DER MOLEN

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

A WORK IN PROCESS: ‘ODYSSEUS’

I photographed these rocks at a wild shore of a Greek island. My dear friend Calliope is currently composing a piece based on Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after the Trojan war. We are thrilled to bring our work together in a live concert installation. In this first try out you see and hear the merging of test images and Calliope’s composition in the making. Last weekend she let me hear at which moment which instruments come in. I can’t wait to see the full hour being performed in March 2021 (by the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble). It will definitely be online later on.



Click the bottom right icon to expand video full frame

Awoiska van der Molen was born in 1972, in Netherlands and is a visual artist, the main focus of her work is centered on analogue images that manifest an intuitive memory of our original connection to the natural world. Her monographs Sequester (2014), Blanco (2017) and The Living Mountain (2020) are designed and published by Hans Gremmen, Fw:Books. She has participated in exhibitions including Pier24 Photography, San Francisco; Foam, Amsterdam; Les Rencontres d’Arles, France; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Huis Marseille, Amsterdam. In 2019 Van der Molen was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet award. In 2017 her work was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize and was she the recipient of the Larry Sultan Photography Award 2017.

www.awoiska.nl


Calliope Tsoupaki was born in 1963, in Greece, she has been living in the Netherlands since 1988 and teaches composition at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. She is currently appointed as “Composer Laureate of the Netherlands”. Tsoupaki’s music blends East and West into a contemplative and spiritual whole – her motivations are deeply personal and at the same time universal in their power of expression. Successes include her operas Fortress Europe and Mariken in the Garden of Delights (nomination Matthijs Vermeulen Prize 2017) and oratorio Oidipous (nomination Matthijs Vermeulen Prize 2014).

www.calliopetsoupaki.com

NICOLÁS PEREDA

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

When I was 12 years old I went up this mountain with two friends and nearly fell to my death trying to cut a beautiful flowery cactus. They might have forgotten the incident, but I wonder what their lives would be like if I had actually fallen.

On our way down we met a boy wearing a black hoodie. He was hiding his face from us, and when we came close to him he covered his face with his hands. Then, he granted each of us one wish. It seemed absurd, but we were kids and went along with the game. We could wish anything in the world. But he warned us: The gifts of magic are enjoyed in a reality, in a less magical reality, an everyday reality. When we prolong the magic, we lose all the pleasure of its benefit.


Nicolás Pereda was born in Mexico in 1982. His films explore the everyday through fractured and elliptical narratives using fiction and documentary tools. He often collaborates with the theater collective Lagartijas tiradas al sol and actress Teresita Sánchez. He is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Media department at UC Berkeley.

SAMUEL HINDOLO

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Here, a mix of images with photos I recently took of “The Exorcist Steps” in Georgetown, Washington DC. At the bottom of the steps there’s a placard that reads:

We Are Washington DC

THE EXORCIST STEPS

These iconic steps are featured in William Freidkins 1973 Warner Bros. classic motion picture, based on the novel and screenplay by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist. In the film’s climactic ending, Father Karras (actor Jason Miller) plummets the seventy-five steps to his death.

Commemorated on this day, October 30, 2015.

Muriel Bowser — Mayor.

Jack Evans — Ward 2 Councilmember.


Samuel Hindolo was born in 1990, in Maryland, he lives and works in New York, NY. Recent exhibitions and screenings include 15 Orient (2020), (NOTHING BUT) FLOWERS at Karma NY (2020), PEDESTRIAN PROFANITIES at Simon Lee NY (2020), Saint Heron at the Getty Museum (2019), Chapter NY at Carlos Ishikawa (2019), Deli Gallery (2018), Wysing Arts Centre (2017), and Rosenwald Wolf Gallery (2017).

AG ROJAS

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Made in conversation with Sonia Hernandez and Darol Olu Kae.


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AG Rojas is the son of a Colombian writer and a Costa Rican painter. His family emigrated to Puerto Rico in the early 1990s and eventually made their way Los Angeles in 1995 where he’s lived and worked ever since. In 2017 he was invited by Kamasi Washington to participate in the Whitney Biennial where they collaborated on a film installation entitled HARMONY OF DIFFERENCE. His latest piece is a traveling film installation commissioned by The Smithsonian which celebrates and honors Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane entitled GODCHILD as part of a group show called MEN OF CHANGE.

CAULEEN SMITH

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

NOVEMBER 22, 2020

I am writing this on November 22, 2020… 11-22-2020… I like the way these numbers sit. The date may not be important, but as and the memory of ‘Rona’s grueling presence fades and people claw their way “back to normal,” perhaps markers, wayfinders, and signals are necessary.

On social media, I spy people making films.
I see socially-distanced interviews techniques.
I swipe through glorious landscape shots for on-location exteriors.
I miss making films.
But I’m not trying to flirt with ‘Rona, or die for ‘Rona. I’m having none of it. So I’m reflecting on some mis-adventures in filmmaking that are still teaching me things many years later.

My favorite film shoots are experiments. Filmmaking, like war, relies on strategy and preparation. Improvisation and experimentation are not promising wins. This kind of experimentation is not for the faint of heart. A lot of the films I make are never finished because the film shoot – as a testing ground, as an experiment, as a question, failed. I’m ok with this. At this point in my life I prefer the failures produced through risk to the violence of well-oiled hierarchical film shoots.

These casting-call flyers here are markers from some experiments. Moments when I literally just wanted to see what would happen if I created some interesting conditions inside of which images could get made and actions might take place. Something about covid quarantining makes me bin-dive into my own best and worst past practices. Something cohered for me when I stumbled upon these casting flyers.


Austin, Texas, 2006

“African-American Filmmaker Wants YOU! Casting Call For Contemporary Art Film.” I posted these flyers all over the University of Texas of Austin, and at the corner stores and grocery stores in my East Austin neighborhood (predominantly black and brown neighborhoods back then). I shared with all of the black people I knew in Austin, which might have totaled a dozen folk tops. And I was very concerned that I would not be able to cast my film.

You see. Austin is a white city. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of different people who live there from all manner of international geographies and ethnicities – I just mean that white people are the only people in that city who matter. There was a joke that was told to me from a black woman who had lived in Austin for three years before fleeing as a way warning of my future life in that town: “If you want to see another black people in Austin when you are out socializing, get up, go to the bathroom, and look in the mirror. That’s likely going to be about it.” Yeah… it’s not a funny joke and it was an even less funny reality to live. So when my co-conspirator, the poet A. Van Jordan and I decided to re-enact and narrativize a selection of Malik Sidibé photographs, I really did not know how I was going to pull it off. And so…an African-American filmmaker wants you….

Lots of wonderful random black people all isolated a dispersed throughout Austin, responded to this call. I make a bunch of really cool Cuban Katrina evacuees. I asked one woman why she was there, since as a (lapsed?) Jehovah Witness, she did not watch movies, look at art, nor listen to music and she said, “I just wanted to see who else would come.” Me too! She was a sweetheart and stayed at the shot until the very end (about 4:30am Sunday morning).

This was an excellent experiment. We had a lot of fun. And I am still fond of the films we made together.

Chicago, Illinois, 2015

I’d spent the thawing Spring hand sewing banners with applique letters spelling out a quote from my favorite Gwendolyn Brooks poem, Sermon on the Warpland II. The fabrics were leftovers from a previous project that required “Sun Ra” Capes for a bunch of kids in a local bike shop. (I also made a film with them – another very rewarding experiment). I’d decide that I would make a procession film in which A group of friends carried these banners through Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods of Southeast Chicago as a tribute to Gwendolyn Brook’s presence and poems and their enduring influence on the community. But as I sewed, I began to doubt this vision. By the time I’d finished sewing the banners, I no longer wanted to make the film. I folded them up and put them away.

Months later a controversy erupted in the neighborhood. I wanted to protest and I learned that several other artists wanted to protest as well, so we collectively arrived at the idea of a “Black Love Procession.” We were going to celebrate joy, life, creativity, and tell our community that we as artists loved them. Each of us made an object or devised some sort of gesture to be a part of the procession. Everyone was busy getting their thing together. I made this flyer below to advertise, but totally failed to consider that I would need about a dozen people to help me carry them! As is so often the case with black independent filmmaking, the community came to the rescue. Friends who showed up to do the procession with us kindly volunteered to carry these banners while Stephen Flemister pelted people with Love poems, Tempestt Hazel handed out flowers, and Danny Giles pushed a giant 2001 black obelisk down the street – – and so many more artists turned their art-making into gift making that day.

This was a very successful experiment. We had a lot of fun.

San Antonio, Texas, 2019

Maybe it was being back in Texas. I don’t know. My friend Manuel Solis convinced me that I could make a film during my 9 week residency at ArtPace. San Antonio is a Brown city. There are a lot of other people there, but Texan-Mexican Heritage, Colonial Mexican Heritage is what gets amplified and celebrated. So once again, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to find 2 dozen black women for a short film about speculative alternative female-identified socialites. Whenever I work or teach, I am practicing black culture, not just teaching it, producing it, or asking people to perform it. My students, crew, the cast, everyone joins this praxis. I was keen on seeing if Latinx women, with their own adjacent socialites, would be willing to fuse their social praxis with the one I was asking them perform/practice. Basically, I needed as many women as possible to Electric slide while local legend, Andrea “Vocad” Sanderson sang her version of “I Will light You Up” in an equally legendary San Antonio lesbian-owned punk rock bar. I hardly cared who they were as long as they were down to show up in garb inspired by the lookbook pics you see here.

A lot of female identified and non-binary people showed up and did the electric slide for 40 minutes straight. My luck with the crew was choppier. I had to hire my people via second hand recommendations and they had to be willing to work for less than their rate. My improvisational style was less of a problem than it usually is, maybe because I’ve gotten better at explaining it. We made it work.

This was a very successful experiment. We had a lot of fun.

I miss social experimental filmmaking. I miss improvisational filmmaking. I miss doing the electric slide. And my dreams of traveling to Botswana to rock out with the ladies pictured above (in the heavy leather, not the pastoral African-American Horse trainers) are significantly muted by ‘Rona’s quest to find some lungs in which to live.

In the meantime, I am just thinking, remembering and dreaming of the next thing.

Cauleen Smith was born in Riverside, California, in 1967. An interdisciplinary artist, Smith’s work reflects on the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Her films, objects, and installations have been featured in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City (2014); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2013); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2015). Solo presentations of her films and installations have taken place at MASS MoCA, Massachusetts (2019); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); and the Kitchen, New York (2011). Smith lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts.

www.cauleensmith.com

MOSIE ROMNEY

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

SIT DOWN!!!


Mosie Romney is a collection artist and painter evoking ceremonial magic that pulls elements from the external world. They collect broaches, bells, and most importantly acquired eBay photographs. These images of Black familial records are a base for their figurative work that depicts found family imagery in play, beyond work, and in celebration. Mosie has been a part of a few shows and had a solo show in September 2020 at Y2KGroup. Mosie’s work is in many private collections including The Taylor Collection and The Underdog Collection and the Perry Art Collection.

www.mosieromney.com

DIONNE LEE

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

PROBLEMS FOR THE SURVIVOR (A PAGE FROM MY SKETCHBOOK)


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Dionne Lee was born in 1988, in New York, NY. She works in photography, collage, and video, to explore ideas of power, agency, survival, and racial histories in relation to the American landscape. By mining her own personal history, larger historical narratives, and working to understand place through the body, Lee explores her relationship and cultural positioning to nature and land. Lee is interested in questions around who willfully engages, thrives, and is safe within the foliage of America while considering the complications and dual legacies that exist within photographic representations of its landscape. Lee received her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2017. She has exhibited work at the Museum of Modern Art, Aperture Foundation, the school of the International Center of Photography in New York City, and throughout the Bay Area including Aggregate Space, Interface gallery, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Lee was a 2019 artist-in-residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock and a finalist for the 2019 SFMoMA SECA and San Francisco Artadia awards. Lee currently teaches at Stanford University. Lee lives and works on the unceded territories of the Ohlone and Chochenyo peoples.

www.dionneleestudio.com

BEN ESTES

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

FROM THE DIARY OF A FELLOW QUARANTINE

Two friends of mine and I started a shared google doc / dream journal during the first days of quarantine. It was a way for us to feel close in our time of solitude, and it gave us an outlet to express our subconscious fears and anxieties in an incredibly scary time as deaths kept rising, grocery stores were alarmingly out of stock, government guidelines contradicted themselves daily, our bank accounts were dwindling, curfews were put in place, and any normal sense of reality the world had ever held seemed to be flaking away day by day. We all knew we needed to keep ourselves and our friends and our families safe, and social contact was the enemy. My dreams seemed to be offering me the only clues for further reflection, and I’ve selected a handful of mine to share with you, here.


4/10/20

Me, Matt Smoak, and a couple that we’d both become friends with through our summer job wanted to hang out one last time before the summer was over. The man from the couple flew hot air balloons. We spent the morning together playing on the beach and in the water, getting really sandy. It felt as though we were the only people on earth. The guy had a couple hot air balloons with him that were kind of busted in some way, but we were all playing around with them. The woman wasn’t a pro, but through her boyfriend she knew how to work them pretty well. But like, the flame thing was broken on both of them, and so were the baskets. They were ones he’d used for work at some point that had gotten broken over time, and he just “thought I’d keep them in the trunk of my car to play around with in times like this” kind of thing. We’d all be able to get off the ground a little bit, and we decided we’d try to race each other back home with them, but we didn’t get very far. The teams were me and the woman vs. Matt and the guy. Finally, the guy got too frustrated that they weren’t working well enough to even really play with, which was true, so we all stopped. So, now we had to walk back home, and it was a very far walk., maybe 15 miles. Sand and dunes and hills all around us. No people, no roads etc. The woman said to her boyfriend, “you know, at one point, a long time ago, there were only like 900 people on earth. TOTAL.” The guy thought about that for a minute, and shook his head with teary eyes, and she said “and everything actually probably really looked exactly like this,” motioning her arms to where we were. In the loose dry sand, it felt as though we were walking in place. But, as we walked further it started to get foggy, the landscape began to change, and the boyfriend was able to do these strange visual tricks in the fog, like shadow puppets in the air. We were all really impressed except for Matt, who seemed oddly smug about the whole thing. Like he knew how the trick worked.

We continued through the fog for the entire rest of the way back home, which continued further into a forest-like setting, and we got to a paved road to walk along. I was walking with the woman, and the two guys were ahead of us someplace but we couldn’t see them because of the dense fog. All of a sudden, maybe 6 feet in front of us crossing from left to right was a man dribbling a basketball – like a phantom basketball player made out of fog. As if it had solidified into a three dimensional person, running and dribbling a ball. Then he was back, from behind, running and dribbling away from us. It seems this was the trick Matt knew how to do with fog, why he’d been unimpressed with the shadow puppets from earlier. We all asked how he did it and he eventually explained that it had something to do with drawing in the fog with three-point perspective rather than just one or two. He then did another one where he made these large empty picture frames, big enough that we could step through the middle of, that appeared to be made out of thick chains, but really they were made of nothing but the fog around us. We were very impressed. While no one was looking I went and tried to touch the chain, and I was able to pull on it like it was a rubber band, which I figured somehow revealed the mechanics of the trick to be false, that it wasn’t just air and fog. Matt caught me doing it, and he said it didn’t reveal any falseness at all really, but instead how well he was able to turn the air into exactly what he wanted.

I still wasn’t quite convinced, it seemed like a magic trick, like he was talking through a grin, but it worked really great.

————

4/15/20

Annie Stone and I are vacationing in a mid-sized coastal town in Spain. It is all very touristy, but very cute. The town is hosting a “gallery night” where all the art galleries around have coordinated to have an opening on the same evening. We think we saw Meryl Streep in the passenger seat of a car at a stop sign! One neighborhood in town has an option for people to get around by walking on the flat roofs of the buildings rather than on the sidewalks. So, as tourists, we decide to do that. Roof to roof, like the way the old plague nurses used to do. We get to this hipster butcher shop / bar offering samples of beer, and we stop to rest our feet and have some. I can see, piled up on the roof of this butcher shop, a pile of dead human bodies behind a low cement wall. The kind of wall one might build to hide garbage cans from view. Maybe a dozen people. Their skin had turned completely black and leathery, like bog people. They all are wearing straight black cheap Halloween wigs, the color perfectly matching their skin. I can see a man’s face with no eyes and a beard, and his beard is also a straight black wig, like a bad costume. They are all wearing faded orange linen robes, like members of a cult.

I quickly sit down on the bench with my beer, and debate with myself about telling Annie what I’d seen. I decide do tell her, but I plead with her not to look. She says she has to look. I say no she doesn’t. She stands up and walks across the roof patio, looks back at me, then peeks over the wall and sees the bodies. She doesn’t say anything, but walks over to the corner and drops her beer into the trash can, then calmly walks back and sits down next to me on the bench.

We get up to pay for our drinks and leave. We rush down the stairs to the checkout counter, and the butcher is asking us to forgive him for the appearance of the shop, that it’s a bit under construction, being new. He is in his early 30’s, is very friendly and charming. Asks how we liked this new beer etc etc trying to be a gracious host, to get people to come to his new business. Annie says “$5.50, was it? Right?” We’re trying to skip the chatter and get out of there as soon as we could. We pay him and rush out feeling very jittery.

Walking, we’re wondering why there are dead rotten bodies on his roof, beyond the obvious conclusion being that he killed them and is butchering them for his shop. And that maybe he is also a charming cult leader.

We come up with maybe instead it is just storage for some local anthropological dig site. They need his large coolers. It’s the best alternative we can come up with.

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4/24/20

I’m traveling alone, visiting Martha’s Vineyard for a little while, and I’m by far, at the age of 43, the youngest person there. In a fussy little shop full of little knickknacks and antiques, I meet the owner, a lady named Martha Vineyard, just like the island. We become fast friends. Eventually I meet some of her other elderly friends there at the shop, and one day when there’s a little group of us there chatting and gossiping around the counter, Martha says “oh my gosh, look what I have…” and she pulls a ceramic platter off of a shelf in the store that has 4 sheep painted on it. Above each sheep their name is hand painted. The first sheep was Don, then Molly, then Ben, then Martha, lined up in a row. I realize all 4 of us have recognized our own names on the platter. I say to the old man, “Oh wow, my dad’s name is Don.” He says to me “funny, my son’s name is Ben!”

Later in the dream Martha commissions a painting from me, and she asks for me to use the colors rust, dark green, and chocolate brown. The painting has something to do with her dying. A gift to herself. It’s “her last painting,” her friends say.

When I go to leave the shop I can’t find my shoes. Everyone coming into the shop has to take their shoes off when they go in, and mine aren’t by the door where I know I had left them. I try to put on another pair to wear as I walk around the store looking for my own, but the customer whose shoes I’m borrowing notices, and follows me around, wondering what I’m doing, worried I’ll try to leave with them on.

Then I find a room, it’s a “lost and found” of shoes. Tons of them all lined up in maybe 20 rows, like a cemetery, I think. The whole floor of the room. I eventually do find a pair of my shoes there, but they aren’t the shoes that I had worn in. They’re my rubber snow boots, and they’re covered in dried mud, but they’re definitely mine. So, without asking questions, I put them on and leave.

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5/7/2020 

The weather is beautiful today, it is sunny but not hot, and there are a lot of people outdoors enjoying the day. I’m in a city, maybe it’s Tokyo, and everyone speaks English but they are from countries all over the world. I have a job selling fabric at a fabric store and as a drug dealer outside of an ice cream parlor. Everyone has at least two jobs these days. I sell some sort of tiny little white pill, like half a tic-tac, and all it does is make people laugh for about 20 minutes. I have friends that work at the ice cream parlor. We all have really crazy Japanese manga cars that we drive around town, with every single window a different color of glass, with hologram rainbow tinting and lights. Mostly we just sit on the bench outside the ice cream parlor and watch all the fancy dogs that the people of Tokyo own. Really elaborate haircuts etc., and I am a virtual encyclopedia of dog breeds. I can tell anyone anything about any kind of dog. At one point one of my friend’s dogs is walking with us, and it’s the size of a caterpillar on a leash, and I’m scared I’m going to step on it because it keeps walking so close to my feet.

Later, I am a teacher at a boy’s school, and I’m hanging out in a large dorm room with 4 students. They’re in their late teens. They live in the attic of one of the old buildings. The school is way out in the country, in Scotland maybe, rolling green hills all around us. Pete Buttigieg went to school here, and the boys are talking about him saying he’s on campus today to give a lecture. Then the world ends. Now it’s me and Pete and an older woman who works as a secretary in the school’s main office, and we are trekking through a barren landscape. We come upon a village of mud and adobe homes but there are no people around, and eventually we get to a huge cliff where we can see really far, and it looks like Lord of the Rings with all the scary mountains and valleys and lightning and lava down below us. Pete and the woman both agree that we just have to keep going higher. I say “Higher? There is no higher, we’re on the edge of a cliff, we have to figure out how to get down, and then make our way through the valley.” They both agree that it’s way too dangerous to try to do that. “We have to keep climbing up.” But I say, “Aren’t we going to have to go down at some point though? Why go higher now? This really feels like we’re going in the wrong direction…” I know going through the valley will be fine, it just looks much worse than it is from where we’re standing.

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5/10/20

I’ve left my apartment to go live on a commune with a group of people in the woods. When I get there I see my friend Heidi Ho, the drag queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and she is not looking very healthy and is not in a very good mood. It felt more like I had just walked into one of the first 13 colonies. Like I was in Roanoke or something, bad, rotten, sour. Nutrition was bad, supplies were low, people were hungry and dirty… Everyone here had come for the wrong reasons, and it obviously wasn’t working.

I end up taking a lot of walks by myself now, the place is surrounded by huge fields with tall grasses and trees, but it often feels like there are other people out with me that I can’t see, in the tall grass, following me. Once when I left to go on a walk, someone asked if I could bring back blueberries and blue corn chips. They were kidding, there were no snacks. 

Part of this commune butted up to an old cave with two ends, more like a naturally formed stone tunnel. It was pretty tall. Randomly spaced inside the cave-tunnel are fist-sized holes in the wall that constantly have breeze either blowing in or sucking out through them. Maybe 8 or 9 of these holes. At some point in the past, before all these new people came here, someone had built little brass pipe holders, and attached them to the cave wall in front of each of the holes so that the breeze blowing through them would always keep the embers burning in the bowl of the pipes. When people walk through here now, they’ll pick up a few different pipes as they pass, and take a puff from a few of the different flavored tobaccos.

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5/28/20

I was watching old tv show bloopers on youtube, and there was a video of a recently found “lost” Seinfeld blooper, so I clicked to watch it, and it was a scene that was being shot on a big wooden deck behind a beach house. The house was on the left, then the large deck in the middle, and there were steps on the right that went down to the beach. It was all on a big sound stage. A party scene had just been shot, and the director and crew were telling all the extras and the actors to go on out to the beach while they set everything up again for the next take, the deck needed to be cleared off. There were a lot of extras, it was a big party, and slowly everyone began walking to the steps to go out on the beach, but they were all chatting and laughing and taking their time, and the camera kept rolling. I started picking out faces in the crowd: there was an old woman, there was a group of ladies in bikinis, I saw “Elaine” talking to a crew member looking at papers as they walked, I saw “George” talking to some guy as they slowly walked, and then, in between the people of the crowd I saw a figure standing in the very far back of the set that wasn’t moving, just standing there looking at the camera. I could only catch glimpses of this person in between all of the other people, but somehow I had a way of playing the youtube video in slow motion, and I could zoom in – and when I did I got a clear view of a man that was hiding in the background of this crowd scene, wearing a black suit, with a mechanical silver robot head and face, wearing a perfectly combed brown wig. He could see me watching him through the video on youtube, and I was terrified.

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6/11/20

I have to drive a rental van into San Francisco, and I’m heading toward the Golden Gate bridge. The car is full of people from out of town, contestants on a reality tv show, and I’m their driver. Sometimes I’ll say something like “Tonya lives right down there!” as we drive above her apartment building on the freeway, and then Tonya’s face will come up on the “screen” and she’ll say “Hi! I’ll see you all later tonight!”

As I’m driving I can see that the ocean looks huge, it goes way out for miles and then curves up above us, turns into the sky, then circles down behind us. Like we’re on the inside of a ring of ocean.  At one point the freeway becomes a floating bridge across a very large expanse of water, it’s like we’re driving right on top of the water, like the road is a floating raft, and I’m a bit concerned I’ll freak out about it and have a panic attack, but I seem to be ok with the floating bridge, there are a lot of cars, and we’re all driving very fast, there are no problems. Then, when we get to the Golden Gate bridge I start getting anxious, and I’m wondering why I’m the one driving, I do not like driving over bridges (I really don’t) and it feels like we’re very high up in the air, and I’m looking ahead down the road, down the road onto the bridge, and it looks like this superhighway with hundreds of loops and exits, like a super-wide, shiny, slippery silver ribbon.

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6/20/20

1.
There are two houses on either side of a large field. I walk across it, from one friend’s house to another friend’s house. Some wooden steps take me up the side of a hill, up to the front porch of the second house. This house is at the very top of the hill, but you can’t see it because it’s behind trees. Once on the porch, I can see Elaine through the screen door, and she pushes the door open for me and gives me a hug. I say “long time no see,” and she smiles and says she’s been eating a peach tart in the kitchen, I should eat some too before it’s gone. There are people here that I know, visiting from out of town, and we all say hi. Friends of friends, I don’t know them well. The house is mid-light, no electricity but not dark out yet. A mid-evening light, no lights on. Someone is playing guitar and singing quietly in one of the bedrooms. The door is open, down the hallway. I think there are three or four bedrooms, and visitors are staying in all of them. It’s not an empty house. One level, old, and it’s used for people visiting, for friends of friends. A guest house. I go into the kitchen and a small woman with very short, very blonde hair is rubbing some Vick’s Vaseline on her wrists and I say ooh I love that stuff and she says “me too.” I rub some on my arm and sniff. Elaine asks what it is, what it’s used for, and this lady tells her. Elaine shrugs and takes a big dip of it, puts it on a hairbrush and runs it through her hair.

Everyone is about to leave to go over to the house I just walked over from, on the other side of the field. I think I must be here to pick everyone up, let them know we’re ready for them to come over now. I try to put my shoes back on by shoving my feet into them, but they’re still tied and I can’t get them on. I need to sit down on the couch and do it right, so I do, then go down the steps and out into the field.

Because of the time it took for me to put on my shoes correctly, I’m walking by myself, behind everyone else, and we’re going back to the other house, which has now changed into an indoor/outdoor bar that is open on one side like a big garage, or like car repair place. The side toward us is open, and I can see inside. I can see that my friends are the only people there so far, and they’re standing around the pool table playing “strip pool,” like strip poker, but shooting pool. Many of them are already almost naked. I walk in and see Guy Pettit, he’s not playing pool, but instead sitting with a drink at the bar. I sit next to him and say hi. He says “you’re so coy…” while smiling. I say “coy?” He nods. He says “you love a good fight.” I ask “Do I?” He nods and says “like that day on the beach….?” I say I remember (but I don’t, actually) and say “well… that’s a totally different story….”

2.
Later, I was driving a car and riding my bike through hilly East Davenport neighborhoods. and the roads are very icy and I’m sliding all over the place. I have to take the garbage out, down a long path from a house to the road for someone that lived in the house, where I am housesitting. Then, I go for a walk around these two big stone mansions in the neighborhood, up above the Mississippi. I dreamt my family at one point lived in one of them, it was the house I grew up in maybe, and it was intensely haunted and scary. Like, it had always been saturated with ghosts, and there were some parts of the house that we didn’t even use because of it, where the dead people lived. SO MANY dead people. We just pretended those parts of the house weren’t even there. Like, on the 2nd floor, the entire left side of the house was locked up. We wouldn’t go in there, but originally it was my space. Where my room was. We had to close it up. But really, the whole house was haunted. I could remember parts of the house while I walked around outside in the yard a bit, and I was feeling pretty scared. Now the house was empty, and people were looking at buying the house next door. Like part one of this dream, it was two houses separated by a big yard. I was now both outside walking around in the yard with the new prospective owners, telling them about our old haunted house next door, and inside of it, watching them from the window.

————

6/27/20

1.
I’m in a South Asian country and it’s hot and humid. I’ve hired a boy to be my cricket trainer, for my professional sporting cricket. At sunset I rush back to the stadium stepping over scorpions all over the sidewalks to tell the boy & cricket to spend the night there, because it’s still very hot out, and there are a lot of scorpions on the sidewalks.

On my walk back to my hotel hut I stop and watch a puppet show depicting stories of the history of the country I’m visiting. It is a huge production in a large oval theater with people sitting all around it. It’s like Cirque du soleil. And also like a circus where there are many stories going on at the same time. They are telling the stories of military battles, it’s very sad and dramatic and everyone is crying, me too. The final story is about the town where we all currently are, where 100 years ago they had a messenger come tell them that this beloved farmer 5 miles away was being harassed by evil thugs, so all the men rushed off on their horses to go defend him – but it was a trick, and they had left their town defenseless and the thugs came in and killed all the women and children and burnt it to the ground. Everyone in the audience was very upset. Somehow the stadium where the cricket games were happening played a part in the story too. It was a historical landmark, the only building in town that hadn’t burnt down.

When I got back to the hotel, my parents were there too. I had my own bed, but we were sharing the room. The lights were off but they were lying awake talking. Just then something my dad said set off the Alexa, which thought he had asked something about S&M, so it started giving all these resources for S&M techniques in the middle of the night, very loudly, because my dad has terrible hearing so has to have the volume turned way up on everything to the highest level. My parents started laughing really hard. After they got it turned off, my mom told me a female friend of mine had called and said they were at some bar, she didn’t get her name. She asked if I was going to go meet her and I said no, I was exhausted, and I laid down to go to sleep.

2. 
It has been revealed that I was smuggling a very large box of lemon flavored white chocolate candy in a homemade false seat underneath my real plane seat, through India, & through Honolulu. The false seat was made out of foam and fabric and glue, all kind of sloppily made. Like a craft project. It was very obvious that it was not a real plane seat. When I got busted and they opened up the big hidden chocolate box, most of the candy had all been smashed up, and was melted and stuck on the inside of the lid. So it was all just a total waste. I took the risk, but ended up getting in trouble for nothing.

————

7/8/20

I am one person in a group of maybe 15 who were going into an old unmapped territory. Lush fields, canyons, forests, etc, at a natural scale, but it all felt built, and not natural. We were undercover, and searching for trees that had been planted as grave markers, looking to find the bodies of an earlier group of our explorers that had come here before us, to recover their bodies and bring them back home. The trees they had planted to mark their own burial/death spots had grown tall. It had been many years, and the trees were all mixed in with the forests that were native to this place, so we had to search through them very carefully, looking for our trees.

At some point during this recovery mission the story flipped, and now we were looking for our own spots to bury the seeds we had brought with us, to mark our own grave sites. We had all gotten sick. There was a woman who went off on her own and we couldn’t find her, but we could hear her. She was saying “Come get me! Come get me!” But her voice was soft and muffled and it was kind of foggy, and we couldn’t see her anywhere. Then, like a movie, it’s a shot of all of us walking single file over the foggy hills, with her voice overdubbed saying “I came here knowing what I had to do…. I needed to go into the ground…. I wanted to go deep into a cave…… that led deeper into a smaller cave….. that led even deeper into the ground, and into a smaller cave…..  that led to an even smaller cave…. until the opening is just big enough for me to crawl into and fit my body into the silk worm-pouch… then once inside of it… deep underground, one of the thousands…. there will be no difference between my body and the silken pouch, there will no longer be a hollow cavity inside the earth… my body will fill it perfectly.”

————

7/23/20

I am part of a group of people that trade “new age” music cassettes through the mail, but it just happens that two members of the swap group are visiting my town at the same time, and we decide that the three of us should meet up and make a swap in person, while they’re here. We’ve never met before, we just know each other’s names from the long list of people we send and receive these music cassettes with, online. And none of us have seen other people in a really long time, so we’re excited about meeting up and seeing each other.

There are two versions of the following meeting. First, there is a version of the meeting where we meet up in a beach parking lot. I drive my car around the parking lot looking for their cars, and I notice that the sand is starting to creep really far onto the pavement, that the edges of the parking lot really need to be swept back. Then, there is a version of the meeting where they come over to my apartment, and I have a joke that I’m going to tell them while they’re both there, after we’ve made the swap.

I’m going to say “Well, now what should we do? Do you want to… suck my blood?” I think it’s a funny joke, but I’m nervous that they won’t think so.

Ben Estes grew up in Northern California and Iowa, but currently lives in Kingston, NY. He wrote ILLUSTRATED GAMES OF PATIENCE, a book of poems published by The Song Cave, and THE STRINGS OF WALNETTO ARRANGEMENTS, the first book of poems published by Thurston Moore’s press Flowers & Cream. He is also the author of the chapbooks CYMBALS, 8 POEMS, THREE FOLDED POEMS, and ANNOUNCEMENT FOR A POEM, a collaboration with Rick Myers and Kim Gordon. Ben’s worked as the editor of A DARK DREAMBOX OF ANOTHER KIND, THE POEMS OF ALFRED STARR HAMILTON (with Alan Felsenthal), CHARAS: THE IMPROBABLE DOME BUILDERS by Syeus Mottel, PROFESSIONALS OF HOPE, THE SELECTED WRITINGS OF SUBCOMANDANTE MARCOS, TOGETHER & ALONE, THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF KARLHEINZ WEINBERGER, and the upcoming anthology ON THE MESA: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BOLINAS WRITERS. He has most recently shown his paintings at Situations Gallery and Paula Cooper Gallery, both in NYC. With Alan Felsenthal, he runs the publishing press The Song Cave.

KARA WALKER

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

My mom has been sending a selfie every day that she’s been able since her emergency surgery in late July 2020. It’s been a hell of a year. Because of the pandemic I haven’t seen her, and she doesn’t want to be seen—at least not fully. The selfie will have to do, it says enough. How she is feeling is up to the eye of the beholder, the facts of her illness she will haltingly discuss with me on the phone, the ugly physicality of the thing is something she knows I will listen to. The general “I am here-ness” of her daily selfie is the perfect Gwendolynism, my term for her being neither too close nor too distant. Gwendolyn is always summarily her own being. The five to seven of us on the ongoing family SMS text thread reply to her with a patchwork of responses, hours long tallies of the day: “here is our weather”, “here is a new household item”, “here is our cat”, heart emoji, heart emoji, thumbs up emoji. We are here too. Maybe we are fine. “At least you don’t have Covid” closed eye face emoji.

We all (in my immediate family) have dissociative disorders that make in-person contact pretty mumbly affairs. With the Covid-19 virus wreaking havoc in so many lives, and the related shutdowns dismantling the social fabric, and in parental parlance, “with everything else that’s going on”; meaning social unrest, social distancing and the President, my mother has never been more accessible, a thousand miles away on a video conference call in a time of crisis.

Gwen is 83 next year, her selfies are ongoing daily as is her treatment, and they have become both a window into her self-image and the hub around which I gather something resembling fortitude.


Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969. She was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13 and lives and works in New York. Walker studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. In 2012, Walker became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work can be found in numerous museums and public collections including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt.

www.karawalkerstudio.com

SUNIL GUPTA

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

CRUISING MY ARCHIVES

Recently, I was approached by Abdullah Qureshi, to make a contribution to his project – ‘Mythological Migrations: Chapter 2: The Darkroom’. It made me reflect on my personal history of cruising for gay sex that goes back to my earliest years when I was living in New Delhi. My archives following my trajectory of migration have abrupt interruptions. There are events that happened before I was fifteen that were highly significant that I hadn’t recorded or didn’t have the ability to record with a camera at the time. Suddenly I was transported to Canada where everything I learnt about gay cruising in India was no longer meaningful. Did Canadians even do this kind of thing? On the other hand being in Canada provided me with a new gay identity. There I met Saleem Kidwai who had come over to study at McGill. In the early 80s I was studying photography in London and he had returned to live in Delhi. I was finally able to make short photographic trips back to India. Sometimes we would meet and discuss what was happening with the local gay scene. It hadn’t changed much from my youth and gay liberation had yet to arrive. We reacted in opposite ways to this situation, I felt I could not stay and live in Delhi as I found it too suffocating and oppressive as an out gay man, but he decided that this was his home and he had to make the best of it.

Whilst I was visiting I wanted to make photographs of the gay scene but of course nobody wanted to be in the photographs. So I decided to record the landscape of my favourite cruising ground which was a famous Mughal monument called Humayun’s Tomb. It hadn’t changed much since my years there as a teenager desperately searching for sex in my neighbourhood. I lived right next door in East Nizamuddin. I had forgotten about these pictures and they had lain hidden in my negative files for the last forty years.

I had decided to make a short video piece for Abdullah, reminiscing with Saleem about our youthful days of cruising for gay sex in Delhi, and how that had led to the construction of gay communities. Especially with the advent of AIDS. We compared this with the current situation where most people just use apps on the Internet regardless of where they are in the world. We felt the gay world has lost something positive and significant, that giving up the possibilities of those random physical sexual encounters had created menu driven choices that fragment rather than bring together our communities. For one thing old fashioned cruising created physical sites that were regularly used and they became invisible yet public communal meeting places. Whilst editing the video I was trying to imagine what the visuals might be and I suddenly remembered that I had this roll of film that I had shot of my favourite site. Looking at them for almost the first time I was mesmerised by their power to transport me back to my adolescence. It reminded me of the ease with which the much maligned documentary photograph can capture a moment with all its associated emotional power.


Sunil Gupta was born in 1953, in New Delhi and is a Canadian citizen. He completed his MA at the Royal College of Art, London, England, and received a PhD from the University of Westminster, England. He has been involved with independent photography as a critical practice for many years focusing on race, migration and queer issues. In the 1980s, Gupta constructed documentary images of gay men in architectural spaces in Delhi, his “Exiles” series. The images and texts describe the conditions for gay men in India at the times. Gupta’s recent series “Mr. Malhotra’s Party” updates this theme during a time in which queer identities are more open and also reside in virtual space on the internet and in private parties. His early documentary series “Christopher Street” was shot in the mid-1970s as Gupta studied under Lisette Model at the New School for Social Research and became interested in the idea of gay public space. His work is represented by Hales Gallery (New York, London), Stephen Bulger Gallery (Toronto) and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi).

www.sunilgupta.net

TROY MICHIE

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

A RECORD OF MY GRANDMOTHER:

Maybe it’s the brightness of this optimistic yellow. A warped Picture-tainer that reads “Memories” embossed in plastic cursive.

I often think about the photograph’s portrayal as evidence. An indication of the “first dimension” described by Thich Nhat Hanh as;

“the events we experience and what we can see and know in our own lifetimes.”

I can’t help but feel the magnitude of this gesture. A compressed room of memories that has been given to me to preserve, until it’s time to be passed on.

In recent months, I have been returning to books that I have not visited since graduate school. In Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, I came across a faded-yellow highlighted passage. Roland Barthes writes;

“It is said that mourning, by its gradual labour, slowly erases pain; I could not, I cannot believe this; because for me, Time eliminates the emotion of loss (I do not weep), that is all. For the rest, everything has remained motionless. For what I have lost is not a Figure (the Mother), but a being; and not a being, but a quality (a soul): not the indispensable, but the irreplaceable.”


Troy Michie was born in 1985, in El Paso, Texas. He is an interdisciplinary painter and collage artist. His work engages black consciousness, Latinx experience, immigration and queerness through assemblage and juxtaposition. Utilizing textile, garment and archival paper, from newsprint to pornography, Michie subverts dominant narratives by placing past and present in confrontation. The resulting work is a non-linear exotification of political resistance and transgressive self-expression and gesture.

www.troymichie.com
www.companygallery.us

LIEKO SHIGA

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

On 5/4/20, Lieko Shiga wrote:

To everyone who has been worried about me

In the neighborhood where I live (population 370), fifty-three were killed and seven are still missing. The tsunami was nature in all its raw power. It was terrifying beyond imagining. When I think of all those who died, swept away in that unequaled terror, my mind simply stops working. No amount of caring for them on my part can reach those who, swallowed by the water, lost consciousness in such terrible suffering.

In one instant on that day, the value of time, life, death, emotion, and things was wiped out, and all was flattened into uniformity, as far as the eye could see. Then a heavy snow fell and a night of complete and utter darkness descended. Hearing on the radio that the bodies of several hundred people had been found on the coast, and the repeated reports of the nuclear accident at Fukushima Reactor No. 1, just 80 kilometers down the coast, as well experiencing the constant aftershocks, I was prepared for the worst. I was so deeply distressed that nothing seemed strange. Numerous unimportant, random thoughts floated through my mind, and I thought, this will be my end.

Now, I think about bringing back that deep, dark, uniformly black night, and though I hope there is never another tsunami, I am also afraid at the same time that those hours will fade from my consciousness.

At the same time, I am relieved and reassured to have been to resort to the value of things, discussing together with the many strong older women with whom I lived in the evacuation center what we needed, and then requesting them as relief supplies, and distributing them to the right people; and when after looked eagerly I found a single photograph sticking up out of the mud, I was delighted. But not just photographs but also houses and people are buried in the mud. I am living in a reality when all things have been reduced to equal value. That is clearly linked inside me to that dark night. The value of things has been torn apart and stands revealed before me now. And that’s fine.

What I feel compelled to confirm with my entire being is that what I started from January 2008, when I moved to Kitakama, is not over at this moment. If anything I have done in Kitakama up to now was rendered meaningless by the disaster, it was just the things that could be washed away. I was living amidst a pile of things, many of which I won’t miss. If one aspect of the unease I felt at the convenience of daily life arose from my dependence on things, than perhaps it was just the useless dregs of my material desires that were washed away. I was shocked by this. But that dark night during which I experienced that brief but noble epiphany seemed to be telling me not to think of my life solely in terms of attachment to and dependence upon material things; I felt that what really mattered was the way in which I had tried to relate to society. Or at least that’s what I said to myself.

There is still too little information about the nuclear power plant accident, and no one at the evacuation center talks about it. The media may not be reporting everything it should, but we are also avoiding the subject here. Perhaps we couldn’t bear to see the images. I think we find it impossible to conceive of something worse than the present situation, and are just refusing to accept it. I look it as my own fault, because of all the electricity I used to use.

There’s so much I want to write about that I’m afraid I could go on forever.

I am very grateful for your concern

Lieko


Kitakami village on 13th of March, 2020


Our shelter in Natori city


My house has gone and there is noting like strange dream


But, my bathroom has left on the corner, it’s funny, sea water keep in bath tub.


Lieko Shiga was born in 1980, in Aichi, Japan, she currently lives and works in Miyagi, Japan. Shiga received the coveted Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2008. Major exhibitions include RASEN KAIGAN, Sendai Mediatheque, 2012; IN THE WAKE, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2015; NEW PHOTOGRAPHY 2015. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2015; BLIND DATE, Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, 2017; and HUMAN SPRING, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, 2019.

www.liekoshiga.com

MARY MANNING

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

2020 WOW


Mary Manning (b. 1972, Illinois) is an artist living in New York City. They have exhibited solo shows at Canada, New York (2018); Little Sister (now Sibling), Toronto (2018); and Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn (2017) as well as many group shows. Manning frequently collaborates with other artists, brands, and writers with their imagery; and has published their work in several magazines in addition to their own books and zines.

www.marymanning.info

ALICIA MERSY

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Here are some images of my work and what inspires me.


Alicia Mersy was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1988. She is an artist and filmmaker of Lebanese/French origin who lives and works in New York. Her work uses the camera to connect to people and to the divine, by forging pathways towards personal and collective peace within a world of infinite production and boundless orientation. Mersy draws from big phenomena including the natural sciences, global capitalism and the infinitude of galactic spirituality to explore decolonial aesthetics and political resistance. Her approach to new media, photography and installation creates space for conversations surrounding self representation, social, class guilt politics, and the resistance of repressive global structures.

www.aliciamersy.com

LARISSA SANSOUR

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

The film script and some stills from In Vitro, 2019


Click image to view PDF


Larissa Sansour was born in 1973 in East Jerusalem, Palestine. She studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York. She represented Denmark at the 58th Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include Copenhagen Contemporary in Denmark, Dar El-Nimer in Beirut, Bluecoat in Liverpool, Chapter in Cardiff, New Art Exchange in Nottingham and Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen.

www.larissasansour.com

TIONA NEKKIA MCCLODDEN

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

A few things I’ve been circling around for the past six months…

  1. I’ve kept this insert that was taped on the back of this film production still of Cicely Tyson performing as Harriet Tubman pulling an entire horse carriage. I featured the image in my installation for The Brad Johnson Tape, 2017. I was drawn to the length of the performance. Performing as an enslaved woman and pulling off this physical feat in real life struck me.
  2. This is a weird collage I made in 2008 when the recession hit. The images came from one of those volumes of ads from the 80s that I used to collect from flea markets for reference ideas. Found it again after my move into my new apt this March and was kind of taken aback by the timeliness of it all.
  3. My friend and curator Ladi’Sasha Jones gifted me this 1933 copy of STORY with a rare short by Zora Neale Hurston. I am a Hurston disciple and have been slowly collecting her rarer written works for many years.
  4. This is my Coreen Simpson Black Cameo Ring. I wore it out last year and even lost one of the faux diamonds. My Grandmother used to sell Mary Kay and Simpson did a custom line with their competitive brand Avon which a lot of Black women collected at the time. This was a big deal back in the day. I’ve been working to collect the entire series over the past few years and have gifted duplicates to a few women I know. I even used to play with the mini Mary Kay lipstick samples they used to have and it reminds me of that time.
  5. Frank Miller’s Martha Washington Goes to War, 1995. I collected comic books for many years and I have the entire Martha Washingon series and at one point thought I want to make a film about it but i’m not that disciplined to take on action in that way.
  6. When I visited Julius Eastman’s brother Gerry after I curated the retrospective exhibition project at The Kitchen in early 2018 he gave me three signed copies of an image he took of Julius performing in a dark room in NYC in the 80s. He printed from this huge office printer in his office area.
  7. My second favorite author after Toni Morrison is Percival Everett. I fell in love with his books after reading his collection of short stories Big Picture over a decade ago. When the pandemic caused the quarantine I immediately fell back into rereading and also ordering books of his that I had not read. In Big Picture there is this short about this guy who eats his blue paint that I identified with in this odd way and in this book this huge painting serves as a parallel to the sadness in the protagonist’s life. I was able to secure a canvas months ago of this size with my gallery’s assistance and drove to NY a few months ago which was terrifying in the height of the pandemic because it was a ghost town. I have embarked on making this painting myself perhaps to put the sadness into an object over time in the same way I suppose. It’s like an odd ritual of sorts.
  8. I have a few of these medical chart thingies and kept this Nasal Chamber scan in my bathroom for a while. As a kid I wanted to be a doctor and spent a lot of time with the Encyclopedia Britannica pages that tell you the bones and I’ve kept an interest in those images.
  9. These greeting cards from the exhibit STILL RAISING HELL: The Art, Activism, and Archives of James V. Hatch and Camille Billops have been in a stack of papers for a while. I might frame them because I have two sets.
  10. Dec 1988 National Geographic with the holographic cover, had this since I was a kiddie. Again, timely AF now that I am an adult and we are seemingly in the beginning of the apocalypse.
  11. Back in May I took a trip with my lady to this very strange run down amusement park ‘Holy Land’ in Waterbury, CT. It’s a Christian amusement park that has fallen into immense disrepair. I have been testing 16mm film stocks for an upcoming project and took my camera to film the park. When the film was developed and scanned it came back looking scary as all hell. I’ll never go back to that place again to say the least.


Tiona Nekkia McClodden is a visual artist, filmmaker, and curator whose work explores, and critiques issues at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and social commentary. McClodden’s interdisciplinary approach traverses documentary film, experimental video, sculpture, and sound installations. Themes explored in McClodden’s films and works have been re-memory and more recently narrative biomythography. McClodden has exhibited and screened work at the Institute of Contemporary Art-Philadelphia, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, MOCA LA, Art Toronto’s VERGE Video program, MCA Chicago, @RAUMERWEITERUNGSHALLE in Berlin, MOMA PS1, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; Kansai Queer Film Festival in Osaka and Kyoto, Japan; and the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, among others in a range of international film festivals and film programs. Tiona lives and works in North Philadelphia, PA and is represented by COMPANY Gallery in NYC.

www.tionam.com

TUAN ANDREW NGUYEN

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Grandma told me of some villages, they were in the south, or maybe the central region, or possibly from the north, somewhere, here, where the crops went bad and the rivers dried up and children were getting sick. This was at a time when almost everybody was from a village or a hamlet, somewhere rural. When most of the country were farmers or soldiers and when Hanoi and Saigon were like two different countries. It was not too long ago.

Grandma told me of village elders calling upon spiritual mediums to come resolve the turmoil. Because disasters of this magnitude obviously meant that there was something befoul in the land of the spirits – that other dimension that we live with but cannot touch or quite understand.

The spiritual mediums, after much pondering, sitting and breathing and taking in the energies of the land, the trees, the ground, the air, the dried river beds, the rotting fruit, the families, asked if there were boys that had left the village? She or he or they would soon discover that there were two sons who had left for war. But they followed opposite paths and stood on opposite sides. One went North, the other went South. And as the story goes, neither of them came back.



The proper burial of the body after death, especially death far from the land in which one is born and in which one grows up, is tied to the ability of the spirit to find liberation after it leaves that very body. This belief has governed the actions of thousands of people in their search for the bodies of loved ones who died on the battlefield as well as those who died in the exodus from southeast Asia post 1975.

The spirits of the two brothers had returned, but their opposing political views, the beliefs that they held onto when they entered the war, were still intact, and probably even stronger than before. Their conflicts had been transposed into the world of spirits and were causing shifts and disruptions in the physical world, in the dimension we understand.



The spiritual medium would have to resolve these conflicts in order for things to return to how they were for the living bodies of the village, to continue to survive as they had done before. Most of the time the spiritual mediums were successful. Other times the differences were too much to resolve.

These stories have raised me – creating in me a fascination with the power of stories and the ability for narratives to allow us to process various traumas and the multiple complex and entangled political histories we have inherited. How politics and the spiritual get connected in places like this.



These stories have also taught me to look for the visible ways in which we try to connect to the invisible worlds as well as the unseen, the small things in the landscape, the things that people build and burn to connect to worlds beyond our senses, things most people would overlook. As I traverse the multiple cities and towns in Vietnam (and other locations), I record the altars that drivers have created on their dashboards. Their masses of steel flying through the land, squeezing between other vehicles and dodging human bodies, turns the landscape again into a tense backdrop of life and death and connections.



Tuan Andrew Nguyen was born in 1976, in Sai Gon, Viet Nam. He lives and works Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen’s practice explores strategies of political resistance enacted through counter-memory and post-memory. Extracting and re-working narratives via history and supernaturalisms is an essential part of Nguyen’s video works and sculptures where fact and fiction are both held accountable. Nguyen founded The Propeller Group in 2006, a platform for collectivity that situates itself between an art collective and an advertising company. Between the collective and his individual practice, they’ve had a major traveling exhibition that started at the MCA Chicago, as well as participated in the New Museum Triennial 2012, LA Biennial 2012, Prospect3 New Orleans Triennial, the Whitney Biennial 2017, and the Sharjah Biennial 2019, and the Venice Biennale 2015.

www.tuanandrewnguyen.com

LOTTE ANDERSEN

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Lima is the bravest decision I ever made. Not in the sense that bravery, has so often been typified as simply moving halfway across the world, but more in the line of discipline. The decision was made to catalyse a profoundly personal act and the burden of casual coffees on the Kingsland road. Once again I must add, I was not on a mission to find myself, or demystify some type of truth pertaining to the human condition on the Inca trail. In simple terms something private. And pure pleasure.


Notebook 2019


This past week I was archiving the work I made for MAXILLA ; in absolutely no hurry. These prints and posters live on multiple hard drives in the back of my studio. There is a strained sense of nostalgia when looking at this phase of my life, which I have avoided, enjoying to focus much attention on the social element of these parties, intentionally overlooking the glaring self-portrait which emerges from the prints made. These years of meticulously archived print works, all in chronological order, suggest what eventually crystallized as the reality of the social situation in Britain, or home, is all the more visible. These were the years leading up to Brexit an the US democratic party’s choice to vote in Trump as their leader. These murky years just after MAXILLA , as revelatory as they were disgusting, it now seems an urgent task was laid bare.


Meme 2016, Screenshot. Lotte Andersen


Leaving London in mid 2019 was the swing for me. At the time I was prepping for a show in Seoul which was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. I had been invited to Lima for a trip in March… the city hit me at a million miles an hour blowing out the cobwebs.. We often talk about privilege in first world terms, neglecting to factor in all that we do in fact have access to in capitals like London, Paris, New York, Madrid. Lima sorts this out quickly, caring little for the speed at which it filters out your bullshit. And what a lot of bullshit.


Notebook, London 2013


As a city, it sits on a clifftop extending inland to large mountains of rock, situated in the middle of a desert, it’s chaotic centre further toward the north. To describe the mishmash of this Latin American city is hard in English, without the dust and traffic in front you. Maybe things are better in brief terms, rawer or less spoilt.


Maxilla Screenshot Facebook 2013


Living here in the middle of a pandemic is certainly an eye opening experience. Eight months of a curfew here, whilst reading headlines of citizens in the US and UK protesting their human right to abstain from mask wearing. It’s hard not to giggle sardonically at Boris and his cabinet of twits. In Lima danger and the sense of segregation are real, unglamorous and leave little to the imagination. I am sure things, or I would have stayed if I had stayed at in London.


March 2019, I was plopped in the middle of all this life, with all this admin to do. The landscape in Peru is Big Nature, with the closest comparison being Califormia, sitting on the same coast if you sailed due South. Here I have been thinking, sitting, and re-sitting with things.


Drawing of circular screen January 2018


“Music’s most natural habitat is the dark” Jarvis Cocker asserted in 1996 at a festival somewhere in Europe. He was describing playing to an audience in broad daylight. The space between him and the crowd became all too clear in the harsh light of day, allowing him to notice the cosmic synergy darkness has with pleasure. “Most of life’s most pleasurable activities take place in the dark”, the words still rang in my ears years after I sampled them for the original Dance Therapy soundtrack in 2017. I think about environments and the etiquette required by these and vice versa. “The dark allows you to get away with a lot more things”, Cocker rounds off, as if to put a cap on the conversation with all the ambiguity and cocksure readi-ness of the public school boys he often describes in his music.

Just before writing this, we had been sitting in Alons’ studio talking about shadows. We agreed his paintings were impressions of shadows, and that the first examples of figuration was the human shadow on the floor or a wall by fire light. I wondered about how these moving figures preceded the invention of moving image and photography. These in between fragments below are images, notes and drawings of installations, performances and shows which reminded me of the shaddow conversation. They are notes and thoughts, in between moments which are quite rarely seen. I like the in between part, it’s a bit like when you’ve chewed gum too much and the flavours gone but the memory remains in it’s all of it’s elastic texture.

Just as the pieces of conversation we had in the studio, some things are best left a bit open.


Installing Dance Therapy in Seoul 2019


I have found that scale is increasingly a pertinent issue, tricky to manage, since we are all in agreement that the world is ending. I find the idea that we live in a moment which is already so cluttered with a glut of unnecessary eventualities quite perplexing. And maybe that’s it.

Scale and support matter. When we resolve to look back at the history of art, Alons and I agreed that the folklore of humanity is canonized here. Perhaps moving image is the most generous of these conclusions. I thought long about the shadows in my work, the figures in full HD, gyrating, experiencing each other and their surroundings, all potentially immortal. When working on the audio to accompany the installation of Dance Therapy in Korea, Pierre and I discussed what nostalgia for the present could sound like. I am not a painter and just like I can remember Faye saying years ago, “Lotte you are! The screen is your support” and maybe the edit is the brush. Who knows.


Installing Pierre Rousseau’s audio in front of the curve screen for Dance Therapy in Seoul 2019.



Installing Dance Therapy in Seoul 2019


The value of participation, thinking of our presence, relative to our own importance, within all its revelatory nature never ceases to amaze me. Musicians often talk about audiences momentarily giving themselves over during a performance. I wonder sometimes, whether our survival as a species is contingent on the encouragement of empathy through experience. In short, are we capable of developing this crucial sentiment, without our communal participation in any/all manner of charades we seek to judge?

My players, sitters, subjects are free to move in and out of the frame or game as they see fit. Pronouncing sovereignty and control over these groups has always seemed absurd, and entirely outside of my investigation. I produce factual data in the context of artificial environments, observing human behaviour. The performances and films are documents of the suspension and regulation of time and space, whilst implementing a finite set of principles of conduct, set up to record the predictability or unpredictability of reaction.


Left to right; Extract of The Economics of Movement PDF, November 2019. Drawing, The Economics of Movement 2019. Lotte Andersen and Alonso Leon-Velarde. Played in it’s first iteration at the Whitechapel Gallery



The Economics of Movement Notes November 2019

Lotte Andersen is a British artist working in video, sound, print, performance, writing and collage. Examining movement and its properties, continuously within different contexts her work oscillates between investigative, documentary and autobiographical. She considers sound and video physical objects in space, working with the idea that echoic (sound) memory is stored for longer periods than iconic (visual) memory. The viewer is often placed in the work, activating it whilst confronting the politics of taking up space. A document on human behaviour is uncovered using the interesting paradox of producing factual data in the context of artificial environments, captured in video, performance and sound. The work considers the suspension and regulation of time and space whilst often implementing a finite set of principles of conduct. These are setup to record the predictability or unpredictability of reaction. Spontaneous choreography in Dance and the quotidian is considered through the lens of mass migratory, gestural and forced movement. The transparency of feeling through the hypothesis of the therapeutic nature of consistent, rhythmic, group movement its psychological aftermath.

www.lotteandersen.persona.co

GAURI GILL

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020




This little clip contains images excerpted from an ongoing series of photographs about my neighborhood in New Delhi. Nizamuddin at Night is juxtaposed against Akhil Katyal’s recent poem, An evening walk, written for a friend who is in prison.

Beginning in the year 2005, I would sometimes wander around at night, taking pictures using black and white film with a large manual rangefinder camera, which I would handhold without a tripod. I did this for five or six years. Then other things came in the way. Here’s something I wrote in the journal Civil Lines in 2010: ‘Returning home late at night, I would notice things that I didn’t in the day. Lit up by streetlights, house lights and moonlight, sometimes diffused by the rain and fog, Nizamuddin became another place. One of the first pictures I took was of a white van. Its precise location on the road, its mysterious alignment with the shadows imprinted on it, transformed it from an ordinary van into another creature altogether. It was as if I had passed through a door into another world. Sometimes, I imagine a conversation between the two halves of Nizamuddin: the West side which houses Baba Auliya’s dargah; piece of old Delhi in New Delhi, alive with qawwali singing, pilgrims, beggars, tourists, migrants, butcher shops, filth and prayer — and the genteel East side, with Humayun’s tomb; grand, isolated and austere. The Saint and the Emperor.’

On reflection, I did the East a slight disservice; indeed, it is often eclipsed by the vitality of the West. The East has some very romantic old homes, initially built by refugees, expressing humility and elegance. Many are now being razed to the ground and converted to nondescript builder flats, so it also reflects the city at large. There is Arab ki Sarai, perhaps the most beautiful gate in India, from which the last Mughal emperor, the poet Bahadur Shah Zafar, was brought out when he was captured by the British. It has had a tradition of barsatis, or inexpensive terrace flats, and of artists inhabiting them, from VS Gaitonde to Mrinalini Mukherjee. It has the front views of houses which are all dressed up, and the back lanes, or ‘service lanes’, which flip your perspective. And for me, it has a great deal of personal history and reminiscence.

After the lockdown began in Delhi in late March this year, I began to head out for evening walks, in the late evening dusk. My eyes were refreshed from not having stepped out in some time, and I began to make more pictures, this time in color, using only my phone. The neighborhood has changed, and so have I.

Akhil Katyal’s poem is dedicated to his friend Natasha Narwal, a student activist who is one of the founding members of the women’s collective Pinjra Tod, and is currently a prisoner of conscience for expressing dissent against the exclusionary CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) earlier this year. Delhi had a series of peoples’ protests that went on for most of this past winter. They were followed in February by the Delhi riots, enacted primarily as punishment for the protests. Nizamuddin had a small but active protest site that I visited a few times, along the edge of the West side. This became an eclectic gathering place for people to come and share their views, express solidarity, speak from the heart. One night when I was walking back from the dargah, where I had gone with a friend, we were waylaid by a very gentle and beautiful silent candle lit protest, walking its way through the streets. Suddenly, with Covid-19, all that is over. I saw recently that the small shamiana of the protest site has been dismantled. The long days of the pandemic are a tunnel of silence, and silencing. Yet, even in the darkness, hope persists, and a stubborn belief in ‘the inevitability of your freedom’.

Gauri Gill was born in 1970, in Chandigarh, India. She earned a BFA (Applied Art) from the College of Art, New Delhi; BFA (Photography) from Parsons School of Design/The New School, New York; and MFA (Art) from Stanford University, California. She has exhibited within India and internationally, including the 58th Venice Biennale; Museum Tinguely, Basel; MoMA PS1, New York; Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel; 2016 Kochi Biennale; 7th Moscow Biennale; Wiener Library, London; and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Her work is in the collections of prominent institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Museum, London; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington and Fotomuseum, Winterthur. In 2011 she was awarded the Grange Prize, Canada’s foremost award for photography.

www.gaurigill.com

KATE ZAMBRENO

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

NOTEBOOK FRAGMENT FROM AUGUST 2018 JOURNAL FROM OPEN PAGE OF THE NOTEBOOK IN THE PHOTOGRAPH

Chantal Akerman and her mother
Moyra Davey replicating Akerman, thinking of her empty nest.

Kafka’s travel journal is a photograph.
That photo of him on the beach.

Her delicate swipe of eyebrow. Her thick eyelashes. Her feathery cheek.

A writer acquaintance, also 40, with a toddler, writes to me, “If I died now, she wouldn’t remember me.” This haunts me.

But she will never remember this mother (me) regardless.

The need to not illustrate a book on photography with photography. What a photograph does that language does not.

Austerlitz – photo as a child

A photograph will not remember how cold and slightly wet her butt is – only a journal?

A photograph is not a moment.
A photograph is a room of light.

The “photography” book – Barthes
The Missing Photograph – Duras

I’ve written 10 journal pages about photography as she hangs on my side, in the morning light. I read the entries to John. A book thinking through discovering photography. A book of fragments. The writing is like the morning light, he says.


Kate Zambreno is the author of seven books, most recently the novel DRIFTS (Riverhead Books, May 2020). Forthcoming is TO WRITE AS IF ALREADY DEAD, a study on Hervé Guibert, from Columbia University Press, and she is at work on an essay collection, THE MISSING PERSON.

DAWN LUNDY MARTIN

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Thursday, July 20, 2020; 4:20 pm

I have boxes of disposal cameras with images locked inside of them. Last week, I took five cameras to the Walgreens with no expectation of what I’d find or from what periods of my life the photos would be. One camera produced nothing at all. The others produced only a few clear photos. Because I am currently writing a memoir and this week I’ve been trying to work out something between eros and sexual violation, I’m struck by the images of an old lover and me. I’m struck now by how I’m suddenly aware that all of my writing is trying to tease out this knot between eros and sexual violation, between the love and hate of eros as Anne Carson puts it, the way it [the wrap up/the warp up] grows and morphs from when infantile toward whatever monster it becomes/became. In this photo, I am the one standing naked on the threshold. I only half believe this. The body’s gender has a curve, a drape. I’m expelled. I don’t remember who took the photo. It’s 2003 and we’ve taken some of the money I got from an artist’s grant to spend two weeks in Provincetown. During the day I try to write and take a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center; I don’t recall the instructor. I’m supposed to be writing my dissertation. At night my lover—K, who is white—and I go to bars and try to pick up girls, which we do on this one night with a degree of success that astonishes me. I can’t be one-hundred-percent sure who the woman is kneeling in front of that me. On the night of astonishing success K and I meet a woman at the dyke bar—a femme black woman with long braids and a tattoo that fills the entirety of her back—and invite her and another woman, who is white, back to our rental. We’re seeking balance of whatever sort.

There’s a daily cleaning service at the rental but always when we return the sheets are damp from humidity. The horns from the sea or the bay. The wind at night. The disparaged straights and day trippers. The bright assault of any walk through town. If play were always a thing unbound. I feel like this photo was taken from inside myself.


Dawn Lundy Martin is an American poet and essayist. She is the author of four books of poems: GOOD STOCK STRANGE BLOOD, winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; LIFE IN A BOX IS A PRETTY LIFE, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE, A GATHERING OF MATTER / A MATTER OF GATHERING, and three limited edition chapbooks. Her nonfiction can be found in n+1, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Believer, and Best American Essays 2019. Martin is the Toi Derricotte Endowed Chair in English at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

www.dawnlundymartin.com

AYO AKINGBADE

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Born in a century lost to memories
Falling trees, get off your knees
No one can keep you down

During this iffy period I have been writing a lot and been listening to lots of dub reggae, juju and high-life music like Lijadu Sisters, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, Admiral Dele Abiodun, Jennifer Lara, Hugh Mundell, Solomon Ilori… the list is endless. Also in the mix are indie musicians; Weyes Blood and Jessica Pratt. Happy solitude with deep soulful contemplation.

In the dying days of May 2020. Hannah came to South London to take my portrait beneath the shade of a fig tree in the shared garden. Hannah and I are present students at RA Schools in London and because of COV-19, all lectures and artist talks took place online from mid April to late June. Because of remote work, time seemed to be so flexible, yet a little intangible. Anxiety plagued at the start but now in July, there is a great thirst for knowledge and much optimism.

CONVERSATION BETWEEN HANNAH LISTER AND AYO AKINGBADE

Hannah arrives at 1pm (sharp) and Ayo pours Hannah a glass of coconut water. Hannah prepares her 4×5 field camera. They discuss the previous months of enforced solitude. Ayo asks: ‘denim shorts rolled up or rolled down?’ (They both agree: rolled up.) The sun beats down.

HL: ‘Cause this camera is really hard to focus you have to stay in exactly the same position, pretty much
AA: I love this portrait… Wolfgang’s…

AA gestures to her phone screen which shows a portrait taken by Wolfgang Tillmans

HL: It’s funny
AA: It’s at the ICA
HL: I can’t picture his work though. What’s his work?
AA: Who?
HL: The guy in the picture
AA: Richard Hamilton?
HL: Oh yeah, graphic-y pop art
AA: Yeah
HL: [hands AA a light meter that is sync’d to a flashgun]
OK put this in front of your face and press the button
AA: [points to a button on light meter]Oh now? This one?
HL: No the one on the side

AA moves her finger to another button

HL: That one
AA: OK so when I go [AA presses the button triggering the flash]

the flash triggers

HL: Yeah
AA: Have you got it?
HL: [looks at light meter reading] OK that’ll be alright

HL dials settings into the flashgun

AA: Is that dress from COS?
HL: No it looks like it is doesn’t it. It’s from Arket, pretty much the same place. I’ve decided I’m not shopping at Cos anymore
AA: Why?
HL: I feel like it makes everyone look the same
AA: Where else would you get your clothes from?
HL: I don’t know. Is that top from Cos? Oh yeah I was with you when you bought it. Press the button again
AA: I clicked it
HL: What number does it say on the right?
AA: 2.89

HL changes the dial on the flashgun

HL: Do it again what number does it say now?
AA: 4.0

HL changes the dial on the flashgun

HL: What does it say now?
AA: 5.6
HL: 5.6 woooohoo!

HL: What?
AA: You could drive to hers
HL: Where is she?
AA: Newham. Like, towards Ilford, kind of thing
HL: Where’s Ilford? I don’t know London at all
AA: Like past Stratford, like maybe 20 mins after Stratford
HL: So that’s like really East. That would take ages wouldn’t it
AA: Yeah. Even from Hackney it took like an hour
HL: Really? So I couldn’t really do it from Ealing could I?
AA: Yeah you could. A day trip

HL: Maybe we’re not getting enough of the leaves in here. Maybe if we move towards that one
AA: This one? [gestures towards another branch of the fig tree]
HL: Yeah and then the light will come in over you
AA: You know we could go from this other way? Like if you go over where the sun is?
HL: That might be better mightn’t it

AA and HL walk over to the opposite side of the fig tree

AA: Like here?
HL: So if you just stand there. That light is so nice. I’ll go back and get the rest of my stuff
AA: The sun is fierce
HL: What is?
AA: The sun. All the sunrays
HL: Ah I need some fabric to go over my head so I can see what I’m shooting

AA picks up the house keys that she has placed on a rusty BBQ and hands them to HL

HL: What should I get?
AA: Oh I have something green. I have something

AA takes the keys off HL and runs inside, a minute later she returns with a brightly coloured blanket

HL: OK if you could stand in that pool of light. Do you want it to be full body or not?
AA: I do
HL: Yeah? OK
AA: [takes phone out of her front pocket and places it on the BBQ] I’ll just move my phone
HL: Can you look directly at the camera? Just so I can focus your face. Maybe we can do two, one of you looking directly at the camera and one not
AA: [gestures to the camera] Have you been using this outside?
HL: Yeah I have, I’ve been walking around my neighbourhood with it. Not with the flash as much
AA: Why do you need flash if it’s sunny?
HL: It just pops everything. It takes certain shadows away. Look at the camera
AA: What?

camera clicks

AA: Oh why?!
HL: [laughs] I hadn’t loaded the film don’t worry
AA: Oh my gosh, oh good
HL: Why good?
AA: Because I was too relaxed
HL: It’s good to be relaxed! You don’t want to be posed
AA: Well sometimes you can look kind of dumb if you’re not posed. I want to have a pose with my hand on my hip
HL: Do you? I like catching you mid-pose
AA: You have two shots right?
HL: Yeah. Look away. Then I’ll say look at the camera and then you look
AA: But then my expression
HL: It’s better than having a posed expression
AA: [sighs] OK
HL: Look over there [gestures to AA’s left] …Now look into the camera

HL removes the darkslide. The camera clicks

HL: That’s a really nice shot!
AA: Did you take it?
HL: Yeah. I like the way you’ve got your eyes folded, I mean your arms folded. Usually like the first 9 photos aren’t good and then the tenth will be really good
AA: Usually
HL: Yeah… I mean we will both just relax more and more as we get into it

HL replaces the dark slide, turns around the film cassette in her camera and pulls out the second dark slide

AA: It’s so nice isn’t it [looks to the sky]… the birds

camera clicks

HL: That’s beautiful. Maybe I’ll do one more out here

HL takes another pre-loaded film cassette from her bag

AA: [holds up her little finger, it’s wrapped in a plaster] Can you see this in the pic?
HL: Yeah. Show it in the pic, just go like that [puts her hand close to face]

AA copies HL

HL: I hope you’re not blocked by this branch
AA: Should I do a staged one? [points at the large stop sign ring on her finger]
HL: Yeah you could do that; you could put your hand so the shadow covers your eyes

HL sets setting on camera

AA: [takes a fig in her hand without pulling it off the tree] There is dust on these
HL: Yeah you just give them a rinse. When they go purple they are delicious

HL: [puts her head under the fabric that AA has lent her and focuses the camera] This is well good this blanket
AA: IKEA

AA: I just feel like this is just such a strong pose.
HL: Do you? Do it then! Definitely do it if you feel like that. I’m just gonna read the light again so I know I’ve got it spot on [HL puts the light meter in front of AA’s face and presses the button] f16!
AA: Ah so different to last time. Maybe the sun has changed
HL: Yeah maybe

camera clicks

HL: That looks nice you know. This is so nice. The first ones might be a right off but…
AA: You have ten exposures. So 8
HL: Yep

AA: I was talking to an Uber driver
HL: Are you in the same position? Oh go on…
AA: and he said that if you’re sick and you go to hospital it’s game over
HL: What? Who was saying that?
AA: An Uber driver
HL: If you’re sick and you go to hospital it’s game over? What That’s nonsense. I can see the logic in that but it’s not like it’s game over for everyone
AA: He was like, if you’re sick just stay at home. He says even if you have it don’t go. It’s a death sentence
HL: People like to make people scared. They love the scare factor

AA: When does your portfolio go on your website?
HL: I haven’t got a website
AA: But when if you do
HL: I don’t know. Maybe third year. Maybe in 10 years. How’s your website going?
AA: *James is meant to do it but he’s taking so long so I’m hoping…
HL: Where did you find him?
AA: I’ve known him for years

HL: Right. Put your head down like this and then look up. OK. Put your body to the side like that and look up. Does that feel natural to you?
AA: So like this
HL: Yeah I think that’s good. Only if it feels natural to you though
AA: It feels natural! [Laughs]
HL: OK let me just put the film in
AA: People will probably laugh at my crocs but I love it!
HL: They look good. The red goes well with the green

[the sound of sirens in the distance gets louder and then gradually fades]

AA: So loud! Did you buy any of the art editions?
HL: No. I was waiting for the William Eggleston edition to be released but I’m not too keen on the image. It’s a young girl in the seventies
AA: He’s still alive isn’t he?
HL: Yeah I think he is. Look right to the back of the garden. Ok then turn round and look into the camera

camera clicks

AA: Did it work?
HL: Yeah. We’ll do another
AA: Taking photos is very… oh hi [AA nods to a neighbour that has appeared on the first floor balcony]
HL: [HL turns around to see what has caught AA’s attention] Oh hi [she waves at the neighbour then looks back to AA] Taking photos is what?
AA: It’s very… you have to… go in
HL: Intimate

AA pauses to ponder this

AA: I don’t know how celebrities do it

camera clicks

HL: That’s nice. That’s really nice. Do you wanna do one more?
AA: How many more have we got?
HL: Six
AA: I really like outdoors. Maybe one more outdoors and five indoor
HL: I should have maybe brought more film but it’s good to set yourself a limit
AA: You have the same camera as the artist called Deana Lawson
HL: Oh… her work is interesting. What sort of camera?
AA: It looks like the same as yours but it’s very detailed

camera clicks

HL: Right…should we go in then?

AA and HL begin to gather their belongings

HL: Your neighbour seems really friendly

HL: What time is it?
AA: I think it’s 4.20. Oh gosh we’ve got the artist talk…

They dash back into AA’s flat. The conversation continues…


Ayo Akingbade is an artist, writer and director. Her work addresses notions of urbanism, power and stance. She has exhibited and screened widely, including presentations at Institute of Contemporary Arts, South London Gallery, Birkbeck University, Walker Art Center, Somerset House Studios and Instituto Tomie Ohtake, amongst others. She lives and works in London, United Kingdom.

www.ayoakingbade.com
www.lux.org.uk

JODY ROGAC

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020


Jody Rogac was born in England and raised in Vancouver, Canada where she studied photography at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She currently lives and works in New York.

www.jodyrogac.com

BHANU KAPIL

Friday, June 26th, 2020

OUTDATED NOTES FROM A SPRING NIGHT, 2019 (TORN FROM MY DIARY AND TYPED UP HERE)

The spring night folds its legs under itself, like a deer, and collapses — an elegant animal structure — into the grass.

Though darkness has fallen over the place where I live, three daffodils emit a blazing yellow light.

Can three daffodils be a vagina?

I am not sure how to count nights or stop them.

Does the sun stop night?

Olafur Eliasson’s turbine sun, which I once lay beneath, with others, something that seems impossible now (Spring 2020)

In India, I know my uncle is drinking a glass of water and reading the paper.  He’s waiting for his bowels to start moving so that then, on an empty stomach, he can do his pranayam.  Daily yoga:  Coffee table pushed out of the way.  A white sheet on the rug.

My dog let out a very deep sigh just then.

Unearthly.

Things I am reading on my phone:

Three rhino poachers were eaten by a pride of lions. Three pairs of shoes and one axe were all that remained.

“I walked over the crisp browned breadfruit leaves lying on the grass like curled, withered things that had once been gargantuan bats, and I had a clear vision: I was a tall woman, hair wrapped in multicolour cloth. I thought of walking into Jolly’s Pharmacy in Roseau, our capital city, and buying one of the white tubes of generic lip balm (my mum forbade me from using lip balm for many years, as she thought it too effeminate) or one of the black pressed powder compacts or even just something mundanely unisex. I imagined doing the most mundane things as a woman. Sometimes, I stood out in these visions; other times, I was an unremarkable girl lost in the tarp-flutter of a crowd.” — Gabrielle Bellot, Mal Journal.

Emails and texts.

*

Write your notes on the night’s leg.

*

I vaccinated my child.  I don’t believe that vaccinations are detrimental.  That said, I could not tolerate the typhoid vaccine.  So I stopped.  My neighbor, a homeopath, gave me an alternative product.  In India, I lived in a modest, frugal and limited way.

*

Oh my god, another guttural sigh/roar from Porky.

*

For eighteen years, I taught at a Buddhist university in the United States of America.  One bite of that bagel with cream cheese and lox in the basement of the Empire State Building and I never wanted to go back.

*

The yellow notebook glows in my bag like zirconium.

*

In many states in the United States of America, The Far Right is resurgent.

How many tulips will destroy it, how many cloves?

None.

*

Spring Night is closing on a bitter note and yet, at the same time, I imagine that our house is surrounded by thousands of scarlet tulips and that setting down our chai pani (the water for chai boiled with spices but no milk or tea), we chew the clove in the back of our gleaming teeth.

Glean images.

Accrue destiny’s stars.

Bhanu Kapil lives between the US and UK, though is currently living in Cambridge, where she has been the 2019-2020 Judith E. Wilson poetry fellow. She is the author of a number of full-length works of poetry/prose, including THE VERTICAL INTERROGATION OF STRANGERS (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), INCUBATION: A SPACE FOR MONSTERS (Leon Works, 2006/Kelsey Street Press, 2020), HUMANIMAL [A PROJECT FOR FUTURE CHILDREN] (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), SCHIZOPHRENE (Nightboat, 2011), BAN EN BANLIEUE (Nightboat, 2015), and most recently HOW TO WASH A HEART (Liverpool University Press, 2020), the summer choice of the Poetry Book Society. In 2020, Bhanu won a Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry, and also a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, both for her body of work.

MOYRA DAVEY

Friday, June 26th, 2020

This 7” print surfaced recently, I hadn’t laid eyes on it in a long time: 3 super-eight frames show my thirty-one year old self, holding a handgun, with a dangling price tag. Depicted are stills from Jennifer Montgomery’s 1989 film Home Avenue, in which she retraces the scene of a crime, a rape at gunpoint perpetrated against her when she a college student in Middletown, CT. In the film she returns to the site, the titular Home Avenue, only blocks from her family’s house, and narrates her memory of the event in a straightforward, dispassionate tone. I held the super-eight camera, and later witnessed her hand-processing of the color film in a tiny, bare-bones darkroom. The technique of hand-processing color movie film is crude: you unspool and bundle it into a can, the kind used for still-camera B&W film, and develop it in color chemistry. I was awed by Jennifer’s throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude – she’d invested some time and effort into staging the shots – but the risk paid off, the processed film yielded up images utterly transformed by reversal of color, day-glow psychedelic color, over-printing of images and sprocket holes, all manner of hoped-for and unknowable accidents.

I have barely a memory of the scene in the gun shop, or where it was, but it was all part of Jennifer’s inimitable method of reenactment, of piecing together a narrative from fragments in order to create an essay film, a medium she prized for its ability to “bring together writing, performance and the visual” all in one work.

Elsewhere, in an Afterimage interview, Jennifer complicated and nuanced her method by saying: “the visual is the balm, verbiage is the threat.”

Every time I am on the cusp of something new, I remember her insight and I keep it in my sights, even if I fail again and again to heed it.

Moyra Davey
June 2020


Moyra Davey was born in Toronto in 1958, she currently lives and works in New York. She has had solo exhibitions at Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2008); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2010); Tate Liverpool (2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2014); and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna (2014), among other venues.

PAUL MPAGI SEPUYA

Friday, June 26th, 2020

OBSERVATIONS, SKETCHES, INCOMPLETE IDEAS


IMG_1127.HEIC 6/8/20 5:22:58 pm


IMG_9271.HEIC 6/22/20 2:07:53 pm


IMG_0630.HEIC 6/8/20 5:20:32 pm

Paul Mpagi Sepuya was born in 1982, in San Bernardino, California and received an MFA in photography at UCLA in 2016. From 2000 – 2014 Sepuya resided in New York City, receiving a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. In 2019 a survey of Sepuya’s work was presented in a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis that traveled to the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas. The corresponding monograph is forthcoming. Other recent solo exhibitions include DOUBLE ENCLOSURE at FOAM Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; PORTRAITS / POSITIONS at KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY; and STUDIO WORK at the Platform Centre for Photography, Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Recent group exhibitions include MASCULINITIES: THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM FROM THE 1960S TO NOW at the Barbican, London; IN FOCUS: THE CAMERA at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles; IMPLICIT TENSIONS: MAPPLETHORPE NOW at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the 2019 Whitney Biennial; BEING: NEW PHOTOGRAPHY 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and TRIGGER at the New Museum, New York. Sepuya’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the International Center for Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum, among others. Sepuya has taught at CalArts and Bard MFA, and is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California San Diego.

www.paulsepuya.com
www.teamgal.com
www.vielmetter.com
www.documentspace.com

RICKY D’AMBROSE

Friday, June 26th, 2020

For a new short film: a few images, some found, others invented. I’ve given the film a title (*Object Lessons, or: What Happened on Sunday*) and a kind of premise: an American art collector’s estate plans to build a glass house that will permanently memorialize the collector’s many prints and paintings. The spot selected—several acres of undeveloped parkland in upstate New York—was the site of a young woman’s murder, the circumstances of which have been exploited for political purposes by the founder of a far-right populist party called National Advance. I imagine the film consisting of a series of landscapes, joined by examples from the art collector’s personal holdings as well as scraps of printed newspaper commentary on the park’s history and its intended use. I’d like to find a way to include the American composer Frederic Rzewski’s piano piece The Road, especially this section https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHNfNTB1vC0


Stills from *Object Lessons, or: What Happened on Sunday*. Written, produced and directed by Ricky D’Ambrose. Cinematography by Barton Cortright.


From the visual reference file for *Object Lessons*. I often save and classify film stills that I especially like, such as these. Sometimes, the images serve as references for future projects.


Draft design for National Advance campaign poster.


From a set of eighteenth-century reproductions of a book of sixteenth-century erotic engravings, published in Italy as *I Modi*. The collector in *Object Lessons *is meant to have specialized in early pornographic prints, such as these.


Newspaper clippings that will appear in the finished film.

Ricky D’Ambrose was born in 1987, in Livingston, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker and writer in New York. His first feature, NOTES ON AN APPEARANCE, is distributed in the United States by Grasshopper Film.

SAM CONTIS

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Studio wall, June–July 2019. Editing DAY SLEEPER.


Click image to view larger

Sam Contis was born in 1982 in Pittsburgh. She currently lives and works in Oakland, California. Her most recent book, DAY SLEEPER, a reimagining of the work of Dorothea Lange, was published by MACK in 2020.

www.samcontis.com

MAREN HASSINGER [NOMINATED BY SENGA NENGUDI]

Friday, May 15th, 2020

A LONG FRIENDSHIP

In 1975, I had a storefront studio in mid-town Los Angeles a few miles from the studio that Maren and her husband Peter were living in. I had an idea for a performance piece choreographing human bodies into abstract sculptures and photographing them from above. I knew Maren was a dancer and sculptor so I thought she might be interested in being one of the performers.


Photo booth snapshots of Joyce and Maren, 1975



Photograph of Configurations, photographs by Joyce Hayashi, 1975


Most of our time in those years was taken up with art, but I also remember summer days
swimming in her mother, Helen’s, pool and grilling food outdoors with friends. Maren’s
daughter Ava was born in 1986 and I became her godmother.


Photograph of Maren and Joyce holding flowers, 1985



Photograph of Maren and Ava, photo on paper, Joyce Hayashi, 1988



Photograph of Diamond, painting, 1985


In January 1993, my mother, who had always cared for my disabled younger sister Doreen, suffered a severe stroke. Suddenly, I found I had to move out of my studio to care for them fulltime until my mother recovered. I had no notion of how long this would be. As it turned out it lasted for 24 years.

By converting a patio/cookhouse behind our house into a small studio, I continued to paint during those years. By then, Maren had moved to New York. We’ve stayed in contact for over three decades by phone and occasional visits to exchange ideas, share our lives and always to give each other support.


Photograph of Maren and Joyce sitting, 2009



Photograph of Untitled drawing, 2007



Photograph of Star #2, painting, 2014


Today, at 76, I am now able to turn my focus on making art again. The transition from caregiving has not always been smooth but I’ve found that my visual concerns have remained steady over the decades regardless of the conditions, as has my friendship with Maren.

– Joyce Hayashi


Photograph of Fold In, watercolor, 2020





Joyce Hayashi was born in Manzanar in 1943.

She has been my friend since the 1970s. We both find ourselves in the predicament of being artists and that’s the common bond. I remember one time when I was trying to paint these rocks grey. I had made them out of plaster and was having a terrible time finding the right grey. Joyce came to my studio and calmly and quietly mixed the perfect hue and I made many pieces using it.


Photographs by Adam Avila, courtesy of Susan Inglett Gallery


She was generous like that. In 1986, she became my daughter’s godmother, which was a pretty difficult job because at that time I lived in New York City and she lived in Los Angeles. But there were lots of letters and phone calls and we remained close. It was around this time that Joyce’s life changed rather drastically, when her mother suffered an irreversible stroke and would be bedridden for the remainder of her life. Joyce became her caretaker. She also became her sister’s caretaker, as the family disease of muscular dystrophy claimed her. In the years of taking care of her mother until her mother’s death and then taking care of her sister, holding down jobs in administrative positions, and sharing a house with a fellow painter, she continued to pursue her art with tenacity.

Now that the familial obligations are behind her, she is making more art and forging new paths.

The reason why I’m so inspired by Joyce is that through this difficult journey, she managed to make art of beauty, sensitivity, and compassion. As Joyce is a practitioner of Buddhism, I see its philosophy of presence in all of her work. While taking care of her mother and sister, she never sought out commercial venues for her work. And yet, she continued through all of the difficulties, to make beautiful and meaningful paintings. And along with this exceptional work, we shared a fulfilling friendship of love and support.

– Maren Hassinger


Maren Hassinger was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1947 and lives and works in New York. She was the Emeritus Director of the Rinehart School of Graduate Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, which she led for 20 years. During a career that has spanned more than four decades, Hassinger has explored relationships between the industrial and natural worlds in a practice that is both meditative and critical. Currently, her work is focused on exploring issues of equality.

POPE.L [NOMINATED BY JUSTINE KURLAND]

Friday, May 15th, 2020

THE FRANCHISE OR HOW MR. BROWN-GUY FOUND HIS CAR AGAIN

People don’t want to see something I I I say don’t look. But I’m not sure things really work that way…

I look down at my feet and witness a large pool of urine oozing yellow glass-like against black asphalt expanse smells like sea rotten vegetables and plastic. Life itself. Like itself.

I look up again, my vision blurs. Through the blur I see I see my plump ex-wife and my son, almost as tall as his mom, slowly recede in the distance down the sidewalk in this neighborhood in which I have suddenly found myself silently keening. Into my breath. My ex-wife’s scarf long, long red scarf dragging behind her like a pet. Recalcitrant, knitted.

I watch my ex-wife and my son recede as if I am underwater until I cannot stand to see them them them any longer. Until I cannot sense them, always odd when I cannot sense them any longer happens too often each time it burns me a cinder. Still I remain I remain I remain staring after what thing is nothing is nothing in a landscape that that eventually stares back and and turns on me a grey bone sky…

Red or high yellow brick-faced apartment buildings erected in the 19th or early early 20th century, once once single family homes now cut up into condos donning illegal wooden fire escapes, potted plants, faux surveillance devices, metal telephone poles for self-asphyxiation, sagging wires, variously colored garbage receptacles, lollipop trees without leaves, families of trash here and there dog feces…

A chill or damp lower down my pants soaked to the ankles and beyond my spirit I turn to go or abscond to nothing no heroic or dramatic or superlative I depart…

After a bit of aimless, fruitless wandering round town, I end up on the outskirts at a car wash. The outskirts–it it it it is near the tacos, the oranges, the placards and the flowers in plastic. I stand before their welcome like an immigrant from the new world. My passport is my will and my imperfection. My perfection lies in what I did not have allowed myself to have witnessed but did but did but did but did and now I am none with the past but but but what it is dissing.

My understanding is that when one is in a car wash you either lie down or stand up, I lie down. The FWP engages my head at the temples and the RWP engages my feet at the ankles moving me through the apparatus like a product in a factory with the same goal that I be reborn into something new and useless. The water jets are triggered by an electric eye which engages my spirit so I begin to hallucinate. This remembered might sound odd to many of you, my fans, my admirers, my legion letter-writers for me Mr. Brown-Guy, always the handsome man to say, to do, to be: I begin to hallucinate just adhoc-ky like hallucination is revelation is something else so this is what I experienced what I saw more like experienced in the fat of my proteins at the back of my eyeballs in the dents of my cells:

It is late spring. I am six or seven or eight walking with a group of friends taking the short cut to to school taking a short cut through a wooded area we called Mulberry Hill. We step off the road, descend into a depth, a green depression dappled with morning light, tiny violet blooms scattered here and there like garbage and we hear the stream before we see it, then we see it clogged with rusting bed frames, abandoned washer and dryers, car parts, the waters now overflowing onto the banks and we see my cousin and his friends, they are slightly older, just standing around, hanging, my cousin is talking. That that is a problem right there. There is there is there is something afoot but we are none the wiser. We draw nearer, my cousin is talking saying something. He has to piss. He has to piss he says. He unzips his zipper. He takes out his thing and displays it in the palm of his hand like a little chocolate fish. Looks around slowly, chooses one of the younger boys and asks the boy if he can put his dick in his mouth. My cousin asks politely, always politely. And there is something else too. But the boy says no, no no he does not want my cousin to put his dick in his mouth. The boy says if he lets my my my cousin put his dick in his mouth, my cousin will piss in it. My cousin cajoles the boy, reassures him, lots of teeth and silence, always polite saying saying he would never do that. He would never do that. He would never do that and this goes on for quite a while until finally the boy relents, drops to his knees and opens his mouth. My cousin inserts himself into the boy and the the the mouth jumps up screaming, mouth full of and wiping his mouth and we all laugh and continue on to school.

I leave the carwash before the process is finished.

I am exhausted, dirty-clean in a daze still still still filled with filth and detergent I wander around town like that like like that awhile awhile until I see my car again my Eldorado Cadillac 2002, golden-colored, last of its kind, exactly where I left it when I spotted my beloveds and rushed out after to greet them apparently to no avail the Eldorado’s engine still engaged as if I never left it it it still purring the driver’s side door open just as I left it. On the ground, scattered beneath the open driver’s side door, on the asphalt I see scattered on the ground used catheters and empty drink-stained Slurpee cups once containing the frozen confection invented by one Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s, its name and logo designed by Ruth E. Taylor whose family perished in a house fire ten years before set by Ruth herself before she set out for while she was in Kowloon looking at tomorrow. I look I look I look inside the Eldorado, the front seat where I was sitting just before spying my family my my my my my my my my my my my ether eldorado and I see on the driver’s side seat a book by a well-known and infamous author and I pry the book open and there it is a handwritten note from my son inscribed, it says; ‘Dad, see page 347’, I do so and underlined is this phrase: ‘Well alright then.’

Pope.L was born in 1955, in Newark, NJ. He is a visual artist and educator whose multidisciplinary practice uses binaries, contraries and preconceived notions embedded within contemporary culture to create art works in various formats including writing, painting, performance, installation, video and sculpture. Building upon his long history of enacting arduous, provocative, absurdist performances and interventions in public spaces, Pope.L applies the same social, formal and performative strategies to his interests in language, system, gender, race and community.

www.miandn.com

BECCA ALBEE [NOMINATED BY MATT WOLF]

Friday, May 15th, 2020


A thank you letter.



A change of address card.



A polaroid.



An artist statement. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



A get well post card that was returned to sender.Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



A contact sheet. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



A loose page in a sketchbook. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



A final page of a syllabus. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



A course proposal. Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Blanchon.



An exhibition invitation postcard displaying a photograph of a dingbat on verso.



An edition notice page of an artist’s book: [never realized] 4 opportunistic infections for public viewing and consumption.



A coffee-stained monograph.


Robert Blanchon was my professor during my first semester in graduate school in 1998. I had moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from Olympia, Washington. He had moved from Los Angeles to be the fall semester artist-in-residence. We continued our correspondence after he returned to California and then moved to Chicago where he died the following year at the age of 33 from AIDS-related illnesses.

I have held on to printed emails from Robert and a small amount of other materials over the past twenty years. I am forever grateful for having met him and have continued to learn from and share his words and work. Last spring I spent time at Fales Library in the Robert Blanchon Papers and Collection which was created by The Estate of Robert Blanchon and Visual AIDS. I documented as much material as possible so that I could reference it later while developing my exhibition at MIT List Visual Arts Center along with a screening of Robert’s videos and a conversation with Mary Ellen Carroll—Robert’s dearest friend, collaborator, and the executor of his estate. All of the above photographs show objects from either Robert’s archive or my own and were selected from what was available on my phone and laptop in May 2020.

Since Robert’s only monograph was published in 2006, I have kept multiple copies so that I’ll always have a spare to give away. The book, which includes his brilliant photographs, sculpture, video, printed matter, and writing, was published by Visual AIDS and is available directly through their website: https://visualaids.org/projects/robert-blanchon-monograph

Sincerest thanks to Mary Ellen Carroll.

Becca Albee is an artist who was born in Portland, Maine, and is based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA; Situations, New York, NY; Et al., San Francisco, CA; and 356 S. Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA. Her papers are held in the Riot Grrrl Collection at New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections, and she is currently an Associate Professor of Art at The City College of New York, CUNY.

www.beccaalbee.com

KARLA CORNEJO VILLAVICENCIO [NOMINATED BY EILEEN MYLES]

Friday, May 15th, 2020

THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE WAY I CAN BE APPROACHED BY ICE, A LEGALLY BINDING DOCUMENT

— I wake up very early, weather TBD, but not humid. Hair color TBD, either Kurt Cobain blonde with some grit, let’s say my hair has changed it’s texture from indigenous good girl pin straight but chemically damaged to Malibu tousled, I think your hair texture can only change when you are pregnant and I rather swallow a razor blade, but let’s just say. I go to the bank. There is a hostage situation. Oh, I am wearing a white silk slip, a negligee, and my usual Stan Smiths. I am minding my business, and I become aware of the hold up. We become hostages. 30 hostages! I am the only hostage of color. The rest are all white, all of them natural blondes, women, children, cops, firefighters, the works. They are frightened. The bank robber is a terrorist. It is impossible to know his race. I talk to him, and we develop a rapport. I earn his trust. The white hostages think I am a terrorist too and spit at me. I go over to the stack of hundred dollar bills he has set aside and pull off a rubber band and tie up my hair in a topknot. This is a privilege I have earned, this freedom of movement, this migration, through my diplomatic skills. The terrorist is a man is a man is a man, tries to kiss me, I stand at an angle, lean in for a kiss, then BAM, reach for the gun. I am not sure how I do it, but I do it, I am so fast. We struggle and I overpower him, even though I have no upper body strength whatsoever, and I do this one move my partner, who is a woman and 4’11, taught me from a self-defense class she took as a child, which is to make your hand into a duck bill and shove it in your attacker’s eyes. I do that and he falls. Or no, he doesn’t fall because what I am about to do next, I don’t want it to be cowardly. I shoot him in the knees! And he falls. The hostages all run out. I walk out. I have never run after a bus, after a train, after shit. And I don’t run away from shit either. I strut out, and I’m bloody, his blood is on me but not a lot, like a tasteful splatter, and the gun suddenly turns into an AK-47, Americans love those, and I hang it across my body like a Ms. America sash and it becomes windy and my hair blows in the wind the reporters all take my picture, which will be in the front page of all the American papers, and I look like a fuckin supermodel, but of course, foreigner etc etc, so ICE officers approach me and try to arrest me but! The white moms come speeding in their Hummers and form a barrier around me and block them, and throw little Confederate flags at me, la reina del Sur.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a writer who lives in New Haven with her partner and bad dog. She is the author of the recently published reporting/memoir hybrid THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS. It is a punk manifesto

SARAH NICOLE PRICKETT [NOMINATED BY COLLIER SCHORR]

Friday, May 15th, 2020


Sarah Nicole Prickett is a writer for Artforum, Bookforum, and more. She is a former contributing editor at The New Inquiry and was a founding editor of Real Life. She used to have a magazine called Adult.

CHRISTINE SUN KIM

Monday, March 16th, 2020

DEAF ARTIFACTS


Christine Sun Kim was born in 1980, in California, and studied art at Bard College and the School of Visual Arts in New York. She lives and works in Berlin. Her performances and exhibitions have been presented at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Whitney Biennial, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, amongst many others.

www.christinesunkim.com

AMINA CAIN

Monday, March 16th, 2020

The world is strange and heavy right now. We’ve been headed in that direction for a while, and now it feels upended. In the last year, one of the things that’s helped me most is ecstatic singing and chanting, because it cuts through my anxiety. Sometimes I go to Kirtan, which gets wild in the best way. In that moment of chanting with everyone else, I feel connected to them, and it seems possible we’ll be able to face everything together. Though for the moment, it seems we’ll have to face it alone.

It makes me think of that verse by Bertolt Brecht: “In the dark times / Will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing / About the dark times.”

And it takes me back twenty years ago to Chicago, when there were hootenannies with my good friends, Alex Branch and Luba Winship. They played guitar, and we all sang. Maybe I sometimes played the triangle or the tambourine—I don’t remember. We often sang the old Scottish folk song “The Water Is Wide,” which was one of our favorites. I have the sheet music for it still, which I have placed lovingly on a shelf above my desk. I think the handwriting on it is Luba’s. I’m shocked at how time moves, I suppose I always will be, but how warm and cheering those evenings were . . .


Amina Cain is the author of a novel, INDELICACY, and two collections of short fiction, CREATURE and I GO TO SOME HOLLOW. Her writing has appeared in GRANTA, BOMB, THE PARIS REVIEW DAILY, n+1, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.

JAKE SKEETS

Monday, March 16th, 2020

MAPPING THE FIELD FROM THE CAMERA ROLL

There is something about living in the place where your family has lived for thousands of years. I feel like there is a misbelief that because I am from these lands that I should know how to navigate them with ease. The precursor to that misbelief is the navigation of land, the way around it, the way through it, the way you maneuver within it, the breaking of the land to the organizational structures of the human mind. In the phrase, “I know this place like the back of my hand,” the land becomes synonymous with a part of the body, something that is known, familiar, something with utility like the hand, something always seen like the back of it. In fact, the ancestral homelands of my community and people remains largely a mystery to me. Each trip through Dinétah becomes one of discovery, journey, roaming (quite literally because of cell service), and exploration. There is an unconscious mapping that happens within the mind, one that aims to look for the familiar within the landscape, to position oneself in relation to other things. This happens perhaps for convenience. Perhaps mapping happens because one wants to conquer the land, to break it. After all, the first step to breaking a wild horse is the roping. What is a map if not a lasso? So in thinking through the things that influence me, I kept returning to the land. The various adventures in and the way I mapped the places not with conquest in mind but with language and image in mind. We map things but it is up to us to map things for the right reasons. The landscape is mapped best when it is mapped with memory and story. Scrolling through my iPhone camera roll today, I heard the stories and memories. I rolled out a map.

We need maps in our lives. We need patterns. We need familiarity. We need the things to repeat so as to know when things do not. The first image here is my first attempt to print my poetry manuscript for my first book. I knew I would lose the pages so I took this picture. Somehow, this entire page of coding came out instead of the poetry manuscript. I figured it was the map, the warp, the pattern of the poems. You see, the second image is of my partner warping a loom to begin weaving. It starts with the warp, its pattern, its structure, that will hold the design in place. I realized a Microsoft Word document is filled with coding that acts like a warp, pattern, structure, which will hold up the poem. Our world is no different. We can think of gravity, magnetic fields, gases, pressures, winds as the warp to our world, the pattern, the structure that holds us in place. There are small moments where we encounter this warp and these are the moments that inspire me the most, the reminder of energies, the reminder that we belong to a system, to a machination of small miracles.

The third image from my camera roll that stuck out to me is this image of Marble Canyon in Arizona. At the mouth of the Grand Canyon, one can see time in the flesh. Each layer holds time, holds story, holds a moment of the world. There one sees, again, the warp of the world, the pattern, the structure that holds us in place.

I do not assume that the universe is not revealed in urban structures. An entire city is a machine of systems, movement, energy, pressures that are hidden behind the noise and currents. A machination of small miracles. Even a building has a loom, a warp, a pattern, a structure. Each person who steps into an elevator, onto a floor, into a room carries with them a story, or what is known as live load in architecture. It can sometimes be felt when a person zooms by and a paper flutters on the corner of a desk. Now, imagine a poem too standing and daring it could withstand wind, gravity, and hold the weight of stories. Each element of a poem that steps into the poem’s elevator, line, room carries a weight, a story, a poem’s live load. It can sometimes be felt when you are forced to turn the page in a poetry collection, you feel something flutter.

It is said that they traveled by rainbow. You don’t need to know who, to where, from where, how, or for what reason. Trust in the miracle. Trust in the poem. Trust what you see in front of you. A rainbow. A small miracle.

We notice the ways the climate is changing. Pictured above is the Grand Canyon from the east rim on your way back to the Navajo Nation. My partner, my good friend, and I stopped to witness the setting sun and the canyon. We immediately noticed the smoke. A fire was burning on the north rim and I decided not to capture the plumes aching into the sky. Instead, I caught the after light, the after smoke that settled deep into time. Each rim, each lip, each cliff seemed to shush themselves as the smoke snaked down to the river. We notice these things changing but there seems to not be a way to change ourselves. The after smoke of our lives is embracing the warp, the loom, the pattern, the structure of this world. When my partner hits a snag or noticing something amiss in his rug, he mends the mistake of his design and continues. He never starts a new loom, a new warp, a new pattern, a new structure. That is not what one does. It is impossible.

I do not want to end this mapping on a darker tone. Rex Lee Jim, a Diné poet and traditional practitioner, told me once that the body is a machine. The body breathes in oxygen and transforms it to carbon dioxide. The body can change elements. So Jim said that the body can transform positive energy into negative energy and vice versa. The Earth is also a body. Laura Tohe, the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, said mountains have kidneys and stomachs, each one alive, full of energy. The Earth will move to mend its body, even if we are not here to witness it. One day, it will want to return to the sea, to the sun. I think we all do at some point, too. So when I am out for a walk, I see these small miracles happen, though I tend to not walk far from home as I have an unreasonable fear of the woods. I snapped this picture of this single wild flower blooming. It had just rained and I was excited for the new semester but also extremely stressed. My book was going to be released the following month and I was nervous and afraid. I kept thinking about all the worst scenarios in my head and numbering all the things I needed to complete. Then, I saw this flower, took out my phone, snapped a bunch of pictures, and continued walking. For a moment, I had forgotten about all the things, all the moving pieces, and I was reminded of the loom, the warp, the pattern, the structure of the world beneath and above me. Coming across this picture again, I was reminded again of that momentary quiet from the noise, that small moment where I could listen and see, that small miracle. I took the picture then and saved it to my camera roll. Today, I rolled it out as a map.

Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. He is the author of EYES BOTTLE DARK WITH A MOUTHFUL OF FLOWERS, a National Poetry Series-winning collection of poems. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets is a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Skeets edits an online publication called CLOUDTHROAT and organizes a poetry salon and reading series called POLLENTONGUE, based in the Southwest. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: A Diné Writers’ Collective and currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.

www.jakeskeets.com

BEATRICE GIBSON

Monday, March 16th, 2020

SCENE NO. 11

We cut to the inside of a cave deep underground, the woman alone, a lake and in it a boat, two oars resting on its sides. Pink and green lights. Stalagmites drip, rocks glisten. The echo of a song spilling in from an adjacent cavern. Watery. Like an old tape machine in the bath.

The woman looks at her reflection. A second woman smiles back at her. A third person also appears. Smoke envelops the cave. Shards of light project across the space, piercing the whiteness. We hear a voice:

“It’s in the desert, under a perpetual neon light. She’s a blackjack dealer. She drifts between work and home. An uncle dies, a husband is missing. First we see her asleep in bed, a hand on a white pillow, acrylic nails, long and red. Her job is vapid and she’s indifferent. Nothing really changes. She deals more cards”

We cut to a hotel room, the woman just risen. The same music from the cave still audible on headphones tucked under crumpled, abandoned sheets. The sound of a shower being turned off. She dresses slowly, methodically, then closes the door behind her and walks back out into the night.


Beatrice Gibson was born in 1978 is an artist and filmmaker based in London. In 2019 she had solo exhibitions at Camden art Centre, London Bergen Kunstall and Mercer Union, Toronto. She is twice winner of The Tiger Award for Best Short Film. In 2015 she won the 17th Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel, and more recently was the recipient of the Images Festival Award for Autobiography (2019). Her latest film premiered at Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival, 2019.

www.dliub.org
www.laurabartlettgallery.com
www.lux.org.uk

MICHAEL DEAN

Monday, March 16th, 2020

LOVE CAUSED HATE TO UNDERSTAND THAT
“I LOVE YOU” IS EQUAL TO “I HATE YOU”

Love punched Hate in the face,
grabbed hate by the throat.

Love scared the shit out of Hate.
Love beat the shit out of Hate,
literally made Hate shit itself.
Love made Hate eat shit and die.

Hate avoided thoughts and images related to having
Witnessed fellow Hates’ being hurt by Love.

Love called Hate names, told Hate what to do. Love
Isolated Hate from friends and family. Love intimidated
And diminished Hate making Hate feel frightened through
Threats of violence. Love coerced Hate into posing for nude
Photographs. Love hit Hate. Love threatened to destroy
Hate, threatened to destroy Hate’s possessions. Love
Criticised how Hate dressed. Threatened to share intimate
Details of Hate. Love put down Hate in front of others and in
Private. Love threw objects at Hate. Love pulled Hate’s hair
Out. Love slapped, smacked and kicked Hate, twisted
Hate’s Arms. Love devalued Hate’s opinion and took credit for
Hate’s success. Love threatened to hurt Hate’s loved ones.

Love scratched Hate’s skin
Love burned Hate, scalded Hate,
hit Hate, banged Hate’s head against the wall
Love stuck objects into Hate’s skin,
intentionally prevented Hate’s wounds from healing,
Forced Hate to swallow inappropriate objects.

Violence Hate suffered at the hands of Love,
contributed to Hate’s ill health and premature death.

Hate died more than a year after
Sustaining injuries caused by Love.

Love caused Hate actual bodily harm,
wounded Hate with intent causing Hate
Grievous bodily harm, attempting murder,
assaulted Hate.

Love taught Hate a lesson. Love taught Hate a lesson Hate
Would never forget.

Love stabbed Hate in the back
With such force that of the eleven stabbing
Injuries seven had gone right through Hate
Using a long and heavy love, Love’s
Stabs had gone through Hate’s clothing
And in and out of Hate’s body.
Love slayed Hate brutally, stabbing Hate
Repeatedly with a love, shooting Hate through the

Heart with a love before dumping Hate outside
Hate’s home. Love carried on stabbing Hate with
A love long after Hate was dead, leaving Hate’s corpse
On the ground with a love still in Hate’s back.

Love loved Hate lovingly, loving Hate
Repeatedly with love, loving Hate through the
Heart with a love before loving Hate outside
Hate’s home. Love carried on loving Hate with
A love long after Hate was love. Leaving Hate’s love
On the ground with a love still in Hate’s back.

Love loved Hate in the back
With such force that of the eleven loving
Loves seven had gone right through Hate
Using a long and heavy love, Love’s
Loves had gone through Hate’s clothing
And in and out of Hate’s body.

Love broke Hate’s bones with sticks and stones.

Hatred in tears at the hands of Love.
Hatred crying out Hatred’s heart.
Hatred’s heart was broken apart
By Love with love on purpose.

Love gave Hate a permanent smile with a sharp knife.

Love attacked Hate with a happy
Leaving Hate bloodied and unconscious.
Hate carried the emotional and physical scars
Inflicted by Love on Hate for ever.

Love punching, slapping and kicking Hate.

Love shouted angrily at Hate
Love hit Hate
Love threatened Hate
Love hit Hate again
Love left Hate badly bruised
Love left Hate scared of
Love.

Love pissed on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children piss On Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s children Piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s Children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones And had Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children Piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children piss on Hate’s bones and had Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children piss on Hate’s bones.

Love separated Hate from
Hate’s children, removed Hate’s
Children and forbade Hate’s children
From speaking Hate’s language.

Love discriminated against Hate
On the grounds of sex, race, colour, class, language,
Religion, political opinion, national and or social
Origin, property, birth and sexual orientation,
Gender, identity/reassignment status, marital
Status, pregnancy, paternity and maternity
Status and disability.

Love didn’t act to protect Hate from ill treatment and the
Immediate risks Love knew full fucking well about. Love
Recklessly endangered Hate.

Love danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children danced on Hate’s Grave. Love’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s Children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s Grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children Danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children Danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children Danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s Grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave. Love’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s Children’s children’s children’s children’s children danced on Hate’s grave.

Love wouldn’t let Love’s children play with Hate’s children.

Love made Hate change behaviour as a result of
Making Hate feel frightened through threats and acts
Of physical and emotional violence.

Love made Hate change behaviour as a result of
Making Hate feel loved through threats and acts
Of physical and emotional love.

Love made Hate disappear, stone-
Walled Hate, gave Hate the silent
Treatment, shut Hate out, closed Hate
Down, pretended Hate wasn’t there.
Love keeping Hate in the dark,
talked about Hate behind Hate’s back.
Hate’s cries fell on Love’s deaf ears.

Love kept Hate from holding Love to account.

Love interfered with Hate
Intentionally, inflicting severe physical
And mental pain on Hate for the
Purpose of obtaining information,
Punishment and intimidation,
Degrading Hate’s dignity,
Imprisoning Hate arbitrarily
Without fair trial.
Love blamed Hate.
Love did Hate in.
Put Hate to death.
Put Hate to sleep.
Took Hate’s life.
Did away with Hate.
Love killed Hate.

Love did nothing to protect Hate’s life. Subjected Hate to
Torture and degrading treatment and punishment, debased
And humiliated Hate held in slavery and required Hate to
Perform compulsory labour. Love forced Hate into labour
Without voluntary consent to perform work but Hate did so
Because Love threatened Hate both physically and
Psychologically. Love forced Hate to perform work with little
Or no wages in a condition in which Hate was effectively
Prevented from escaping for fucksake.

Love made Hate pay for protesting, denied Hate from
Associating with other Hates’ and gathering together with
Other Hates’ for a common purpose and Love made Hate pay
For not participating, denied Hate from not associating with
Other Hates’ and or Loves’ and not gathering together with
Other Hates’ and or Loves’ for a loving purpose.

Love gave Hate a hiding.

Love had a chilling effect on Hate’s
Fucking freedom of speech and the fucking values
Hate placed on particular forms of fucking
Expression and the fucking mediums Hate used.
Love denied Hate
An effective education that
Was adequate and appropriate.

Love denied Hate the capacity to enjoy
Possessions. Love deprived Hate of
Possessions and Love subjected Hate’s
Possessions to Love’s ffffucking control.

Love made Hate pay. Love took advantage of Hate taking Hate
For a fool, making Hate poor, getting wealthy at Hate’s
Expense. Making money off of Hate’s back Love sold
Hate’s Truth for cash and paid Hate back with sadness, sold Hate’s
Love and dreams for money and paid Hate a salary of smiles and lies.

Love exposed Hate to infection. Love
Denied Hate medical attention.

Love ripped off Hate’s head and shat down Hate’s neck.

Love gouged out Hate’s eyes and pissed on Hate’s brain. Ripped off Hate’s arms at the roots.

Love got fat starving Hate.
Hate starved got Love fat.
As Hate skin and bones b-b-begged
For food freezing cold outside sad,
warm indoors belly full happy fat
Love turned on Hate Love’s back.

Love broke Hate Two’s heart, lied to Hate Two about Love’s
Long-term relationship with Hate One. Love used lies of loving Hate
Two as leverage to coerce Hate One into having children With Love.

Love intimidated and diminished Hate. Love entered Hate’s
Home without consent. Love made Hate homeless for money
After putting up Hate’s rent.

Love made Hate cry.
Love set Hate on fire.
Love wouldn’t piss on Hate,
If Hate was Hate on fire.
Love left Hate to die.

Love spat at Hatred
Love made Hatred cry
Love wouldn’t spit on Hatred,
If Hatred was Hatred on fire.
Love would leave Hatred to die.

Love loved Hate from behind.
Loved Hate at least twenty nine times
And loved Hate to love making off
With Hate’s love.

Love attacked Hate from behind.
Beat Hate at least twenty nine times and
Strangled Hate to death making off
With Hate’s valuables.

Love touched Hate without consent.
Love touched Hate as hard
As Love could touch Hate
with fists.

Love denied Hate the capacity to enjoy
Possessions. Love deprived Hate of
Possessions and Love subjected Hate’s
Possessions to Love’s ffffucking control.

Upstairs Love stole,
Hate’s mother’s jewellery
From Hate’s mother’s bedroom
While Hate sat downstairs
Attending to Hate’s dying mother.

Love had a special
Place in hell for Hate.

Love kicked Hate
When Hate was down.

Love didn’t laugh with Hate.
Love laughed at Hate.

Love caused Hate stress and hostility over time, had Hate
Experience physical and emotional problems, like headaches,
Nausea, cystitis, depression, anxiety, problems sleeping and
Eating and loss of self confidence through harassment. Love
Harassed Hate, Hate suffered unwanted behaviour of a sexual
Nature that made Hate feel distressed, intimidated and or
Humiliated. Love harassed Hate with unwanted conduct of a
Sexual nature that had the purpose and or effect of
Violating Hate’s dignity creating a hostile, degrading,
Humiliating and or offensive environment for Hate. Love
Made, wrote and spoke comments of a sexual nature.
Happiness made inappropriate comments about Hate’s
Appearance and posed inappropriate questions about Hate’s
Sex life. Love stared at Hate’s body, leering at Hate. Love’s
Physical behaviour towards Hate included unwelcome sexual
Advances and touching, unwanted physical contact and sexual
Assault. Love bullied and coerced Hate in a sexual nature and
Subjected Hate to unwelcome and inappropriate promises of
Rewards in exchange for sexual favours.

Love ripped out Hate’s heart,
Love tore Hate’s life apart.

Love destroys Hate from inside,
Love incites Hate to commit suicide.

Love made Hate wear a noose,
around Sadness’s neck in mock execution.

Love took a happy to Hate’s head,
again and again until Hate was dead.

Love groomed Hate, having a measure of control over Hate. Love coerced and encouraged Hate into doing things leaving Hate feeling trapped in situations whereby refusal would leave Hate with less control. Over time Love introduced abusive Acts that Hate felt coerced into allowing. Consent was coerced Therefore not consent. Hate was left carrying the shame of the Events often represented in a sense of complicity – that Hate Had let it happen. This self-blame made the abuse impossible To talk about. Grooming made it impossible to identify when The abuse Love was exposing Hate to was happening and Impossible to identify and talk about in retrospect.

Love fucked Hate over.

Love wouldn’t touch Hate if
Hate was the last Hate on earth.

Love broke Hate’s will.

Love made Hate feel that
Hate’s death was imminent.

Love made Hate feel that
Hate’s death had taken place.

Love verbally threatened Hate’s life.

Blindfolding Hate, Love held
An unloaded gun to the back
Of Hate’s head and pulled
the trigger.
Love waterboarded Hate,
Simulating Hate drowning.

Love threatened Hate
With impending death.

Love took Hate to a remote area
And made Hate dig Hate’s own grave.
Love pretended Hate would be shot.

Love took Hate’s child
Around a building out of Hate’s sight,
Hate was led to believe
That Hate’s child had been executed when
Two shots were fired.

Love caused Hate flashbacks
In which Hate felt as though
Hate had already died.

Love used ropes to elicit
A confession from Hate.

Love hung Hate by the arms,
from the wrists.
Hate suffered long term damage
To Hate’s arms losing strength
And movement in one arm,
Suffering total paralysis
In the other arm.

Love tied hate’s elbows behind hate’s back and tightened Them until they touched. Love hung Hate by Hate’s limbs. Love tied Hate’s elbows behind Hate’s back and arched Hate’s Back with a rope stretched from the feet to the throat. Tension created in the muscles by this extreme tightening Exacerbated by hanging Hate from Hate’s limbs caused Hate Lasting nerve damage.

Love electrocuted Hate
With a device designed to deliver
A shock attached to a car battery.

Love caused Hate to understand that
“I love you” is equal to “I hate you”.

Love raped Hate and forced Hate
To watch Hate’s family being cut down.
Love allowed Hate alone to live
So that Hate would die of sadness.

Love repeatedly raped Hate until
Hate was pregnant and then
Forcibly detained Hate until
Hate delivered Love’s children.

Love violated Hate’s honour

Love beat the soles of Hate’s feet
Leaving Hate’s feet insensitive to
Temperature causing lasting severe
Pain and an altered gait while walking.

Love removed Hate’s
Fingernails, teeth and digits.
The physical pain and
Lifelong impairment
Such torture brought Hate
Was only part of the punishment.
Hate also became a social pariah
Because of Hate’s wounds.

Love cut off Hate’s air supply
In a number of ways causing Hate
Seizures and loss of consciousness
Resulting in brain damage, memory-
Loss and coma.

Love forced Hate to sit for hours
In icy water, infected with all manner of disease,
inflicted with wounds mimicking those received

On the battlefield.
Love would then treat Hate with reckless,
Painful procedures that end in Hate’s death.

Love used Love’s body to inflict harm on Hate.

Love left Hate disfigured and fighting for Hate’s life.

Michael Dean was born in 1977, he lives and works in London. In 2001 he graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London with a BA in Fine Art. His artistic practice investigates the relationship between the three-dimensional possibilities of language and physicality, using different media: sculpture, text and typography. His most recent solo exhibitions include: TU TEXTO AQUÍ, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2019), CONTEMPORARY SCULPTURE: SAM ANDERSON & MICHAEL DEAN, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida, US (2019), HAVING YOU ON, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2018), ANALOGUE LOL, ShanghArt Gallery, Shanghai (2018), FOUR FUCKSAKES, Herald St | Museum St, London (2017), TEAXTHS AND ANGERUAGE, Portikus, Frankfurt (2017), SIGHTINGS: MICHAEL DEAN OR LOST TRUE LEAVES, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016) and QUALITIES OF VIOLENCE, De Appel, Amsterdam (2015).

www.andrewkreps.com
www.heraldst.com