Author Archive


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

In fall of 2016 I collected a little water from the North Pole.

From the North Pole or near it. New rain or centuries old ice melt. This or that. Pregnant or not? Actually due to cataclysmic climate conditions it was probably from deep in the glacier or deeper than it should have been. Deeper, older. Now people keep asking me from the Kickstarter: “When can I have my water?”

“It’s been 2 years,” they say, when they write. But then we had a baby and everything got effed up. Effed up for the better, but still effed up.

Effed up is a place I have been trying to get for many years, believing that, when done right, it means you don’t have a body. A Piscean event on a 3-D plane. For a brief moment (10 months) our baby was suspended and so, once I gathered it, was the 6 ounces, divided into two 3 ounces plastic bottles, of water. For my part I was also suspended: on a snow-bedecked artist-crammed boat.

One night, as I lay against my bed board, my porthole wept foam on my head. One night my bunkmate was yelling from sleep about what violence she would do to her ex-husband. One night it was 3 am and I was talking to the Captain, who was topless in pasties and a grass skirt, about my gender. “But what I want to know is what do you FEEL, Jess!!??” he slammed his beer mug on the bar top/his chest.

“More boy,” I said. (=more comfortable for Captain, allows more body swimming for me.)

And anyway, hasn’t this all been such a FLUID experience?

Except I live in Los Angeles, land of cracked sidewalks + drought. This morning at the organic grocery store a woman refused to enter the bathroom with me, even when I assured her: “I’m a woman?”

Now the first year of our baby’s life has sped by. Still, sometimes I squander my small ration of free time on Etsy or eBay looking for the right vessel so I can finally send the water off. I want to honor it with a container that’s vintage or scientific, but not “too.” It came from a place that resists bullshit/commodification: Fjortende Julibukta glacier, near 79 degrees North.

It must have rained 5 inches just that hour. We all know THE WATER, in Tsunmai-like portions, is coming. Nowhere on Earth to put it! My best conversation of the week? “I don’t like masturbating,” I admit.

“But what about showing up for self-love?” she says back.

It’s the paralysis of email, of contact. I leave replies unsent, easy texts unreturned. Even this started fun but became burdened by its eventual sending. We parents are so tired, our spirits shaved down to nubs. Our baby Osa flicks my eyelids open. There are flecks in the bottles, salt and minerals. When I finally scooped it up, knee-deep in icy slush, I was collecting bear follicles/long stretches of personless time/Osa’s kismet-like, still-occurring entrance into all our worldly stuff.

Is an aqueous state better? Do we have to be here, to be here? Walruses, those giant porous screens, nap for a week if they want.

Jess Arndt was born in Washington State, and lives and works in Los Angeles. They received their MFA at Bard and were a 2013 Graywolf SLS Fellow and 2010 Fiction Fellow at the New York Foundation of the Arts. They have written for Fence, BOMB, Aufgabe, and the art journal Parkett, among others. They are co-founder of New Herring Press. Their debut collection of short stories, LARGE ANIMALS was published in 2017 by Catapult Press.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— It is in homage to the artist Bernice Bing that I share the following photographs of parts of paintings I’ve made over the last 10 years, which no longer exist because I painted over or destroyed them.

Bernice Bing (1936-1998) was an abstract expressionist painter in the Bay Area who participated in the art world alongside people like Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Wally Hedrick, Carlos Villa, Jay de Feo. Unlike myself, she even had teachers who were of Asian descent, including the zen master painter, Saburo Hasegawa. Her ambitious work is large, gnarly and physical, but subtle and commodious, and expands upon American abstract painting, considering calligraphy, landscape, and spirituality. She was among the first residents at Esalen Institute! In the 60s and 70s she organized neighborhood art programs in Chinatown, including work with youths involved in Chinese gangs which were violent at that time. She said it was the first time she felt re-immersed in Chinese culture since her childhood, and she continued in this work into her late 40s. By all accounts, it exhausted her.

I see her work as held hostage by the needs and taste of two communities who had little awareness of or interest in each other. White authorities and artists perceived of her as an activist and “member” of the Chinese community, a group whose specific cultural commitments, in turn, forced her to neglect her own work at crucial periods. She was left out of larger conversations about painting, while those who knew her hallowly recount her commitment to painting, her courage, her complexity.

In thinking about the photographs I had taken of paintings now “lost,” I’ve been reflecting on the labor that goes into painting… material processes, creative phases, decision making, as well as all the surrounding activities in life that are needed to support the work of painting. Also on a larger scale, the networks of people and communities that contribute to the production of painting. These photographs represent the temporal flux of working in the studio over the years. As I reflect on my process and ways to move ahead in my work, it makes me think about Bernice Bing, and how historical, social and economic conditions (and her reactions to them) have shaped her legacy. What evaporated off, and what was distilled?

Jamie Chan was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1984. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She attended Bard College and before that UCLA. Her work adopts the allegorical spaces of Renaissance painting, plumbing art history with an inverted telescope.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— Here below a few scattered notes I wrote in Bangalore (India), where I was filming the very first rushes of Beyond the One. It was Autumn 2014. Seems so long ago.

# A filtered coffee, blue walls and men only. The town all around. (I had no way to control where the rickshaw was driving me on the way here). How to compose my camera in this vast dimension? How to compose this vast dimension through the camera? Not psychology nor sociology nor “representation” of India. Only these close and closest things. I can only work there where I happen to live (for a while long enough). Now, in Malleswaram.

# Filming for the first time out of Europe. Why would I be allowed to hold a camera here? Jean Rouch went to Mozambico, gave cameras to young people and encouraged them to invent each one’s cinema, each one’s reality. (Was I allowed to film in France having grown up in Italy, or in Abruzzo having grown up in Padova? Identities blurring at every corner. Was I allowed to film with people I don’t share the same addictions with? With my own friends and family being other than me? No chance not to end up being “nombriliste” at this rate). I take the risk. Humani nihil a me alienum puto. I care so I can perhaps live and film through all these differences. The film can perhaps create something that breaks through the existing ones and becomes pertinent to them all.

# Nor individualistic nor holistic: substance as multitude. But in this multitude, the very same mechanism that creates social solidarity also supports the explosive spread of violence. How to include these emotions and transform them? So tiring and yet! “Someone has to clean up”, as the poem of W. Szymborska goes. Someone has to reinvent bridges. To take care of feeding. Microscopically, tenaciously. No absence of conflict is possible nor violence for ideal purposes is wished, but constant negotiations. “Photogenic it’s not, and takes years. All the cameras have left, for another war”.

# I get barefoot in the middle of the street. For 20 rupees I leave my shoes to the shoes-keeper nearby. 20 mt on the public pavement and I enter the Sai Baba temple in Sampige Road. Anu says: basically be humble. We wash our feet and hands. We walk around the Sai Baba’s statue one time. When you turn around the God you are much closer to him than standing in front of it. The impossibility of a direct sight/contact. (The direct defeat of Icarus). The need of a medium, like a circle or a mirror. (The indirect victory of Perseus on Medusa). Turning around. Aesthetically fascinated by the temple’s structure and rituals. I seat among other people on the floor. Their deferent expression breaks my amazement. The radical example of one man turned not into a source of singular inspiration but into a system. At the same time, how I can deeply understand this need. See Gregory Bateson’s pages on the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and the necessity of abandoning the idea of individual strength to overcome the addiction. The myth of autonomy is indeed broken.

# Since I left Italy, I’ve been living in different places, being a foreigner in all other languages I attempted to speak. It was painful and lucky to unlearn the idea of a perfect language, to peel off its power. Still my amazement towards words remains intact. Which way out then? I tried to compose a film through the others’ languages. I tried to break the self by composing with the others’ words.

# Not metaphors but contiguity.

# The fact is holding a camera in our hands does not give us any extra right than without it, in spite of many harmful examples. So the word “love” does not give us any extra right on the people we call companions.

# Not to smoke in public! Not to kiss in public! Not to eat in public while walking! Not to drink alcohol in the streets! Finally the owner of the alcohol shop around the corner murmurs hello when I go get myself some whisky. He wraps the small bottles in black plastic bags.

Anna Marziano was born in 1982, in Italy. She has been based in Berlin since 2012. Her films have been screened internationally as festivals such as, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Torino International Film Festival, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, MediaCity Film Festival Detroit, FRAC.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

— That summer is fuzzy. I was a feral adolescent nobody who clowned around with fireworks and puked in ditches. Between ODing on repeated viewings of the horror movies I read about as a milk-toothed vampire and nocturnal excursions with my dog where he’d devour abandoned McDonalds meals through decaying paper bags, I decided to bring the two joys together in a cute mutant creature. The horror dog was born: the diagram of a prank; goth knowledge applied to flesh and bone.

You can get hyperreal mutt anatomy drawings or creepy virtual hounds flayed to show off their liver and heart but I liked this one with the fangs best: an alien cover version of a dog. He’s a Lewis Carroll rabbit hole (trap door?) leading to witchy ballerinas, Ghostwatch and Freddy Krueger. I was really into Carroll’s world distortion trick of reciting knowledge which is wrong but wrong in a weirdly logical way. ‘Tony’ being the mouth was meant to echo the sepulchral croak of Danny’s imaginary friend in The Shining; ‘Coil’ being the dick summoned ghouls from Hellraiser. The dog’s tail is the Renfield, natürlich, freaking out at the master’s presence. R.I.P. Heather O’ Rourke.

But he’s also encrypted with sadness. I just deleted a big fade-out thing about this picture, Zero from A Nightmare Before Christmas, and the void between what is alive and what is tragically not. My childhood dog, the horror hound’s 3D brother, is dead. I dream about him a lot. His ghost still barks.

Charlie Fox was born in 1991, he lives in London. His work has appeared in many publications including frieze, Cabinet, Sight & Sound, ArtReview, The Wire and The White Review. His book of essays, THIS YOUNG MONSTER, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Safe Travels, 2017, courtesy the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary

Shambhavi Kaul has exhibited her work worldwide at such venues as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, The New York Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Edinburgh International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, and Experimenta Bangalore. Her work was featured in the 10th Shanghai Biennale, and she has presented two solo shows at Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai. She was born in Jodhpur India, and lives in the United States where she teaches at Duke University.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— There’s an owl outside, 3 AM, talking to another owl. I imagine the nature of their commentary but I bet I’m wrong.

My mom lost her wedding ring again. Her house is complicated by an abundance of stuff. “I know I shouldn’t be so attached to objects,” she says, then, “Can you look in your house? Maybe I left it at your house.” She asks my dad to help her find it also. He’s dead but she finds the ring soon after, in a coin purse under a bag of hangers in the hall. “I have no idea how it got there.”

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My daughters ask, “Where’s your dad?”
“He’s a cardinal.”
“A bird?”
Later one daughter explains it to a friend. “Our grandpa got the germs from smoking cigarettes. Now he’s a bird.”
It isn’t quite the lesson I intended, but it’ll do. Plus, it avoids mention of his unwashed socks and hairbrush I keep around for company, or inspiration, I guess.

The day I got engaged I stopped in the woods to pee by a pine tree. Under the boughs, someone had stashed treasure: two tiny pistols and a fake gold bracelet. The joy of the day had me temporarily, morally confused and full of myself. I stole the treasure. I’m confounded by my behavior. I hate guns. My friend Patchen was murdered with a gun at twenty-six, and when I work at my daughters’ school store I spend those mornings surrounded by five-, six-, seven-year-olds in the bright open foyer, wondering, when is the man with the gun going to arrive? When is the man with the gun going to arrive?

But I took the loot, the small pistols from under the tree. Miniatures are concentrated divinity, bouillon cubes, and there they were like an offering, a marriage present, or a tunnel back to other treasures I’d lost underneath other trees on other happy days.

My mother bought me six green lemonade glasses for my doll house. I swallowed three of them, tantalizing capsules, wanting their smallness and beauty inside. The tiny hats my grandma Norma Stallings Nolan Santangelo made for me, while similarly irresistible, made a less appetizing meal. The hats remain, the glasses only partially.

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Objects are a problem. If I return the little guns now, my marriage might falter as I’m unsure of the magic they work.

Objects are a problem because they hold the dead. After my dad died I ate his half finished doughnut. I didn’t want to make a monument of his last breakfast treat, carrying an ancient piece of cake with me until it turned to dust. I know me. I have a clear vision of the jangly old woman I’ll become, wheeling my cart full of odd objects through life.
“How much for the bag of hangers, old woman?”
“They’re not for sale.”
“Well, what about that half-eaten donut?”

I inherited my neighbor’s end table, full-size. Both her sons were already gone: Vietnam, liver cancer, so I got a lot of her stuff. I found a disposable camera in one of the table’s drawers. When I sent the film out for processing, I won’t lie, I was hoping for a path back to the dead. Dori, Lindy, Randy. Time had really turned up the violet, blue and green in the film. Every image was of her peach tree laden with fruit.

I shouldn’t be so attached to objects either, and I’d like to return all the treasure I’ve stolen but those pistols are hard to decipher. Tiny and powerful. I don’t want to make a mistake with meaning or fortune. They grew that tree from a pit, a stone. And everyone keeps on dying, leaving stuff behind, objects I can’t get rid of because how else will the dead talk to me when birds can be so difficult to understand.

Samantha Hunt was born in 1971, in Pound Ridge, New York. She lives in upstate New York. Her novel about Nikola Tesla, THE INVENTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE, was a finalist for the Orange Prize and winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. Her first novel, THE SEAS, earned her selection as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 that year. Her novel, MR. SPLITFOOT, was an IndieNext Pick. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, McSweeney’s, Tin House, A Public Space, and many others. Her collection of short stories, THE DARK DARK, was published by FSG Originals in 2017.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

For my entry I put together a collection of some of the autographs my husband/bandmate Ira and I have acquired over the years, separately and together. In order of acquisition:

This is Ira’s playbill and his story… but it’s my entry so I’ll tell it. He and his brother Neil went to see Sammy Davis Jr. live in the 70s, at a theater in the round, meaning performers had to come down an aisle through the audience to get on stage. When Neil realized they were sitting near Sammy’s aisle he pounced, climbing over a bunch of old ladies in order to shake Sammy’s hand like a true fanatic. After the show they each got autographs by sending their programs backstage. Someone else (Neil perhaps) wrote “To Ira” on the top, but the rest is authentic.

When I was about 20 years old I was taken with Ian Whitcomb for some reason. He had a couple of hits in the mid 60s with the catchy novelties “You Turn Me On” and “N-E-R-V-O-U-S!” He also produced Mae West’s pretty nutty pop album. Okay, that record’s kind of great, so maybe that’s why I wrote him a fan letter. He sent me some of his books about ragtime along with this card.

The only reason I own this (and apparently kept it for 30-plus years) is because it came inside the album by the band Monitor that I bought at a show of theirs in LA in 1981 or 82. Not original. The autograph, I mean. The band Monitor on the other hand, very original.

A friend found himself in Jack Riley’s presence and requested his autograph which he scrawled on the back of a call sheet. Jack Riley played Mr. Carlin on The Bob Newhart show for those who aren’t MeTV devotees. As you can see Mr. Carlin felt compelled to identify himself and make sure the recipient (Ira) knew why he was given this autograph.

A gift from Ira’s brother Adam.

I have no need for more autographs now that I have these. I asked both June and Johnny to sign my (now retired) snare drum when our band was lucky enough to open for them in 1994. The two of them each voiced their concern over blemishing the drum.

Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer, signed by JOHN WOO. A gift from another John Woo fan.

Ira and I had a connection to Maxwell’s in Hoboken where Bruce Springsteen’s video for “Glory Days” was shot. But it was Jim Turner, on the production crew, who arranged for us to be extras. My friend Tara taped the video on her vcr and was able to freeze the half-second I appear on screen to take this picture—that’s me behind Steve the cook (possibly the original Maxwell burger king) not throwing my fist in the air as directed. Many years later we persuaded a reluctant Roger Moutenot, our record producer and Springsteen/Scialfa insider, to get it autographed by Bruce at the Meadowlands concert he had backstage passes to. As an unassuming and soft-spoken type of guy Roger really did not want to do it, but we put the squeeze on him. Since he had to cut out of our mixing session in Times Square early, seemed only fair to make him squirm briefly. Despite not needing more autographs I am very happy to have this one. Come to think of it, I’d be thrilled to get our 5 Neat Guys 8×10 signed someday.

We bought a couple of Robert Quine’s guitars from Carmine Street Guitars after he died. A few years later our pal Gil had reason to disconnect the neck from the body which revealed his signature.

A few notable omissions…

In the I couldn’t find department:
Somewhere we have a still from Billy Liar that a film editor friend asked her to sign for us, and I believe she spelled YO LA TENGO correctly.

This may be the first autograph I got. I remember being terrified approaching him at Forest Hills when I was 11. My brother Ray put me up to it. As a knowledgeable sports fan he knew something of tennis stars and their reputations. This one’s probably nice, this other one has a temper…that sort of thing.

In the I forgot to include department:
Our label-mate Liz Phair was performing on David Letterman in the 90s and Albert Brooks was also on the show that night. We asked Spencer, the Matador publicist at the time, to get him to sign Ira’s three copies of his two albums. He signed the shrink wrap on one, the protective plastic on another and actually managed to make direct contact with the third record cover.

Georgia Hubley was born in 1960, in New York. She is an American percussionist, vocalist, and visual artist. She is one of the two founding members of Yo La Tengo.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Retrieved in 2018 from a box saying “flowers from Lindsey’s funeral, 1994”

Jodie Mack was born in 1983; in London, UK. She is an experimental animator. Mack’s 16mm films have screened at a variety of venues including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Images Festival, Projections at the New York Film Festival, and the Viennale. She has presented solo programs at the 25FPS Festival, Anthology Film Archives, BFI London Film Festival, Harvard Film Archive, National Gallery of Art, REDCAT, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, and Wexner Center for the Arts among others. Her work has been featured in publications including Artforum, Cinema Scope, The New York Times, and Senses of Cinema. Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 2014 “25 New Faces to Watch” and one of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ YBCA 100 in 2015, she is an Associate Professor of Animation at Dartmouth College. She is a 2017/18 Film Study Center Fellow and Roberta and David Logie Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— For my first solo show in 2007 I presented a video comprised of short unedited scenes shot in Japan and the US. It was titled, very straightforwardly, here and there, though it wasn’t always apparent what was where. It was shot before iPhones and Instagram were around, on a bulky prosumer canon camera I would carry around with me everywhere. And at the time I had all sorts of problems figuring out how to contextualize it; was it a narrative video, was it chance documentary, how did it relate to still photography, was it exotic or cliche or mundane, how was it to be presented, blah blah blah… people questioned its intentions as it seemed to fall somewhere between casual happenstance and possible orchestration. I remember a very good artist telling me I should re-stage all the scenes to make it more purposeful, he told me it was effective to use a tripod for a more stable image. Footnote, I intentionally shot everything handheld. Then when iPhones made making this kind of videos so much easier, I found it harder to remember to video things… maybe I started to feel that I didn’t need to record things anymore because everyone else was doing it for me. I turned to making other things that explored ideas of slippage. Recently, I realized I’ve accumulated almost enough footage for a second iteration of here and there, but maybe it’s more like now and then. Things are shifting again… when I’m between Japan and NYC, day is night and night is day. Also, as I return again and again to the same places, I feel like I’m seeing them simultaneously as they once were and as they are now. Time is floating. Where clocks were once important objects, now the next generation has no need for clocks… I almost never see someone under the age of 45 wearing a watch. It’s a good time to get into clock collecting.

Anne Eastman was born in San Francisco in 1973 and raised in Singapore and Tokyo, Japan. She currently lives and work Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA in Cultural Anthropology from Smith College and her MFA in Sculpture from Yale School of Art. Past shows include a two-person exhibition with Steven Pippin at Green Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a two-person exhibition with Tatiana Kronberg at Essex Flowers, solo exhibitions at ATM Gallery in New York, Galerie Lisa Ruyter in Vienna, Austria, Groeflin Maag Gallery in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in the US and Internationally.


Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

— He said to listen to the environment. The he being the master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, all of us leaned forward in unison on creaking seats and clung to every word that he spoke. I tried desperately to jot down bits and pieces, to grasp hold of his words even in the near dark of the auditorium.

In less than six months’ time, the words that issued from his lips would take on a fleeting, smoky quality, and our beloved mentor Abbas would be dead. And yet the time spent in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba, doesn’t make me feel that such words should be just so ephemeral.

Even today, talking to the workshop’s other forty-nine participants whom I now called dear friends, catching up on the phone, bumping into another on a NYC street corner, we all play the part of detective. An array of anecdotes and lessons had burrowed into us all, accompanied us to our homes, our beds, our respective countries, absorbed in blood to mull over, dream, ponder, and process. All tenuous. All fragments. For me, it was when Abbas said: “Do not dictate the story to your environment. Let your environment speak to you. Let it tell you the story. It will be more real, more authentic, more genuine.”

My notebook from the near dark of that auditorium shows the violent scrawls of a hand impassioned. Possessed.

Words were important here.

After all, it was no coincidence that the film school hosting our ten day workshop, the Escuela Internacionales de Cine y Tv (EICTV), was founded by the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez—-a friend of Abbas and apparently a devoted cinephile. Words themselves adorned the school walls, parting messages spray-painted by all the mentors who had come and gone, the Coppolas, the Jarmuschs, the Hupperts. The words surrounded us daily as we stumbled to the cafeteria for coffee at dawn, haggard and bleary-eyed, as we raced the halls to beat the light to get that last shot.

There was no cell reception for us. No texting. So we left notes for another. We learned to use our hands again. We slipped them under doors, wedged between jamb and rusty knob, entrusted the words themselves to be passed to a friend when we could not find pencil and paper. Our own little oral histories.

I remember having to pitch my idea to a stranger, a beautiful middle-aged woman, with the hopes that she would be the lead in my film. I had no idea who she was. Or if she was even talented. We had simply to trust one another. The only problem was that I couldn’t speak Spanish.

Thankfully, my producer Cameron Bruce Nelson could.

He graciously mimicked my energy, retained my inflection as I hit the main story beats. And yet her eyes remained locked on me, never straying from my face, staring at me through the swirling steam of complimentary school coffee. Cameron gesticulated wildly, ever the earnest translator, even as her face remained stoic and cold. Impenetrable. Then the story was suddenly over. For a moment, I knew we had failed. Either she had not understood, or she simply wasn’t interested. Her face had not changed.

She gingerly leaned forward, and then with both hands, took me by the face and kissed me softly, tenderly on the lips. She leaned back, my face still in her hands, and gazed at me with tears welling in her eyes. Then she spoke aloud for the first time that whole pitch. A pause.

“She said she’ll do it,” Cameron mumbled.

My film Casa De Mi Madre is about the very nature of words. Of storytelling and its consequences. A woman bribes a small boy, new to the neighborhood, to come into her apartment so that she can tell him all the things she wished she could’ve said to her son before he perished in a fire.

The film hinges on a single, unbroken shot of the woman using this bewildered child as a surrogate—her emotions swinging in grief from anger to sorrow. And much like the boy who is a conduit for the woman’s dead son, Ms. Carmen Rodriguez —the enthusiastic and talented actress from Havana —was the conduit for my story that night. Her performance was tremendous, and I will forever be grateful for her vulnerability and courage.

I gave her my heart on paper. In turn, she gave me her heart onscreen.

Words were translated from English to Spanish and back, all through the night. It became as much a film about struggling to find the right words in grief as it was a film about a group of sweaty people all trying to effectively communicate within a small, cramped apartment. There is the old saying from Godard that every fictional film is a documentary of its actors. Rivette later expanded the aphorism, saying every film is a documentary of its own making. This is exactly what the film is to me.

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The child who appears in our film—Christian Jaime—wasn’t an actor. He was a local boy with a trademark grin who’d frequently shadow the filmmakers through the neighborhood, often offering to help carry sound gear or camera equipment. I gathered by the end of the shoot that we might’ve rubbed off on him because you’d be hard pressed not to find him off in a corner, looking through one of our cameras. And when you’d try to pry it out of his curious little hands, he’d usually spin the camera around and begin directing us himself.

He would always speak to me in a hushed tone that was quietly conversational, even conspiratorial, as if we were old friends. Always posing questions he knew that I couldn’t answer in Spanish. And yet we talked regardless. In two separate languages. Still connecting. I think he knew I liked it.

There was a moment when I was describing the bribe the woman uses to lure the oblivious child to her living room. In my script, the bribe was money. Carmen and our tireless on-set translator Yaite Luque immediately glanced at one another and broke into knowing laughter. I was baffled. Carmen gently explained to me that it was a very American thing to use as a bribe — money. I asked them what they thought a good replacement might be. And their suggestion was something far more haunting and innocent than a few wrinkled bills could’ve ever been.

One of the last shots of the film is of an abandoned chocolate ice cream, melting languidly across the tabletop as we hear the offscreen weeping of a lonely mother.

Abbas said to listen to the environment. So I learned to listen.

And I’m still listening.

Frank Mosley is an actor and filmmaker from Texas. He has participated in the 2015 Berlinale Talents, 2017 NYFF Artist Academy, and Black Factory Cinema’s 2016 Auteur Workshop, led by the late Abbas Kiarostami in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba. His performances have been seen at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, New Directors/New Films, AFI, Viennale, BAMcinemafest, Slamdance, and much of his directing work has been exhibited on Fandor, MUBI, and Filmmaker Magazine. He’s been called “a superb actor and filmmaker” (, “an indie hard-hitter” (The Playlist), and “the sort of experimentalist we don’t see often enough” (Keyframe).


Saturday, November 4th, 2017

— Life plus 30 years is the sentence for this boy at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, California. I took his picture while working for The California Sunday Magazine a few years ago. Although I have portraits that show his face the magazine was afraid to publish them because they did not have parental consent. At 16, he was considered old enough to be tried as an adult for murder but not old enough to give permission to have his picture taken.

Stefan Ruiz was born in 1966, in San Francisco. He studied painting and sculpture at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice, before turning to photography. He has taught art at San Quentin State Prison and was the creative director for Colors magazine from 2003 to 2004. His work has appeared in magazines including the New York Times Magazine, Details, L’Uomo Vogue and Rolling Stone. His photographs have been exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery, London; Photo España, Madrid; Les Rencontres d’Arles, France; New York Photo Festival; Havana Biennial; and the Contact Photography Festival, Toronto. In 2012, Aperture published his monograph, The Factory of Dreams, a book on Mexican soap operas.


Saturday, November 4th, 2017
01.04.2016 7:57 a.m.

having a huge round window in my working space +
getting a sheep or two ++
55 kg +++
having my nails always painted beautifully +++
going to a volcano +, +++++
having the time to read for weeks. only reading +++++
feel the freedom to start painting ++++, +++++
be a little bit more social ++++
having a Saluki dog ++
having more light entering my apartment +, ++++++
doing more photography ++++, +++++
having my old Mercedes back +
be more interested in digital techniques ++++++
having my teeth repaired +
living for some time in an old house in Sicily +, +++++
speak French ++, +++, ++++++

+ financially impossible
++ tried before and failed
+++ i am too inconsistent
++++ unclear, hidden in a mist
+++++ time is the devil
++++++ impossible

Antoinette Zwirchmayr born 1989 in Salzburg, Austria. Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her works have been featured in festivals including International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (D) Indielisboa (P), Toronto International Film Festival (CND), Media City Film Festival (CND), New Horizons Film Festival (PL), CPH: DOX (DK), Ann Arbor Film Festival (USA), FID Marseille (F). She has been awarded with the Start-Up Grant for Young Film Artists (Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria 2017), Annual grant for photography (Land Salzburg 2017), Simon S. Filmaward (2016), Kodak Cinematic Vision Award (Ann Arbor Film Festival 2016), Best Innovative Film Award, Diagonale – Festival of Austrian Film (2016), Annual grant for film (Land Salzburg 2014), Best short documentary Award – Diagonale, Festival of Austrian Film (2014), Sponsorship Award (Salzburger Kunstverein 2014), Birgit-Jürgenssen-Award (2013).


Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Teresa Burga (born 1935 in Iquitos, Peru; lives and works in Lima) is a pioneer of multimedia and conceptual art in Peru. She studied in Lima before attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Fulbright scholar. Recent solo shows include TERESA BURGA, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin (2015); TERESA BURGA: AIR STRUCTURES, MALBA, Buenos Aires (2015); and PROFILE OF THE PERUVIAN WOMAN (1980-1981), Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City (2014). Significant group exhibitions include THE WORLD GOES POP, Tate Modern, London (2015); and WOMAN: THE FEMINIST AVANT-GARDE FROM THE 1970S, WORKS FROM THE SAMMLUNG VERBUND, VIENNA, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2014). Her work was featured in ALL THE WORLD’S FUTURES at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Burga was included in the group show PUDDLE, POTHOLE, PORTAL at SculptureCenter, Long Island City in 2014-15.


Saturday, November 4th, 2017

— A dedication to a much missed friend, confidant and mentor, the late, great Trinidadian artist, musician and poet, Emheyo Bahabba, aka Embah,(1937-2015). The clip is a grainy record of an impromptu performance he gave me in his studio in Port of Spain in 2005, demonstrating his old school Sailor Mas dance moves. The photo offers more detail…Cuss Stud.

He was free flowing with advice and instructions, one in particular on the subject of making work, I recall daily… “Invade Your Own Privacy”.

Lisa Brice was born in 1968 in Cape Town and lives and works in London, also spending time regularly in Trinidad following a residency in 2000. Solo exhibitions include: Lisa Brice, Stephen Friedman, London, UK ( 2017),‘Well Worn’, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2015); ‘Cut Your Coat’, French Rivera, London, UK (2014). Group exhibitions include: ‘La Diablesse’ Curated by Simone Kennedy Doig, Tramps, London, UK‘ (2017),‘Making and Unmaking’ curated by Duro Olowu, at Camden Arts Centre, London, UK ( 2016) ‘Home Truths: Domestic Interior in South African Collections’ curated by Michael Godby, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2016),‘Puppet Show’, curated by Tom Bloor and Celine Condorelli, Gavle Konstcentrum, Kultur & Fritid Gavle, Sweden, toured to Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK (2014).


Saturday, November 4th, 2017

— Water-logged cherries sat dripping on the side table. I brought you a new pack of cigarettes from your room, peeling the cellophane off the top. After you lit up I laid back down on the couch thinking about that smell wondering if I’d ever smoke.

Under the palm trees, through and around the fronds scattered in our back yard I went over the route we laid out. You – under the awning drinking ice water or ice tea, I can’t remember – hitting pause on the tape player to tell me I’m off beat and off time and the first push up hasn’t even come yet. I couldn’t hear the down beat then, and I can’t now, but when I listen for that thud thwack thud thwack, yours is always the first voice on the up and up that tells me when I should be. Rewound tape begins again – counting, pausing, playing, aching – imagining when I would learn how to become someone new.

Canadian television at eleven AM set the tone for years after that first season, maybe the fourth, when we found our story. The serialized show from a reservation above the arctic circle gave me perspective with what we were doing in the desert. You and I in our living room, teaching me how to war dance like you learned from watching the old men and how you taught my brother and my mother. Thick dry heat suffocated us in a good way when we stepped outside, but for the most part swamp coolers and the broad slated blinds pointed upwards gave the living room a cool blue hue in the morning sun. The windows faced north – I never thought of that before.

At the airport my Aunty TeeTee, me, and my sister waited in the parking lot listening to a Yellow Jacket buzz on the radio. TeeTee told us stories of her time sweating away the pain of others. She was closer to god than I’ll ever be; a sacred cough too holy for those tubes of oxygen to contain. I often wonder if I regret that I only knew her when she was ill.

The Umatilla Studs sang a song you loved and so did I. That song was our victory song – an end song. Positively pounding as an intertribal that didn’t sound like an old song. Maybe it came from someone like my dad, Mike, who you’d tell me stories of between sessions, when I was sweaty and tired, laying on the floor breathing to the ceiling imaging the cottage cheese bumps were inverted mountain ranges of a great white country I was too large to traverse discretely. I thought of those years before in TeeTee’s apartment in Ferndale Square a long time ago last night with her and my sister watching VHS tapes of recorded television shows and movies pilfered with static. We’d take turns finding balance in the vertical hold.

I’d often wonder where I was. Insects scurrying next to my sleeping baby brother. We’d been in the desert for about six months and I began to realize what I was missing out on. Leaving my home under the cold gray blanket of the Pacific Northwest to live beneath the bright blue skies of the desert where lights shone on everything I knew I couldn’t be. I failed at being present and my presentation was beginning to fail. A thirteen-year-old in a new place full of groups of histories that spanned eight years or more. Quite a length of time when you’re an adolescent. The cockroach, its carapace crackling and collapsing under the weight of pressed toilet paper, stained brown red grey – seeping onto both the wall and my finger. I cried when I knew that I wasn’t going home again. Not heavy heaving sobs, but quiet gasps withholding tears in a way I imagined would make Mike proud. The person I’d been becoming wasn’t going to grow into the person I’d eventually be. It’s hard to describe such a sadness – where any small joy felt so fragile and tenuous that I’d hold on to and repeat whatever action or sentiment that brought about such plain and easy emotions. That was some time before we started to dance.

The joys present in a day or an evening are such because they are about the moment. Where everything else falls away and you’re allowed to be the person you’re supposed to be, or that’s what I’d tell myself.

As my world became smaller, my friends from the old town stopped writing. Maybe I stopped writing them. I was afraid of the new town and would go once a week to an independent study center. I had homework and presentations to give and you were my teacher. Yet I was still alone and my sadness grew with my body.

Two hundred and seventy is what the scale said that morning I stepped on it. It was in my mom and step-dad’s bathroom and it was a while since I looked. Size was always made important to me – earlier signs of this obsession popped up when I was still in grade school. I was never small and slight like my white classmates, nor short, and of a different kind of stock than my Native friends from the Northwest tribe in the town I grew up in. My tribe was from the woodlands of the Midwest. I latched onto that term – the Woodlands – as a way to enchant myself with a mystical idea of bodily self-hood that would explain everything about where I belonged. I was always bigger, and that largess of physicality grew when I became depressed, before I knew that none of that mattered. That’s about when we began to swim.

I can’t remember when I learned that you were a swimmer, but stories of Adak island on the outer reaches of the Aleutian Chain scuba diving and disc jockeying filled me with hope. You sat on a chair under an umbrella by the side of the pool and counted laps and taught me better form. It was a small kidney shaped pool but large enough for an obese boy of fourteen to get winded and feel accomplished. That’s about when we started to dance.

I felt at ease on those long drives to the mountain pass at the edge of the valley. Staring out the window listening to the hum of the wheel rolling along the road from our home to the Morongo Indian Health Services clinic. You, my mom, and my step-dad knew what you couldn’t do, and agreed that I needed someone to talk to. Dr. McMichael was white but had a brown beard and a thinning pony tail that for some reason made him easier to visit with. Each session we played Uno as he listened to me search for words that I didn’t know existed, told me stories, and gave me permission to feel how I felt. I’m glad I still remember his name.

I grew up practicing in the living rooms of our tiny apartments since before I could remember. Tiny circles grew smaller as I turned and ducked and dived – always reluctantly and shyly. You didn’t have time for that. Knees higher and get lower. Those commands bounce in my ears every time I get on the dance floor at a powwow or practice in my bedroom. I still practice with a sense of bashfulness, always when my roommates aren’t home. I’ve outgrown enough, but not that.

You died on January 27th, 2005. I was twenty and wasn’t there. I came home for Thanksgiving and my brother told me that you weren’t well. I came back for Christmas and played you some songs on my guitar. I remember when I’d be practicing in my bedroom and after I’d finish a song that I was trying to learn from tabs on the internet, you’d yell at me from the living room that I played your new favorite song and to play it again. You were barely awake. Your eyelids were heavy. You slurred your words. You said that song was still your favorite. I cried, not those proud-like-my-father cries I was used to, but heavy sobs that I buried into my mother’s chest. I went back to Riverside and waited for word. It finally came when my mom called and said that my brother was there with you when you left. I was proud to take care of you when I could, however little it was. You died at home back in the Pacific Northwest, in the living room of the house you and my mother and my step father worked for, where you decorated and potted your plants, sat and watched as I watered your dahlias. Where you said to me – You are not your father, and you are not your mother. You are not me and you’ll never be any of us. You’re okay as you were and as you always will be – Maybe that’s how I remember it.

Sky Hopinka was born in 1984, in Washington State and spent a number of years in Palm Springs, and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon. He is currently based out of Milwaukee. Hopinka is a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. In Portland he studied and taught Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Hopinka has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts; and the Whitney Biennial 2017.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Sketches… photographs… of photographs… and some more…

Liz Johnson Artur is a Russian-Ghanaian photographer. She lives in Brighton, based in London. Born 1964 in Bulgaria and educated in Germany, she arrived in London in 1991. For the last 25 years Johnson Artur has been working on a photographic representation of people of African decent.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

I know this locket was my father’s and that he inserted the pictures of himself and my mother, but I’m not sure if he told me this or if it’s a story my mother told and I’ve imagined it so intensely it reads as memory. Regardless, I can clearly see my father showing me this locket. He had a metal detector—a top of the line model—which he and my mother would take outdoors to locations they imagined people lost stuff, and they’d run the metal detector across the ground, and when it recognized metal it would make some sound, and they’d dig up whatever. My father was a carpenter who worked for the school system, and favorite spots were under the bleachers at the various high schools he fixed up. You wouldn’t believe, he’d tell me, the treasure that falls out of people’s pockets when they’re sitting on bleachers.

Most of the items that were copper or silver got melted down—my dad had a homemade kiln in the basement where he could generate such heat—and sold. Special finds he kept in a cigar box in a drawer in the end table in the living room beside his armchair. I remember him, repeatedly, opening the box and showing me intricate rings and pins. This locket came from that cigar box. I acquired it sometime before or after my mother died. It sat on my dresser for several years until I met poet and jeweler Paige Taggart. Once, after visiting her family here in the Bay Area, Paige took the locket back to Brooklyn and turned it into this necklace. I wear my locket necklace more than any other item of jewelry, besides my wedding ring. Paige tested the metal. It’s gold-plated, not worth much.

On the exterior, two flowers arc; and beneath them is etched a more abstract, circular design. I imagine the flowers are my parents, mirroring the photos within. The circular flourish is the whirling vortex that is me. When I wear the necklace, the locket falls below my heart chakra, against my solar plexus. I associate the solar plexus with panic attacks because when I used to be plagued by them, that’s where they always started. Felt like there was a horse inside of me, bucking to escape. In the photos each of my parents is outside. The sunlight is dazzling and they’re smiling and anybody can see how fun-loving they are and they’d never ever do any of the things that make my memory of them so goddamned complicated.

Dodie Bellamy’s books include WHEN THE SICK RULE THE WORLD, THE TV SUTRAS, CUNT NORTON, and THE LETTERS OF MINA HARKER. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, writer Kevin Killian. She recently wrote an article for Frieze exploring exploring queerness, disability, the standardization of bodies and the politics of visibility: What Can’t Be Seen.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

On the evening February 7th 2017, on the senate floor Elizabeth Warren should have kept reading.

Lorna Simpson is known for working in a wide range of mediums including photograph-and-text works, videos, drawings, collage and paintings that confront and challenge conventional views of culture, representation and memory. In her latest works, lone figures amidst nebulous spaces are a return to and departure from her earlier unidentified figures in a deepened exploration of contemporary culture. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and Haus der Kunst; Munich amongst others, as well as important international exhibitions such as the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany, and the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

The story of how I started making films:
I have lived overseas for years. Back in Colombia for a month, I found out that my father was sick. He seemed fine to me, but he actually had something quite serious. He needed to take a series of tests to find out the exact cause.

But my father was more worried about a theft he had recently been the victim of than he was about his illness.

My father owned a large warehouse, which he rented to businesses. When the most recent tenants left, they took the electrical wiring, sockets and lamps with them, leaving empty tubes inside the walls. My father was going to have to have the whole circuit replaced.
He wanted proof of the theft, as he hoped to sue his former tenants. So he asked me to film the spots where missing lamps and sockets should have been, the holes through which the wiring had been pulled out, and more.

Of course, the images didn’t prove anything: the warehouse looked exactly like it did when he rented it.
Every morning, I would go to the warehouse with him, and every afternoon, to the hospital. Day after day, we would go from construction work to medical tests, from my images to his scans.

We were the only ones who could interpret the images we were producing, just as the doctors were the only ones for the scans. But that resonance was exactly what granted meaning to the images I took.

That is how I became interested in the fate of images. That is how I started making films.

Camilo Restrepo (1975, Medellín, Colombia). Since 1999 lives and works in Paris, France. He is a member of L’Abominable, laboratory of artist working on film stock. His short films IMPRESSIONS OF A WAR (2015) and CILAOS (2016) premiered at Locarno and both won the Pardino d’Argento.


Sunday, March 5th, 2017

— One way to know a film is through its sound. In his book Listening, the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy states, “although it seems simple enough to evoke a form—even a vision—that is sonorous, under what conditions, by contrast, can one talk about a visual sound?” Using the found material of film scores and diegetic sound to build a tonal composition of time, DECADES, a durational video work, pursues visual sound rather than visualized sound. One inspiration for DECADES takes it cue from the sound artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who in his recent work, used the interactive digital model of the Saydnaya prison in Syria to address memory, the politics of listening, and the forensics of sound. Part of Amnesty International’s work to raise awareness of the untold stories of President Assad’s brutal regime, Hamdan’s project with the former prison detainees is ear-witness: “Unlike vision,” he points out, “sound leaks into other people’s spaces.” Because many of the prisoners of Saydnaya could not see the rooms in which they were held captive and tortured, the former detainees recreated a forensic architecture of the prison based on the sounds they remember hearing in those rooms: “You try to build an image based on the sounds you hear,” explains Salam Othman, a former Saydnaya detainee in an interview. It is this idea of sound-memory and sound-recall, of pictures made of/from/by sound, that led me to make DECADES.

In Notes on the Cinematographer, Robert Bresson makes a similar point as Nancy: “No music as accompaniment, support or reinforcement. No music at all.” The aphorism, under the subsection, “On Music,” comes with a concessional footnote: “Except, of course, the music played by visible instruments.” (my emphasis). This concession is essential to DECADES. First Bresson vehemently objects to score as unseen, to score as non-diegetic garnish; to music that appears by not appearing. Then he revises his earlier decree by creating a statute: we must see what we are hearing and what we are hearing should be shown to us—made visible as diegetic (“music played by visible instruments”). DECADES makes sound visible, turning sound into image, disclosing it and the normally concealed work it does. Most TV shows today submerge every image in music. Every action and emotion is overbearingly codified by musical cuts, acts, cues, and emotional compressions that are never outed, yet are overarchingly present.

DECADES proposes that the way we experience cultural shifts is not simply visual or narrative, but tonal. Like LOVE SOUNDS, a 24-hour film which used audio (dialogue) from movies to compose a spoken history of love in English-speaking cinema, DECADES utilizes film scores to produce a score of every decade: a tonal ethnography of time—unearthing each decade’s particular sound patterns and cultural progressions: its themes, politics, anxieties, moods, recurring notes. DECADES asks: What sounds does a decade make? What is each decade’s mood, tone, and theme? Why do sounds return? How do sounds accumulate and accrue into a system of information? What do the sounds we hear tell us about what we are seeing, what we have seen, and what we expect to see in the future? Finally, what new narratives emerge if we use sound as our organizing principle for images rather than the other way around?

Both LOVE SOUNDS and DECADES ask us to listen to what is communicated to us by and through a visual medium but is not visual. Images train our ears, not just our eyes, so ears remember differently. This means we need a listening viewer. Not simply a viewer or a listener. Using editing as a tracking device, DECADES listens to the way images sound—or rather, to the sounds images make. After a new score for each decade is composed, the musical fragments will be correlated to their corresponding visuals and rearranged into a non-narrative order, producing a new cinematic history and chronology that privileges what Nancy calls visual sound. The musical structure for each decade will both determine and reveal the visual narrative.


I was trained as a classical musician and grew up listening to soundtracks. I would often ask my parents if I could buy the soundtrack to a film I had just seen: Out of Africa, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Pretty in Pink, Taxi Driver, Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave,Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth. I listened to Madonna’s Who’s That Girl incessantly one summer as a double score—to the film, to the score I invented for my tomboy girlhood. I wanted to understand movies through the sounds they made. It was how I remembered movies and developed memories around movies. Listening to a movie—its score, its dialogue, its voices—has in some sense always been more important to me than watching it. I wear things out with my ears until everything becomes an earworm. It’s the same with words. Lovers get wedged in the ear too.

Last April, I rewatched A History of Violence for a film class I was teaching on cinematic doubles. I had not seen the movie in 10 years but knew immediately that whoever composed the soundtrack for A History of Violence had also composed the score for The Silence of The Lambs and Se7en. I haven’t seen Se7en since it came out either, but I remember how all three films sound. I’ve internalized the notes, the mood, the time periods, not the plots. The sound of one film makes me remember the sound of another film. It is the ongoing thread of sound that connects all those movies: a tone recurs, persists. A tone that does not go away, returns through a composer. Different, but also the same. By listening intently to the sounds a decade makes, the sounds it keeps making, the instruments repeatedly chosen (the 70s harp, string instruments; the 80s saxophone; the prevalence of the pop song) to signal a particular time, place, mood, we can begin to understand something about the progression and treatment of time, and how a decade voices itself through sound.

In another aphorism from “On Music,” Bresson instructs: “The noises must become music.” No movie decade took this more seriously than the 1970s, which blended and layered diegetic sound with non-diegetic score, the filmic and profilmic, in often extraordinary ways. In 1970s movies, sound was visible. I think this is because the world was still real.

Below are some of my favorite film scores. Most are from the 1970s since it is the decade I am currently working on for DECADES. Apart from Taxi Driver, Body Double, and Day Out of Days, these musical segments do not exist as official soundtracks. They are my recordings.







Masha Tupitsyn is a writer, critic, and multi-media artist. She is the author of several books like LOVE DOG, LACONIA: 1,200 TWEETS ON FILM, and BEAUTY TALK & MONSTERS. Her fiction and criticism has been published widely in journals and anthologies. In 2015, she completed the film LOVE SOUNDS, a 24-hour audio-essay and history of love in English-speaking cinema. Her new durational film, DECADES, a study of time through film sound, is forthcoming. She teaches film, literature, and gender studies at The New School and Pratt in New York City. Her Tumblr, is Love Dog


Saturday, January 14th, 2017

— The war in Ukraine is burning. In early 2015 a Portuguese producer allocates a symbolic fund that allows for a return to Transnistria, a pro-Russian frozen-conflict in Moldova. We apply for journalist visas with a fake “script”.

The visas take too long. Nevertheless we book the crew their plane tickets; I fit part of the available budget in my pockets; S.D carries the rest from Berlin. Two days before departing all the crew members are granted journalist accreditations – including the Moldovan nationals.

The shooting runs as expected for 20 days; the only “incident” was recorded and is reported in Self-Portrait. We were shooting next to the border with Ukraine. There is no consular protection in the territory. I’m unsure if I’ll ever get to meet our friends again.

Transcript of dialogues

February 2015 – Conversation with the KGB, military checkpoint, Kuchurgan (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, Moldova) | Pervomaisk (Ukraine). Transcript of dialogues. The inquiry continued at KGB headquarters, Tiraspol (P.M.R., Moldova). It was not recorded.

/tc 00:37:54:05 00:37:57:15
– Damn, what is going on?

/tc 00:38:04:01 00:38:06:09
– Hello.

/tc 00:38:06:21 00:38:08:16
How are you?
– Everything is fine.

/tc 00:38:08:19 00:38:11:05
What is going on?
– Hello everybody.

/tc 00:38:11:08 00:38:13:15
Why are you all gathered here?
– Who speaks Russian?

/tc 00:38:13:18 00:38:16:01
Yes, but not all of them.
– Some do, the others don’t?

/tc 00:38:16:04 00:38:18:22
Where are the documents?
– Do you have them?

/tc 00:38:19:01 00:38:20:23
Where? Show us.
– We already showed you.

/tc 00:38:21:02 00:38:24:02
Yes, but not to me. Passport.
– The passport.

/tc 00:38:27:17 00:38:30:15
Where do you come from and where are you going to?
– Lenin.

/tc 00:38:30:18 00:38:36:00
What have you been doing there?
– Right, I recognize your faces.

/tc 00:38:37:15 00:38:42:12
Where did you register?
– They entered and left…

/tc 00:38:42:15 00:38:46:10
You’re out of time? Where were you lodged?
– No, no.

/tc 00:38:46:13 00:38:48:18
Did you enter through Moldova?
– Yes

/tc 00:38:48:21 00:38:54:19
Which Moldovan address are you all registered in?
– Well… we rented an apartment.

/tc 00:38:55:00 00:38:58:09
Still, there must be some kind
of registration in the EU?

/tc 00:38:58:12 00:39:01:21
The EU doesn’t require registration.
Today you won’t need it, right?
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:02:00 00:39:05:07
You only entered and left?
Rented an apartment in Moldova?
– Yes

/tc 00:39:05:10 00:39:09:15
What for? Are you the translator?
– Yes, I am.

/tc 00:39:09:18 00:39:13:05
Are you Moldovan?
– No, I’m Ukrainian.

/tc 00:39:13:08 00:39:16:00
From Ukraine. And you’ve
just arrived with them?

/tc 00:39:16:03 00:39:19:00
Yes, they don’t speak
Russian and I do.

/tc 00:39:19:03 00:39:24:12
Interesting. I want to know what you are shooting.
– You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:39:24:16 00:39:28:06
– I understand that you’re shooting
but… Is it over or what?

/tc 00:39:28:09 00:39:31:12
No, it is still the same film.
– Haven’t you finished yet?

/tc 00:39:31:15 00:39:37:16
Why Transnistria, what is the reason?
– Is it Moldova and Transnistria separately?

/tc 00:39:37:19 00:39:41:20
The main theme is Transnistria.
– What is he smoking? Show me.

/tc 00:39:41:23 00:39:45:06
– Our cigarettes don’t please you?

/tc 00:39:45:09 00:39:50:06
He’s used to rollies.
– Our cigarettes are expensive outside.

/tc 00:39:50:09 00:39:52:18
Are they expensive where he lives? …Yes.
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:52:21 00:39:57:08
Damn, here you can smoke them.
– That’s why they smoke tobacco. Half the price.

/tc 00:39:57:11 00:40:00:02
If you have the opportunity,
you should try smoking our cigarettes.

/tc 00:40:00:05 00:40:04:02
It might be better for him.
– Joking…

/tc 00:40:04:08 00:40:08:23
They bought some.
– Here everyone always smokes cigarettes.

/tc 00:40:09:02 00:40:12:17
I was also surprised.
For them, cigarettes are chic.
– Yes?

/tc 00:40:12:20 00:40:16:01
It’s expensive, you can
buy it for 5€

/tc 00:40:16:04 00:40:22:11
That’s too expensive.
– Not smoking costs less, here it’s the opposite.

/tc 00:40:23:21 00:40:28:14
They tasted and bought the Soyuz
cigarettes, with no filter.

/tc 00:40:28:19 00:40:32:12
Too strong for them.
– Yes.

/tc 00:40:33:12 00:40:37:03
Who is financing this expedition?

/tc 00:40:37:07 00:40:39:14
Is she the director?
– Yes, the director.

/tc 00:40:39:17 00:40:42:14
Who ordered it to be about Transnistria?
– She did.

/tc 00:40:42:16 00:40:46:12
She decided?
Is there any particular objective?

/tc 00:40:46:15 00:40:50:01
Interesting, no?
– What are you shooting in Transnistria?

/tc 00:40:50:04 00:40:52:18
That’s true.
– On television?

/tc 00:40:52:21 00:40:56:15
There’s nothing to see.
– Everything is adulterated.

/tc 00:40:56:18 00:40:59:14
Especially in Western television.

/tc 00:41:01:04 00:41:04:06
Everything’s clear with you now.
– I certainly want to see the film.

/tc 00:41:04:09 00:41:07:17
But isn’t there a script explaining
what the film is about?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:07:20 00:41:11:08
Is it about the lives of ordinary
people or other things?

/tc 00:41:11:11 00:41:17:04
Is it a worthwhile project about Transnistria?
Or are there any other interests?

/tc 00:41:17:07 00:41:20:23
There must be something else.
– The history.

/tc 00:41:21:02 00:41:25:04
The history of Transnistria? Did you go to
United Work Collective Council office?

/tc 00:41:25:07 00:41:30:05
OSTK can tell you the origin.
– Yes, that’s why we did some interviews.

/tc 00:41:30:08 00:41:32:13
Have you interviewed people?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:32:16 00:41:35:06
Who owns the car?
– We rented it.

/tc 00:41:35:09 00:41:39:22
In Chișinău? …Is the driver from Chișinău?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:40:07 00:41:44:08
Are you from Chișinău?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:44:11 00:41:46:08
Is it interesting?
– Very.

/tc 00:41:46:11 00:41:49:20
What border have you crossed today?
– We came through Dubăsari.

/tc 00:41:49:23 00:41:53:16
Did you jump right in our direction?
– To Lenin?

/tc 00:41:53:19 00:41:56:14
Yes, we came to Lenin with Kolja.

/tc 00:41:56:17 00:42:00:20
Who is Kolja? This is Kolja, right?
– Yes.

/tc 00:42:00:23 00:42:02:23
This is Kolja.

/tc 00:42:03:02 00:42:06:05
Kolja, what did you want to show them?
– Me?

/tc 00:42:06:08 00:42:09:01
Yes, where have you been?
– To Lenin, I live here.

/tc 00:42:09:04 00:42:16:05
But did you go to your house? Or have you
been shooting again?
– No, to Oksana’s.

/tc 00:42:16:11 00:42:18:11
– Natasha.

/tc 00:42:18:14 00:42:20:01
– Oksana.

/tc 00:42:20:04 00:42:22:08
Who’s she?
– And the grandmother.

/tc 00:42:22:11 00:42:28:00
There’s an old woman and an old man.
We wanted to talk to them.

/tc 00:42:28:03 00:42:29:23
Are they Kolja’s grandparents?
– No.

/tc 00:42:30:02 00:42:35:03
What did you want to talk about?
– Nothing special.

/tc 00:42:35:06 00:42:39:15
Considering that Moldova has almost
entered the European Union.

/tc 00:42:39:18 00:42:42:20
It is easier to cross the border, no documents
are needed, nor the registration, as before.

/tc 00:42:42:23 00:42:47:08
No, only the registration.
– And how many Moldovans do you see out there?

/tc 00:42:47:11 00:42:50:21
That I don’t know. I just know that
they have biometric passports.

/tc 00:42:51:00 00:42:52:22
Do you have a biometric passport?
– You don’t need one.

/tc 00:42:53:01 00:42:56:17
They arrive at any time, they rent an
apartment and live there as…

/tc 00:42:56:20 00:43:01:17
I’m not sure, if it’s for a long term stay
I guess you must register.

/tc 00:43:01:20 00:43:06:10
Are these people here for a long term?
– No, they stay until the 4th of February.

/tc 00:43:06:14 00:43:13:12
Isn’t that a long term stay?
– A long term stay is more than three months.

/tc 00:43:13:15 00:43:15:19
Now they’re here as tourists.

/tc 00:43:15:22 00:43:20:20
Have you filmed anything today in Rîbnița?
– In Rîbnița today… let’s see.

/tc 00:43:20:23 00:43:25:03
Yes, near the hotel…
We filmed him leaving.

/tc 00:43:25:06 00:43:27:14
Who, Kolja?
– Yes, leaving the hotel.

/tc 00:43:27:17 00:43:31:06
Is Kolja the protagonist?
– Yes…

/tc 00:43:33:13 00:43:37:04
Kolja, what do you do in Rîbnița?
– I work.

/tc 00:43:37:07 00:43:41:05
– In the Russian Regiment.

/tc 00:43:41:08 00:43:44:05
Do you work or serve in the Russian Regiment?
– I work as a civilian.

/tc 00:43:44:08 00:43:46:18
As a civilian?
– Yes.

/tc 00:43:48:10 00:43:51:13
In the heavy lifting work?
– What?

/tc 00:43:51:16 00:43:53:16
In the heavy lifting work?
– No, no.

/tc 00:43:53:19 00:43:56:10
– Surveillance.

/tc 00:43:56:18 00:43:59:00
I can’t hear you.
– Surveillance.

/tc 00:43:59:03 00:44:02:14
So you’re a guard?
-Yes, yes.

/tc 00:44:04:12 00:44:06:05

/tc 00:44:08:16 00:44:10:20
That cell phone doesn’t have signal.

/tc 00:44:10:23 00:44:15:09
She has brought you presents.
– You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:44:15:12 00:44:19:15
You should’ve called before.
Now we’ll have to escort you to Tiraspol.

/tc 00:44:19:18 00:44:21:18
– With whom?

/tc 00:44:21:21 00:44:23:18

/tc 00:44:25:20 00:44:29:11
I’m going to be punished.
– Seriously?

/tc 00:44:34:00 00:44:36:19
Why are you going to be punished?

/tc 00:44:38:03 00:44:39:14
Yes, yes.

/tc 00:44:39:17 00:44:45:05
The two people with the cameras
should go by jeep.

/tc 00:44:45:08 00:44:51:22
Me and Vitali Yurievich will go by van,
to divide ourselves.

/tc 00:44:53:20 00:44:58:13
You should’ve called yesterday,
warning that you would arrive today.

/tc 00:44:58:16 00:45:02:09
Then I would have met you…

/tc 00:45:07:17 00:45:11:19
Now it’ll be difficult.

/tc 00:45:19:22 00:45:25:22
Have you planned to return to
Moldova after this trip?

/tc 00:45:26:01 00:45:29:21
Yes, because we didn’t register for long.
– Did you enter for a day?

/tc 00:45:30:00 00:45:33:04
For about six/eight hours.
– Yes…

/tc 00:45:33:07 00:45:36:16
Is the authorization for less than a day?
– Yes, yes.

/tc 00:45:37:15 00:45:40:21
Did everyone register when
you crossed the border? – Yes.

/tc 00:45:41:00 00:45:44:01
Do you all have the immigration cards?
They must be in your passports.

/tc 00:45:44:04 00:45:45:17
They didn’t give us that.
– They didn’t?

/tc 00:45:45:20 00:45:49:17
They only returned us the passports
with our visas. – Visa.

/tc 00:45:49:20 00:45:52:20
All clear. Do you have a visa
for the Transnistrian territory?

/tc 00:45:52:23 00:45:55:15
– When does it expire?

/tc 00:45:55:18 00:45:59:09
Yes, it is valid until February.
– Hmm…

/tc 00:46:00:02 00:46:02:02
For a month.

/tc 00:46:04:16 00:46:07:04
Kolja, when should you go back to work?
– Tomorrow.

/tc 00:46:07:07 00:46:08:22
As a guard?
– Yes.

/tc 00:46:09:01 00:46:13:07
You are a Russian citizen, correct?
– I have their passport.

/tc 00:46:13:10 00:46:18:08
If you have the passport you are a Russian
citizen. Why are you so uncertain?
– Well… Yes…

/tc 00:46:18:11 00:46:20:21
You have the passport and you don’t
know which country you belong to?

/tc 00:46:21:00 00:46:24:06
Nikolai Nikolaevich, maybe it’s better
not to waste time?

/tc 00:46:24:09 00:46:26:15
Should Romanich write it or will it take long?
– We don’t need to.

/tc 00:46:26:18 00:46:33:13
The situation has changed a bit and
now you’ll have to be escorted to Tiraspol.

/tc 00:46:34:12 00:46:36:03
– It’s on your way out.

/tc 00:46:36:06 00:46:41:13
We need to talk to you in more detail.
There is no need to stay here in the open field.

/tc 00:46:42:02 00:46:46:21
Let’s go. In half an hour we’ll be in Tiraspol.

Salomé Lamas was born in 1987, in Lisbon. She studied cinema in Lisbon and Prague, visual arts in Amsterdam and is a Ph.D candidate in Contemporary Art Studies in Coimbra. Her work has been screened both in art venues and film festivals such as Berlinale – Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, BAFICI, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, FIAC, MNAC – Museu do Chiado, DocLisboa, Cinema du Réel, Visions du Réel, MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Pacific Film Archive, Harvard Film Archive, Museum of Moving Images NY, Jewish Museum NY, Fid Marseille, Arsenal Institut fur film und videokunst, Viennale, Hong Kong Film Festival, Serralves – Museu de Arte Comtemporânea, Tate Modern, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Genève, Bozar – Palais des Beaux-Arts, TABAKALERA, ICA – The Institute of Contemporary Arts, TBA 21 Foundation, Mostra de São Paulo, CAC – Contemporary Art Center Vilnius, MALBA, SESC São Paulo, La Biennale di Venezia Architettura, among others. Lamas was granted several fellowships such as The Gardner Film Study Center Fellowship – Harvard University, The Rockefeller Foundation – Bellagio Center, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Sundance, Bogliasco Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD.


Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Willamette meteorite. A 14-ton hunk of nickel iron that looks like an accidental spaceship, delivering children a century forward in time.

As it turns out, its stowaway cavities aren’t a product of scorched entry, but of sitting and rusting away for centuries in a soggy Oregon forest.

In the top 1902 image, the meteorite is outside, sitting on dirt and surrounded, curiously, by large sheets of creased paper. A kind of protean set. The second image (1911) was taken after the meteorite was moved to a museum. I like the backdrops as much as the meteorite.

Earlier in its career, the meteorite had been dragged to the property of Ellis Hughes, the Welsh fellow who found it. Hughes had tried but failed to raise enough money to purchase the land where it sat. So he stole it off property that was owned, ironically, by the Oregon Iron and Steel Company. To keep his find secret, Hughes worked covertly with his son, their horse, a log cart and a rudimentary capstan-winch arrangement. It took them three months to exhume and haul the thing three quarters of a mile. Once Hughes had it in the yard, he built a shack around it and started charging twenty-five cents for a look. Coincidentally, one of the early visitors happened to be the Oregon Iron and Steel Company Attorney, who figured out the attraction had been pilfered, presumably by following disturbed ground back to a pit on OIS property. The case went to court. While it was in litigation, another neighbor tried to get in on the action, claiming he was the rightful owner by citing evidence of a giant crater in his yard. But that case was dismissed when neighbors reported heavy blasting the week before.

Comets are funny to me.
They’re like dumb magicians.
Metal space potatoes.
Galactic griots.

When something’s outside the system of things it can become a messenger. A rip happens in meaning’s fabric, and no matter how mute or inscrutable the guest that appears through the breach, it’s oracular.

I found this glob in the newspaper. Embedded in a passage about risk and fear. Was it in everyone’s paper that week?

NASA image of piece of junk orbiting Earth at 35,000km

I took these shots at the Computer Museum in Mountain View, CA when I was there with my family a few weeks ago.

Why is the spatiotemporal hiccup of my dad encountering his collateral mapped self so surreal?

At first I thought it’s because Google Earth images don’t register as ‘the past’. They seem a bit sentient, part of a giant responsive image net. Which puts dad in two places at once, on parallel forking planes of present. Borghes.

But it’s also because his blurred face always confronts the camera. He appears to see himself, or something, in the future. Marker.

Which made me think about a Klein bottle, if the bottle weren’t the bottle but the gaze.

Deborah Stratman was born in Washington DC in 1967. She makes films and artworks that investigate power, control and belief, considering how place, thought, and society are intertwined. Recent projects address freedom, exodus, sinkholes, raptors, orthoptera, surveillance, telekinesis, public speech, reenactment, levitation and faith. She lives in Chicago where she teaches at UIC.


Saturday, January 14th, 2017

— “What’s Ben Vereen doing at a kid’s birthday party?” I thought. I remembered the video from twenty years ago I was never able to forget about. I introduced myself and Ben spoke to me warmly, until I brought up Nobody, when Vereen performed in blackface for Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration in 1981, and his demeanor shrank. Detecting that I hit an unforeseen nerve, I asked if I could call him and discuss it further. I did not tell him I had a performance in mind for him then, I erred towards caution, fearing he would avoid me till I went away. “Ask my daughter for my number”, he told me. I realized then that artist Koran Davis, was his Koran Vereen. I was at the Underground Museum, an alternative artist space in Arlington Heights, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Co-founded by the great figurative painter, Noah Davis and his wife Koran, the Underground Museum is a cultural hub that serves low-to-moderate income neighborhoods with contemporary art. It was my first time there to the space, a gem of a exhibition hall, hidden behind a nondescript storefront, that I had driven by without notice on many an occasion. Before I left the party, she promised to share with me later, the rest of the story. It wasn’t until Koran and I spoke later that week, that I learned of the tragic aftermath of Nobody. The bend in Ben’s neck and slump in his chair when I mentioned that performance, was subtle yet beneath the surface was bloated with the deepest of yearnings. “I convinced him that you could be trusted. That you were one of the good ones. So here’s his number”.

It was early spring, 2014, and I was in North Hollywood, driving along a sedate family neighborhood, of well kept upper middle class homes, along a tree lined street. He met me at the gate and escorted me in. The house was scented with incense and a painting of Chicken George, his iconic role in Alex Haley’s, TV Mini series Roots, was on the wall. It was a beautiful home, large interior and well decorated but with the markers of a single man. “I don’t live here, I just keep my things here” I recall him saying to me as he showed me into the home.

“So what do you want to know, or how can I help you?” said Ben as he sat there in a love seat and me across from him. His shirt was unbuttoned down his chest, and a long scar was visible in the center of it. Perhaps a scar from a surgery years before from his car accident I wondered.

“You want some tea, or some water?”

“Water be great. Thank you.” I replied.

We were alone, just the two of us in this big living room, I nervously knocked over the water bottle. He offered to show me the video.

“I haven’t seen it in 20 years, and I can’t find it online anywhere” I told him.

“Yeah, well I don’t have it either, but I do have the first version I performed on television for an awards show.” He sat on the floor in front of me with the glow of the television in front of him, creating in mind a timeline.

Before that night in 1981, he had already performed Nobody across the county in his traveling show, and now I’m watching it with him, as he sits on the floor in front of me, watching himself. “Look at those high kicks, I was a bad man back then… Look at me, bam, bam. whoo!”

I witnessed the windows of time align, me watching Ben, watching himself, embodying Bert Williams, revealed the archetypal past alive within the transient present. I could see myself from the outside, like in a video feedback loop where the room can be seen in the room inside the room stretching beyond my horizon. When did this performance of Nobody begin, and when did it end? Would whatever I was dreaming up to propose to Ben that afternoon, be the resolution or the continuation of that event?

His dancing and singing were as phenomenal as I remembered it, and the ending as touching and emotionally devastating. Even more so, when he sat down back in his love seat in front of me.

Ben Vereen in Pippen. 1972

Bert Williams. Ziegfeld Follies, circa 1910.

“I never got my chance to tell my side of the story. I went there to tell the story of our people, what we went through, and that we can never let that happen to a people ever again”. Sitting erect in his seat, I could see the body of Ben’s dancer self, strong and poised emerge in front of me.

“It was like someone pulled a plug out of my heart.” The very community that he want there to represent were the one that turned on him the most.

After a long pause, I said, “I’d love to do something with you about this, I don’t know what yet, but if your open to meeting with me again, I’d like to show the performance the way in which it was meant to be seen. I believe now is the time, people will be able to see this, really see it.”

I smiled, and sank in my chair, glimpsing again at the scar just beneath his shirt. I hoped that in my smile, that he felt my recognition of his hurt. When I peered deeper, was it my imagination that I detected tears in his eyes? I again saw an alignment of windows. Beyond the personal, was a generational despair that traveled beyond the era of Bert Williams and minstrelsy.

After a prolonged pause, “Alright Edgar, lets do something together. You just gotta promise me that you’ll protect me. I can’t go through that again.”

Accepting the weight of that burden as opportunity, numerous discussions, consultations and persistence, Ben grew to trust me to tell his story, and we became friends.

The memory of meeting Ben at the Underground Museum is bitter sweet, since Noah Davis, Ben’s son-in-law would tragically succumb to his fight with cancer in August of 2015, during the height of his creative output. Survived by a young family who loved him tremendously, Ben’s daughter Koran had become a widow. Unable to remedy your child’s pain is one of the worst things a parent can fathom. Having a 10 year old daughter of my own, I cannot fathom how my wife and I could possess the power to console her of such a loss. Ben and I only spoke of Noah’s death briefly by phone when I called him to shared my condolences. We spoke in the evening from the studio before beginning thats nights rehearsal for Until, Until, Until. After we hung up I thought of that scar that ran down the middle of Ben’s chest, atop his heart.

“This is your material now, I did my part, now it’s your time to make it your own.” he told me and Frank (Lawson) the actor who was playing Ben. “Make it your own”.

Actor Frank Lawson as Ben Vereen performing Bert Williams
Photo credit: Lamont Hamilton. 2015

Actor Frank Lawson as Ben Vereen performing Bert Williams
Photo credit: Lamont Hamilton. 2015

Actor Frank Lawson as Ben Vereen performing Bert Williams
Photo credit: Lamont Hamilton. 2015

Edgar Arceneaux and Frank Lawson in final scene of UNTIL, UNTIL, UNTIL…
Photo credit: Paula Court. Performa Commission 2015

Edgar Arceneaux was born in 1972, in Los Angeles. Arceneaux was the director of the Watts House Project from 1999-2012. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at Kunstverein Ulm, Germany; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; The Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; and the Project, New York, and most recently MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge. He has been included in group shows at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris; Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Orange County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunstmuseum Basel; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and many more.


Saturday, January 14th, 2017

— Decades ago I was in a very wonderful relationship with a woman who enjoyed me and loved me, and I enjoyed her and loved her. We had fun, we had great ideas, we enjoyed thinking and moving through the world together. She was a lanky sexy girl, with a bleach blond kind of Twiggy cut, and special light blue hot pants. She has long legs. She was super smart. Her parents were active alcoholics, and their lives were falling apart. My gf couldn’t call them after 2pm or they would be drunk. I remember they came to visit us with bottles in their suitcases, as if they couldn’t get alcohol in New York City.

My lover had a lot of insecurities, she always thought that other people looked down on her, and she also often thought that she was being stalked. In fact she kept her phone number unlisted because she and her previous girlfriend had had phone calls from a man they didn’t know when they lived in New Jersey. I never got the whole story.

I am the kind of person who buys a six pack and it sits in my refrigerator for three months to a year. But if I brought beer to her place, the next time I came over, it was gone.

One night we went to a party. She was just learning how to be an artist, and she believed that everyone looked down on her. When we left the party I suddenly realized that she was drunk. “You’re drunk,” I said. “No I’m not,” she said. “OK,” I said. “You go home and I will follow you.” I walked behind her, and it didn’t take long until it was clear she had no idea of how to get home, even though it was only six or seven blocks away.

Anyway, about four years later something absolutely terrible happened to me, and–in summary–she disappeared. She never spoke to me again. I didn’t know why she disappeared. I didn’t understand what was going on. It never actually occurred to me that she disappeared because something terrible had happened to me. I didn’t get it. Finally she agreed to meet me in the office of a therapist we had gone to see a few years back.

The doctor heard all the details that I spare you here, and suggested that she go to Al-Anon. The shrink said “Your parents are alcoholically depressed. They can never solve problems. That’s not what happened to Sarah. She is upset because something terrible happened. If you go to Al-Anon you can learn to tell the difference.”

Anyway, a few days later she called me from a pay phone, after her first Al-Anon meeting. “I have nothing in common with those people. And anyway, I don’t even know if my parents are alcoholics.”

I never heard from her again. A few times, maybe once or twice, in the subsequent seventeen years, I have run into her. I am always happy to see her. I feel love when I see her. I say “Hello” and she says “I don’t want to talk to you.”

Recently she won a high honor. I was happy. I thought that maybe if she felt better about herself she would get it together and stop blaming and hurting me instead of dealing with the fact that her parents chose alcohol over her. I went on line and looked at some recent photos of her. She looks horrible. She has gained about 80 pounds, and from the puffiness of her face, I could see that she is drinking. She also cut her hair in a self-hating way, and dyed it the same brown as a motel carpet.

They say that “time heals all wounds” but actually, time embeds wounds. People blame and hide out of shame, and then they keep up the performance out of shame, and then they build new relationships on the negative bonds of that shame, so that if they ever told the truth and actually dealt with the pain they had caused, they would lose their new bonds. It’s a scary, divisive trap. It makes me feel loss, and grief.



Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Number One
Trumpet song
She comes falling from the sky
Falling from heaven – trumpeters sounding her arrival

Number Two
Song of 153 Fish
“They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break,”[1]
“It was full of 153 large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn”.
Repeat chorus

Number Three
Song of seeds
She sells seashells by the seashore
She sells Za’tar, raisins, and figs
She sells
And oil of olives

Number Four
The Syndrome Song
A person with a god complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks. Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.[1]

Number Five
Song of fauna and flora
In everyday non-technical usage, the luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species L. aegyptiaca and L. acutangula. The fully developed fruit is the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge which is used in bathrooms and kitchens. The name luffa was taken by European botanists in the 17th century from the Egyptian Arabic name “Loof”.[1]

Number Six
Song of the Narcissist
Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things looking so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly (original words by Irving Berlin)

Number Seven
Rub a dub dub,
Three fools in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Not me not me not me.

Number Eight
Song for all songs
Consumed, I burn
Burning in the dark

Jumana Emil Abboud was born in 1971, in Palestine, and currently lives in Jerusalem. She works with drawing, installation, video and performance, exploring personal and collective memory, loss, longing and belonging.


Monday, October 31st, 2016

— I found these pictures in the bottom of a bin in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They were taken in South Korea, in the 1970’s, they are probably of the kind that South Korean businessmen would take on business trips and bring back to the office to show to their colleagues as slideshows. This was a period when the country was rapidly industrializing and the dictator was a man named Park Chung Hee. Buildings were flying up everywhere. In these photos, a visiting Kenyan businessman is passing through a new factory, looking at the construction.

What is interesting to me about these photos is first that they reveal power dynamics that felt like they could be happening anywhere. Tensions, misogyny, moments of kindness, and the kind of general misunderstanding that can happen between people from different places. I can see the familiar performance of a workplace here and also a set of real people in the time period of a lot of the other archival material I use in my own work – the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – with it’s optimism and its modernist idealism. There is also a lot I can’t know. I don’t know the particularities of South Korean customs, or the words that were being spoken, or what happened before or after. I’m most interested in the woman in the pictures. What was she doing there? Is she a worker? A hired escort? A wife? 

I particularly like the way that the hands in the photographs are always a little bit more tense than the faces, seeming to reveal some actual human feeling in the past.

And I like these pictures most of all because they remind you that you can’t really know anything from looking at a set of photographs. I think of this line from Lacan, “you never look at me from the place I see you”. He means something a bit different, but for my purposes here, those words mean that you can never look at a picture of someone from the same experience, or subjectivity, or place from which they look back at you. Something to think about.

Sara Cwynar is a New York-based Canadian artist who uses studio sets, collage and re-photography to explore the ways in which the meaning of design and images change or endure over the course of time. Her work has been exhibited recently at the Prada Foundation, Italy, the Hessel Museum, Hudson, NY, and at MoMA PS1.


Monday, October 31st, 2016

— I began collecting personal stories in the Story Gathering Boxes from gallery-goers in 1972 because I was interested in breaking down traditional barriers set up between the public, art space and works of art. In addition to inviting people to participate in writing stories for the boxes, a place to sit, linger or have conversation is also provided by situating the boxes on a table with stools. An edited selection of the thousands of stories collected over the years will hopefully be published one day. The configuration and scale of the boxes was inspired by sacred ancient Egyptian canopic chests that held the organs of the pharaoh. I am looking forward to the day when I have the means to go to Egypt to produce four Story Gathering Boxes carved from Egyptian translucent alabaster.

Mary Beth Edelson was born in 1933, in East Chicago, Indiana. She lives and works in
New York City.


Monday, October 31st, 2016

I’ve been reading my old diaries for a new project. Here are four passages that stuck out to me.

4 Obstacles
Money (job)
Accountability —> she needs to matter

I hate dream stories. They’re so annoying. Every morning my sister tells me her dreams. Last night I had a dream that the Geico gecko went down on me. That means that your love for that campaign has gone too far. Last night I had a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That wasn’t you, that was Martin Luther King Jr. Black history month is getting to you. I’m really good at interpreting dreams.

I get bored of everything in real life. All the characters are so predictable and they keep making the same mistakes. I’m trying to get myself out of this rut, but it’s hard. I forget why I ever wanted to do anything. I’m always disappointed. Maybe my expectations are too high.

“Do all African-Americans have curly eyelashes?” Joan asked while squinting at me. “I don’t know,” I replied doing my best not to sound the least bit offended. “I think mine are curlier than most.” She squinted for a few minutes longer and went back to her easel. I stared at an old drawing of a big head. They were making a drawing of me. My eye would lose focus after a minute and I hope it didn’t look dead. I wanted to look like I had “something going on in my head.” Nancy once told me about a girl who modeled for her that was clearly not thinking anything. I didn’t want to be like that. I sat on a white chair on two ratty beaded pillows. I stared off at the big head and thought about my poor life for three hours. Joan offered to drive me to the train. Even though she’d confessed earlier that she’s supposed to wear glasses when she drives, I took her up on the offer. I had nothing to lose. Although the entire ride I imagined us getting into a horrible wreck. In the car she asked me if I was having fun in life. “I am,” I told her sincerely. She remembered for a while about how much fun she had in her twenties and I sat back and listened. Joan turned 73 last month. She spent her birthday in Paris with her husband. I tried to imagine her husband with no luck. I was convinced she was lesbian. A stereotypical lesbian with short hair, a gruff, go-get-it attitude, no make up, no dresses. Although, or maybe because, that could describe me I had my suspicions. “Is your boyfriend black too” She asked curiously. “No he’s white.” I sensed her discontent. “Well, diversity is good” she offered. I nodded.

Martine Syms was born in 1988, in Los Angles. Her artwork has been exhibited and screened extensively, including recent presentations at Karma International, Bridget Donahue Gallery, the New Museum, Kunsthalle Bern, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Index Stockholm, MOCA Los Angeles, MCA Chicago. She has lectured at Yale University, SXSW, California Institute of the Arts, University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, and MoMA PS1, among other venues. From 2007–11, she directed Golden Age, a project space focused on printed matter. She also recently founded small press Dominica.


Monday, October 31st, 2016

— Languidly walking my way through the meticulously well manicured and stunningly beautiful gardens at Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center residency in Italy this past summer I imagined what a 17th century aristocrat must have felt, prancing atop the same gravel with silk slippers. And that’s when it hit me. Ill at ease and suddenly clear headed I understood that I was participating in and carrying on a tradition of privilege that, as a man of African descent, was never a beneficiary of. The history of exploited labor, deception and control of common folks — European peasants and colonized dark skinned people from abroad — were hidden deep below in the ground underfoot.

My month long residency was to allow me the luxury of time to make art works unmasking the pervasive catch 22 of mental colonialism so that other colonized minds might question the origin of subtle, self defeating impulses and insecurities. residing in their own heads. I’d been woke, and my work is to wake others so that we may become more resilient to the stress and confusion of living in a post colonial global economy.

And here I was indulging and gorging at the kings table. When I shared this inner conflict with my fellow Rockefeller fellows, one artist remarked, “Are you telling me you didn’t know you’d be staying in a 500 year old villa atop of Lake Como? So why’d you apply?”

I called my friends Meena Nanji and Yong Soon Min, artists I knew who also attended the residency and asked if they had a similar existential crisis and hungrily received their counsel.

By my second week I was in full production mode, cranking out critical works, dancing in the night and thanking the stars I was here. Life is strange. So is inner conflict. I honor both. History’s a bitch.

Todd Gray was born in 1954 in Los Angeles. Gray received an MFA and a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and is currently a professor at California State University, Long Beach. He has shown performance work at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater), Los Angeles (2010); California African American Museum, Los Angeles (2009); the Commons, New York University (2008); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2008); New Renaissance Theater, Syracuse, NY (2007); and Academy of Media Arts, Cologne (2004). Gray’s work is in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; University of Connecticut; and University of Parma, Italy. Gray is the recipient of a Los Angeles International Airport public art commission (2007); a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2005); a Pasadena Art Alliance Grant (2004); and a City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (1997).


Monday, October 31st, 2016

I get most of my ideas and images from driving to and fro in the Pacific Northwest and walking up and down in it. Scouting out landscapes and our often fraught relations with the land. I’m interested in the landscape not merely as a backdrop, or scenery, but rather as a character with agency. So these pictures of mine are really a form of landscape portraiture.

I trace this interest back to my childhood on the edges of Forest Park in NW Portland, the largest park within a city’s limits in the US. The Wildwood Trail runs more than 20 miles along the Tualatin ridge. When I was a kid the ridge extended, forested, to the coast range, and a black bear had to be tranquilized in a neighbor’s backyard. Development severed this link, but coyotes are regular visitors.

I used to terrify my mother because I would play behind the houses where the yards met the forest, rather than out front. Playing games like moving around the neighborhood without touching concrete. Like in Opal Whitely’s journal, I remember going on these “explores” from a really early age. Always alone, and this capacity for solitude turned out to be really useful for a painter.


When I go out on these scouts I bring along my kit. Inside a small Filson shoulder bag are sketchbooks, fountain pens, ink, and a camera. I’ve always drawn with fountain pens, and I’ve had the black one for 25 years and the blue barreled one for about 20 years. The first pen I had, a beautiful reproduction of a 1930s pen, bought while still in art school, I lost somewhere. The loss still pains me.

I like the finality of the ink, putting a line down and having to react to, with, or against it. No erasures, just barreling forward. You really see something when you’re drawing it. The camera, now digital, is small and simple. The drawings and photos, though essential, are the raw source material for my paintings, and all the paintings are studio productions.


The most recent scout was a trip to the Owyhee, at the end of September. The Owyhee, an archaic spelling of Hawaii, is so named because a pair of Hawaiian fur trappers disappeared in this country in the 19th century. It’s located in the far SE corner of Oregon and is stark high desert, and very remote. A land of towering rhyolite formations, honeycombs, lava flows, basalt, bone-dry yellow grass, sage, a sky so blue as to seem almost black, starry nights, and the Milky Way’s strip from horizon to horizon. Strangely, we didn’t see the moon the entire trip; only a handful of people, cows, and gravel roads.

All the places are named after calamities, disasters, and misfortunes. In fact, the whole county is name Malheur, after the French for “bad time,” “bad luck,” etc.

The first night we camped at Succor Creek (pronounced “sucker”) under the trees that hug the bank. Then on to Leslie Gulch, named for Hiram Leslie, a 19th-century pioneer who was struck and killed by lightning here. The gulch is known for its rhyolite formations of ochre, red, purple, and corpse green. In the morning we were buzzed by two F-16 fighter jets, deafeningly loud and so low as to clearly make out their undercarriages as they banked hard right above us, then were gone.

On to Jordan Craters, a 28-square-mile lava flow from eruptions 3,000 to 9,000 years ago, which in geological time is now. This is a pahoehoe flow, ropey, with splatter cones, enormous pits, precarious footing, and sharp surfaces. During the height of summer, temperatures reach 120° F. A terrifying place and so quiet as to hear the earth’s hum.

Finally, on to Birch Creek Ranch. Thirty miles of gravel road to the entrance of the Ranch road, where a sign warned: “Extremely steep and rough road, extremely slippery when wet, high clearance vehicles recommended.” The road was a single-track dirt and boulder-strewn six-mile nightmare to the river. We crossed four creeks at the bottom, and traveled the six miles in one and a half hours, one way. At the bottom were the ruins of the original pioneer structures and a contemporary house set amongst trees with sprinklers going. We traveled another mile to the large, open, recently harvested alfalfa field between the Owyhee River and rhyolite cliffs, and set up our final camp. A peculiarly warm wind blew through the night (the other nights were very cold) and we awoke early on high alert, worried that rain was coming, making the road back up impassable.

Then we faced our own small calamity, a flat tire. And what turned out to be an ill-fitting tire iron, with no way to reach the recessed lug nuts of the wheel. We hiked to the house with the sprinklers, hoping someone was there with tools. A pickup was out front, empty, with the engine idling, and onto the porch stepped Jim, a BLM employee who lives year round in this isolated spot and who had a wrench that fit. He told us that last winter he went five weeks without seeing another human being, the road being impassable. We were struck by how isolated we were—only three people in a hundred square miles.

One and a half hours on dirt, two hours on gravel, and we were back on concrete for the eight-hour drive back to Portland.

The Owyhee is being considered for National Monument designation. The road signs were ubiquitous: NO MONUMENT.

Owyhee Scout 9.26–9.30, 2016
Miles traveled 1,150

Animals sighted:
Bats, bighorn sheep, chukars, cows, coyotes, flickers, hawks, ground squirrels, many flying insects (flies, gnats, etc.), mule deer, lizards, ravens. No rattlesnakes.

Michael Brophy was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1960. For over two decades Brophy has painted the Pacific Northwest landscape. He has shown extensively in the Northwest in both solo and group exhibitions.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

— A proposition: that the most beautiful and emblematic images of our era come to us in the form of transmitted sporting events, frozen and distorted while being streamed over badly-connected laptops. This goes beyond the aesthetic of the glitch, or the history of the found image: the moment the screen jars and goes all wonky imposes an entire ontology; it seizes hold of us and wrenches us out of the imagined ‘natural’ or continuous order we thought we were inhabiting (here’s an event on grass; I’m watching it; no problems), plunging us instead into the realm of inexorable mediation. For the next ten seconds, or five minutes, or half-hour, as we scream at our screens and curse the broadcaster or internet provider or illegal streaming service or fibre-optic cable-installer whom we hold to be responsible for our plight, our very existence can only be experienced as a being-in-relay, a being-in-suspension, being-anxious, being-towards-technology, towards-the-law and, of course, towards-death. It’s a man-behind-the-curtain, blue-pill moment – all the more so since it reveals to us, with implacable assurance, that the first, ‘uncorrupted’ stream was in fact the construction or illusion: this is the accurate picture. Reality, in its far-flung entirety, is not the distant little game. It’s this: this vast, networked in-betweenness; this unmanageable surplus that is also deficit; this excruciating, almost unbearably intoxicating cocktail of too-much- and not-enoughness. Once we’ve drunk it, nothing will ever be the same again.

And why would we want it to be? Look at this snapshot of my MacBook during Wimbledon 2014.

With its insistent geometry of lines and vectors, broken only in order to be repeated; its dispersal of the human figures throughout space (Federer and Djokovic are genuinely ‘covering the court’); the refusal of its pixels to refresh (that is, erase their former contents) that ensures the persistence of one instant through the next one, and the next, making the image haunted, overtaken by the unshed ghosts of its own past; the reflection of the viewer (me) and his dual technologies of watching and recording (iPhone, laptop) in the screen, right down to the eye-shades, new screens that re-embed the screen that embeds them, so on ad infinitum… Forget the tedious narratives, endlessly proliferated by sport’s official media, that vainly attempt to place the ‘psychology’ of the individual player at the centre of the sporting experience. This multinodal ecstasy of relay, this communal technopsychosis, this mediomnesia, is what tennis, or any other sport, is really about. It’s why we watch it; why it matters; why it’s true.

Or this one, from a 2012 Spain-Croatia World Cup match.

Here, the screen is breaking space down into zones, flows and coagulations, sequences of colour, movement, energy. In other words, it’s doing the players’ work – but doing it much better. I love the way the artefacted section hovers above the humans, pressing down: it’s like a spaceship bearing a higher, more developed species – or perhaps the planet’s first, most native one, returning from a centuries-long sojourn across distances it has traversed as quick as light, or signals – coming in to land.

Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, REMAINDER, which deals with questions of trauma and repetition, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and was recently adapted for the cinema. His third, C, which explores the relationship between melancholia and technological media, was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize, as was his fourth, SATIN ISLAND, in 2015. McCarthy is also author of the 2006 non-fiction book TINTIN AND THE SECRET OF LITERATURE, an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books; of the novel MEN IN SPACE, set in a Central Europe rapidly disintegrating after the collapse of communism; and of numerous essays that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s and Artforum. In 2010 he wrote the screenplay for Johan Grimonprez’s multiple award-winning film DOUBLE TAKE. In addition, he is founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers and artists whose work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and Moderna Museet Stockholm. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016
MODESTO 2014/2015

— This series of photos was taken as part of the research for a film I’m currently co-writing with my good friend Rick Charnoski. Rick is an amazing filmmaker based in Los Angeles who has worked extensively with Super 8 and has directed some really powerful intimate films with his filmmaking partner Buddy Nichols including Fruit of the Vine and Tent City. Rick’s upcoming feature film is set in the small Californian town of Modesto and these photos are from a number of test shoots and location scout/casting sessions during 2014. I have been making films in the US since 1998 when I shot my first documentary Chasing Buddha about my Aunt Robina Courtin – a Buddhist nun who teaches Buddhism to prison inmates around the United States. These particular trips to Modesto were deeply inspiring but also very distressing in terms of hearing endless stories from Modesto locals about the impact of draconian drug laws and the private prisons across the state of California.

Amiel Courtin-Wilson was born in Australia, in 1979. His debut feature documentary, CHASING BUDDHA premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000 and won awards including best documentary at the IF Awards, as well as Sydney International Film Festival. A director and visual artist, he makes experimental films. His video installation work has toured internationally (I THOUGHT I KNEW BUT I WAS WRONG, 2004) and his films have screened at the National Gallery of Victoria, MONA, the Gallery of New South Wales and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Courtin-Wilson’s feature documentary BASTARDY won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the 2009 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards (FCCA), Best Documentary at the ATOM Awards, was released theatrically to critical acclaim across Australia and was nominated for three Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. The same year, his short film CICADA premiered at Cannes in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section. Amiel Courtin-Wilson participated in the Venice Film Festival in 2011 with his first feature-length film HAIL. Courtin-Wilson is currently developing several feature film projects and a number of screen based installations including THE SILENT EYE, a feature length performance film collaboration with Cecil Taylor and Min Tanaka, which was presented by the Whitney Museum, in 2016.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

What has me right now are the flowers. The colors are nuts. I’m soaking up smell of the leaves and flowers, and scent of the dirt they grow in.

Sarah Braman was born in 1970 in Tonawanda, New York. She currently lives and works between New York and Amherst, Massachusetts. In 2013, Braman was the recipient of the Maud Morgan Prize, and in 2014 Braman’s solo exhibition ALIVE opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Her first European solo exhibition was on view in 2011 at MACRO in Rome, Italy. Braman has exhibited work at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY (2016); the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MI (2015); The Broadway Mall Association and the New York City Parks Department, NY (2015); Kunstforeningen G1 Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2013); The Zabludowicz Collection Inaugural Installation, Sarvisalo, Finland (2012); THE SHAPE WE’RE IN, The Zabludowicz Collection, New York, NY (2011); The De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, FL (2010); The Lisbon Biennial, Portugal (2010); Greater New York at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY (2005). Braman is also one of the founders of the artist-run Canada Gallery, in New York.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Dear Michael,

We’ve never met. The unanticipated arrival of your postcard from the heavens deeply moved me. I was having a hard time…

I went to bed with your poem under my covers and I dreamt of my childhood home. Like an overgrown garden, it had formed with the earth and had an exterior of granite. The inside of the house was as gothic as I remembered: the wrought iron gates, the fountains, the Spanish tiles, the small chandelier in my bedroom, the child’s head of porcelain on the door. Every detail was untouched by time except for my father’s bathroom, which was covered in black veils. I woke crying from my sleep like Dorothy, with the taste of rainbow sherbet in my mouth, wanting to be home again.

Thank you Michael for sending me the most exquisite poem that defies being ephemeral.


Malerie Marder was born in 1971, in Philadelphia, PA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Selected solo exhibitions include ANATOMY, Kruger Gallery, Marfa, Texas (2015); ANATOMY, Leslie Tonkonow Art Projects, New York, New York (2013); CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, Blain/Southern, London, England (2011); NINE, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2007); NINE, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York (2006).


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Yeah, you know he too big to be a housecat, and he too small to be a lion.
“Crosseyed Cat”, Muddy Waters

— This was the first book I wrote. It was a book of journals, but I wrote it for publication. Hoping to get it published, I mean. When I was just out of high school, and finished with writing anything I didn’t want to write, someone told me if I wanted to be a writer I should keep a journal, to keep my hand in. He was a family friend—a stage director in Boston who came through Cleveland every year or two in the summer. So I started writing this journal, though it was never daily, and it was never private. I typed it up, the entries, made photocopies, gave them to a couple of friends, who circulated them to other friends. I must’ve gotten that idea from when I drew cartoons in high school. And I sent them to this family friend, the director, who wrote me long letters about them. I did it for a year. (It was a good year to keep a journal: I was on a steep learning curve, nearly 90 degrees. I must’ve found school so arid and oppressive that I put myself on hold till I could get the fuck out of there and start my life. What’s the opposite of precocious? I was delayed or something. I was overdue. So I covered a lot of ground in that year, including my first encounters with women, a guy, an orgy or two—there might’ve even been a little makeup in there, who knows? And possibly a scarf. My first scene—in this case, the Cleveland music scene around the Mistake and the Phantasy and the places in the Flats; a lot of hitchhiking; my first trips on my own to New York and my introduction to the Lower East Side; my first time trying to move to New York; my first girlfriend, such as she was; first breakup.) I went from a lonely lurking suburban virgin living at home who’d never smoked a joint to, okay, a still-pretty-green kid living in an old hotel downtown and kept as a sort of pet by a couple of older dykes, shooting pharmaceutical morphine and getting lost in their floor-to-ceiling library of New Directions, City Lights, Grove Press, and Black Sparrow books. (In the morning, beside the bed, there’d be a big prenatal vitamin stolen from the same pharmacy where the morphine came from and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Pretty nice setup.) More consequential: writing this blue book of mine was my first experience of turning my life into writing.

It’s written by a guy who didn’t know I exist.

As an object, the book is kind of an awkward possession. It’s embarrassing. I can’t read it and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. So I’ve lugged it around the country, place to place, for 35 years, and it’s sat in the bottom of a box or a drawer or a milk crate, with the dust and bits of spiderweb and termite wings. It’s soft and puffy now, as though it’s been through a flood. I like the book as it exists in my imagination. It has a kind of glow around it, which is dispelled by a glance at the thing itself. But with its feeling of time-as-it-happens, with its variety of tones and textures and its collage of vignettes and snatches of dialogue and descriptions of the weather, it became the template for my first novel, Through the Windshield. Writing it, I discovered the kind of book that comes natural to me to write. The approach was waiting there for me: I found my form. It was also my first experience of how something this size—a year of your life, 400 pages—takes shape at a chance word or suggestion. I started it on October 5, 1980, with an account of driving, alone, to see a show of watercolors in Canton, and I ended it on October 4, 1981, with a description of the sky. I was ready for anything.

Click any image to view larger
Photo credit: Don Heiny

Mike DeCapite is the author of the novels THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD (Sparkle Street Books, 1998; Red Giant Books, 2014) and RUINED FOR LIFE! (excerpts of which have appeared in 3:AM and Sensitive Skin); the chapbooks TRAVEL NOTES (Price of a Drink, 1995), SITTING PRETTY (CUZ Editions, 1999), and CREAMSICLE BLUE (Sparkle Street, 2012); and the short-prose collection RADIANT FOG (Sparkle Street, 2013). His work has appeared in CLE, CUZ, Evergreen Review, Vanitas, and many other publications. In 2016, with photographer Ted Barron, he presented the Sparkle Street Social & Athletic Club, a series of performances accompanied by photos and films, at the Howl! Happening gallery, NYC. DeCapite lives in New York.


Monday, May 30th, 2016

— There are some large white arum flowers growing on both sides of the garden path. A thick orange pistil lies in the middle of the blossomed corolla. The organ is so soft that walking my fingers on it is a delicious pleasure. And yet I know that it damages them, which is why I do it on the sly. The yellow particles on my fingers leave a scented trail that will be difficult to remove. Sometimes I’m neglectful and spread this scented color on my sheets.

The path bordered with arums leads to a clinic where babies wail. My father, wearing his white coat, delivered them. He has black hair and very beautiful, brown eyes. I live in another part of the clinic and hear him talk through the walls. What he’s saying is still a mystery to me, but I know he obeys a very precise ritual that requires a needle. During the ritual, the baby cries. However, its tears are the tears of a baby freed through a brief and welcome pain.

What I like most is hearing my father’s voice through the handset of the heavy telephone I pick up behind his back. This is how I learnt another ritual I can mimic: reciting the letters of my name. Trust me, it’s not easy. I haven’t told you yet, but this name, he gave it to me, and I mustn’t damage it by mixing up any letters.  

When I am not in my room, I play in the garden. I’m too small to see beyond the wall but I can hear the boys laugh and fight on the other side. I find it reassuring. Sometimes they throw rocks in the garden. Happy with these gifts, I pick them up and pile them carefully in a hiding place. I like these stones a lot, they come in handly at night to fall asleep.

In the garden, where I always play by myself, I have all the time I want. That’s why I look at everything very carefully.

I can hardly ever go on the path that leads to the outside because the street, which is so close, is forbidden. But it interests me less than the narrow lane where the flesh of the arums throbs. An infinitely exciting place, where flowers give their soft pistils to my shaking fingers. This is where one night, after the rain, I see something terrible: slimy snails appear and wander inside the spotless corolla. I don’t dare to touch them, even though their obscene presence excites me. They eat and slobber over the flowers which they leave pierced and withered.

The night when the snails soil the arums, I feel a sacrilege. Nothing will ever be the same. The high flowers with their imposing calyxes were planted on this path that connects us to the world to inspire respect and mystery to those about to step into the clinic. I wonder what my father will say when he sees this waste. Will someone be held responsible? Must the alley be shut down and stay closed, forever shielded from our walls? Or will other flowers sparking similar feelings replace the arums? In the meantime, the edges of the path have become rotten. The snails have mysteriously disappeared after their crime. I think they sank into the ground, metamorphosing.

A curtain of rain closes the garden in on itself. The outside moves away, sounds and shapes dissolve, and the rising smell of wet ground breaks my heart.

Lucile Hadžihalilović was born in 1961, in Lyon, France. In the early 1990s she founded the production company LES CINEMAS DE LA ZONE with Gaspar Noé, with whom she worked on CARNE and SEUL CONTRE TOUS (I STAND ALONE). Their collaboration continued with her contribution to the screenplay of Noé’s ENTER THE VOID. In 1996 Hadžihalilović produced, wrote, edited and directed LA BOUCHE DE JEAN-PIERRE (MIMI), a 52-minute film that screened in Un Certain Regard, at Cannes, and won several prizes. In 2004, she directed the feature film INNOCENCE, produced by Agat Films Ex Nihilo. The film won the Best New Director Prize at San Sebastian International Film Festival, and at Stockholm International Film Festival. EVOLUTION is her most recent film, directed in 2015 and co-written with Alanté Kavaïté. It won the Special Jury Prize and Best Cinematography at San Sebastian Film Festival.


Monday, May 30th, 2016

Rosalind Fox Solomon was born in Highland Park, Illinois, in 1930, and currently lives in New York City. For the past 45 years, Fox Solomon has created challenging bodies of work, shown in nearly 30 solo exhibitions and 100 group exhibitions, and in the collections of over 50 museums worldwide. John Szarkowski included her work in the 1978 exhibition MIRRORS AND WINDOWS, at the Museum of Modern Art, and exhibited examples from her Dolls and Manikins series in the show Photography for Collectors. Her most recent show GOT TO GO, at Bruce Silverstein (New York), featured her audiovisual installation SCINTILLATION, along with 30 prints of varied sizes, hung in erratic salon style. Recent group shows include MoMA PS1’s Greater New York (2016); and THIS PLACE, Brooklyn Museum (2016). Other important exhibitions of the artist’s work were held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Die Photographische Sammlung, Cologne, Germany; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France; and Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru.


Monday, May 30th, 2016

— In 2010, I was going through a very dark period of my life. My marriage had ended, and in an attempt to stabilize and ground myself, I moved out of New York City and into a former Methodist church in the Berkshires. I began doing daily hikes on one stretch of the Appalachian Trail – the section that goes from Route 20 in Becket to Upper Goose Pond. The hike is 45 minutes into the wilderness, then 45 minutes back to my car, with a mile swim in between.

This is how I passed each morning. I did it in order to clear my head, and gradually over time, it’s how I escaped the crushing feeling of being lost.

Each day on my hike, I passed a small wooden box that contained a notebook – known on the AT as the “trail log.” I would make an entry in it. Some days, I would snap a picture of what I wrote and text it to my friend and colleague Juliane. She kept all the pictures that I sent to her. They are included here, along with others I took on the trail. Given the way I usually make pictures, with a large crew and carefully orchestrated details, taking pictures like this on a phone was a completely new thing for me at the time.

These hikes, and the documentation of them, became a profound part of my life and of my artistic process. Eventually, Juliane started coming along. Conversations we had on the hikes became germs of ideas. I started imagining pictures during my swims in Upper Goose Pond. Ultimately, it would be on trails in Becket that I would envision my next body of work: Cathedral of the Pines.

In the end, the hikes were not just a way to clear my head. They were, in a profound way, how I became connected to myself again. It wasn’t an accident that I was in Becket, and hiking to Upper Goose Pond. My family had had a cabin nearby on Upper Upper Goose Pond when I was growing up. Perhaps I was searching for a lingering ghost of a former version of myself there.


Then I woke up, Mom and Dad/Are rolling on the couch/Rolling numbers, rock n’ rolling/Got my KISS records out. (Cheap Trick)


Write about what you know, and what do you know better than your secrets? (GC)


Had you gone for a Sunday afternoon ride that day you might have seen him, close to naked, standing on the shoulders of Route 424, waiting for a chance to cross. You might have wondered if he was the victim of foul play, had his car broken down, or was he merely a fool. Standing barefoot … (Raymond Carver)


A temporary bandage on a permanent wound. (from Mad Men)


Keep separate and one with nature. (GC)


If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. (from Mad Men)


Frank Roy Crewdson Memorial Hike and Swim 9/2/13


All photos courtesy of Gregory Crewdson, except drone photography by Terry Holland, courtesy Gregory Crewdson.

Gregory Crewdson was born in 1962 in Brooklyn, NY. He is a graduate of SUNY Purchase and the Yale School of Art, where he is now Director of Graduate Studies in Photography. Crewdson’s career has spanned three decades. His work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe and is included in many public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Crewdson’s awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Photography, the National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship, and the Aaron Siskind Fellowship.


Monday, May 30th, 2016

I just re-read Harry Martinson’s space epic Aniara from 1956 for a project I am working on. Aniara is a space ship, it is also the Greek word for sadness and despair. In the story, the ship has been thrown off course by a meteor cluster. On board are 8000 refugees from earth, which has become unlivable because of vast ecological destruction from wars and toxic exploitation.

An important part of the architectural interface of the ship is Mima, an all encompassing female mystical proto-artificial intelligence. Data was the first word for computer in Swedish, it was deemed a feminine word although Swedish articles are gender neutral. Mima relieves the population on board of their boredom by screening scenes from other times and spaces on earth. The rooms of the ship are her forms of consciousness. Eventually her extended sensitivity cannot withstand the devastation she witnesses from the screenings. She auto-destroys. Helpless, the refugees are ultimately unable to live with their internal and external emptiness and die of hopelessness, on their way out of the solar system.

Aniara is written in meter, so reading the text puts one’s body and thought into a patterned flow. Birgit Åkesson choreographed the dance for the opera version of Aniara. She said: “dance allows for a deep commitment to being, to dance reality is to reach the other.” Through the 1980s Åkesson traveled through Africa to record tribal local dances, which were quickly disappearing, partly because of the devastation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

I collect images daily from the constant stream of news on my digital devices. How can these images describe global, abstract scenarios that operate on imperceptible and microscopic levels? How do these bits of information on cosmic shifts affect our cellular composition, our anxiety levels and collective being? I am thinking about stains and membranes, toxic spills and the traces of bodies, of fingers moving in rhythm, making syntax across technical surfaces and other growths.

Mima’s hall and Mima herself from the 1959 opera Aniara. This image is shot of the computer at the Royal Swedish Opera archives.

Choreographer Birgit Åkesson’s ritual dance of grief for the no longer functioning Mima in the opera Aniara, 1959. Shot of a computer at the Royal Swedish Opera archives in 2016

Headline, November 23, 2015: “Toxic mining waste reaches Brazilian coast two weeks after BHP dam collapse.” The mud extinguished vast amounts of plant and animal life. Water use has been banned along a 400-mile stretch of the river.

The surface of my iPad, shot on iPhone then inverted, from lecture performance The Growth and its Perennials, 2014-16.

Molded orange in my kitchen, shot with macro lens on iPhone, from The Growth and its Perennials, 2014-16:

The abstraction of time and scale
We for an I, we sense, we move, we move each other, we affect and are affected, techno-nature is affecting us

Moving across a surface, touching what is above, and what is under, not visible nor perceptible.

What I cannot see still affects me
What I cannot feel still affects me
What I cannot sense still affects me

December 28th, 2013
I was in my garden today. It is covered with snow. Earlier in the fall I pulled up weeds and vines. An entire root system came unearthed, merging the visible with the invisible upon touching the surface.

The invisible part of radioactivity. 

The invisible part of the medicated body.
The invisible part of rotting decay. 

The invisible part of our innermost feelings.
The invisible part of what is in-between us

Countering abstractions through daily routine. To share, to affect, to mean. How can we connect through our collective anxieties to create new rhythms for future rituals? The globe, my intestines, the labor market, our friendships, your neuro- psychology, my compost, all entangled eco-systems. Just like the stock market can bloom so can the garden and psychosis. After devastation, infrastructures re-structure, re-organize, re-grow and grow again. Muscles grow as does the national debt. Everything is intertwined, my feelings become your outburst, my battery release leads to bird’s disease. The air that you breathe went through factories in Michigan or China. Cosmos is a shared thing, cosmos is a thing. The boundary between you and me, a cup, an income cap, or a fly, is fluid. Where is the line transitioning between me, a wall, and mould. These non-perceptible realities somehow enters the real.

As opposed to measures, bodies cannot be globalized. We work from specifics, and not from economics and statistics. The arythmia of the beating heart, the timbre of a voice out of tune, the moisture of breath to breath.

Fia Backström was born 1970 in Stockholm, Sweden; she lives in New York. Solo exhibitions and projects include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2009); the ICA, London (2009), and White Columns, New York (2008); Murray Guy, New York (2011). Her work has also been part of numerous institutional, international exhibitions and projects, including 9 SCREENS, at MoMA, New York (2010); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); the Whitney Biennial (2008); and MoMA PS1’s 2015 GREATER NEW YORK. She represented Sweden at the 2011 Venice Biennale and was the subject of Artist’s Institute fall season 2015.


Monday, May 30th, 2016

N. Dash was born in 1980, in Miami Beach, she earned a BA from New York University in 2003 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2010. In recent years, Dash has presented solo exhibitions at institutions including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014-2015) and White Flag Projects, St. Louis (2013). Dash has recently been included in group exhibitions such as the Jewish Museum, New York (2015); Strozzina Centre for Contemporary Culture (2015); Pier 54 High Line, New York (2014); Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley (2014); Maxxi Museum, Rome (2014); Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio (2013); and Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), Los Angeles (2013). A solo exhibition is on view at Casey Kaplan, New York through June 18 2016.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

When I moved to NY in 1999 I was doing mostly art with photocopying text. As such I didn’t have much of a studio practice, so to pass the time I would write short stories, essays and prose poems. A few of these started working their way into my art. In my recent show, Time Stopped, Time Started, I presented a painting upon which was attached a series of drawings done in the early 2000s that came from one of these texts. The story was called The War pt.2. I recently looked through my digital archives of these early writings and found The War pt.1 and The War pt.3.

The War pt.1

We were shuddering, shoulder to shoulder, and shouting out at them. We were drunk on plum wine and all that had happened these past two years was finally coming out. All that we were commanded to repress, unconsciously or not, was surfacing. That is one of the few things drink is good for, and we were partaking in its glorious function. It was smuggled in by someone and we should not of been drinking it at that particular time, considering what kind of a situation we were in, and where we were at. It was complete grounds for dismissal. Not that they would of done something like that– they needed us. They needed us more then we needed them that is for sure.

Suddenly the earth shook. And my hat boggled on top of me head. It’s metal lip covering my eyes for a second, bouncing up and down like a go-go dancer, like a video of some stripper, dunk dunk dunk. My hand unconsciously went to the crown of my forehead, and my arm wrapped around my rifle. We got up and started running down the trenches, to the command-post-out. Dirt was flying everywhere, sideways like they had invented some new gun to use against us. Foundation deep somehow.

Clunk our feet went, he was leading our way and I had my hand on his back as not to lose him. The air was suddenly thick with green smoke, and hardly could I see a thing at all. We heard shouts of liberty, but it wasn’t us. It echoed almost louder then the bombing shells, and we couldn’t figure it out, waving our hands in the air.

I shot out when we paused. Something had hit something and our trench was no longer going anywhere. It just stopped. It was quite abrupt and we wondered if they had built a new gun that redirects our trenches to confuse us and get us lost. If so they were way smarter then we. Out of the trenches, into the trenches, forward forward. That last night I was with.

Click image to view larger

The War pt.3

There were three of us this morning. There were two of us this evening. I took my gun and vanished. I was sent to the forward front. I’d spent years behind the lines. I was in school. I was from the school. We had books and papers and we learned by fire light at midnight. And we thought that we must go on. We bridged frontiers of acceptance, and of kinderedness. And the rains did come. And pour on the cement floor. It came down in sheets. And I remembered hearing that before, ‘coming down in sheets’ and now I was seeing it, and now I was saying it. There was dirt on the ground it muddied quite quick and thick. The wind, the wind was blowing. I was talking with a partner and showing off for everyone, “Nancy was here before and she said to take what she can and why not ask for more.” I was going on and on. An alarm claxon went off, we were startled, and we threw our helmets on and headed out. We knew the line to the front like the lines on our hands. We were turned into legacies. A bomb went off and we turned into dust. We fizzled. We clutched our ears and clenched our eyes. The bomb went off far enough away that we weren’t hit with any shrapnel or debris but the sound was deafening. I heard a vague whistle and looked over, it was the sergeant and he was motioning us on, yelling, and his mustache zipping all over. I felt like I was underwater, I couldn’t hear a thing, shots went off like small pops. Like popcorn. I nodded vaguely, still in shock from the bombing. It seemed like the sky was still lit up, orange and pink and sometimes blue. We ran forward and body parts lay upon the ground. It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen. Arms and legs and just mashed bloodied pulps. Men where kneeling down and taking razor blades to their arms, just cutting themselves clean. The blades slipped into muscle, through skin and nerves, and trickles of blood leaked out. One man took the blade to his eyeball, and clear liquid spewed out. I was almost vomiting and still I couldn’t hear, and still I felt like I was underwater.

“Why are they doing this?” I shouted.

Not to anyone in particular, and I am not sure who I meant by ‘they’. And I am not sure what ‘this’ was either; was I doing ‘this’? It was ghastly and ugly and bastardly. I took to the air. I hadn’t even fired a single shot and I turned and ran. But then I realized not where I was going to wasn’t really there. I was confused and sick. I looked around for my companions but they were lost in the fog. I saw silhouettes, the skies were still afire, but they all had the same hunched back and round head and stinking smell.

Suddenly Shots rang out full speed. In all the confusion I hadn’t noticed that no one had been really firing, but now after the bomb had blown the enemy had repositioned themselves for a frontal assault. We were caught completely off guard. I heard shouting uncontrollably. I was relieved when, upon mumbling to myself ‘at least it isn’t me’, that I realized, at least, it wasn’t.

I had my canteen and opened it up. I had a nice three-quarter of opium spirits and downed it. We all drank it then, someone came over, then another. We sat hunched together, our backs to the fire. Our opium turned into the water and someone joked about Jesus, someone else said, “no, that’s wine” we laughed. The smoke was clearing out and we realized that we were close to the base, and there was our Sargent motioning us back. We went, all too happily, and he was warm and concerned. It the most sincere voice I’m sure he could muster he said, “everything’s fucked, the transport ships are located back, (he motioned with his thumb, very military like) get out there.”

Later when we were on the ship he began to play the clarinet and he was awful. There was a boy with a guitar, and this girl that would kind of hum/moan to his melody, but the sarge shut them up with a smack and a “what? I saved you and this is what I get?” Then ran through his scales and we were to applaud. It was unbearable.

Suprisingly enough we got all our men onto the ship before it took off and we had suffered few casualties. Our spirits were high and we were going to another line.

Richard Aldrich was born in 1975 in Hampton, Virginia, but grew up outside of Dayton, Ohio. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

— I have a terrible memory for names, and often faces too. It seems that my brain memorizes someone I come into contact with through something other than their physical makeup. What my brain does remember often has very little to do with the person but more with the entire scene in which I am interacting with that person. So the color of the wall behind someone I meet for the first time might become the color of their eyes, a high ceiling could come to stand in for tallness. I’m exaggerating, but something close to this–I believe–is happening in my brain. I have likened people who look nothing alike, had a name burned into my memory for someone who is called something else, and then with others, the name is solid, fixed in place correctly, never to be lost again, and it has nothing to do with the nature of the relationship I have to that person. I have once forgotten my own family name for at least one minute.

I am fixated on what I do remember. How an instance that is conjured is slipping away the moment that instance has passed with something else materializing in its place. Ever since I can remember, any memory I have lingered on that has come to replace an event grows more and more distant from the original event that it no longer even bares a resemblance to it. What is replaced is sometimes dull, others times red, milky, pulsing, bright, black and white or slow with all kinds of smells and surfaces, and from time to time I have the ability to observe an emotion as pure action.

Sitting across from someone I was having a conversation with at a bar recently, it occurred to me that I was day-dreaming. That I had taken a nose dive into a memory that had been triggered subconsciously and was swimming deep in it’s oceans but I could neither remember the faces that belonged to any of the people in my hallucination in a space that was meant to be the outdoors but felt like a vacuum with the air still, the sky flat, the roads unpaved, the sounds distant. It was neither urban nor rural, and when I emerged above water in what must have been under 10 seconds, I picked up the conversation to casually drop on the table that perhaps no conversation was ever a direct exchange but that each participant was in their own world.

The four videos below are four of my memories.

Basma Alsharif is an artist and filmmaker of Palestinian origin. She was born in Kuwait, raised between France and the United States, and is currently based in Los Angeles. Basma’s work centers on the human condition in relation to shifting geopolitical landscapes, natural environments and history. She works in cinema, photography and installation. Major exhibitions include: les Module at the Palais de Tokyo, Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum, the Jerusalem Show, Yamagata Documentary Film Festival, the Berlinale, the Sharjah Biennial, Videobrasil, and Manifesta 8. She received a jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9, the Marion MacMahon award at Images, and received the Marcelino Botin Visual Arts grant. Basma is represented by Galerie Imane Farés in Paris, distributed by Video Data Bank and Arsenal.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

I’ve been clearing up my study, a ritual activity conducted when I’ve finished a book and begin to feel like I might start on another. One of the best things I found was a crop of handmade books and zines made by my friends.

Lili lives in Devon now but right through our twenties we were inseparable. We grew up together, she was my partner in crime. When I think about her now I think about that line in Michelle Shocked’s song Anchorage: Hey Shel, we was wild then. She grew up on a remote farm in Wales, it was part of her myth that her family were practically bandits and ruled the valley. This is a book she made for me, with her drawings. One of the photographs is of her in an incubator, and the other is of the calves in the barn at Llanant being fed.

The first time I met Sherri was in Boston a few years back. I went to a friend’s for dinner, and there she was, sitting on the couch. We could have talked about pretty much anything: one of the things I most love about our friendship is the sense of a hopscotching conversation, resumed whenever we’re both in the same country at the same time. We once met at the Met to see a performance and just stood on the steps for hours talking about the ins and outs of designing the 9/11 museum, a project she had a hand in. You can see part of what’s so exciting about her in this zine, which documents driving around Deming, New Mexico with Johnny Dark, a counter-culture photographer who was best friends with Sam Shepard. She’s so curious and focused and meticulous and patient. I love these pictures.

Sarah is my cousin, and we often collaborate. I’m in love with one of her cats, so I go round for dinner every Thursday and try to woo him. She’s a filmmaker, but she also makes fantastic handmade books. The Dictionary of Lost Languages is an A to Z of languages that have been eradicated, but it’s also about resurgence and resistance and is weirdly joyful. And Mars is a book about violence and images and the relationships between them. It includes some of our grandfather’s photographs, taken during the Second World War in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon. It’s nice, working with someone who comes from the same place as you. It saves having to explain.

This is another one-off, made by my friend Tony. He’d just spent a winter in Estonia, making films, and was experimenting with these books with pages dipped in wax. He mostly works in prisons now, but his own stuff is so beautiful. There was one film in an abandoned building where he made the shape of a bird on the floor out of tiny pieces of coal. He filmed it being broken up, by a hair dryer or something, and then played it in reverse. This black bird, assembling out of nothing.

Olivia Laing is the author of TO THE RIVER, THE TRIP TO ECHO SPRING and THE LONELY CITY. She’s currently working on EVERYBODY, a book about embodiment in the 21st century.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

— I shot this footage on one of my Super 8mm cameras when I was visiting a friend at the beach a few summers ago. More than anything it’s a document of motion and repeating form—something I return to often, particularly in music… the sound component came about earlier this year after I dug up the film and got it processed. I multi-tracked some guitars until a pattern began to emerge from the repetition… not a raga, but a monotonic system all the same… The tools aren’t so important; an Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer for the drone and a Color Sound Fuzz Wah for the majority of the guitar sound, with an old Memory Man echo and a cheap tremolo thrown in for good measure… The amp was 60s Silvertone, I don’t recall which guitar I used. A lot of the edits were done in-camera, but it’s not entirely ‘as is.’ I reversed some of the sound and picture, and added some more flicker to create a repetitive visual stimulus.

R.I.P to Tony Conrad, who passed away last week (April 9, 2016)—an inspiration in approach and spirit.

Ocean waves
Super 8mm film (2011)

Sound waves
Guitar improvisation & drone loop (2016)

Tres Warren was born in Texas in 1978 and has lived in New York for the past 15 years. He is a songwriter, guitarist and filmmaker and has been involved in a variety of musical collaborations most notably his band Psychic Ills.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

20 East 65th Street, July 5, 1998

“The more arduous and the more complicated it got, the more desperate we became, and the more morbid-minded we became. We wanted to kill her.”
— Kenneth Kimes

When Irene Silverman rented the ground floor apartment of her 65th Street townhouse to a man purporting to be Palm Beach businessman Manny Guerrin, she had owned and lived the building for nearly 50 years. Although she was initially hesitant to accept the stranger as a tenant without a thorough check of references, Silverman acquiesced when Guerrin was able to immediately produce the first month’s rent ($6,000) in cash. Silverman would become increasingly suspicious over the next four weeks; her boarder would not allow cleaning staff access to his rooms, he was evasive, his footprints were repeatedly found outside of her office doors and bedroom, household staff had caught him spying on Silverman’s private phone calls, an unusual middle-aged woman regularly visited him wearing a variety of bizarre disguises. Silverman disappeared on July 5, 1998, the day before mother and son duo Sante and Kenneth Kimes were caught with a bag that contained falsified identification cards for Manny Guerrin, Silverman’s house keys, passport, checkbook and pay stubs, a red wig, power of attorney forms and a notarized deed with Silverman’s forged signature transferring ownership of the property to the Kimeses. Though Silverman’s body has never been found, in 2000 the Kimeses were found guilty of her murder as well as those of David Kazdin and Sayed Bilal Ahmed.

34 East 62nd Street, July 10, 2006

“You deserve it. You will be transformed from gold digger to rubbish digger. You always wanted me to sell the house. I always told you ‘I will leave the house only if I am dead.’ You ridiculed me. You should have taken it seriously.”
— Nicolas Bartha in an emailed suicide letter to his ex-wife

The building at 34 East 62nd Street had a storied history; it had been one of the first townhouses constructed on the Upper East Side in 1862, a Neo-Grecian jewel box that had been used as a war room for FDR in the 1940s. Nicholas and Cordula Bartha had purchased the house in 1980 after decades of scrimping and saving, but from the outset, life inside was far from ideal. Nicholas was cruel and controlling, a workaholic who frequently referred to his wife and daughters as whores, decorated the inside of the home with images of swastikas and hoarded newspaper clippings about pedophilia and abortion. When Cordula finally filed for divorce in 2001, the house became the object of a vitriolic and protracted legal battle that would rage for nearly five years. In 2006, a judge initiated the eviction of Bartha and ruled that the property be sold with all subsequent proceeds split evenly between both parties. Bartha had made repeated reference to the fact that he would vacate the home only in the event of his death, and on July 10, 2006, he opened the gas throughout the house, lit a match, and razed the property to the ground with himself inside. Though Bartha survived the initial blast, he died six days later of his injuries.

Dorrian’s Red Hand, 300 East 84th Street, August 26, 1986

“Use these with someone else, because you’re not going to get the chance to use them with me!”
— Robert Chamber’s unidentified 16 year old girlfriend upon throwing a bag of unused condoms at him on the night of Jennifer Levin’s murder.

Robert Chambers was 19 years old in the summer of 1986. Addicted to both cocaine and alcohol, the former alter boy had fallen far from the life that his working-class mother had tried to construct for him. He had never been able to align himself with the privilege that surrounded his classmates at the various prep schools that he attended via scholarship at her behest, and he had been failing in more and more profound ways. He’d been arrested for stealing, he’d been sent to rehab, he’d been thrown out of Boston University and fired from his job. On August 26th at Dorrian’s Red Hand, Jennifer Levin watched as Chambers’ underage girlfriend broke up with him at the bar. Levin and he had been intimate before, and she immediately took the opportunity to tell him that it had been the best sex of her life. They sat and drank until 4:30 the next morning, eventually leaving together and making their way to Central Park via the 86th Street entrance adjacent to the Met. Several joggers had seen the couple having sex in the grass- one remembered hearing a woman yelping in pain and had stopped, some distance away, and asked if everything was alright. “We’re fine,” Chambers yelled to him. At 6:15 am, Levin’s body was found. She’d been strangled and was lying naked in the grass; Chambers was observed standing at the stone wall by the museum watching the police attend to her body. Though he would subsequently claim that the scratches evident on his face and body had come from a cat, he would eventually make a partial confession, claiming that the two had been engaged in rough sex gone terribly awry.

424 Hudson Street, September 28th, 2006

“It looked like he had a bad night, I can tell you that.”
— Passerby Ralph Costanza

It was close enough to Halloween that witnesses had walked past the body attached to a wrought iron fence outside of 424 Hudson Street for several hours before anyone thought that something might be amiss. Dressed in chaps, a leather vest, spiked leather gloves and a hood, the figure appeared to be an early decoration, a life-sized spooky prop attached to the fence by a dog collar at the neck. Was it murder? Was it an accident? I’m not sure- the news stories dried up relatively quickly. I have never even been able to learn his name.

700 Avenue C, August 19, 1989

“Is it soup yet?”
— Phrase scrawled on the apartment door of Daniel Rakowitz, The Butcher of Tompkins Square

In 1989, drastic cuts to social welfare programs in New York triggered an economic crisis that left a huge swath of the low-income population on the brink of total disaster. With unemployment skyrocketing and a conscious lack of state intervention, the city had an estimated 80,000 residents that were without both homes and recourse. Daniel Rakowitz was small time drug dealer and self-proclaimed devil worshipper who had become a well-known figure to many people in Tompkins Square’s Tent City, an improvised community of homeless New Yorkers who took up residence in the park. In August of 1989, Rakowitz began bragging to Tent City inhabitants that he had murdered and cannibalized his roommate, Monica Beele, a 26 year old Swiss woman who had been a student at the Martha Graham School of Dance and a performer at Billy’s Topless on 24th Street and 7th Avenue. Though his claims were initially dismissed as fantasy, a tip-off eventually led police to a locker at Port Authority Terminal, where Beele’s bleached skull was recovered. Several witnesses would subsequently claim that Rakowitz had served soup in the park, playfully claiming that it contained Beele’s brain.

Crime enthusiast and writer Alissa Bennett was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1980. She is the author of DEAD IS BETTER, a twice-yearly zine dedicated to celebrity death, criminal behavior, and the American television program Intervention. Bennett lives and works in Brooklyn.


Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

— The shooting and editing of my first film, Katalin Varga was entirely financed from inheriting a portion of my uncle’s semi-detached house in Coronation Road, Aldershot in the early 2000s. The house had history, as my uncle spent his whole life there. A physically and emotionally draining few weeks had been spent sifting through two generations of clutter that had accumulated into every nook and cranny of the house. In a trunk in the loft there was a scuffed notebook that reeked of damp, containing military drawings from The First World War. There was no name attached. The only clue in the drawings was the wording ‘23rd Field Company Royal Engineers’ and a date on each page. Bomb boxes, periscopes, pile drivers, portable artillery bridges, rifle racks, telescope cradles, snipers’ posts and so on were divorced from the horrific connotations of war by the sheer beauty and immaculate detail of the drawings. This was work you could hang on a wall despite its troubling context.

One of the drawings was loaned to Organum’s David Jackman in 2003 for his solo record, Edge of Nothing. Also, a segment of another drawing was used for one of our Sonic Catering releases.

It is one hundred years since this particular drawing was made and ten years since I shot Katalin Varga. The irony is that the sole purpose of the drawings in the notebook was to defeat the armies of the very land we shot our film in. Far from being the enemy, the ethnic Hungarians, Romanians and Hungarians from Hungary offered their time, talent and energy for a film that neither paid well nor had any guarantee of a future in front of an audience. We bickered a lot, but I’m eternally grateful to the cast and the ten crew/catering members – Anikó Bordos, Zsolt Páll, Márk Győri, András Szőke, Csaba Ványalós, Zoltán Karaszek, Dezső Gálfi, Zsolt Kiss, Botond Huszti and Marek Szold – from the summer of 2006 in Transylvania. It seems cruelly absurd to imagine our grandfathers once fought against one another.

Peter Strickland was born in 1973, in Reading, England. His first feature, KATALIN VARGA, won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for its sound design. His sophomore feature was BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012), followed by THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY (2014). He recently directed an audio version of the cult 70s horror, THE STONE TAPE, for BBC Radio 4.


Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

— I lead a rich and full life, and I like routine, which on most days (when not teaching) means going into the studio in the morning, handling email, then making stuff. Then lunch, more studio, figuring what to make for dinner and shopping, more studio, then the important 5 o’clock gin while doing something like arranging a fantasy football line-up on DraftKings.

And my routines have sub-routines. Lunch, for example, means eating while listening to an audio book and playing fantasy solitaire. Every day this last week the sandwich was saucisson sec on a baguette with lots of butter, and 2 clementines. Let me explain fantasy solitaire. My father once told me how there used to be a casino game, turn of the 20th century I imagine, in which one bought a deck for $50 and was paid $5 dollars for every card played above the line, going through the deck once, a single card at a time. So I keep a Post-It tracking my winnings or losses in the cards’ box. Of course because of the odds, I always ended up in the red. Last summer I created new rules (I own the casino) that permit a fantasy side-bet of any amount, which I win if I get more than 10 cards above the line (plus the $5 cards). I need to imagine/place that bet after the initial round of cards is displayed but before flipping the first card. Inevitably I can recoup my losses with some outrageous bet. I get a minor gambling jolt from the game, and the audio book allows a proper amount of distraction from its onanistic tedium.

Dike Blair was born in 1952, he lives and works in New York. He has mounted solo exhibitions at Gagosian (New York), Linn Leuhn (Dusseldorf), Feature, Inc (New York) and Karma (New York). His work has been exhibited in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). In 2015 Karma published a collection of his gouache paintings in conjunction with his solo exhibition. In 2010 he received the Rome Prize and in 2009, a Guggenheim Fellowship. Blair says one constant in his work is the subject of light, remarking that his paintings are personal while his objects tend to be more formal. Dike Blair studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1977. He is also a senior critic in the painting department at Rhode Island School of Design.


Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

— I was 11 years old when the revolution in Iran started in 1979. It had been a few years since my father had become obsessed with photography. Most of the demonstrations took place downtown, very near his office in Tehran. We lived in the northern part of the city, which was mainly an affluent neighborhood. Unlike me, most of the kids in our apartment complex that I was friend with had pro Shah, anti revolutionary parents. I knew what my father was up to with his camera everyday going to work and several times without my mother knowing he took me downtown to show me what was going on. I felt uncomfortable talking about all this to my neighbor friends, but one day I found out my father, behind my back on several occasions had gathered the kids up and had given them slide shows of his photos. Here are few out of many I have preserved:

Seven years later my father died of a sudden heart attach. I inherited his camera and all the gears with it. It had been three years since we had immigrated to U.S due to the Iran /Iraq war. On my first few trips back with his camera in hand I took slides obsessively; always of what was going on downtown and occasionally out of town. Here are some of them:

Raha Raissnia was born in 1968, in Tehran, Iran. She immigrated to U.S in 1983. She received her BFA from the School of the Art institute of Chicago in 1992 and her MFA from Pratt Institute in 2002. In the interim, her interest in avant-garde filmmaking led her to work at Anthology Film Archives (1995–1999), where she has also exhibited. In 2015, her work was included in All the World’s Futures, 56th International Art Exhibition, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Venice Biennale. Previously, her work has been featured in exhibitions at White Columns (New York), Access Gallery (Vancouver), the Museum of Contemporary Art St. Louis, Khastoo Gallery (Los Angeles), Thomas Dane Gallery (London) and The Kitchen (New York), among others. Recent solo shows were held at Miguel Abreu Gallery (New York), Galeria Marta Cervera (Madrid), Galerie Xippas (Paris), and the Isfahan Museum of Contemporary Art (Isfahan, Iran). Raissnia’s expanded cinema performances, undertaken in collaboration with musicians such as Panagiotis Mavridis, Charles Curtis, Aki Onda and Briggan Krauss have been held at The Drawing Center (New York), P.S.1 (New York), Arnolfini –Center for Contemporary Arts (Bristol, UK), Issue Project Room (New York), and Emily Harvey Foundation (New York), among others. Raissnia’s first solo show in Tehran was held at Ab/Anbar in December 2015. An upcoming retrospective of film-based works will be held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in March 2016.


Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Master Parker was born in 2012. These paintings were made while he was between 2 and 3.5 years old. I love watching him paint and making marks. The process is so free and pure. It’s inspiring to see the uninhibited colors and lines flow out of him. I’ve got a lot to learn from him.




2014 – Collabs

Rhys Lee was born in 1975, in Brisbane, Australia, he lives and works in Melbourne. He has held solo exhibitions in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and internationally in New York. Lee’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne (2015), the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2012), Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (2001), The University of Queensland National Artist’s Self Portrait Prize (2009) and the Doug Moran Prize at the State Library of New South Wales (2009). A monograph on the artist was published in 2009. Lee’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian Government’s Artbank.


Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Here is a small selection from a set of very quick drawings I made on a train ride through the Rockies, in 1997.

Now I only experience the world in fragments………moments
of time tentatively connected………….coming together…
…….drifting apart……..superimposing….

Malcolm Le Grice was born in 1940, in Plymouth and lives and works in London. He studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art but began to make film, video and computer works in the mid 1960s. He has shown in major international exhibitions including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Louvre Museum and Tate Modern. His films and videos are in collections at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Royal Belgian Film Archive, the National Film Library of Australia, the German Cinamatheque Archive and the Archives du Film Experimental D’Avignon. A number of longer films have been transmitted on British TV, including FINNEGANS CHIN (1981), SKETCHES FOR A SENSUAL PHILOSOPHY (1986) and CHRONOS FRAGMENTED (1995). Le Grice has written critical and theoretical work including a history of experimental cinema, ABSTRACT FILM AND BEYOND (1977). For three years in the 1970’s he wrote a regular column for the art monthly Studio International and has published numerous other articles on film, video and digital media. Many of these have been collected as an anthology under the title EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA IN THE DIGITAL AGE by the British Film Institute (2001). Le Grice is a Professor Emeritus of the University of the Arts London where he is a collaborating director with David Curtis, of the British Artists Film and Video Study Collection.A monograph of his work, LE TEMPS DES IMAGES, was publish by Les Presses du réel in 2015.


Thursday, December 31st, 2015

— I got a polaroid camera in 2003. Around that time I gave up my apartment, and just travelled. I moved permanently back to NYC in 2008, and soon after that the polaroid film stopped being produced. For those five years I had a big suitcase that would go with me, and boxes of polaroids that I would bring in the suitcase. I would also leave them at my boyfriend’s place in Berlin. I was shooting a lot, in different countries. I never did a show with the polaroids—always meant to. I should scan them soon before they fade.

These are 7 of my favorites.

New York based artist Sue de Beer was born in 1982, Tarrytown, New York. She has become well known for both her dubious characters and her cinematographic experimentation including colored filters, flickering lenses, and tight crops. To more fully transport the viewer into her worlds, de Beer often screens her films in site-specific environments where fiction can rarely be distinguished from fact, and the psyche of our contemporary culture is cross-examined.


Thursday, December 31st, 2015

— I lived in Chicago from 1992-1999. I moved there for grad school and then stayed on for another 5 years painting, teaching, working at Dusty Groove and playing music. I met Devin Johnston early on while he was getting his PhD at University of Chicago. We became fast friends and started playing music together. Our first foray into recording was an attempt to cover the entirety of Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait. We abandoned the project after the first track, but we have been collaborating ever since. Soon thereafter, we started playing with Corre Dilworth as the 53rd St Project. This was probably the summer of 1994. Gene Booth moved back from New York and Gene, Corre, Devin and I started playing as USA. We recorded an EP and an LP for Drag City. USA disbanded sometime around 1998, and Devin and I continued writing and playing together as The Hours. After accumulating a batch of songs, we enlisted Rich Germer to drum and play some electronics. We tried to keep effects and overdubs to a bare minimum. I don’t quite recall why but I suppose we were trying to construct a fairly minimal form of songwriting. We recorded several songs with Jim O’Rourke in Chicago and then some more with Paul Oldham in Shelbyville, Kentucky. A few weeks after recording with Paul, I moved back to California. Corbett vs. Dempsey will release an EP from these recordings in early 2016.



A Barrel Drops (& All Falls) and A Little Money were both recorded with Jim O’Rourke at his home studio in 1999. If I remember correctly (Jim and I did a lot of bartering back then), I traded a painting for Jim’s payment. The painting was subsequently used as the cover for Loose Fur, Jim’s project with Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche. We stopped referring to the band as The Hours as another band started releasing music under that name shortly thereafter.

Devin Johnston lives in St. Louis and teaches at Saint Louis University. He is the author of several books of poetry. He co-founded, and co-edits, Flood Editions with Michael O’Leary.

Brian Calvin was born in 1969, in Visalia, California, he lives and works in Ojai. He has had shows at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris; Anton Kern, New York; Corvi-Mora, London; Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; and Gallery Side 2, Tokyo, amongst others.


Thursday, December 31st, 2015

— In the early 90s I had an unpaid position at i-D magazine. Nick Knight, who I had assisted, was the picture editor for a time and one of my roles was to go through the photographers’ portfolios, between 30 and 50 a month, and push anything interesting his way. One perk was going through the piles of unwanted look books and catalogs that would get sent into the office. The pages illustrated here were a brochure for the ’creative communication’ agency Imagination.

I had been making these collages since my early teens, as a way to consolidate and centralise my interest in images and experiments with layout and context. I think I was using visual prompts to assume different cultural positions, in the same way that I would come to understand clothing and later on photographic aesthetics.

This scrapbook covers a period from mid-1992 to early 93 and contains original prints from photographers I worked with or knew at the time including David Sims, Craig McDean and Wolfgang Tillmans. (Other editorially sourced inclusions included Bruce Weber, Mary Ellen Mark and Corinne Day.)

These pages set off a soundtrack in my mind and were made at a transitional point in my musical journey. I had just tried Ecstasy for the first time and it marked the end of an exclusive roots reggae/digital dub diet (Jah Shaka, Disciples, Alpha & Omega, Manasseh, Zion Train) as I began to connect with the spacier, crustier end of the rave scene (Megadog, Sugerlump, DIY, the Orb, Mixmaster Morris, Plastikman). A reoccurring subtext in this culture alluded to utopian heavens, other worlds, with outer space the ultimate cosmic destination. As someone who was not comfortable in his own skin inner space was what actually needed to be charted, though it took me a while to figure that out.

Jason Evans was born in 1968, in Holyhead, Wales. He is a multidisciplinary photographer who, since the early 1990s, has had a broad cultural practice. His out put developed to include writing and teaching alongside applied image making. He works around art, fashion and street photography tropes making work which is often influenced by vernacular culture. His long term projects with musicians Four tet, Caribou and Radiohead resulted in influential sleeve imagery and portraits which seek to redefine the relationships between sound and image. Since 2004, Evans has been maintained which celebrates simple pleasures as their own reward. Every day an image of something which made him happy is presented on this one page, non-archived website. His work has been exhibited internationally, and his game changing series STRICTLY is held in the Tate collection. Solo shows include his nomination for the Grange Prize at the AGO in Toronto and a retrospective of his Fashion work at the Hyeres Festival du Mode. He has been published and exhibited in several significant contemporary photography surveys, notably David Campany’s defining survey ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY and Charlotte Cotton’s new genre mapping PHOTOGRAPHY IS MAGIC. His monographs include NYLPT (Mack 2012) and PICTURES FOR LOOKING AT (Printed Matter 2014).


Thursday, December 31st, 2015

— I’ve just finished a draft of a novella-length memoir charting the dissolution of my thirteen-year long collaboration/friendship/fascination with an extraterrestrially off-kilter actor and musician named Fred. We met in late 2000 when I cast him to play a chorus teacher who gets mocked and humiliated by a class of junior high students in my autobiographical short film, Mr. Rose. As I learned more about him during the production process I started feeling like I’d discovered the jackpot of eccentrics and for the first few years I knew him it seemed like he’d reveal some wonderfully bizarre detail about his life every time we were together.

In the Summer of 2001 Fred made the two-hour long trip by bus from his home in South Jersey to visit me in the East Village and as we strolled through Tompkins toward the vegetarian restaurant Kate’s Joint I apologized for all the walking I was making him do. “I don’t mind walking at all,” he said, completely nonchalant. “I can walk and walk for hours. When I was in college I walked 25 miles each way to school.”

Such an incredible revelation obviously required more attention so I pulled him to a bench and forced him to explain himself further. “I didn’t start college until I was in my late twenties and I was already living on my own. I had this beautiful blue Mustang but I needed money for tuition and my parents weren’t supporting me financially anymore. So I placed an ad in the paper and a few weeks later I sold my car to a plumber. Two days after that I walked outside of my apartment and looked at my empty parking space and said to myself ‘wait a minute, now how am I gonna get to school?’”

I was immediately struck by the implausibility of what he was suggesting. Nobody can walk two marathons a day as a commute so I pressed him, could it really be true? But he was insistent and said, “I waited so long to get to college that once I was able to afford it nothing was gonna stop me from getting an education, so I just did what I had to do.”

There were no combination of buses that would get Fred from his apartment to his school, Rowan University, and even though he’d hung up flyers around campus seeking a ride share and gotten his professors to allow him to get up before his classes at the beginning of each semester to explain his situation and beg for a ride nothing had ever come together, and he was forced to walk. “I’d tell everyone I’d pay half gas but all of these kids at this school were spoiled,” he said with a shrug.

I remained skeptical, and to prove himself a few weeks later Fred produced a laminated copy of an article that had chronicled his journeys to and from school. I borrowed the copy of the article as part of my research for a documentary about his life that I’ve never finished and it’s been a permanent fixture on the walls in my life ever since.

When Fred first revealed his walking tale to me I was immediately compelled by the Herzogian image of a man stubbornly walking along the highway alone in the dead of winter, a duffel bag loaded with oversized textbooks dangling from his hand. The article revealed that he’d suffered through numerous encounters with the cops – walking on the highway is illegal in NJ–and had even had a gun pulled on him while being searched one cold December morning.

I also loved how his story took the cliche’ idea of “back in my day we had it really tough, we had to walk through three miles of snow to get to school” to such hilariously grotesque lengths.

What I found strange was how he seemed to revel in the unique absurdity of his walking tale, proud that it made him an especially rare person, deserving of attention, while never once acknowledging how painfully sad it was.

He came across as a total oddball so I could understand his classmates not wanting to commit to the intimacy of being alone in a car with him day after day, aside from the nightmare of coordination such an act of charity would have required in the world before cell phones, but still, once his struggle became public knowledge someone should have been courteous and decent enough to come to his aid.

Yet nobody ever had, and Fred claimed with a smile that he was forced to walk for years and was even singled out by the dean of students during his graduation ceremony for his dedication to obtaining his degree.

I’m always charmed by desperate acts of deception and if my experience is enriched by a victimless fib then I appreciate the other person making the effort to entertain me.

So now, as I sit here after living with this story and having this weathered, laminated article in my possession for all these years, what I value most about it is how I doubt it even really happened. Walking 50 miles a day is impossible. That’s a cold, irrefutable fact. But Fred’s been living out this and many other strange tales for decades. And that was the real gift of knowing him. To share in his warped, mysterious, unfathomable, truth.

Ultimate Commute
Click image to view larger

Jason Giampietro was born in New Jersey and moved to the East Village in the early 2000s. He’s a cofounder of Magic Square Films and has written and directed the short films THE SUN THIEF and WHIFFED OUT, both of which played at BAMcinemaFest and The Maryland Film Festival, and HERNIA, which screened at the New York Film Festival. As an actor he appeared in Nathan Silver’s STINKING HEAVEN. In addition to his directorial work Giampietro is known for his street photography, which he posts through his instagram, named The Village Voice’s best local instagram. He has also written and recorded music as part of Mighty Moon and Daylight’s for the Birds.


Thursday, December 31st, 2015

— I was in love with Lili Taylor in high school. Lili Taylor as Valerie Solanas in I shot Andy Warhol. Her voice kept me awake at night. She was the sexiest woman the world had ever known. Before I ever heard her voice, maybe I’d read a little Rimbaud. Something was beginning. Thickening. Something was happening to me. Preparing me for her. The first thing I ever did on the internet was search for the S.C.U.M MANIFESTO. My best friend and I printed it out from her mom’s computer. Lili T’s voice. Her blunt, uncondescending face. Her tough little ears, her hard little wrists. Her voice.

In 2010, at a studio in Bushwick, Lili Taylor recorded a little poem of mine called SAVE THE WORLD. The poem is kind of about one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It’s also about tired twentieth century ideas about women and men and the end of the world. But because it’s a poem it’s also just about nothing.


Ariana Reines is a poet, playwright, and translator. She was born in 1982, in Salem, Massachusetts, she lives and works in New York. Her books of poetry include THE COW (2006), which won the Alberta Prize from Fence Books; COEUR DE LION (2007); and MERCURY (2011). Her poems have been anthologized in AGAINST EXPRESSION (2011) and GURLESQUE (2010). Her first play, TELEPHONE (2009), received two Obie Awards, and the Guggenheim’s Works+Process series in 2009 featured a re-imagining of its second act.


Friday, November 27th, 2015

— These photos are part of a much larger portfolio that I hope to publish as a book at some point. Pictured are my wife, Nancy and our two boys, Matt and Pete. These were taken in the 70s and 80s.

As a high school teacher on Long Island, New York for more than two decades, Joseph Szabo used photography as a tool to reach out to and connect with his students, giving him access to the world of teenagers adults rarely see. Szabo’s images depict the importance of peer acceptance, the significance of the right pair of jeans, cars, cigarettes, friendships and first love. These photographs are a poignant reminder of what being a teenager is all about, a time we can all relate to; the fears, joys and insecurities of being “almost grown-up”. These photographs also capture and preserve a particular time in American Culture, the fashion style and the mood of the 70’s and early 80’s.


Friday, November 27th, 2015

— My grandmother started teaching Russian language and literature in Moscow when she was 19. She spent the rest of her life teaching high school and elementary school, has co-written several textbooks, and continues to give private lessons at her apartment today. This is a phonetic diagram of letters and sounds that was hand-painted by her first class in 1953 as part of an assignment. On one of my trips back, I asked if I could keep it. It’s been hanging on my studio wall for a few years now: a baseline intersection of looking, speaking and making.

Sanya Kantarovsky was born in 1982, in Moscow, Russia, he lives and works in New York. He has had shows a venues like Altman Siegel, San Francisco, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen, Germany; Marc Foxx, LA, Tanya Leighton, Berlin; Studio Voltaire, London, Office Baroque, Brussels, The Moscow Museum of Modern Art; Bortolami, New York and Wallspace, New York.


Friday, November 27th, 2015

by E.M. Forster (1909)


Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk-that is all the furniture. And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh-a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.

An electric bell rang.

The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.

“I suppose I must see who it is”, she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately.

“Who is it?” she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously.

But when she listened into the receiver, her white face wrinkled into smiles, and she said:

“Very well. Let us talk, I will isolate myself. I do not expect anything important will happen for the next five minutes-for I can give you fully five minutes, Kuno. Then I must deliver my lecture on “Music during the Australian Period”.”

She touched the isolation knob, so that no one else could speak to her. Then she touched the lighting apparatus, and the little room was plunged into darkness.

“Be quick!” She called, her irritation returning. “Be quick, Kuno; here I am in the dark wasting my time.”

But it was fully fifteen seconds before the round plate that she held in her hands began to glow. A faint blue light shot across it, darkening to purple, and presently she could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her.

“Kuno, how slow you are.”

He smiled gravely.

“I really believe you enjoy dawdling.”

“I have called you before, mother, but you were always busy or isolated. I have something particular to say.”

“What is it, dearest boy? Be quick. Why could you not send it by pneumatic post?”

“Because I prefer saying such a thing. I want—”


“I want you to come and see me.”

Vashti watched his face in the blue plate.

“But I can see you!” she exclaimed. “What more do you want?”

“I want to see you not through the Machine,” said Kuno. “I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine.”

“Oh, hush!” said his mother, vaguely shocked. “You mustn”t say anything against the Machine.”

“Why not?”

“One mustn”t.”

“You talk as if a god had made the Machine,” cried the other.

“I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hopes that are in my mind.”

She replied that she could scarcely spare the time for a visit.

“The air-ship barely takes two days to fly between me and you.”

“I dislike air-ships.”


“I dislike seeing the horrible brown earth, and the sea, and the stars when it is dark. I get no ideas in an air- ship.”

“I do not get them anywhere else.”

“What kind of ideas can the air give you?”

He paused for an instant.

“Do you not know four big stars that form an oblong, and three stars close together in the middle of the oblong, and hanging from these stars, three other stars?”

“No, I do not. I dislike the stars. But did they give you an idea? How interesting; tell me.”

“I had an idea that they were like a man.”

“I do not understand.”

“The four big stars are the man”s shoulders and his knees.

The three stars in the middle are like the belts that men wore once, and the three stars hanging are like a sword.”

“A sword?;”

“Men carried swords about with them, to kill animals and other men.”

“It does not strike me as a very good idea, but it is certainly original. When did it come to you first?”

“In the air-ship—” He broke off, and she fancied that he looked sad. She could not be sure, for the Machine did not transmit nuances of expression. It only gave a general idea of people – an idea that was good enough for all practical purposes, Vashti thought. The imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable bloom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of artificial fruit. Something “good enough” had long since been accepted by our race.

“The truth is,” he continued, “that I want to see these stars again. They are curious stars. I want to see them not from the air-ship, but from the surface of the earth, as our ancestors did, thousands of years ago. I want to visit the surface of the earth.”

She was shocked again.

“Mother, you must come, if only to explain to me what is the harm of visiting the surface of the earth.”

“No harm,” she replied, controlling herself. “But no advantage. The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no advantage. The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no life remains on it, and you would need a respirator, or the cold of the outer air would kill you. One dies immediately in the outer air.”

“I know; of course I shall take all precautions.”

“And besides—”


She considered, and chose her words with care. Her son had a queer temper, and she wished to dissuade him from the expedition.

“It is contrary to the spirit of the age,” she asserted.

“Do you mean by that, contrary to the Machine?”

“In a sense, but—”

His image is the blue plate faded.


He had isolated himself.

For a moment Vashti felt lonely.

Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere – buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

Vashanti”s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one”s own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? – say this day month.

To most of these questions she replied with irritation – a growing quality in that accelerated age. She said that the new food was horrible. That she could not visit the public nurseries through press of engagements. That she had no ideas of her own but had just been told one-that four stars and three in the middle were like a man: she doubted there was much in it. Then she switched off her correspondents, for it was time to deliver her lecture on Australian music.

The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms. Seated in her armchair she spoke, while they in their armchairs heard her, fairly well, and saw her, fairly well. She opened with a humorous account of music in the pre Mongolian epoch, and went on to describe the great outburst of song that followed the Chinese conquest. Remote and primæval as were the methods of I-San-So and the Brisbane school, she yet felt (she said) that study of them might repay the musicians of today: they had freshness; they had, above all, ideas. Her lecture, which lasted ten minutes, was well received, and at its conclusion she and many of her audience listened to a lecture on the sea; there were ideas to be got from the sea; the speaker had donned a respirator and visited it lately. Then she fed, talked to many friends, had a bath, talked again, and summoned her bed.

The bed was not to her liking. It was too large, and she had a feeling for a small bed. Complaint was useless, for beds were of the same dimension all over the world, and to have had an alternative size would have involved vast alterations in the Machine. Vashti isolated herself-it was necessary, for neither day nor night existed under the ground-and reviewed all that had happened since she had summoned the bed last. Ideas? Scarcely any. Events-was Kuno”s invitation an event?

By her side, on the little reading-desk, was a survival from the ages of litter-one book. This was the Book of the Machine. In it were instructions against every possible contingency. If she was hot or cold or dyspeptic or at a loss for a word, she went to the book, and it told her which button to press. The Central Committee published it. In accordance with a growing habit, it was richly bound.

Sitting up in the bed, she took it reverently in her hands. She glanced round the glowing room as if some one might be watching her. Then, half ashamed, half joyful, she murmured “O Machine!” and raised the volume to her lips. Thrice she kissed it, thrice inclined her head, thrice she felt the delirium of acquiescence. Her ritual performed, she turned to page 1367, which gave the times of the departure of the air-ships from the island in the southern hemisphere, under whose soil she lived, to the island in the northern hemisphere, whereunder lived her son.

She thought, “I have not the time.”

She made the room dark and slept; she awoke and made the room light; she ate and exchanged ideas with her friends, and listened to music and attended lectures; she make the room dark and slept. Above her, beneath her, and around her, the Machine hummed eternally; she did not notice the noise, for she had been born with it in her ears. The earth, carrying her, hummed as it sped through silence, turning her now to the invisible sun, now to the invisible stars. She awoke and made the room light.


“I will not talk to you.” he answered, “until you come.”

“Have you been on the surface of the earth since we spoke last?”

His image faded.

Again she consulted the book. She became very nervous and lay back in her chair palpitating. Think of her as without teeth or hair. Presently she directed the chair to the wall, and pressed an unfamiliar button. The wall swung apart slowly. Through the opening she saw a tunnel that curved slightly, so that its goal was not visible. Should she go to see her son, here was the beginning of the journey.

Of course she knew all about the communication-system. There was nothing mysterious in it. She would summon a car and it would fly with her down the tunnel until it reached the lift that communicated with the air-ship station: the system had been in use for many, many years, long before the universal establishment of the Machine. And of course she had studied the civilization that had immediately preceded her own – the civilization that had mistaken the functions of the system, and had used it for bringing people to things, instead of for bringing things to people. Those funny old days, when men went for change of air instead of changing the air in their rooms! And yet-she was frightened of the tunnel: she had not seen it since her last child was born. It curved-but not quite as she remembered; it was brilliant-but not quite as brilliant as a lecturer had suggested. Vashti was seized with the terrors of direct experience. She shrank back into the room, and the wall closed up again.

“Kuno,” she said, “I cannot come to see you. I am not well.”

Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling, a thermometer was automatically laid upon her heart. She lay powerless. Cool pads soothed her forehead. Kuno had telegraphed to her doctor.

So the human passions still blundered up and down in the Machine. Vashti drank the medicine that the doctor projected into her mouth, and the machinery retired into the ceiling. The voice of Kuno was heard asking how she felt.

“Better.” Then with irritation: “But why do you not come to me instead?”

“Because I cannot leave this place.”


“Because, any moment, something tremendous many happen.”

“Have you been on the surface of the earth yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Then what is it?”

“I will not tell you through the Machine.”

She resumed her life.

But she thought of Kuno as a baby, his birth, his removal to the public nurseries, her own visit to him there, his visits to her-visits which stopped when the Machine had assigned him a room on the other side of the earth. “Parents, duties of,” said the book of the Machine,” cease at the moment of birth. P.422327483.” True, but there was something special about Kuno – indeed there had been something special about all her children – and, after all, she must brave the journey if he desired it. And “something tremendous might happen”. What did that mean? The nonsense of a youthful man, no doubt, but she must go. Again she pressed the unfamiliar button, again the wall swung back, and she saw the tunnel that curves out of sight. Clasping the Book, she rose, tottered on to the platform, and summoned the car. Her room closed behind her: the journey to the northern hemisphere had begun.

Of course it was perfectly easy. The car approached and in it she found armchairs exactly like her own. When she signaled, it stopped, and she tottered into the lift. One other passenger was in the lift, the first fellow creature she had seen face to face for months. Few travelled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.

The air-ship service was a relic form the former age. It was kept up, because it was easier to keep it up than to stop it or to diminish it, but it now far exceeded the wants of the population. Vessel after vessel would rise form the vomitories of Rye or of Christchurch (I use the antique names), would sail into the crowded sky, and would draw up at the wharves of the south – empty. so nicely adjusted was the system, so independent of meteorology, that the sky, whether calm or cloudy, resembled a vast kaleidoscope whereon the same patterns periodically recurred. The ship on which Vashti sailed started now at sunset, now at dawn. But always, as it passed above Rheas, it would neighbour the ship that served between Helsingfors and the Brazils, and, every third time it surmounted the Alps, the fleet of Palermo would cross its track behind. Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer. He had harnessed Leviathan. All the old literature, with its praise of Nature, and its fear of Nature, rang false as the prattle of a child.

Yet as Vashti saw the vast flank of the ship, stained with exposure to the outer air, her horror of direct experience returned. It was not quite like the air-ship in the cinematophote. For one thing it smelt – not strongly or unpleasantly, but it did smell, and with her eyes shut she should have known that a new thing was close to her. Then she had to walk to it from the lift, had to submit to glances form the other passengers. The man in front dropped his Book – no great matter, but it disquieted them all. In the rooms, if the Book was dropped, the floor raised it mechanically, but the gangway to the air-ship was not so prepared, and the sacred volume lay motionless. They stopped – the thing was unforeseen – and the man, instead of picking up his property, felt the muscles of his arm to see how they had failed him. Then some one actually said with direct utterance: “We shall be late” – and they trooped on board, Vashti treading on the pages as she did so.

Inside, her anxiety increased. The arrangements were old- fashioned and rough. There was even a female attendant, to whom she would have to announce her wants during the voyage. Of course a revolving platform ran the length of the boat, but she was expected to walk from it to her cabin. Some cabins were better than others, and she did not get the best. She thought the attendant had been unfair, and spasms of rage shook her. The glass valves had closed, she could not go back. She saw, at the end of the vestibule, the lift in which she had ascended going quietly up and down, empty. Beneath those corridors of shining tiles were rooms, tier below tier, reaching far into the earth, and in each room there sat a human being, eating, or sleeping, or producing ideas. And buried deep in the hive was her own room. Vashti was afraid.

“O Machine!” she murmured, and caressed her Book, and was comforted.

Then the sides of the vestibule seemed to melt together, as do the passages that we see in dreams, the lift vanished , the Book that had been dropped slid to the left and vanished, polished tiles rushed by like a stream of water, there was a slight jar, and the air-ship, issuing from its tunnel, soared above the waters of a tropical ocean.

It was night. For a moment she saw the coast of Sumatra edged by the phosphorescence of waves, and crowned by lighthouses, still sending forth their disregarded beams. These also vanished, and only the stars distracted her. They were not motionless, but swayed to and fro above her head, thronging out of one sky-light into another, as if the universe and not the air-ship was careening. And, as often happens on clear nights, they seemed now to be in perspective, now on a plane; now piled tier beyond tier into the infinite heavens, now concealing infinity, a roof limiting for ever the visions of men. In either case they seemed intolerable. “Are we to travel in the dark?” called the passengers angrily, and the attendant, who had been careless, generated the light, and pulled down the blinds of pliable metal. When the air-ships had been built, the desire to look direct at things still lingered in the world. Hence the extraordinary number of skylights and windows, and the proportionate discomfort to those who were civilized and refined. Even in Vashti”s cabin one star peeped through a flaw in the blind, and after a few hers” uneasy slumber, she was disturbed by an unfamiliar glow, which was the dawn.

Quick as the ship had sped westwards, the earth had rolled eastwards quicker still, and had dragged back Vashti and her companions towards the sun. Science could prolong the night, but only for a little, and those high hopes of neutralizing the earth”s diurnal revolution had passed, together with hopes that were possibly higher. To “keep pace with the sun,” or even to outstrip it, had been the aim of the civilization preceding this. Racing aeroplanes had been built for the purpose, capable of enormous speed, and steered by the greatest intellects of the epoch. Round the globe they went, round and round, westward, westward, round and round, amidst humanity”s applause. In vain. The globe went eastward quicker still, horrible accidents occurred, and the Committee of the Machine, at the time rising into prominence, declared the pursuit illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness.

Of Homelessness more will be said later.

Doubtless the Committee was right. Yet the attempt to “defeat the sun” aroused the last common interest that our race experienced about the heavenly bodies, or indeed about anything. It was the last time that men were compacted by thinking of a power outside the world. The sun had conquered, yet it was the end of his spiritual dominion. Dawn, midday, twilight, the zodiacal path, touched neither men”s lives not their hearts, and science retreated into the ground, to concentrate herself upon problems that she was certain of solving.

So when Vashti found her cabin invaded by a rosy finger of light, she was annoyed, and tried to adjust the blind. But the blind flew up altogether, and she saw through the skylight small pink clouds, swaying against a background of blue, and as the sun crept higher, its radiance entered direct, brimming down the wall, like a golden sea. It rose and fell with the air-ship”s motion, just as waves rise and fall, but it advanced steadily, as a tide advances. Unless she was careful, it would strike her face. A spasm of horror shook her and she rang for the attendant. The attendant too was horrified, but she could do nothing; it was not her place to mend the blind. She could only suggest that the lady should change her cabin, which she accordingly prepared to do.

People were almost exactly alike all over the world, but the attendant of the air-ship, perhaps owing to her exceptional duties, had grown a little out of the common. She had often to address passengers with direct speech, and this had given her a certain roughness and originality of manner. When Vashti served away form the sunbeams with a cry, she behaved barbarically – she put out her hand to steady her.

“How dare you!” exclaimed the passenger. “You forget yourself!”

The woman was confused, and apologized for not having let her fall. People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine.

“Where are we now?” asked Vashti haughtily.

“We are over Asia,” said the attendant, anxious to be polite.


“You must excuse my common way of speaking. I have got into the habit of calling places over which I pass by their unmechanical names.”

“Oh, I remember Asia. The Mongols came from it.”

“Beneath us, in the open air, stood a city that was once called Simla.”

“Have you ever heard of the Mongols and of the Brisbane school?”


“Brisbane also stood in the open air.”

“Those mountains to the right – let me show you them.” She pushed back a metal blind. The main chain of the Himalayas was revealed. “They were once called the Roof of the World, those mountains.”

“You must remember that, before the dawn of civilization, they seemed to be an impenetrable wall that touched the stars. It was supposed that no one but the gods could exist above their summits. How we have advanced, thanks to the Machine!”

“How we have advanced, thanks to the Machine!” said Vashti.

“How we have advanced, thanks to the Machine!” echoed the passenger who had dropped his Book the night before, and who was standing in the passage.

“And that white stuff in the cracks? – what is it?”

“I have forgotten its name.”

“Cover the window, please. These mountains give me no ideas.”

The northern aspect of the Himalayas was in deep shadow: on the Indian slope the sun had just prevailed. The forests had been destroyed during the literature epoch for the purpose of making newspaper-pulp, but the snows were awakening to their morning glory, and clouds still hung on the breasts of Kinchinjunga. In the plain were seen the ruins of cities, with diminished rivers creeping by their walls, and by the sides of these were sometimes the signs of vomitories, marking the cities of to day. Over the whole prospect air-ships rushed, crossing the inter-crossing with incredible aplomb, and rising nonchalantly when they desired to escape the perturbations of the lower atmosphere and to traverse the Roof of the World.

“We have indeed advance, thanks to the Machine,” repeated the attendant, and hid the Himalayas behind a metal blind.

The day dragged wearily forward. The passengers sat each in his cabin, avoiding one another with an almost physical repulsion and longing to be once more under the surface of the earth. There were eight or ten of them, mostly young males, sent out from the public nurseries to inhabit the rooms of those who had died in various parts of the earth. The man who had dropped his Book was on the homeward journey. He had been sent to Sumatra for the purpose of propagating the race. Vashti alone was travelling by her private will.

At midday she took a second glance at the earth. The air- ship was crossing another range of mountains, but she could see little, owing to clouds. Masses of black rock hovered below her, and merged indistinctly into grey. Their shapes were fantastic; one of them resembled a prostrate man.

“No ideas here,” murmured Vashti, and hid the Caucasus behind a metal blind.

In the evening she looked again. They were crossing a golden sea, in which lay many small islands and one peninsula. She repeated, “No ideas here,” and hid Greece behind a metal blind.



By a vestibule, by a lift, by a tubular railway, by a platform, by a sliding door – by reversing all the steps of her departure did Vashti arrive at her son”s room, which exactly resembled her own. She might well declare that the visit was superfluous. The buttons, the knobs, the reading-desk with the Book, the temperature, the atmosphere, the illumination – all were exactly the same. And if Kuno himself, flesh of her flesh, stood close beside her at last, what profit was there in that? She was too well-bred to shake him by the hand.

Averting her eyes, she spoke as follows:

“Here I am. I have had the most terrible journey and greatly retarded the development of my soul. It is not worth it, Kuno, it is not worth it. My time is too precious. The sunlight almost touched me, and I have met with the rudest people. I can only stop a few minutes. Say what you want to say, and then I must return.”

“I have been threatened with Homelessness,” said Kuno.

She looked at him now.

“I have been threatened with Homelessness, and I could not tell you such a thing through the Machine.”

Homelessness means death. The victim is exposed to the air, which kills him.

“I have been outside since I spoke to you last. The tremendous thing has happened, and they have discovered me.”

“But why shouldn”t you go outside?” she exclaimed, “It is perfectly legal, perfectly mechanical, to visit the surface of the earth. I have lately been to a lecture on the sea; there is no objection to that; one simply summons a respirator and gets an Egression-permit. It is not the kind of thing that spiritually minded people do, and I begged you not to do it, but there is no legal objection to it.”

“I did not get an Egression-permit.”

“Then how did you get out?”

“I found out a way of my own.”

The phrase conveyed no meaning to her, and he had to repeat it.

“A way of your own?” she whispered. “But that would be wrong.”


The question shocked her beyond measure.

“You are beginning to worship the Machine,” he said coldly.

“You think it irreligious of me to have found out a way of my own. It was just what the Committee thought, when they threatened me with Homelessness.”

At this she grew angry. “I worship nothing!” she cried. “I am most advanced. I don”t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left. All the fear and the superstition that existed once have been destroyed by the Machine. I only meant that to find out a way of your own was—Besides, there is no new way out.”

“So it is always supposed.”

“Except through the vomitories, for which one must have an Egression-permit, it is impossible to get out. The Book says so.”

“Well, the Book”s wrong, for I have been out on my feet.”

For Kuno was possessed of a certain physical strength.

By these days it was a demerit to be muscular. Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him; he would have yearned for trees to climb, rivers to bathe in, meadows and hills against which he might measure his body. Man must be adapted to his surroundings, must he not? In the dawn of the world our weakly must be exposed on Mount Taygetus, in its twilight our strong will suffer euthanasia, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress eternally.

“You know that we have lost the sense of space. We say “space is annihilated”, but we have annihilated not space, but the sense thereof. We have lost a part of ourselves. I determined to recover it, and I began by walking up and down the platform of the railway outside my room. Up and down, until I was tired, and so did recapture the meaning of “Near” and “Far”. “Near” is a place to which I can get quickly on my feet, not a place to which the train or the air-ship will take me quickly. “Far” is a place to which I cannot get quickly on my feet; the vomitory is “far”, though I could be there in thirty-eight seconds by summoning the train. Man is the measure. That was my first lesson. Man”s feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is lovable and desirable and strong. Then I went further: it was then that I called to you for the first time, and you would not come.

“This city, as you know, is built deep beneath the surface of the earth, with only the vomitories protruding. Having paced the platform outside my own room, I took the lift to the next platform and paced that also, and so with each in turn, until I came to the topmost, above which begins the earth. All the platforms were exactly alike, and all that I gained by visiting them was to develop my sense of space and my muscles. I think I should have been content with this – it is not a little thing, – but as I walked and brooded, it occurred to me that our cities had been built in the days when men still breathed the outer air, and that there had been ventilation shafts for the workmen. I could think of nothing but these ventilation shafts. Had they been destroyed by all the food-tubes and medicine-tubes and music- tubes that the Machine has evolved lately? Or did traces of them remain? One thing was certain. If I came upon them anywhere, it would be in the railway-tunnels of the topmost storey. Everywhere else, all space was accounted for.

“I am telling my story quickly, but don”t think that I was not a coward or that your answers never depressed me. It is not the proper thing, it is not mechanical, it is not decent to walk along a railway-tunnel. I did not fear that I might tread upon a live rail and be killed. I feared something far more intangible-doing what was not contemplated by the Machine. Then I said to myself, “Man is the measure”, and I went, and after many visits I found an opening.

“The tunnels, of course, were lighted. Everything is light, artificial light; darkness is the exception. So when I saw a black gap in the tiles, I knew that it was an exception, and rejoiced. I put in my arm – I could put in no more at first – and waved it round and round in ecstasy. I loosened another tile, and put in my head, and shouted into the darkness: “I am coming, I shall do it yet,” and my voice reverberated down endless passages. I seemed to hear the spirits of those dead workmen who had returned each evening to the starlight and to their wives, and all the generations who had lived in the open air called back to me, “You will do it yet, you are coming,””

He paused, and, absurd as he was, his last words moved her.

For Kuno had lately asked to be a father, and his request had been refused by the Committee. His was not a type that the Machine desired to hand on.

“Then a train passed. It brushed by me, but I thrust my head and arms into the hole. I had done enough for one day, so I crawled back to the platform, went down in the lift, and summoned my bed. Ah what dreams! And again I called you, and again you refused.”

She shook her head and said:

“Don”t. Don”t talk of these terrible things. You make me miserable. You are throwing civilization away.”

“But I had got back the sense of space and a man cannot rest then. I determined to get in at the hole and climb the shaft. And so I exercised my arms. Day after day I went through ridiculous movements, until my flesh ached, and I could hang by my hands and hold the pillow of my bed outstretched for many minutes. Then I summoned a respirator, and started.

“It was easy at first. The mortar had somehow rotted, and I soon pushed some more tiles in, and clambered after them into the darkness, and the spirits of the dead comforted me. I don”t know what I mean by that. I just say what I felt. I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here. Had I been strong, I would have torn off every garment I had, and gone out into the outer air unswaddled. But this is not for me, nor perhaps for my generation. I climbed with my respirator and my hygienic clothes and my dietetic tabloids! Better thus than not at all.

“There was a ladder, made of some primæval metal. The light from the railway fell upon its lowest rungs, and I saw that it led straight upwards out of the rubble at the bottom of the shaft. Perhaps our ancestors ran up and down it a dozen times daily, in their building. As I climbed, the rough edges cut through my gloves so that my hands bled. The light helped me for a little, and then came darkness and, worse still, silence which pierced my ears like a sword. The Machine hums! Did you know that? Its hum penetrates our blood, and may even guide our thoughts. Who knows! I was getting beyond its power. Then I thought: “This silence means that I am doing wrong.” But I heard voices in the silence, and again they strengthened me.” He laughed. “I had need of them. The next moment I cracked my head against something.”

She sighed.

“I had reached one of those pneumatic stoppers that defend us from the outer air. You may have noticed them no the air- ship. Pitch dark, my feet on the rungs of an invisible ladder, my hands cut; I cannot explain how I lived through this part, but the voices till comforted me, and I felt for fastenings. The stopper, I suppose, was about eight feet across. I passed my hand over it as far as I could reach. It was perfectly smooth. I felt it almost to the centre. Not quite to the centre, for my arm was too short. Then the voice said: “Jump. It is worth it. There may be a handle in the centre, and you may catch hold of it and so come to us your own way. And if there is no handle, so that you may fall and are dashed to pieces – it is till worth it: you will still come to us your own way.” So I jumped. There was a handle, and —”

He paused. Tears gathered in his mother”s eyes. She knew that he was fated. If he did not die today he would die tomorrow. There was not room for such a person in the world. And with her pity disgust mingled. She was ashamed at having borne such a son, she who had always been so respectable and so full of ideas. Was he really the little boy to whom she had taught the use of his stops and buttons, and to whom she had given his first lessons in the Book? The very hair that disfigured his lip showed that he was reverting to some savage type. On atavism the Machine can have no mercy.

“There was a handle, and I did catch it. I hung tranced over the darkness and heard the hum of these workings as the last whisper in a dying dream. All the things I had cared about and all the people I had spoken to through tubes appeared infinitely little. Meanwhile the handle revolved. My weight had set something in motion and I span slowly, and then—

“I cannot describe it. I was lying with my face to the sunshine. Blood poured from my nose and ears and I heard a tremendous roaring. The stopper, with me clinging to it, had simply been blown out of the earth, and the air that we make down here was escaping through the vent into the air above. It burst up like a fountain. I crawled back to it – for the upper air hurts – and, as it were, I took great sips from the edge. My respirator had flown goodness knows here, my clothes were torn. I just lay with my lips close to the hole, and I sipped until the bleeding stopped. You can imagine nothing so curious. This hollow in the grass – I will speak of it in a minute, – the sun shining into it, not brilliantly but through marbled clouds, – the peace, the nonchalance, the sense of space, and, brushing my cheek, the roaring fountain of our artificial air! Soon I spied my respirator, bobbing up and down in the current high above my head, and higher still were many air-ships. But no one ever looks out of air-ships, and in any case they could not have picked me up. There I was, stranded. The sun shone a little way down the shaft, and revealed the topmost rung of the ladder, but it was hopeless trying to reach it. I should either have been tossed up again by the escape, or else have fallen in, and died. I could only lie on the grass, sipping and sipping, and from time to time glancing around me.

“I knew that I was in Wessex, for I had taken care to go to a lecture on the subject before starting. Wessex lies above the room in which we are talking now. It was once an important state. Its kings held all the southern coast form the Andredswald to Cornwall, while the Wansdyke protected them on the north, running over the high ground. The lecturer was only concerned with the rise of Wessex, so I do not know how long it remained an international power, nor would the knowledge have assisted me. To tell the truth I could do nothing but laugh, during this part. There was I, with a pneumatic stopper by my side and a respirator bobbing over my head, imprisoned, all three of us, in a grass-grown hollow that was edged with fern.”

Then he grew grave again.

“Lucky for me that it was a hollow. For the air began to fall back into it and to fill it as water fills a bowl. I could crawl about. Presently I stood. I breathed a mixture, in which the air that hurts predominated whenever I tried to climb the sides. This was not so bad. I had not lost my tabloids and remained ridiculously cheerful, and as for the Machine, I forgot about it altogether. My one aim now was to get to the top, where the ferns were, and to view whatever objects lay beyond.

“I rushed the slope. The new air was still too bitter for me and I came rolling back, after a momentary vision of something grey. The sun grew very feeble, and I remembered that he was in Scorpio – I had been to a lecture on that too. If the sun is in Scorpio, and you are in Wessex, it means that you must be as quick as you can, or it will get too dark. (This is the first bit of useful information I have ever got from a lecture, and I expect it will be the last.) It made me try frantically to breathe the new air, and to advance as far as I dared out of my pond. The hollow filled so slowly. At times I thought that the fountain played with less vigour. My respirator seemed to dance nearer the earth; the roar was decreasing.”

He broke off.

“I don”t think this is interesting you. The rest will interest you even less. There are no ideas in it, and I wish that I had not troubled you to come. We are too different, mother.”

She told him to continue.

“It was evening before I climbed the bank. The sun had very nearly slipped out of the sky by this time, and I could not get a good view. You, who have just crossed the Roof of the World, will not want to hear an account of the little hills that I saw – low colourless hills. But to me they were living and the turf that covered them was a skin, under which their muscles rippled, and I felt that those hills had called with incalculable force to men in the past, and that men had loved them. Now they sleep – perhaps for ever. They commune with humanity in dreams. Happy the man, happy the woman, who awakes the hills of Wessex. For though they sleep, they will never die.”

His voice rose passionately.

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops – but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds – but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die. Oh, I have no remedy – or, at least, only one – to tell men again and again that I have seen the hills of Wessex as Ælfrid saw them when he overthrew the Danes.

“So the sun set. I forgot to mention that a belt of mist lay between my hill and other hills, and that it was the colour of pearl.”

He broke off for the second time.

“Go on,” said his mother wearily.

He shook his head.

“Go on. Nothing that you say can distress me now. I am hardened.”

“I had meant to tell you the rest, but I cannot: I know that I cannot: good-bye.”

Vashti stood irresolute. All her nerves were tingling with his blasphemies. But she was also inquisitive.

“This is unfair,” she complained. “You have called me across the world to hear your story, and hear it I will. Tell me – as briefly as possible, for this is a disastrous waste of time – tell me how you returned to civilization.”

“Oh – that!” he said, starting. “You would like to hear about civilization. Certainly. Had I got to where my respirator fell down?”

“No – but I understand everything now. You put on your respirator, and managed to walk along the surface of the earth to a vomitory, and there your conduct was reported to the Central Committee.”

“By no means.”

He passed his hand over his forehead, as if dispelling some strong impression. Then, resuming his narrative, he warmed to it again.

“My respirator fell about sunset. I had mentioned that the fountain seemed feebler, had I not?”


“About sunset, it let the respirator fall. As I said, I had entirely forgotten about the Machine, and I paid no great attention at the time, being occupied with other things. I had my pool of air, into which I could dip when the outer keenness became intolerable, and which would possibly remain for days, provided that no wind sprang up to disperse it. Not until it was too late did I realize what the stoppage of the escape implied. You see – the gap in the tunnel had been mended; the Mending Apparatus; the Mending Apparatus, was after me.

“One other warning I had, but I neglected it. The sky at night was clearer than it had been in the day, and the moon, which was about half the sky behind the sun, shone into the dell at moments quite brightly. I was in my usual place – on the boundary between the two atmospheres – when I thought I saw something dark move across the bottom of the dell, and vanish into the shaft. In my folly, I ran down. I bent over and listened, and I thought I heard a faint scraping noise in the depths.

“At this – but it was too late – I took alarm. I determined to put on my respirator and to walk right out of the dell. But my respirator had gone. I knew exactly where it had fallen – between the stopper and the aperture – and I could even feel the mark that it had made in the turf. It had gone, and I realized that something evil was at work, and I had better escape to the other air, and, if I must die, die running towards the cloud that had been the colour of a pearl. I never started. Out of the shaft – it is too horrible. A worm, a long white worm, had crawled out of the shaft and gliding over the moonlit grass.

“I screamed. I did everything that I should not have done, I stamped upon the creature instead of flying from it, and it at once curled round the ankle. Then we fought. The worm let me run all over the dell, but edged up my leg as I ran. “Help!” I cried. (That part is too awful. It belongs to the part that you will never know.) “Help!” I cried. (Why cannot we suffer in silence?) “Help!” I cried. When my feet were wound together, I fell, I was dragged away from the dear ferns and the living hills, and past the great metal stopper (I can tell you this part), and I thought it might save me again if I caught hold of the handle. It also was enwrapped, it also. Oh, the whole dell was full of the things. They were searching it in all directions, they were denuding it, and the white snouts of others peeped out of the hole, ready if needed. Everything that could be moved they brought – brushwood, bundles of fern, everything, and down we all went intertwined into hell. The last things that I saw, ere the stopper closed after us, were certain stars, and I felt that a man of my sort lived in the sky. For I did fight, I fought till the very end, and it was only my head hitting against the ladder that quieted me. I woke up in this room. The worms had vanished. I was surrounded by artificial air, artificial light, artificial peace, and my friends were calling to me down speaking-tubes to know whether I had come across any new ideas lately.”

Here his story ended. Discussion of it was impossible, and Vashti turned to go.

“It will end in Homelessness,” she said quietly.

“I wish it would,” retorted Kuno.

“The Machine has been most merciful.”

“I prefer the mercy of God.”

“By that superstitious phrase, do you mean that you could live in the outer air?”


“Have you ever seen, round the vomitories, the bones of those who were extruded after the Great Rebellion?”


“Have you ever seen, round the vomitories, the bones of those who were extruded after the Great Rebellion?”


“They were left where they perished for our edification. A few crawled away, but they perished, too – who can doubt it? And so with the Homeless of our own day. The surface of the earth supports life no longer.”


“Ferns and a little grass may survive, but all higher forms have perished. Has any air-ship detected them?”


“Has any lecturer dealt with them?”


“Then why this obstinacy?”

“Because I have seen them,” he exploded.

“Seen what?”

“Because I have seen her in the twilight – because she came to my help when I called – because she, too, was entangled by the worms, and, luckier than I, was killed by one of them piercing her throat.”

He was mad. Vashti departed, nor, in the troubles that followed, did she ever see his face again.



During the years that followed Kuno”s escapade, two important developments took place in the Machine. On the surface they were revolutionary, but in either case men”s minds had been prepared beforehand, and they did but express tendencies that were latent already.

The first of these was the abolition of respirator.

Advanced thinkers, like Vashti, had always held it foolish to visit the surface of the earth. Air-ships might be necessary, but what was the good of going out for mere curiosity and crawling along for a mile or two in a terrestrial motor? The habit was vulgar and perhaps faintly improper: it was unproductive of ideas, and had no connection with the habits that really mattered. So respirators were abolished, and with them, of course, the terrestrial motors, and except for a few lecturers, who complained that they were debarred access to their subject- matter, the development was accepted quietly. Those who still wanted to know what the earth was like had after all only to listen to some gramophone, or to look into some cinematophote. And even the lecturers acquiesced when they found that a lecture on the sea was none the less stimulating when compiled out of other lectures that had already been delivered on the same subject. “Beware of first- hand ideas!” exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. “First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element – direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine – the French Revolution. Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thought Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho-Yung thought Chi-Bo-Sing thought LafcadioHearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution. Through the medium of these ten great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives. But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another. Urizen must counteract the scepticism of Ho-Yung and Enicharmon, I must myself counteract the impetuosity of Gutch. You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am. Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain. And in time” – his voice rose – “there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation

seraphically free

From taint of personality,

which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine.”

Tremendous applause greeted this lecture, which did but voice a feeling already latent in the minds of men – a feeling that terrestrial facts must be ignored, and that the abolition of respirators was a positive gain. It was even suggested that air-ships should be abolished too. This was not done, because air-ships had somehow worked themselves into the Machine”s system. But year by year they were used less, and mentioned less by thoughtful men.

The second great development was the re-establishment of religion.

This, too, had been voiced in the celebrated lecture. No one could mistake the reverent tone in which the peroration had concluded, and it awakened a responsive echo in the heart of each. Those who had long worshipped silently, now began to talk. They described the strange feeling of peace that came over them when they handled the Book of the Machine, the pleasure that it was to repeat certain numerals out of it, however little meaning those numerals conveyed to the outward ear, the ecstasy of touching a button, however unimportant, or of ringing an electric bell, however superfluously.

“The Machine,” they exclaimed, “feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. The Machine is the friend of ideas and the enemy of superstition: the Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine.” And before long this allocution was printed on the first page of the Book, and in subsequent editions the ritual swelled into a complicated system of praise and prayer. The word “religion” was sedulously avoided, and in theory the Machine was still the creation and the implement of man. but in practice all, save a few retrogrades, worshipped it as divine. Nor was it worshipped in unity. One believer would be chiefly impressed by the blue optic plates, through which he saw other believers; another by the mending apparatus, which sinful Kuno had compared to worms; another by the lifts, another by the Book. And each would pray to this or to that, and ask it to intercede for him with the Machine as a whole. Persecution – that also was present. It did not break out, for reasons that will be set forward shortly. But it was latent, and all who did not accept the minimum known as “undenominational Mechanism” lived in danger of Homelessness, which means death, as we know.

To attribute these two great developments to the Central Committee, is to take a very narrow view of civilization. The Central Committee announced the developments, it is true, but they were no more the cause of them than were the kings of the imperialistic period the cause of war. Rather did they yield to some invincible pressure, which came no one knew whither, and which, when gratified, was succeeded by some new pressure equally invincible. To such a state of affairs it is convenient to give the name of progress. No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.

As for Vashti, her life went peacefully forward until the final disaster. She made her room dark and slept; she awoke and made the room light. She lectured and attended lectures. She exchanged ideas with her innumerable friends and believed she was growing more spiritual. At times a friend was granted Euthanasia, and left his or her room for the homelessness that is beyond all human conception. Vashti did not much mind. After an unsuccessful lecture, she would sometimes ask for Euthanasia herself. But the death-rate was not permitted to exceed the birth-rate, and the Machine had hitherto refused it to her.

The troubles began quietly, long before she was conscious of them.

One day she was astonished at receiving a message from her son. They never communicated, having nothing in common, and she had only heard indirectly that he was still alive, and had been transferred from the northern hemisphere, where he had behaved so mischievously, to the southern – indeed, to a room not far from her own.

“Does he want me to visit him?” she thought. “Never again, never. And I have not the time.”

No, it was madness of another kind.

He refused to visualize his face upon the blue plate, and speaking out of the darkness with solemnity said:

“The Machine stops.”

“What do you say?”

“The Machine is stopping, I know it, I know the signs.”

She burst into a peal of laughter. He heard her and was angry, and they spoke no more.

“Can you imagine anything more absurd?” she cried to a friend. “A man who was my son believes that the Machine is stopping. It would be impious if it was not mad.”

“The Machine is stopping?” her friend replied. “What does that mean? The phrase conveys nothing to me.”

“Nor to me.”

“He does not refer, I suppose, to the trouble there has been lately with the music?”

“Oh no, of course not. Let us talk about music.”

“Have you complained to the authorities?”

“Yes, and they say it wants mending, and referred me to the Committee of the Mending Apparatus. I complained of those curious gasping sighs that disfigure the symphonies of the Brisbane school. They sound like some one in pain. The Committee of the Mending Apparatus say that it shall be remedied shortly.”

Obscurely worried, she resumed her life. For one thing, the defect in the music irritated her. For another thing, she could not forget Kuno”s speech. If he had known that the music was out of repair – he could not know it, for he detested music – if he had known that it was wrong, “the Machine stops” was exactly the venomous sort of remark he would have made. Of course he had made it at a venture, but the coincidence annoyed her, and she spoke with some petulance to the Committee of the Mending Apparatus.

They replied, as before, that the defect would be set right shortly.

“Shortly! At once!” she retorted. “Why should I be worried by imperfect music? Things are always put right at once. If you do not mend it at once, I shall complain to the Central Committee.”

“No personal complaints are received by the Central Committee,” the Committee of the Mending Apparatus replied.

“Through whom am I to make my complaint, then?”

“Through us.”

“I complain then.”

“Your complaint shall be forwarded in its turn.”

“Have others complained?”

This question was unmechanical, and the Committee of the Mending Apparatus refused to answer it.

“It is too bad!” she exclaimed to another of her friends.

“There never was such an unfortunate woman as myself. I can never be sure of my music now. It gets worse and worse each time I summon it.”

“What is it?”

“I do not know whether it is inside my head, or inside the wall.”

“Complain, in either case.”

“I have complained, and my complaint will be forwarded in its turn to the Central Committee.”

Time passed, and they resented the defects no longer. The defects had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine. The sigh at the crises of the Brisbane symphony no longer irritated Vashti; she accepted it as part of the melody. The jarring noise, whether in the head or in the wall, was no longer resented by her friend. And so with the mouldy artificial fruit, so with the bath water that began to stink, so with the defective rhymes that the poetry machine had taken to emit. all were bitterly complained of at first, and then acquiesced in and forgotten. Things went from bad to worse unchallenged.

It was otherwise with the failure of the sleeping apparatus. That was a more serious stoppage. There came a day when over the whole world – in Sumatra, in Wessex, in the innumerable cities of Courland and Brazil – the beds, when summoned by their tired owners, failed to appear. It may seem a ludicrous matter, but from it we may date the collapse of humanity. The Committee responsible for the failure was assailed by complainants, whom it referred, as usual, to the Committee of the Mending Apparatus, who in its turn assured them that their complaints would be forwarded to the Central Committee. But the discontent grew, for mankind was not yet sufficiently adaptable to do without sleeping.

“Some one of meddling with the Machine—” they began.

“Some one is trying to make himself king, to reintroduce the personal element.”

“Punish that man with Homelessness.”

“To the rescue! Avenge the Machine! Avenge the Machine!”

“War! Kill the man!”

But the Committee of the Mending Apparatus now came forward, and allayed the panic with well-chosen words. It confessed that the Mending Apparatus was itself in need of repair.

The effect of this frank confession was admirable.

“Of course,” said a famous lecturer – he of the French Revolution, who gilded each new decay with splendour – “of course we shall not press our complaints now. The Mending Apparatus has treated us so well in the past that we all sympathize with it, and will wait patiently for its recovery. In its own good time it will resume its duties. Meanwhile let us do without our beds, our tabloids, our other little wants. Such, I feel sure, would be the wish of the Machine.”

Thousands of miles away his audience applauded. The Machine still linked them. Under the seas, beneath the roots of the mountains, ran the wires through which they saw and heard, the enormous eyes and ears that were their heritage, and the hum of many workings clothed their thoughts in one garment of subserviency. Only the old and the sick remained ungrateful, for it was rumoured that Euthanasia, too, was out of order, and that pain had reappeared among men.

It became difficult to read. A blight entered the atmosphere and dulled its luminosity. At times Vashti could scarcely see across her room. The air, too, was foul. Loud were the complaints, impotent the remedies, heroic the tone of the lecturer as he cried: “Courage! courage! What matter so long as the Machine goes on ? To it the darkness and the light are one.” And though things improved again after a time, the old brilliancy was never recaptured, and humanity never recovered from its entrance into twilight. There was an hysterical talk of “measures,” of “provisional dictatorship,” and the inhabitants of Sumatra were asked to familiarize themselves with the workings of the central power station, the said power station being situated in France. But for the most part panic reigned, and men spent their strength praying to their Books, tangible proofs of the Machine”s omnipotence. There were gradations of terror- at times came rumours of hope-the Mending Apparatus was almost mended-the enemies of the Machine had been got under- new “nerve-centres” were evolving which would do the work even more magnificently than before. But there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended.

Vashti was lecturing at the time and her earlier remarks had been punctuated with applause. As she proceeded the audience became silent, and at the conclusion there was no sound. Somewhat displeased, she called to a friend who was a specialist in sympathy. No sound: doubtless the friend was sleeping. And so with the next friend whom she tried to summon, and so with the next, until she remembered Kuno”s cryptic remark, “The Machine stops”.

The phrase still conveyed nothing. If Eternity was stopping it would of course be set going shortly.

For example, there was still a little light and air – the atmosphere had improved a few hours previously. There was still the Book, and while there was the Book there was security.

Then she broke down, for with the cessation of activity came an unexpected terror – silence.

She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her – it did kill many thousands of people outright. Ever since her birth she had been surrounded by the steady hum. It was to the ear what artificial air was to the lungs, and agonizing pains shot across her head. And scarcely knowing what she did, she stumbled forward and pressed the unfamiliar button, the one that opened the door of her cell.

Now the door of the cell worked on a simple hinge of its own. It was not connected with the central power station, dying far away in France. It opened, rousing immoderate hopes in Vashti, for she thought that the Machine had been mended. It opened, and she saw the dim tunnel that curved far away towards freedom. One look, and then she shrank back. For the tunnel was full of people – she was almost the last in that city to have taken alarm.

People at any time repelled her, and these were nightmares from her worst dreams. People were crawling about, people were screaming, whimpering, gasping for breath, touching each other, vanishing in the dark, and ever and anon being pushed off the platform on to the live rail. Some were fighting round the electric bells, trying to summon trains which could not be summoned. Others were yelling for Euthanasia or for respirators, or blaspheming the Machine. Others stood at the doors of their cells fearing, like herself, either to stop in them or to leave them. And behind all the uproar was silence – the silence which is the voice of the earth and of the generations who have gone.

No – it was worse than solitude. She closed the door again and sat down to wait for the end. The disintegration went on, accompanied by horrible cracks and rumbling. The valves that restrained the Medical Apparatus must have weakened, for it ruptured and hung hideously from the ceiling. The floor heaved and fell and flung her from the chair. A tube oozed towards her serpent fashion. And at last the final horror approached – light began to ebb, and she knew that civilization”s long day was closing.

She whirled around, praying to be saved from this, at any rate, kissing the Book, pressing button after button. The uproar outside was increasing, and even penetrated the wall. Slowly the brilliancy of her cell was dimmed, the reflections faded from the metal switches. Now she could not see the reading-stand, now not the Book, though she held it in her hand. Light followed the flight of sound, air was following light, and the original void returned to the cavern from which it has so long been excluded. Vashti continued to whirl, like the devotees of an earlier religion, screaming, praying, striking at the buttons with bleeding hands.

It was thus that she opened her prison and escaped – escaped in the spirit: at least so it seems to me, ere my meditation closes. That she escapes in the body – I cannot perceive that. She struck, by chance, the switch that released the door, and the rush of foul air on her skin, the loud throbbing whispers in her ears, told her that she was facing the tunnel again, and that tremendous platform on which she had seen men fighting. They were not fighting now. Only the whispers remained, and the little whimpering groans. They were dying by hundreds out in the dark.

She burst into tears.

Tears answered her.

They wept for humanity, those two, not for themselves. They could not bear that this should be the end. Ere silence was completed their hearts were opened, and they knew what had been important on the earth. Man, the flower of all flesh, the noblest of all creatures visible, man who had once made god in his image, and had mirrored his strength on the constellations, beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that he had woven. Century after century had he toiled, and here was his reward. Truly the garment had seemed heavenly at first, shot with colours of culture, sewn with the threads of self-denial. And heavenly it had been so long as man could shed it at will and live by the essence that is his soul, and the essence, equally divine, that is his body. The sin against the body – it was for that they wept in chief; the centuries of wrong against the muscles and the nerves, and those five portals by which we can alone apprehend – glozing it over with talk of evolution, until the body was white pap, the home of ideas as colourless, last sloshy stirrings of a spirit that had grasped the stars.

“Where are you?” she sobbed.

His voice in the darkness said, “Here.”

Is there any hope, Kuno?”

“None for us.”

“Where are you?”

She crawled over the bodies of the dead. His blood spurted over her hands.

“Quicker,” he gasped, “I am dying – but we touch, we talk, not through the Machine.”

He kissed her.

“We have come back to our own. We die, but we have recaptured life, as it was in Wessex, when Ælfrid overthrew the Danes. We know what they know outside, they who dwelt in the cloud that is the colour of a pearl.”

“But Kuno, is it true ? Are there still men on the surface of the earth ? Is this – tunnel, this poisoned darkness – really not the end?”

He replied:

“I have seen them, spoken to them, loved them. They are hiding in the midst and the ferns until our civilization stops. Today they are the Homeless – tomorrow —”

“Oh, tomorrow – some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow.”

“Never,” said Kuno, “never. Humanity has learnt its lesson.”

As he spoke, the whole city was broken like a honeycomb. An air-ship had sailed in through the vomitory into a ruined wharf. It crashed downwards, exploding as it went, rending gallery after gallery with its wings of steel. For a moment they saw the nations of the dead, and, before they joined them, scraps of the untainted sky.

Matt Damhave was born in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, in 1978. He is a New York-based artist who studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art (1997-1999). He was a co-founder of Imitation of Christ, and his own work has been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo. His solo shows include, HELP IS ON DELAY, White Columns (2015); and Half Gallery (2008). He also makes audio and visual work under the name UnchiNeko.


Friday, November 27th, 2015

— I’m the guy that’s painted about three hundred thousand paintings that have been sold or given away. That’s kind of my day job, but a hobby that I have is making drawings on sheets of plywood. The drawings are made in the computer and engraved on the plywood by a CNC machine. I think as a painter and my skills are with a brush. I don’t know how to draw well but I want to turn lines into color and paint by their density.

My hero is Winslow Homer, the 19th century American artist. His day job was as illustrator for Harper’s Weekly during the Civil War.

My dad was the kind of guy that would spend his weekends with a metal detector. He would go to different sites to try to find Civil War artifacts. I would have to go with him sometimes on saturdays and I hated it.

Back then all I wanted to do was go to the library and look at art books. The intersection of what I loved and what my dad loved were these illustrations from the old newspapers.

These have become stronger to me in color, composition and content. I use these as my main tool for these drawing ideas that I have which I am building in three-D in the computer to be cut by a machine. I’m not there yet – but it feels like I’ve opened a window into another physical world that goes backwards and forwards in time.

Steve Keene was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957. Keene has created album and video set art for groups including Pavement, Apples in Stereo, Molly’s Folly and The Silver Jews. His work has been shown at the Goldie Paley Gallery at the Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, 1997; Threadwaxing Space, New York, 1993-95, and Kunstraum Wien, Austria, 1995.


Friday, November 27th, 2015

— This is the studio today. It is make shift while I am in LA. I didn’t want to rent somewhere to work as that seemed to forced so once I found this house I knew the garden was exactly want I wanted, big enough to sketch and have between two to four paintings on the go at once. I may also take photos if I can find something to take pictures off that interests me for that reason I am living close to downtown, when I lived here previously I lived in Santa Monica so I am hoping the change of location will spark new ideas. But right now I’m in my head and that is where the paintings come from. The paintings are my inner world, my photos deal with the world outside of my physical existence. I like to paint outside I would do it in London/New York all year if the weather was good enough so this place is a kind of winter paradise for me.

Nick Waplington was born in 1965, in Aden, Yemen, and is based in London and New York City. Waplington received an ICP Infinity Award in 1993, and represented the UK at 49th Venice Biennial, in 2001. He has exhibited widely including the Whitechapel Gallery, London and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work is held in a number of prominent museum collections including the Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and MoMA, New York. He has upcoming shows, in early 2016, at Brooklyn Museum and Jewish Museum, both in New York. WE LIVE AS WE DREAM, ALONE, photographs of SS prison cells in WWII prisoner of war camps, will also be released by Morel Books in 2016.


Friday, October 23rd, 2015

— Here’s something: Two notebooks from 1995, my fifteenth year. 1995 was the first and last year I didn’t give a shit about what anybody thought about me. The year I dressed in polyester and spray-painted boots, novelty earrings and a corduroy sport coat. All summer I strode up and down Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz, taking in the scummy atmosphere crawling with lovable weirdos—my camera, my notebook and my friend Nickole in tow. We always had a notebook and a camera, and no money.

These aren’t sketchbooks, although there is the occasional drawing. They aren’t journals or diaries, because the writings were meant for public consumption, either snippets for a later story, or a screed to be pushed onto an unsuspecting family member, stranger or friend. These were our public writings, our laboratories for developing a nice blend of sleaze, toxic humor and absurdity. Naturally, since I carried it everywhere, my notebook also became a place for phone numbers, funny quotes, clippings, recipes, mix tape track listings and lists of various sorts. In them, now, twenty years later, I see (and am somewhat surprised by) the use of constraints, the obsessions, the easygoing attitude toward things that don’t make sense, often employing a confrontational style bordering on mock didacticism. Truth be told, we were just messing around, trying to push people’s buttons. It’s play, something I must never forget—play in writing.

Grace Krilanovich is an author. She was born in 1979 in Santa Cruz, California. Her first book, THE ORANGE EATS CREEPS, was published by Two Dollar Radio in 2010. In 2010 she was also named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.


Friday, October 23rd, 2015

— As a journalism student, I had a job on campus working at the newspaper morgue: a basement archive where newspaper clippings were kept for research. I used tiny, pointy scissors, to meticulously clip articles from The Christian Science Monitor or The Globe and Mail. The clippings were cataloged and put in folders with titles like, Crime: At Night. It was the beginning of my obsession with seeing the newspaper as a material.

Newspapers often inform my work. I self-published a newspaper series of graphic silhouettes called, copy, which I made on various regional printing presses. I did a lithograph edition of words re-photographed from headlines. I have a formidable collection of newspapers with production flaws. These are some examples. They are always a nice surprise, like accidental works of art. I can see Franz Kline, Warhol, and Christopher Wool. I also see the printing press working this process so hard, churning out huge runs of daily papers with a lucky few receiving the ones that got messed up.

I really should stop my New York Times delivery since I tend to read the paper on my phone these days but I can’t because I want to catch as many of these poetic aberrations as I can before newspapers are really gone.

October 10th, 2015

Leah Singer was born in Winnipeg, moving east to Toronto, Montreal and Tokyo before settling in New York City. She is a visual artist and a writer. Her artist publications are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The live manipulated film and video performances she started doing in the early 1990s in collaboration with musicians, including husband Lee Ranaldo, have toured widely including to The Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Reykjavik Arts Festival, and the JUE music festival in Shanghai. She continues to develop site-specific video installations intended to exist both as static artworks and components to live music performances. She recently contributed video to the multi artist project, THE EXHIBITION OF A FILM, curated by Mathieu Copeland.


Friday, October 23rd, 2015

This is my collection of screen grabs of pics of Andy Warhol when he shows up on Instagram.

Oliver Payne was born in London, in 1977. Solo exhibitions include Federico Vavassori (2015); Gavin Brown’s enterprise (2015); MOCAD (2015); 356 S. Mission Rd. (2014), Herald St. (2013) and Nanzuka Underground (2012).


Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Here is my small collection of toilet hygiene inspection notices.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, 2014

Rompetrol Village Catalan/Motorway service station, France, 2014

The Star Ferry Company Ltd, Hong Kong, 2015

DFDS Dover to Calais Ferry, 2015

Park Skocjanske Jame Cave, Slovenia, 2015

Morrisons Supermarket, London, England, 2014

Nigel Shafran was born in 1964, in England. He lives and works in London. He has had several books published including VISITOR FIGURES (2015); TEENAGE PRECINCT SHOPPERS (2013); RUTH ON THE PHONE (2012); COMPOST PICTURES 2008-9 (2010); FLOWERS FOR ____ (2008); EDITED PHOTOGRAPHS (2004); DAD’S OFFICE (1999); RUTHBOOK (1995). MACK Books will publish DARK ROOMS in 2016.


Friday, October 23rd, 2015

— On the ground-level of the 70s hi-rise where I have been living since before the millennium runs a local drag of small shops; an optician, a funeral director, an Indian take-away and now FILET. The corner shop had been empty for a long while, and when next doors Drinkers Paradise got changed into a coffee/pizza joint, my neighbour Uta, from the 17th floor, and I decided to take on the vacant lot, and invite artists to make new works for the site. The first was Eva Stenram, whose libidinous photo-works and fabric loungers rendered the shop into the seedy studio of an x-rated photographer during the heydays of the parade.

Rut Blees Luxemburg was born in 1967, in Trier, Germany. She now lives and works in London. Blees Luxemburg has been the subject of a monograph, COMMONSENSUAL, which details projects including the opera, LIEBESLIED/MY SUICIDES, a collaboration with the philosopher Alexander Garcia Düttmann, and documents public art installations such as CALIBAN TOWERS, with muf architects, and PICCADILLY’S PECCADILLOES in Heathrow Airport.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

— How do movement and our changing surroundings alter the way we inhabit time? In Graham Greene’s novel Travels With My Aunt, an anecdote is told about a character, Jo Pulling, who finds he has only a short time to live. Seeking to make his waning days seem longer he arrives at a solution: he will spend every night that remains to him in a different bed.

“He wanted to slow life up and he quite rightly felt that by travelling he would make time move with less rapidity. You have noticed it yourself, I expect, on a holiday. If you stay in one place, the holiday passes like a flash, but if you go to three places, the holiday seems to last at least three times as long.”

With Jo in mind, and despite my good health, I decided sometime last year to begin documenting my own movements by keeping a record of every bed I sleep in (or at least those I remember to photograph). Some of these I slept in for longer stretches but most were for a single night. Only once did I seek reentry to a hotel room that I had forgotten to photograph – thank you to the Milwaukee Athletic Club, and to all my hosts for their hospitality.


As for this long century? Greene again: “A man without memories might reach the age of a hundred and feel that his life had been a very brief one.”

Eamon O’Leary is a musician and songwriter from Dublin now living in New York.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

— When I was 26, I became a friend and fan of Clifford Woods, a largely unknown and never recorded alto saxophone player. Clifford came up on the west coast with the likes of Harold Land, Dupree Bolton and Chet Baker. On weekdays, Clifford could be found playing in front of the China Trade Center on Grant street in San Francisco; on weekends, his spot was on Union Square in front of Macy’s.

I was a bit of a groupie, recording Clifford’s music, conversations and stories on my Sony Walkman, and making mix tapes for Clifford and his friends. I made this tape right before I left San Francisco – you can hear Clifford playing on the street in Chinatown; talking with his girlfriend, Melita; singing Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac in a stoned, close harmony with a drummer who’s name I can’t remember; and in a conversation with me that’s still painful to hear and hard for me to excuse.

Doug DuBois’ photographs are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NY, SFMOMA in San Francisco, J. Paul Getty Museum and LACAMA in Los Angeles, The Museum of Fine Art in Houston, the Library of Congress in Washington DC and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The National Endowment for the Arts, SITE Santa Fe, Light Works and The John Gutmann Foundation. Doug DuBois has exhibited at The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art and Higher Pictures in New York; SITE, Santa Fe; New Langton Arts in San Francisco; PARCO Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, Museo D’arte Contemporanea in Rome, Italy and The Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. His photographs have been published by Aperture, My last day at Seventeen, (2015) and All the Days and Nights (2009); the J. Paul Getty Museum, Where We Live: Photographs from the Berman Collection (2007); the Museum of Modern Art, The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort (1991). Doug DuBois is an associate professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

“People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad.” – Marcel Proust

This is a photo of Daniel and I in Mexico City, where I grew up. He was my cousin but was more like a brother. He committed suicide 4 years ago.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Fabiola Alondra has lived in New York, Milan and London. She earned a Master’s degree in Modern & Contemporary Art in London. Previously, she worked as director of John McWhinnie’s gallery and rare bookshop and as director of Richard Prince’s Fulton Ryder. She is currently running 303 Gallery’s publishing imprint, 303inprint. She also hosts a private art, book and ephemera salon in Brooklyn Heights and is a member of the radio collective Minerva on Know Wave.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

Steven Stapleton is a composer, producer, and sound artist. Nurse With Wound has been Stapleton’s main musical outlet for some 30 years. He has also appeared on records by other artists and worked as a producer, remixer and, more recently, a critically acclaimed soundtrack composer. He also runs the United Dairies record label, which apart from the NWW output, has released records by Current 93, The Lemon Kittens, Volcano the Bear, AMM, and Guru Guru, amongst others.


Monday, September 14th, 2015

— I hardly called anybody the whole time I was in Portland. Then when I was back in Paris, I was worried all my Portland friends were mad at me. What happened was, when I got to my mother’s house in Portland, something wasn’t normal, wasn’t right. So my time there was completely taken up with that. I had no time for my usual Portland fix, laughing myself silly with old friends. None of that. I had no time for fun.

I arrived at Mom’s thinking she had forewarned her lodger that I was coming from Paris for three weeks and would be staying in my old bedroom, the one across the hall from the one he was renting for the huge sum of $100 a month. I thought he knew I’d be taking the upstairs phone away from him for the three weeks. But when I got to the house, I went upstairs and got hit in the face with an unclean, almost unholy smell, the likes of which I’d never associated with my mother. It had to be his smell. Then I discovered his room was locked with the phone inside. It was upsetting. Even though the phone was jacked in his room, I’d told Mom long distance from Paris that I’d get a long cord and take the phone into my room. First I’d told her I’d like an entirely new phone line installed, that I’d be happy to pay for it.

“No, I don’t think so,” she’d demurred coldly, abruptly. Still her assertive self at 88, iron will intact. The old guillotine flash of anger: “Just use his phone, that will do fine.”

“What if he objects?” I’d said sarcastically across the great waters. I wasn’t totally weaponless against my mother, but she’d gone on to another subject, so maybe I was.

And she’d had her way, a tiny but tough old lady. No new phone line was installed. It was, of course, her decision to make. It was still her house, her great comfort, the place she expected to wake up dead in one day, never having had to leave it for some pointless stop-over on the way to stillness.

Stillness after a simple fade to white, that’s how Mom imagined dying. She saw nothing more elaborate happening. Living and dying were just movement followed by stillness. Mom was an atheist as far as I could tell. I’d never seen her doing any kind of spiritual thing. What Mom believed in was doing the smart thing, for its own sake, not for any ulterior payoff. Doing the smart thing would have its own payoff in the here and now. It was similar to the idea of good habits getting you through rough periods. And if you had to ask what either the smart thing or good habits might be, you were hopeless.

“That’s not smart,” Mom would fiercely snarl at some idiot behavior or other, and if it was me doing it, I viscerally remember the chill that would settle over me, over my not-smart, hopeless self. Whatever it had been, I probably never did it again. I remember too how she’d say “Flap your wings! You’re smart!” as she pushed me out of the nest, and I certainly learned how to flap.

And this woman set good examples for doing the smart thing: For instance, she had figured out twenty years earlier what the smart thing would be to enable her to keep living on into her old age in her own house, alone after my father’s death. One day she walked across the street to the Baptist Theological Seminary, put up a notice for a room to rent to a student, and within a week, she had a girl from The Philippines who was perfect, perfectly reliable, perfectly Christian, perfectly boring. After the Filipina came another perfect lodger, then another. Several of them stayed two years. One stayed four years, his entire experience at Seminary.

My brother and I never worried about Mom as long as the Christians were there. She never worried either. All of us, atheist, or whatever, were reassured by those Christians. We never worried when she went off to China or the Middle East or the South Pacific for a month, leaving her house and her cat in the safe, trustworthy hands of her lodgers. Mom grew fond of several of them, the odder ones I noted. And all of them understood she wouldn’t tolerate any kitchen-table proselytizing. Not a single word about the Lord need be uttered, not a single tract brandished as she sat at the kitchen table happily smoking cigarettes. She would smoke with her left hand and play solitaire with her right, only half listening to anyone who might be talking to her. Mom’s other rule was that her lodgers had to stay in school. They had to stay registered at the Seminary, as this was proof of goodness.

When I got to Portland and smelled that godawful smell and found the lodger’s room locked with the phone inside, I went to bed that first night worrying. Fraught with jet-lag, I heard the guy’s door open in the middle of the night. I jumped out of bed and ran out in the hall in my pajamas.

“I need to have the phone,” I said to the tall shadow in the darkened hallway. He breathed in, turned abruptly, stepped back in his room, shut the door. Had I scared this giant? I was thinking. This smelly giant. Yes, it was he who smelled. He smelled of old sweat and tennis shoes, and something else I couldn’t identify from only one whiff. His smell was startling in the middle of the night. Distracted, I went back to bed and couldn’t fall asleep. The smell lingered. I fretted and thrashed around. The jet-lag kept me alert. I smelled the smell even when I covered my face with the sheet.

The next morning at eight o’clock, I awoke abruptly. I must have drifted off. I lunged out of bed and into the hallway, up against the lodger’s door. “Give me the telephone,” I said evenly. There was no response. Perhaps he, unlike me, was sleeping. I went back to bed and held on to the two sides of the mattress.

An hour later, I arose, went into the hall, and spoke through the lodger’s closed door again, this time authoritatively. “Give me the phone,” I commanded. “NOW.” I heard him grunt in response. Inevitably, I lost control, giving in to sleep deprivation. “ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE ME THE PHONE?” I growled.

“TEN MINUTES?” he snarled back, tit for tat.

“WHY TEN MINUTES?” I shouted.


Oh. Of course. That seemed reasonable. I quieted suddenly.

Back in my room, I sat down in Mom’s old granny rocking chair. Was what was happening important or was it utterly not important, a kind of hallucination? I thought about my partner in Paris, the darling boy. Maybe he was trying to call me right about now, it would be about six o’clock in the evening in Paris. Across the street, the row of towering virgin Doug fir trees on the Seminary campus moved gently in the breeze. There was a still point of calm, of fatigue, of falling back hopelessly.

Ten minutes later, the lodger I’d still never seen tossed the phone/answering machine combo out into the hall onto the carpet, then shut his door. He didn’t slam his door. But he did toss the phone, didn’t set it down. There was definitely something there. How could this person be a student at the Seminary?

I went to pick up the phone and said “thank you,” through the closed door. Then I noticed that the phone cord was just long enough to reach under the lodger’s closed door but no further. I would have to press my face up against the crack under his door to make a call. This was funny, so I laughed. I’d no doubt crossed some kind of threshold and besides, I had the phone in my possession. All I needed was a long cord, and that was easy to get in the old U.S. of A. It wasn’t Paris where it might take all day. Everything seemed easy and in proportion.

When I asked about him, Mom told me that her lodger’s name was Greg. She said Greg was kind of secretive, furtive it sounded like, going in and out at night, so she never saw him at all. He never spoke to her, and worst of all in her hierarchy of goodness and badness, he’d failed to take the yellow recycling bins out to the curb on Tuesdays even though she’d asked him to do so on three separate occasions. She wasn’t alarmed, only annoyed, and I didn’t tell her what had been going on upstairs with the phone. I was beginning to get the rhythm of the experience, the world had reappeared on my horizon, and if the business with Greg had ended there, I wouldn’t have had a story to tell.

I finally actually saw Greg after two days. He was around six feet four, had a flat, bored look and the physique of someone who worked out at a gym. He was wearing Gore-Tex Nike sport clothes, so to my eyes, he looked innocent, Oregon health-freak innocent. Mid-afternoon, he had unexpectedly whisked in the front door and up the stairs scarcely seen, except for the purple and turquoise clothes with the swish on the sleeve. The day after that, a second sighting: I was sitting alone at the kitchen table having breakfast. Mom was still asleep. Suddenly I heard Greg come downstairs and go for the front door, two rooms away from where I sat. I called out to him as he reached the front door where I could actually see him.

“Could you come here?” I called out, friendly like. Greg stopped, jerked his head around toward me, glared, one hand on the doorknob, the other moving slowly toward his hip where it settled impatiently. He did not come any closer, and there was a deadness in his eyes that chilled me out completely, even two rooms away.

My voice wavered slightly when I asked Greg what his plans were.

“Huh?” he said, as if I were stupid, as if I were a crazy person.

This galled me. He was the stupid crazy person, not me. “Are you going to be a student at the Seminary or what?” I asked, straight on, eye to eye, twenty-five feet away.

“That’s supposedly the set-up,” he said with a dead, blank voice, then broke eye contact, turned fluidly and slipped out the door, all of this in a single motion. The fluidity was important. It was threatening somehow, as if I’d seen the devil turn in his cape and vanish into thin air.

When I called the Theological Seminary to ask about Greg, the woman said they had no record of him and suggested I might want to call the police. “But,” I said, “the guy had to have gotten the information about the room through you.” The housing listings are available to anyone who asked at the Seminary office, she explained, and again suggested I might want to call the police. When I did so, the police officer on the other end of the line interrupted my story to say, “I don’t even want to know his name. No crime’s been committed, as far as I can tell. Didn’t your mother check him out, get any references?”

“No, so what am I supposed to do? Let him just … ???” I couldn’t finish the sentence. Bludgeon her? was what I was thinking. Strike her on her little pile of curly white hair?

“I recommend you talk to your attorney,” the policeman said, and that was that. I went downstairs and told Mom the Seminary had never heard of Greg and that the police suggested we contact an attorney. This was the first time she seemed alarmed. She got out her address book and gave me her attorney’s phone number and then watched me with wide attentive eyes like a frightened child. She seemed to get smaller by the second. With her looking at me like that I had no choice but to play the parent role, to make the switch, to act as if I knew what I was doing.

Mom’s attorney, who’d had no more to do with her than the four hours it took to prepare her will, told me when I called to stop referring to Greg as a psychopath as it was potentially libelous. He said the only thing that sounded aggressive to him was Greg’s throwing the phone out in the hall. “And even that’s pretty iffy.” Then he painstakingly explained the basic points favoring the tenant in Oregon’s Landlord/Tenant law, some of which Mom and I were on the verge of violating. “I don’t think you want to end up with a law suit on your hands, do you?”

I wanted to forget about it for awhile. I told Mom it was probably just some misunderstanding and went back upstairs to escape. Upstairs, I found the light flashing on the phone indicating a message. My partner had called me, the darling boy. I saw that it was eleven P.M. in Paris, his favorite time to call. He gave me three contacts to call in the States but said not to call him back because he was going to bed.

I went downtown to my brother’s office to send a fax, also to get out of the house. In the parking lot across the street from my brother’s office, a car piled high with junk backed up into mine (my mother’s), and I got out to see if there was a dent. A tough-looking red-neck girl got out on the passenger side of the offending car, crossed her arms akimbo, glared at me. I smiled at her, probably rather arrogantly, and said, school-teacher-like, “That’s why it’s illegal to pack your car so you can’t see out the back window.”

“That ain’t illegal,” the girl said, standing her ground and then some.

“Oh, yeah?” I said, impervious to harm.

“Yeah,” she said, itching for a fight, reaching one hand around to her rear jeans pocket to extract a switch-blade.

I don’t know what came over me; it must have been the jet-lag again, but I said, “I’m a police officer. Could I see some I.D.?” The guy driving the car screamed “fuck,” and drove off laying rubber. The girl ran after him and he slowed to let her jump in, and then they took off hauling ass. I could only figure they had a load of contraband midst all that junk.

My brother upstairs in his office was cute and funny, quite lovable actually. He couldn’t believe I had actually impersonated a police officer, as he put it. “A crime in itself,” he pointed out. I managed to forget about Greg until I got back to Mom’s, went upstairs to my room and noticed Greg’s smell. He’d come into my room! I sniffed around and found that the smell was coming from the bed. He’d lain down on my bed! Christ! I ripped the bed apart, threw everything in the dirty clothes, re-made the bed. Then I went downstairs and told Mom. She looked at me strangely, like a waif. This parent-gone-to-child-thing was entirely new to me and made me go strong in the opposite direction. I was completely, utterly in control.

“Oh, he probably used the phone and made himself comfortable,” I said to her reassuringly, convincingly.

“Well,” she said, looking me right in the eye, perhaps not entirely buying my parent behavior. I would have to do better, I thought to myself. She pulled herself up and continued firmly, “I’ll tell him not to go in your room again.”

We didn’t lay eyes on Greg the rest of the day, so Mom had no opportunity to say anything to him at all. That night when I went to bed, I left a note for Greg out in the hall on the floor in front of his door. Please use downstairs phone for your calls, it read. I was wide awake when I heard Greg come in, pick up the note, snort. My heart lurched. He could easily open my door and shout at me or do pretty much anything else he wanted. I got no sleep lying there across the hall from this creepy character, fretting that I certainly couldn’t do much to protect myself or my mother should the need arise.

At 2 A.M. I got a phone call for Greg, the first one. It was from Sacramento. “Why hadn’t Greg sent the title to the car like he’d said he would?” I said I’d take a message. The guy said “What for? Greg’ll never call back.” So Greg was using his real name. Or at least the same name he’d used before in some other nefarious setting.

My brother phoned the next day and said I had a fax from someone in Paris. “Read it to me,” I said, and he tried but struck out on the impossible French penmanship. I had to drive downtown to get the fax message which said essentially that the fax I had sent my partner had awakened his wife at two A.M. Paris time. Well, fuck you, what do you expect? Fuck her! Who the fuck cares?

Back at Mom’s, I tried to find serial numbers on the two bicycles Greg had stowed in Mom’s garage. The police weren’t interested when I couldn’t find any numbers. They weren’t interested in just a description with the make of the bikes. No, they told me, “over a hundred bikes are stolen every day in the Portland area.”

Mom was getting gradually more apprehensive, and we went through what she needed to say legally to Greg the next time she saw him coming or going. I thought it was important for her to do this part herself. She was ready for him at breakfast the next day, and when she perceived him sneaking out the front door out of the corner of her eye behind her thick, post-cataract glasses, she found her courage somewhere, stood up and made hell-bent for the front door, flapping her wings, an 88-year-old hero. From the porch she shouted at Greg to come back, that she had something to say. Then she came back inside and sat down on the couch, very short of breath. Greg came back, stepped inside and waited. Mom stood up and said to him, a little breathlessly but to my eyes solid as a rock, “I don’t think this is the right place for you, and I don’t think you think so either, so you can stay 30 days from today, but if you want to leave before that, it will be fine.” Letter of the law.

“Hm,” Greg grunted blankly, no affect at all, not happy or sad, neither surprised nor angry, but flat, like a man whose next move you could not predict with any certainty. Then he was out the door with that familiar threatening fluidity.

“What did that mean?” Mom turned and said to me.

“You were great,” I told her. “Just great. You did the smart thing.”

For the next three days, we didn’t see Greg at all. His employer, Ron, at Giant’s Gym on Sandy Boulevard called four times on that crucial upstairs phone, each time leaving a message. The phone was the key. Greg had known that once I got the phone away from him, I’d start to get his calls, and I’d know everything. He hadn’t imagined I’d suspect him even before the first call.

The first couple of phone messages from Ron were bland enough, just asking for a call back. By the third and fourth, Greg was apparently not showing up for work. After the fourth call, I called Ron back. In utter frustration, he told me there was $500 missing from the till at Giant’s the last day Greg had worked.

I called the attorney back, and he told me to remember not to call Greg a psychopath, or a thief, to stick to what he’d actually said or done. I left a written message on Greg’s door to call Ron.

I didn’t hear Greg come in that night, but I did see him come downstairs the next morning wearing a little backpack and carrying a satchel. My mother was sitting in the living room doing an Aubusson needlepoint for me to take back to Paris. Greg saw her and stopped. Almost like a human being, he said, “I’m going to stay with my friend in Vancouver, I’ll check back with you in the morning.” I called a locksmith right after he left and had the locks changed. On the phone, the attorney told me that after five days, I could write a letter to Greg and attach it to the front door, telling him in legalese that as it appeared he had abandoned the premises, we had stored his belongings, which turned out to include a Bible, at the Theological Seminary, and he could check with the Dean of Students.

We never saw Greg again. Of course he didn’t check back in the morning. I lived in dread of hearing his key struggling to get into the new lock and then a frustrated Greg blowing the lock to smithereens with his Magnum .357. I didn’t think Mom was living in dread. She went right on smoking cigarettes, reading, playing solitaire, working the daily cross-word puzzle, watching television while she did needlepoint. She went to bed at eleven, slept soundly ‘til nine, and relied on good habits to get through a rough period. The police detective I called said he was sure Greg was long gone, that if his name was as he had stated it to us, there was a man by a similar name with warrants out on him for assault and larceny in both Washington and California. I kept my ear cocked to the front door, especially in the middle of the night.

I went back to Paris to get some sleep and see if I could restore my working relationship with my partner. Mom on the phone sounded fine although she was coughing more. She had a new lodger, hand-picked by the guilt-ridden Christian Dean of Students. The new lodger was a girl, and she was in the old mold. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was the one who would find my mother one day when she didn’t wake up, after she’d gone to stillness, faded to white.

Penny Allen was born in Portland, she lives and works in Paris. Her films include PROPERTY, PAYDIRT, THE SOLDIER’S TALE and LATE FOR MY MOTHER’S FUNERAL.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

— This is unused footage from my second film. The women are Alexis and Elena. The man with the palm trees on his shirt was sitting outside the sound stage, on the sidewalk next to a gutter. I asked him to come inside and be a spectator. Filmed on 35mm Panavision Anamorphic.

Amat Escalante, born in 1979, is a self-taught filmmaker from the city of Guanajuato in Mexico. He began his work in cinema at the age of fifteen. After making two short films, he wrote and directed SANGRE, his first feature film. SANGRE became part of the Official Selection Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 where it was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize chosen by International Film Critics. His second feature film, LOS BASTARDOS, also premiered at Cannes in 2008, in the Official Selection Un Certain Regard. HELI is his third feature length film, and was part of the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Competition in 2013, where he received the award for Best Director.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

I took this on a road trip in 2011. I thought it said TIME but just remembered that it says DUST. Living in Los Angeles in what is now 2015 it should say WATER.

Shannon Ebner was born in 1971, in Englewood, New Jersey. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Fred Kelemen, GLOW OF THOUGHT, 1981, Oil on oil-painting-paper.
©1981 Fred Kelemen

Fred Kelemen is known as a director and cinematographer. His film FATE (1994) received the German National Film Award in 1995 and other awards world wide. Since then, he has made a number of films as director like FROST (1997/1998), NIGHTFALL (1999) and FALLEN (2005). He also collaborated as cinematographer with several film directors, such as Joseph Pitchhadze on SWEETS (2013), and Béla Tarr on JOURNEY TO THE PLAIN (1995), THE MAN FROM LONDON (2007), and THE TURIN HORSE (2011).


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

— Since the performance of A Struggle for Heaven at the Yohji Yamamoto boutique in New York in 1995, I have been working on creating many dance performances that appeal much more deeply to myself and also better engage my inspirations. Over the past two decades I have been focusing on performances, rather than on exhibiting my artwork in other mediums, and my exhibitions have became more like accompaniments to these performance. Some art curators and dealers of my work requested me to create more dance performances on occasion of viewing my performance-oriented exhibitions these past years.

My latest dance-based work was performed on May 15th 2015. It was only a one time performance due to special circumstances–Marisa Newman approached me to create a performance as part of the event program at NADA Art Fair in New York. The title was decided as Reverie from a prior conversation with Marisa. Although I did not know yet what to do with the offer, I began on what would come to be a month’s worth of preparations, starting with casting dancers. After the audition was finished and I had chosen four dancers, I went to Singapore and Japan for other activities. In the meantime, I bought a book of Buddha and delved deeply into the story of his life. I was thinking of connecting the story of Buddha and the roles of each dancer.

I returned to New York less than two weeks before the date of performance with the story not yet clear, and at the same time, found out that one of chosen dancers had dropped from the performance. It was supposed to consist of two female dancers and two male dancers but now had changed to be three female dancers and one male dancer. After Raz Mesinai agreed on composing the music, just a week before the performance day, I started writing the scenario and completed it the same evening for a forty minutes long dance performance. I had only two rehearsals…one was four hours during the day before the performance, May 14th, and one hour on the day of performance just two hours before the real performance. The final composed music was made in the middle of rehearsal on May 15th.

The actual story was very spiritual, associating physicality with non-existence, but on the surface Reverie appeared very sensual and physical. Also, watching the performance was a bit like solving puzzles with viewers trying to piece together multiple layers into one picture, though this effect was incidental. Reverie was completed with awareness that it was supposed to be performed in the venue of the art fair, which gave each movement a different nature of functionality.

Reverie features dancers Ariane Bernier, Carlye Eckert, Lisa Clementi, Pavel Machuca. Clothes by Thomas Chen, Emmanuelle NYC. Produced by Marisa Newman Projects.

Noritoshi Hirakawa was born in 1960, in Fukuoka, Japan. He originally studied Applied Sociology and today works with photography, film, installation and performance. The artist believes that human activity forms the culture in which we live today and proposes to push the boundaries of perception in order to further culture as such. Hirakawa’s work has been exhibited over 300 times, including at the Venice Biennale, Venice; Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul; Museum fuer Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York; Kunsthalle, Vienna; MOT, Tokyo etc. The artist has also collaborated with poets, musicians, choreographers and architects and presented his work at Das TAT, Frankfurt; Danse Montpellier; at Fondation Cartier, Paris; Casa Barragan, Mexico City. Noritoshi Hirakawa has lived and worked in New York City since 1993.


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

We live in LA but we just went to NYC. We go there a lot and our kids love NYC, thank god. It was a fun trip.

Jonas Wood was born in 1977, in Boston, Massachusetts. He recently presented solo exhibitions of his work at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; the High Line, New York; the Lever House Art Collection, New York; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Recent two-person and group exhibitions include Blackwelder, with Shio Kusaka, Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong; Greater L.A., New York; Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; and Newtonland: Orbits, Ellipses and Other Places of Activity, White Flag Projects, St. Louis. Wood’s work is featured in the public collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among others. His paintings are works on paper and currently on view in a two-person exhibition with Shio Kusaka at Karma, New York through June 13, 2015. Wood lives and works in Los Angeles.


Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

— The longest period of time during which I had a steady, regular band was two or three years, and it was two or three years ago. For a long time I had wanted to perform a record called BABBLE, a record written by Kevin Coyne and sung by Coyne and Dagmar Krause. It’s one of my favorite records. It’s a daunting and challenging record to listen to, much less to think about performing. But I fantasized about touring this record one day. All I needed was to find a singer to sing Krause’s role to my Coyne. I’d thought about asking Chan Marshall, and Shannon Wright, and Polly Harvey. But I wasn’t sure that any of them would be a good fit and I didn’t want to begin a conversation that would ultimately go nowhere. I’d been playing music with Emmett Kelly for a few years and had begun to discuss with him my BABBLE fantasy. One day he called and said that he thought he may have met someone who could sing the woman’s part. He suggested Angel Olsen, who he’d seen and heard around Chicago. She came to Louisville and we said hello, and then she recorded a demo of one of the BABBLE songs and sent it to me. This took guts, and in her recording she displayed a tension and a range that felt strong and ready to spring. So we had the principle parts cast and what was next was to flesh out the band. I’d known Danny Kiely in Louisville for years, and we had played together when Oscar Parsons put together a deluxe line-up of his Thomas A Minor & the Picket Line band that included me as Bonny in order to play at a private lake called Funtown. Danny knew my mother through the Louisville visual art scene, and he’s incredibly solid as a bass player and warm as a human being. Van Campbell had put his power duo The Black Diamond Heavies onto mothballs and was looking for music opportunities. I had known his brother Ward for many years, and I’d met Van over in England when we both performed with the Oxes one afternoon. Van’s dad played drums, and Van brought an earned and inherited fluency to the kit. I’d met Emmett during late nights in Chicago, and after I’d seen him perform with Azita one night in Louisville I knew I wanted to see what we could do together. Our first work together was in Reykjavik, at the recording session for THE LETTING GO record. By the time of the BABBLE trip, we’d also written and recorded a record together called THE WONDER SHOW OF THE WORLD, with Emmett billed as the Cairo Gang. Emmett also introduced me to Ben Boye, who joined us first on a trip through the Mid-Atlantic states playing keys. I think the bulk of the BABBLE band was on that trip; it was a summer trip and we played Tom Culton’s organic vegetable farm in Lancaster, PA as well as recording a Sufjan Stevens cover with Dan Smith of the Danielson Family at his place in New Jersey. We had Meg Baird with us, and our tour manager was Sabrina Rush, and Sabrina joined in on the recording session playing the violin. After the Mid-Atlantic trip, Emmett brought Angel into the fold and we had our ensemble. We rehearsed the BABBLE record and booked a short run of shows with the Babblers, as we called ourselves, opening for Bonny Prince Billy, which was also us. I bought fleece hoodie-footie pajamas for everyone in the band (our Babbler costumes), and we told local promoters that we were traveling with an opening act from Shreveport, Louisiana (the Babblers). Each band member had to provide his or her own lighting on stage, and we didn’t use any other stage lights for the BABBLE set. We just performed the record in its entirety each night. The first show was Babblers-only (no Bonny set) at a former Mexican record store in Chattanooga called Discoteca. Van set that gig up. It was snowing outside, and the roof leaked. There was no dressing room, so we changed into our hoodie-footie suits in the van (the bathrooms at the ‘venue’ were pretty dismal, although the walls of the bathrooms had really nice graffiti). We took the BABBLE show up to New York City and played at Town Hall. On the way back to Kentucky we scheduled one last-minute Babblers gig in Columbus, Ohio and we got paid with pints (and pints and pints) of Jeni’s Gourmet ice cream. For me, these shows were all about the BABBLE set although we still did good long Bonny sets and put our hearts into those headlining sets. We didn’t mention to the promoters or audiences along the way what we were doing, just that the headliners and the support acts would be sharing equipment.

It was this band (Emmett, Ben, Van, Danny, Angel and myself) that began to slowly prepare for the recording session that would produce WOLFROY GOES TO TOWN. Between the Mid-Atlantic trip and the recording of WOLFROY, we did a couple of mini-band trips. Emmett and Danny and I went out west and played some shows in the Pacific Northwest. Happily we were joined by Phil Elverum playing drums and then Ashley Webber sang with us at a couple of shows. On another trip, Emmett and Angel and I traveled throughout the state of Florida playing at record stores and live on the radio. These shows were about getting our WOLFROY harmonies cemented, and about introducing Emmett and Angel to the wonders of Florida. In St. Augustine we were joined at our gig by Shahzad Ismaily (who banged on a Styrofoam cooler) and Aram Stith (who played guitar). It was a lot of fun.

We finally got the WOLFROY songs together and played a show of just that heap of songs. The show was at Millennium Park in Chicago on a beautiful Monday Summer evening. And around that same time, we went into the Poor Shelter in Louisville, KY and recorded ten of the twelve songs written for that session. This was all six of us, plus Shahzad, who ran the recording machine and played and sang here and there on the session.

At one point, Emmett, Angel, Ben and I went over to Europe and did some shows as a foursome, and then Emmett, Angel, Van and I went down to Australia and played some shows, including a show in a cave near Margaret River in Western Australia. It keeps costs down to travel as a smaller group, and we can also get perspective on the songs by bringing forces in and out of the rotation.

Our last big trip as that six-piece was similar to our first trip together in that we created a new band and once again opened for ourselves playing an entirely separate repertoire. This time we learned a good long set of Mekons songs and traveled as the Chivalrous Amoekons. For our stage costumes, I asked the great Nashville designer and tailor Manuel to create shirts specifically for each band member. Our first show as the Mekons cover band was in Lexington, KY at a benefit show for the radio station WMMT out of Whitesburg, KY. Also on the bill was the great Louisville-based Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist Long Phanh Nguyen. A couple of days later we took our Mekons set and our Bonny set overseas and played a week in Switzerland and a week in Italy. The Mekons have three primary lead singers, and so did we on that trip. The Mekons have long been a crucial inspiration to me, and it was a joy to occupy some of their songs for a while in a legitimately illegitimate way. We had a night off between the Swiss and Italian shows and we spent that night in Parma. The next day we found a brewery out in the countryside outside of Parma called Panil. The lady of the brewery, Patricia, set us a table in the field next to the brewery. She brought us Parma ham and Parma cheese and some of the freshest most delicious beers I had ever had. Patricia told us that Panil has a festival every year in the springtime, and she said that we should come and play the festival the next year. I’d also visited the oldest covered theatre in Europe that morning, in Parma, and had begun trying to figure out a way to perform there. Over our beers and cheese and ham I promised the Babbler/Amoekon troop that we would reconvene the following year, in Italy, and that we would perform together at the Panil festival. However, that is a promise that I did not keep. One force or another wedged itself into our lives and that was to be the last trip (as of this writing) on which the six of us would travel and play all together. Ben has released a great solo autoharp record. Angel has put out a couple of full-length records under her name. There have been Cairo Gang releases and Bonny Cairo tourings. Van and Danny continue to play boatloads of music in and around Louisville. The Babblers and Chivalrous Amoekons bands were among the freest and funnest of times I have had performing live music, because I was traveling and performing with such excellent people while simultaneously embodying some of the music that has been vital to my development as a musical being.

This writing was inspired by Wade Hall’s biography of Pee Wee King, HELL-BENT FOR MUSIC.

Photo by Ashley Stinson

Photo by Connor Lynch

Will Oldham is a singer songwriter and actor, and a native of Louisville, Kentucky


Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

— The Pittsburgh Years is an audio and transcription archive that has slowly developed over a period of 20 years or so. The archive is a collection of voice recordings from messages left on my answering machine by out spoken and charismatic Pittsburgh native, artist and poet, Natalka Voslakov (1952-2011). Like Andy Warhol before her, Natalka’s art form was talking, and she would use the phone as an excuse to expound on a wide range of topics, knowing I would save the messages, which I did dutifully from 1990-2010. She was one of my dearest friends and though we drifted apart after I left town in the 80’s and our lives were irrevocably altered by time and circumstances, we maintained a healthy correspondence, me by letter (whereabouts of which are unknown) and she by answering machine (some of which have survived) in speech acts that she described as ‘performance monologues’. The recordings are quotidian speech acts, confessions, rants, gossip sessions, philosophical diatribes, political opinion, etc and as a whole are a valuable record of an individual subjective voice- now a historical voice- someone who experienced life in a particular time and place. Like a secret diary, the experiences and events on this small and confessional timeline of life’s ups and downs is valuable as this individual gives insight to the broader culture. The Index of the archive reflects the range of noteworthy topics raised, including, for example: Geishas, Medical Marijuana and Psychics. The emphasis on sound, and the voice of a woman, an un-famous working class woman at that, is ephemeral and could easily be forgotten. I marvel at the wit, deeply political world view and sophisticated presentation of self that Natalka so knowingly offers in these recordings. The Pittsburgh Years as audio and transcription, proposes to engage the current discourses on the archive in a fun and artistic way, to be an experiment in the aesthetics of listening and to honor memory in a legacy project.


You’re the only one who ever, ever understood…and I thank you so much for recognizing that, my greatest work of art was myself. But that was only my unconscious memory, not conscious—of the geisha life. And I was gonna say, why, did I not end up…like, for example—um, born clairvoyant Marvin said, if I had succeeded in killing myself… I…could, would have faced the ultimate Goddess/God which I cannot begin to comprehend, but, but—physics will prove THAT, eventually and all the other such things. Um, I could’ve been wiped out FOREVER because of the religion, that I was, born into. However in Japan, when I hung myself, as a young geisha…who had the same problems that I brought to this lifetime. I was allowed to come back, it was not a problem because, in that religion, which was Shinto, that I followed—and also um, that is not…that is a belief that is OK. Listen, I was ready to make some really classy fake letterhead and go say, I’m making this film and get a, get a car and get in and drive—but, you know, I would’ve ended up in jail…and, I don’t need that. I spent enough time in quite a few—nonviolent protesting, um, I’m proud of that. Um, also some of the ah, you could call ah, psych wards, I was in. Yeah, dual diagnosis lockdown unit, which, um—like, bad people get money easily, from art world grants and from mainstream, or whatever you want to call the alternative. I’ll tell you where I’m at now. You’re, you finish what you gonna do but I’m in the middle, but the middle is the new age—I’m ahead. This is the new territory. However, MY BEING TRENDY—and I do loathe LA, by the way—but, you know, I couldn’t pick up my kids and move them there. And, when I was here for six weeks with no phone and no TV, um, and all that, when my grandmother was passing, and all that, I caught up a lot of my back issues of my reading. Unfortunately I couldn’t move the books around or unpack them. Now, do you remember growing up when they had those frickin, um, you know, um, paper glasses for 3-D—like Swamp Creature? Now—Samsung—that’s out of Korea, um—and I like Samsung stuff too, they’re really good. OK, so. THEY actually have now a flatscreen where you gotta wear fucking glasses to see it? Do you know how fucking over that is, in Tokyo they HAVE flatscreens, you don’t need the motherfucking glasses! Isn’t that stupidious? It’s like, OK James Cameron… Now, we all know we’re on the Titanic…and, we are third class steerage, all of us in this country, and we are just a FIGMENT in your great 3-D mind, with glasses. This means, if it’s now in America—OK, the basic rumor for 3000 or for 2501—it’s already over in Tokyo. They hold these products off, so that they can send them to dumbass Americans, so they will pay the full price when you can go to Tokyo and be overwhelmed at how behind we are. OK, but what I’m saying is: number one, how am I gonna deal with this. The more—I’m gonna keep gettin—you know what—I just wish I had a liquor store around here. I would go and buy some good vodka. I really mean that. I mean—I’m sorry, you don’t mix vodka with the drug I’m taking, but I’m ready to be loonie was a tune, as the Looney Tunes we grew up watching. I’ll tell you what, if they STOP everything, I will call WTAE, Channel 4, The Action News—they’re always looking for something weird. I will camp out and I will go crazy and I will tell them what happened—what they did, and that I would have, and you know what, unfortunately, Dr. Yonger from Pakistan is bound to throw me into Western Psych or wherever—well, you know what, just, you know what—I don’t want to go back there. Like I want to sit around making motherfucking macramé, with beads? I will be on TV. Besides the fact that I’m making out a will, which I did leave for Mr. Shaffer’s box which he didn’t even return—crying and screaming and going berserk—I was gonna keep myself awake as long as I can, like how Hunter S. Thompson used to do and go wacko, completely. Thank God I don’t believe in guns or violence. But here’s the point, I’m gonna forge ahead. FUCK the attorneys. We’re in the new turf now. You know Pirate Cove? You DO know that the only country, that Sweden is the wild…to um, to um, absolute anarchy um, with the Internet, in fact it’s the only country, fucking Sweden… allowed, the CIA and the goons from the US to take and take all their servers out—from Pirate Bay? And, they are yeah, there. And you know why China’s rising and we’re falling? It’s real simple. Because they’re not fucking stupid like we are. Their leaders, are building the middle class—and I’m telling you, the things that we don’t know and we don’t hear that to go on there—the underground clubs. The only influence we have on the world, is…um, our cultural input—the rap movement, the punk movement, all that—the UK and us—and we were part of that in the film genre, in the Super8—but it’s over, it’s the past. I don’t want to live in the past. You can’t go back to being who you were, but you have to become who you must be. You know, fuck the ATTORNEYS. FUCK all this shit. The age of Enlightenment and—rational thought, of scientific thought—started, way back, when Galileo was put on the rack and tortured by the pope…to deny, to take back what we know, is absolutely correct, that…you know, we, we do not evolve around the sun. I mean, we revolve around the sun, the sun does not revolve around us. That was the beginning of the age of the Enlightenment, the enlightenment of everything—of the political changes, of the scientific revolution. We’re just at the beginning—and that is a bitch, that’s the worst fucking time to be anything or anyone, to be a philosopher…to be—you know, I mean look. LOOK. Look at this sorry ass United States of Ambien. It makes me want to puke, vomit and throw up. The point I’m making is, I would rather— you know, FUCK ATTORNEYS.

Peggy Ahwesh was born in Pittsburgh, PA and currently lives and works between Brooklyn, NY and the Catskills. She is a media artist who got her start in the 1970s with feminism, punk and amateur Super 8 filmmaking. Her work has exhibited worldwide including at the New Museum, New York, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; The Tate Modern, London, UK; Guggenheim Museum, Bilboa, Spain and her films featured at the Whitney Biennial, NY (5 editions); THE AMERICAN CENTURY, Whitney Museum, NY; and at “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution” 2008, P.S.1, Queens, NY. Her works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, among others. She has received grants and awards including from the Jerome Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, NYSC and the Alpert Award in the Arts. Peggy Ahwesh is Professor of Film & Electronic Arts at Bard College where she has taught for many years.

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Sarah Conaway received her MFA in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001 and a BA in Philosophy from Bucknell University in 1994. Her work has been featured in solo and two person exhibitions at The Box, Los Angeles, Barbara Seiler Gallery, Zurich and Bellwether Gallery, New York, and group exhibitions at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, Richard Telles Gallery, Los Angeles, Night Gallery, Los Angeles, Taka Ishii Gallery Modern Tokyo, and the inaugural edition of the biennial, MADE IN L.A., Hammer Museum, 2012.

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

— The Siegessäule (victory column), is a Berlin monument and popular tourist attraction that commemorates Germany’s 1870 victory over France in the Battle of Sedan. That battle ended the Franco-Prussian War and, as a result, Germany became a nation state. In 1873 Kaiser Wilhelm I unveiled the monument, which served as symbol of German unification. Its proportions were inspired by Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s neo-classical architecture. In 1939, the Siegessäule changed. Adolf Hitler moved the column from its original location in front of the Reichstag to where it now stands at the center of the Großer Stern roundabout in Berlin’s Tiergarten. He placed it along an east/west axis running through the city that the Nazi troops were supposed to traverse on their victorious return from Russia. Albert Speer broadened its base and added another section that made it taller than before.

Walter Benjamin’s memoir, Berlin Childhood Around 1900, opens with the inscription “Oh brown baked victory column with winter sugar from the days of childhood.” With this Benjamin suggests that, in winter, the monument resembled a gingerbread house covered with confectioner’s sugar—perhaps one that his mother had baked for him.

I discovered Benjamin’s memoir in 1993, shortly after coming to Berlin for the first time with my husband and young daughter. It comprises forty-two short texts that describe vividly remembered places and events from Benjamin’s childhood. Benjamin started writing it in 1932, shortly after leaving his beloved city for what he feared would be a prolonged exile. He considered this project an inoculation against homesickness. The entries are more allegorical than autobiographical—covering such themes as love and loss of home, hunting and being hunted, the lure of exotic places and a passion for reading and writing. His text, Die Siegessäule, reflects his aversion to the monument by describing the symbolic mosaic that covers its interior and the celebratory military parades that he was forced to attend.

From 1993 until 2001, whenever I was in Berlin, I shot photographs based on these image-rich texts—texts which Benjamin himself described as snapshots of a bourgeois childhood. Sometimes this was as simple as going to a location he mentions or photographing events from my daughter’s life at school and with friends. For an exhibition of this work at the daadgalerie, I decided to commission a baked version of the victory column. First, I planned to give the baker a souvenir of the monument to copy. However, searching through tourist shops and antique markets yielded nothing. At the victory column itself only souvenirs of the golden angel that sits at its top were for sale. Curiously, the base of the victory column houses an exhibition of models of monuments from around the world—in sharp to contrast its own souvenir-less status. In response, I produced a small edition of victory columns. They were ten inches tall and based on the original version, before Hitler’s enlargement. They served as prototypes for a subsequent edition of 1000 that I made for the 2004 Berlin Biennale.

The word “souvenir” derives from Latin “subvenire”, which translates “to come up from below”—virtually the same as its meaning in French. Souvenirs are a way of remembering, holding on to memories, so that they remain present. The absence of a victory column souvenir suggests the opposite—a desire to repress not only memories of the monument, but also its troubling past. As far as I know, my edition may be the only group of Siegessäule souvenirs available anywhere. Only Die Siegessäule, Berlin’s leading gay and lesbian magazine, deigns to acknowledge this symbol, admittedly with a degree of irony. My desire to produce an edition of souvenirs is not so much a celebration of the monument as it is a way to confront its traumatic history.

Aura Rosenberg received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA from Hunter College, NY as well as attending the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Her work has been exhibited at, among others, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria, Le Magasin, Centre D’art Contemporain, Grenoble, France, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Philadelphia, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Hamburger Banhof, Berlin, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, Swiss Institute, New York, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zürich, MAMCO, Musee d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City.

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

— Homage To Sappho, 1978, was a performance in front of what is now the old Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco directed by me. The impetus was to “put lesbians, lesbian art in the museum and not pussy foot with the project label”. I asked a group of acquaintances to join me on the sidewalk, wear white, and be prepared to be active.

I asked them to write a list of lesbian artist names on the white paper that was laid out on the sidewalk with the intention to circle the museum (didn’t make that goal). We filled up balloons that had the name of a lesbian artist inside with helium and released them over the city. What you see is a large weather balloon but we also, as I remember, used smaller balloons. I have some photos of me posing under the museum sign with black hat and white suit suggesting that I should be in the museum not left on the sidewalk. So it was an inner/outer event.

The passing public were surprised, curious, stood around and watched. I don’t remember inviting anyone in particular nor the press (naive at the ‘art game’ at that time). The documentation is the history along with this little story.

Even as late as the 1990s I made a film, The Female Closet, on the lesbian photographer Alice Austen who was featured in a show at the NY Public Library and still there was no ‘lesbian text’ on display with the photographs, nor in the bio. Over and over again, but never again.

Barbara Hammer lives and works in New York City and Kerhonkson, New York. She is a visual artist primarily working in film and video. Her work reveals and celebrates marginalized peoples whose stories have not been told. Her cinema is multi-leveled and engages an audience viscerally and intellectually with the goal of activating them to make social change. Hammer has been to Yamagata both as a judge (1994) and with a competition documentary (2001). Since then she has been honored with five retrospectives in the last three years: The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Tate Modern in London, Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Toronto International Film Festival and Kunsthalle Oslo in Norway. Her book, HAMMER! MAKING MOVIES OUT OF SEX AND LIFE, was released in 2010, through The Feminist Press. Hammer is well-known for making the first explicit 1974 lesbian film DYKETACTICS, and for her trilogy of documentary film essays on queer history NITRATE KISSES (1992), TENDER FICTIONS (1995), HISTORY LESSONS (2000). She received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013-14) for WELCOME TO THIS HOUSE (2015), a documentary on Elizabeth Bishop, which will premiere at The Museum of Fine Art, Boston and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The actress Karen Black and visual artist Raymond Pettibon having a moment of rest on the set of my film Meet the Eye (2008).

Aïda Ruilova was born in 1974 in Wheeling, West Virginia and lives and works in New York. Ruilova was a nominee for the 2006 Hugo Boss Prize. Her work has been featured in the 50th Venice Biennale, the 2004 Whitney Biennial, and the 4th Berlin Biennial, as well as Tate Britain, London, ZKM, Karlsruhe, The Kitchen, NY, and the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Her recent film HEAD AND HANDS: MY BLACK ANGEL was screened at the Rotterdam film festival in 2013. Upcoming exhibitions include EXCESS BEAUTY at Salzburger Kunstverein and PUNK at the CA2M Contemporary Madrid Art Center 2015.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Larry Clark is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential American photographers and filmmakers of his generation. He is known for his raw and controversial photographs and films which expose us to sub-cultures not widely known about, with themes of sex, drugs and rock and roll prevailing. Clark burst into public consciousness with his landmark book TULSA in 1971 and has continued to use photography and film to explore issues pertaining to youth culture. Clark’s first feature film, KIDS in 1995 was hailed as “an instant classic” and “a wake-up call.” KIDS was followed by the films ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE (1998), BULLY (2001), TEENAGE CAVEMAN (made for TV in 2001), KEN PARK (2003), WASSUP ROCKERS (2005) and the short film IMPALED (2006). The photographic series LOS ANGELES 2003-2006 chronicles four years in the life of Jonathan Velasquez, who was the inspiration for his film WASSUP ROCKERS. Clark’s most recent film THE SMELL OF US, was released in France last month and will make its US premiere in one week as part of the Film Society 15th Annual Film Comment Selects.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

When I started the Fuck Paintings in 1969 I used porn photos that my first husband had gotten from Hong Kong or Singapore in the 1950s as my source material. My idea was that if I eliminated the hands, feet, heads and cropped in, I could get a beautiful group of forms combined with the punch of very exciting subject matter. These are from that group. Now I use photoshop to get the final file. Not the same thing at all.

Betty Tompkins was born 1945, in Washington D.C. She lives and works in New York and Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Selected solo shows include Art Basel Feature, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Basel, Switzerland (2014); PAINTINGS & WORKS ON PAPER 1972-2013, Sarah Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida (2014); WOMAN WORDS, Dinter Fine Art, project room #63, New York (2013); FUCK PAINTINGS, Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2012); SEX WORKS, Galerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich, Switzerland (2011); NEW WORK, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York (2009). Group shows include THE SHELL (LANDSCAPES, PORTRAITS & SHAPES), Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France (2015); REAR WINDOW TREATMENT, Louis B. James, New York (2014); A DRAWING SHOW, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (2014); SUNSETS AND PUSSY, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York (2013); BETTY TOMPKINS AND DADAMAINO, Home Alone 2 Gallery, New York (2013).

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Everything is a source of inspiration and thus of redemption. Objects land and pile up in my workshop, waiting for an idea to give them a new life, a new identity. It takes but an incision across an old buoy to turn it into a frog.


Tomi Ungerer was born in 1931, in Strasbourg, France. He lives and works in Ireland. Ungerer is best known as the award-winning author and illustrator of such beloved 1960s children’s classics as THE THREE ROBBERS (1961) and MOON MAN (1966). While producing children’s books Ungerer was also making campaigns for the New York Times and the Village Voice, biting satirical illustrations about the business world, and brutal pictorial responses to racism, fascism, and the Vietnam War. Ungerer has also made graphic erotic drawings throughout his career, gathered together in publications such as FORNICON, TOTEMPOLE, and EROTOSCOPE. Awards include the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, regarded as the Nobel Prize of children’s literature, and, in September 2014, the Commandeur de l’Ordre national du Mérite. Ungerer’s first U.S. retrospective, ALL IN ONE, is up through March 22nd 2015, at the Drawing Center, NY.

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

For a time in the States, growing criticism of liberal culture’s strident agenda offered signs that the left was quivering, getting grayer, loosing its grip, starting to shrink, beginning to molder and leak. For example, the death of the Marxist theorist Jacques Derrida, on October 8, 2004, provoked an astounding revisionist article: “The Theory of Everything, R.I.P.,” by Emily Eakin, published in The New York Times (October 17, 2004). Several of Derrida’s contemporaries and acolytes admitted to Ms. Eakin, that they had hoped and believed their “theories” would foster a Marxist revolution in the West (amazing!). This admission backdated to the beginning of the 1990’s (no doubt Christmas Day, December 25, 1991, when Gorbachev declared the Soviet Union extinct), their disavowal of, and distancing from, Derrida, and the various flavors of revolution he and they were cultivating in their dreams and classrooms. The article had the effect of highlighting these academics’ hypocrisy, and the fact that theory had failed as an effective anti-capitalist, anti-American weapon. I thought: How much further up their ass could these schmucks possibly shove their heads?


In 1978, I was the “featured photographer” at the national convention of the Society for Photographic Education—an academic organization consisting of leftist college photography teachers, which then most closely resembled the Comintern. Two years later, my work was the target of ad hominem, pre-Borkian, libelous attack by radical anti-porn feminists, published in multiple issues of Exposure—the Society for Photographic Education’s “learned” journal, sent to most every college photography program, curator of photography, and collector, in the United States.

Around the same time, Franklin Furnace, a New York City based feminist collective milking the system for grants to collect and advocate for artist books, mailed an unsolicited library index card bearing my name, to hundreds of public and university libraries in this country. The card listed some of my publications, along with a quote attributed to me, stating I thought my work was “shit.” (This defamation was settled out of court.) Activist liberal “educators,” and straight-up psychopaths, began to attack my pictures with the clear intent of causing me as much harm as possible.

By the end of Jimmy Carter’s Presidency, in 1981, as the interest rate for a home mortgage inched above a hernia-inducing 21%, I had, for over a decade, been making satirical pictures inspired by leftist ideas of questionable merit. My own politics were an admixture of moderate Republican and quasi-libertarian notions—it was a free country, and my zealous, lefty-liberal colleagues were supposed to be tolerant of all views. I liked Lenny Bruce’s idea that a truly religious man had only one suit.

With increasing frequency, moderate views were attacked by kangaroo courts springing up willy-nilly in liberal academe. These activists were devoted to what would become known as “political correctness.” Their ideas had germinated at elite colleges and women’s studies programs, byproducts of dubious disciplines and experiments in affirmative action. Sight, for example, was criminalized (ever hear of “Lookism”?), as well as male dating conduct (codified dating rules, with academic “courts” manned by devotees of Andrea Dworkin, enforced judgments with totalitarian, steel-fisted zeal). Trendy theory would eventually spawn a hodgepodge of wackiness, which had the effect of spreading political correctness throughout academe.

I taught photography at an “urban” college, held the rank of professor, and was tenured. I loved making photographs, exhibited my pictures internationally, and believed I lived in a free country. By 1982, I’d sold hundreds of pictures, owned a winter and a summer Porsche, and, at 40, had just purchased my first house—a 16-room fixer-upper (my darkroom was as big as the apartment in Brooklyn in which I’d grown up). Life now was far from tough.

However, I found my pictures and job under continual attack. I adopted George Herbert’s notion, deciding that living well would be the best revenge. The left controlled the arts and humanities in academe. Dissociating myself from the S.P.E. seemed prudent. Much like Br’er Rabbit after he’d been tossed into the brier patch, I’d live as comfortably as possibly among academe’s flaccid thorns.


Since the early 1980’s—my free speech protected by tenure, and the Constitution of the United States—I’ve inhabited a gobbledygook-free zone. I enjoy the knowledge that my pictures changed the practice of art-photography. In the ‘90s, I enthusiastically embraced Photoshop, computers, scanners, and ink jet printing. This new technology enabled the most productive period of my life. I steer clear of delusional malcontents.

An epilog: The deceased radical-feminist-activist, Andrea Dworkin, excreted hateful aphorisms: “Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women’s bodies;” “Romance is rape embellished with meaningful looks;” and “The only good man is a dead man.” (Francois de La Rochefoucald said: ‘Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.’) In a June 6th, 2005, New York Magazine article, titled, “The Prisoner of Sex,” Ariel Levy, its self-proclaimed feminist author, offered the upshot for Dworkin and her “movement”—the radical movement behind the attacks on my pictures. “With the possible exception of the Shakers, it is difficult to think of an American movement that has failed more spectacularly than anti-pornography feminism.” Pornography is now, “…a source of inspiration for all of popular culture.”

I deplore pornography; and am not a prude. I believe Ms. Levy’s assessment of Dworkin’s failed ideology is correct. However, only a misguided, double-tracking New York liberal would characterize pornography as “a source of inspiration.” The only thing pornography seems to inspire is masturbation.

While supporting Dworkin’s agitprop, liberal print media discovered that porn’s sensationalism attracted a larger audience. The prospect of larger audiences, and increased profits, quickly modified media’s hack formula: If it bleeds it leads. All manner of tits, ass, vile language, and retarded behavior have been added to the fires, floods, and mayhem broadcast and published daily as entertainment.

Photography was politicized in the 1930s, and used by the left to promote social engineering and attack capitalism. I thought photography could be other than propaganda inspired by Socialist Realist art. This might not have occurred to me if I’d studied with activist teachers who man (or wofem) photography’s collegiate barricades, and indoctrinate future activist photographers. By the mid-1960s, the millions of photographs made of ghettos and wars had failed to bring about a Marxist revolution in America, or change much. Serious photography, narrowly defined by a handful of powerful leftist curators, picture editors, and critics had devolved into the intractably moribund, the terminally tedious. In contrast, other areas of art were experiencing -ism after -ism of “innovation.” In the 1950’s, New York City had become the center of the art world. But by 1968, the Witkin Gallery was the only gallery in New York City devoted to showing photography. Art galleries and many artists did not consider photography to be art. This has changed in the last 40 years.



Fractured fairy tale (a phrase coined for certain Hanna-Barbera cartoons), and allegory are equally apt terms to use to describe some of my pictures. Early on, it seemed important to underscore the illusion, the “fiction,” which is the photographic image. I fused photography with the plebeian character of conceptual art’s subjects, materials, and methods, to shape my working methods. Satirizing leftist practice in photography eventually marginalized “activist” photographers complicit in corrupting and ghettoizing photography, making room for other manner of expression.

Digital equipment was ten times costlier ten years ago. At one-tenth the price, it’s now many times as good. “Workers” can now afford and own the means of production. A student can make technically perfect photographic images and prints with a few weeks of training. The affordability and environment for making photography is as close to a workers’ paradise as things can get. Capitalism, not communism, made this possible.

Making visually and intellectually entertaining pictures, unconstrained by what’s now euphemistically called progressive ideology appealed to me—it was certainly the less traveled path in the mid-1960s. William Hogarth’s art, William F. Buckley’s artful needling of “crypto-fascists,” and Tom Wolfe’s shrewd assessments of the art world helped to nourish and hone my art—helped me to make sense of what I experienced. The pictures in this selection are often sampled from larger sets of pictures (e.g., “A Trick for Man Ray,” is from a portfolio of 19 photographs called “Idiosyncratic Pictures,”), or are single-image works, without siblings. Some fabrications are simple, some complicated (“A Marxist View,” for example, took over a year of adjusting and testing; “Les Krims Performing Aerosol Fiction,” was made in an afternoon). Simple is not inherently better than complex.

Entertained by Ansel Adams’ analogy of printing a negative to interpreting a musical score, some older images are now perfected or reinterpreted using Photoshop. “Candid” pictures are all altered digitally. It’s been my practice to “spin” pictures with “titles.” These can take the form of short stories or rants, in effect creating transparently propagandistic work, meant to conjure standard, liberal, media practice.

“Satire Inspired by Wishful Thinking, the Culture Wars, and the Left’s [She]nanigans,” is an apt banner for this selection, and for the times in which these pictures were made.

Les Krims,
September 8, 2010 (Edited: 12.11.2014)

Les Krims was born in 1942, in New York City. He lives in Buffalo, New York. Selected recent solo shows include LES KRIMS, PARIS PHOTO, Paci Contemporary exhibition at Paris Photo, Paris, France (2014); DESECRATOR, Paola Meliga Galleria d’Arte, Torino, Italy (2013); LES KRIMS: SATIRE INSPIRED BY WISHFUL THINKING, THE CULTURE WARS, AND THE LEFT’S [SHE]NANIGANS, ARTISANworks, Rochester, New York (2010); LES KRIMS, Galerie Serge Aboukrat, for the publication of a 15 print, original print portfolio, of a selection of pictures from FICTCRYPTOKRIMSOGRAPHS, published by Chez Higgins, Paris, France (2008); AMERICA NUDE, Galeria PaceArte Contemporaena, Brescia, Italy, December (2007); LES KRIMS, WISHFUL THINKING: SATIRE INSPIRED BY THE DECLINE OF THE LEFT IN AMERICA, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France (2007). Recent group shows include BLACK FOREST, Candela Gallery, Richmond, Virginia (2014); TRANSFORMATIONAL IMAGEMAKING: HANDMADE PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE 1960, CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, New York (2014); AMERICA ’70-LA FOTOGRAFIA TRA SOGNO E REALTÀ, Paci Contemporary, Brescia, Italy (2014); 3X1 NON SOLO FOTOGRAFIA, Paci contemporary, Brescia, Italy (2013); THE POLAROID YEARS: INSTANT PHOTOGRAPHY AND EXPERIMENTATION, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York (2013); IT CAME FROM THE VAULT: RARELY SEEN WORKS FROM MAG’S COLLECTION, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York (2013); WHEN COLLECTING WAS NEW: PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE ROBERT A. TAUB COLLECTION, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (2013); 50@50 SELECT ARTISTS FROM THE GERALD MEAD COLLECTION, University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, New York, August (2012); FLESH AND BONE, PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE BODY, The Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon (2012).

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Sunday, December 28th, 2014

The Wish Books were eagerly anticipated catalogues delivered by post on the days following Thanksgiving. Here is my wish list compiled from a 1976 Wish Book.

Amy O’Neill was born in 1971, in Beaver, Pennsylvania. She currently lives in Queens, New York.

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Sunday, December 28th, 2014

I’m currently making a film about a woman named Marion Stokes. She was a radical activist, a counter-cultural TV producer, and for thirty years she recorded television 24 hours a day on multiple channels. Her 50,000 VHS tapes are now being digitized by the Internet Archive.

In my research, I met the television scholars Lynn Spigel and Kate Newbold, who are collecting and studying TV Snapshots and Photography, an obscure amateur photography movement from the pre-­VCR decades.

03l 04r



Lynn Spigel: I became interested in television photography when I wrote my first book, Make Room for TV, which analyzes a lot of advertising images for TV sets. I had a photo of myself as a little girl, posing in front of my TV set. I wondered if other people did the same, so I searched flea markets and thrift stores. Since then I have collected around 6,000 photos from the late 1940s-1970s with people posing in front of their TV sets.


Kate Newbold: In exploring case studies for my dissertation on early television and amateur archival practices, I found several images online of TV screens that individuals had photographed from the television sets in their homes. The images reveal single snapshots of all different kinds of 1950s and 1960s broadcast content: baseball games, comedy series, variety shows, parades, talk shows, even commercials. These images seemed to index a desire to remember television or save it, or perhaps simply slow it down, for contemplation after the broadcast event.


Lynn Spigel: Many of the photos shot off screen were part of an amateur/hobby art craze that Kate talks about, a hobby that men mostly pursued. Some of my snapshots, however, are actually amateur photos, especially a large amount of them that are pornographic shots, and which appear to be taken by male amateurs or semi-professionals for men’s camera magazines.


Kate Newbold: The most interesting aspect of the TV photographs I’ve seen is their imperfect nature, i.e. the myriad distortions, blurs, double imaging, and grayness that often reveal to me the very amateur nature of this practice. I think that many saw television as a live and temperamental beast they could tame with their camera lenses.

03l 04r



Lynn Spigel: I guess in part people wanted to have a visual memory of a televised baseball game, the moon landing, the JFK funeral, or just the more everyday flow of TV images like Ed Sullivan’s face. I recently purchased a photo album one woman created that’s devoted to off-air photos from a 1990s soap opera.


Lynn Spigel: I found many photos of African American families posing in front of their TV sets in the 1950s and 60s. Histories of television have had little to say about African American audiences for early TV. The snapshots offer new visual evidence for ways African American families framed their own experiences with TV, apart from the often-racist stereotypes found on 1950s and ’60s network programs.


Lynn Spigel: These photos are sold for quite a bit of money online, and it’s interesting that they have accrued value just at the point at which analog TV (and the old boxy sets) are in rubbish heaps across the nation. It’s interesting to me that when the TV object became obsolete, the photo of it became valuable.

TV snapshots copyright Lynn Spigel, and additional images courtesy Kate Newbold

Lynn Spigel is a Professor at Northwestern University. Her book TV SNAPSHOTS: AN ARCHIVE OF EVERYDAY LIFE is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Kate Newbold is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University studying early television history and culture in America.

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His documentary films include, WILD COMBINATION, about the avant-garde cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell, TEENAGE, about the birth of youth culture, and I REMEMBER, about the artist and poet Joe Brainard. His slideshow about the artist David Wojnarowicz appeared in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and his forthcoming film about Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight will air on HBO this Spring.

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Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Hanna Liden was born in 1976 in Stockholm, Sweden and lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include I HOPE THESE RUIN A PERFECTLY BAD DAY, Maccarone, New York (2014); Galleria Lorcan O’Neill, Rome (2013); AS BLACK AS YOUR HAT, Half Gallery, NY (2010); FALL TEN, Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich (2010). Group exhibitions include COME AS YOU ARE AGAIN, Salon 94 (2010); THE ISLAND, Miami (2010), ADAPTATION, The Powerplant Toronto (2010); FRESH HELL, Palais de Tokyo Paris (2010); NEW YOKR MINUTE, Macro, Rome (2008). Liden was also included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

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Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Six month after shooting The Princess of France I found I had accidentally brought with me to New York the digital camera my mother lent me to use as a prop in the film. The camera was used during a scene in the National Fine Art Museum of Buenos Aires, in which Gabi Saidón’s character, Jimema, takes pictures of the exhibited paintings. I enjoy giving an actor a secondary activity that doesn’t have to do with the main action of a scene. In this case Jimema takes pictures of the Museum’s collection, throughout a scene between Ana and Victor. Here there is a page of the script:


11. INT – Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Day

VICTOR, ANA and JIMENA visit the empty halls of the Museum. They are talking as they each walk at their own personal pace past the paintings on display. Jimena takes pictures of the paintings with her small digital camera. Her interest in the actual works seems partial. The rooms are dark but the paintings are well illuminated. ANA seems rather distracted by a yet unexplained situation. She tries to keep the conversation easy.


Oh, yes, sorry, here are the keys.
Make yourself at home.


Go home and take a nap if you´d like.

No, I’m fine.

I thought you were arriving next week.

Yes, I was.

If you had warned me, I´d have left them under the rug.

Don’t worry. I was nearby.

How are you doing?

JIMENA takes another picture. She doesn´t seem to pay much attention to the conversation.

I’m fine. Well, actually, so-so.
Have you seen Natalia lately?


Is she seeing someone?

No idea.

Have you gone to Natalia’s?

Yes, but she wouldn’t let me.



Still from THE PRINCESS OF FRANCE. Gabi Saidón as Jimena in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina. August 2013.

The little red light in the still above shows that Gabi was actually taking the photographs, that her character, Jimena, says she is using for a personal catalogue. Months after the shoot, back in New York, I found these photographs still on the memory stick of my mother’s camera.

Below are three groups of photographs taken by Gabi Saidón, as Jimena, while we were shooting these scenes. They are not regular backstage photographs, there are the actual photos that the actress was taking from inside the scene, playing her role, take after take.


1. A painting: FLORÉAL by Louis Joseph Raphaël Collin.


The oblique angle shows that Gabi is not in the right place for taking her picture but—presumingly—in the right place for the camera that is shooting her. Not much attention seems to have been given to her photography. It was the first scene, shot on the second day of shooting, and also, our first day in the Museum. It was early in the morning. I like doing many takes. Sometimes, it is the first one which is best, but this was not not the case.



Same framing, more blurred. It seems as if we are repeating what was done before, maybe to understand more clearly what is not working. It’s a mechanical take, not a good one, but one to point out what to polish. In an attempt to start putting things in action, we tend to say: “Let´s rehearse by shooting”. I may have been more focused on the movements of the other actors, rather than in that of Gabi’s. Her character is somehow a satellite around those of María Villar and Julián Larquier Tellarini. Her position is the last to be taken care of. She is patient.



In focus, better framed. Here Gabi seems to be thinking about the photo she is taking. Maybe she’s entertaining herself while I dedicate more time to the other actors or maybe she starts feeling more in control of her role and actions. This photo could be suitable for her character’s catalogue.



Movement. Gabi was asked to move as soon as she was taking the picture. Her photography has to give in for the benefit of the shot organizad by the DoP, Fernando Lockett and myself. The choreography between the three characters seems not to be working though. The battle of the verosímil. More takes were to come. I might have been confusing speed with rhythm.



She first takes the photo and then she moves to her second position. It looks ridiculous if not. The angle is always complicated for her photo, but that doesn’t show in the camera that is capturing her.



Changes. I changed her position so as to see if the problems that we were experiencing would solve themselves by having a different approach. There was no need from her to move after taking the photo. It would look fake if she did so. Her framing is much better and it is in focus. It is her best photograph. And still, the take was not good enough.



Back to previous position. Apparently, something was not working under the previous change. She might have been to far away from the other two actors, or maybe it was too problematic for the sound assistant to record her lines without appearing in the frame. However, Gabi took the framing from that previous take to this old position of hers. She incorporated it. Her photographs are getting better and I feel that as Gabi´s photography progresses, her performance and the scene progresses as well. I enjoy when the actions performed abandon the “as if” mode, which means that the actor starts doing the action instead of just doing pretending “as if” they would be doing it. In this case, Gabi goes from pretending “as if” she was framing and taking a picture of the painting, to actually photographing the painting, caring about the action she is carrying out for the sake of the action itself. The spectator may not realize this immediately, but I think it ends up showing in the frame; uncontrollable details are possible and it’s good for them to appear, bringing in some fresh air to the shoot.



Back to the start: “as if”. Seeing this photo now, I realize I was a bit lost when doing this scene.



Last take. There´s nothing new in her photo, there might have been nothing new in our scene either. Maybe we ran out of ideas, or I was too confused or everybody was simply tired. Gabi’s photograph here is less accurate than the very first. I remember being worried about a silence between Julián and María, and about not finding the exact position for one of his final movements. Something was not going well. Again, this was the first scene, shot on that second day of shooting, in our first day at the Museum. We were still warming up. At take nine, I thought that we got it. Maybe I preferred to move forward to the next scene. We did have limited time to work there.

Months afterwards, while editing, I decided to cut this scene out from the film. There was something that was not working. It could have been a problem with the position of the actors in relationship with the delivery of the dialogue and the coherence of their actions. I don´t know. We’ll solve it in the next film. But it lacked its proper rhythm.

Lost in a borrowed camera, photos taken by Gabi Saidón/Jimena document the inner doubts, hesitations and decisions that made our working together.

After a screening of The Princess of France at Toronto Film Festival’s Wavelength, filmmaker and friend Jean-Claude Rousseau talked to me about a film he had once wanted to do with one of the painting he suddenly glimpsed in one scenes of my film. It would have been his first feature film, a fiction film. He was surprised to learn that the painting was now in Buenos Aires. He promised me to send me a picture of this abandoned project of his once he got back to his home in Paris. Eight years before, I promised to send him a series of three photographs he took with my analog camera in a visit to the Teotihuacan pyramids during a Film Festival in Mexico. I never sent him the photographs. I couldn’t find the negatives, nor the positives. I hope one day, back in Buenos Aires, I will find these photos and finally send them to him.

Photo by Jean­‐Claude Rousseau


2. María and Julián around a statue.

















3. Dana, sound woman.















A very short film by Gabi Saidón:

All photos and video by Gabi Saidón, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 2013.

Matías Piñeiro was born in 1982, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He directed the short, Rosalinda (2011), and several features, including THE STOLEN MAN (2007), THEY ALL LIE (2009), and VIOLA (2012), which premiered at the Festival. His most recent film is LA PRINCESA DE FRANCIA (2014)

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Sunday, December 28th, 2014

— Here is a drawing from one of the youngest generation of ‘this long century’. It shows Kleopatra as Tiggr’s grandmother. You can identify her by the snake in her left hand. My grandson Jasper made it in 2009, when he was 7 years old. At that time he identified himself with Tiggr, his deeply loved cuddly toy, and at the same time he saw himself connected with ‘Tutty’, our name for Tutankhamun. We visited Nofretete (Nefertari) in the Neues Museum in Berlin. She is also seen in the drawing.

Birgit Hein was born in Berlin, in 1942. She is a filmmaker, performer and author of numerous publications on avantgarde cinema. She worked with her partner Wilhelm from 1966 to 1989, together founding XSCREEN, an organisation for subcultural events and underground cinema. She curated the film section at Documenta 6 1977 and the exhibition‚ FILM ALS FILM, Cologne 1977, together with Wulf Herzogenrath. Her films are in international collections u.a. im Musée d‘Art Moderne Paris (Centre Pompidou), Cinematheque Royale de Belgique, Museum Ludwig Köln, Sprengel Museum Hannover. From 1990 to 2008 she was a professor for Film and Video at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig. She is also a member of the fine art section at the Akademie der Künste Berlin.

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Friday, November 7th, 2014

— I travel all the time for my job, and sometimes take photographs. I bought a decent camera for work to document my show designs but wound up using it more to entertain myself while traveling. I take photos looking out of windows on planes and moving vehicles, or from hotel rooms. I like a distant vantage point. I don’t carry a camera with me on the street in Tokyo or Paris or London, only in emptier cities without landmarks. I look for low horizons, big skies, anonymous buildings, empty streets and lone figures. No monuments, or interesting personalities, and not a travelogue.

I always wanted to travel when I was a kid, by now I’ve been all over the place. It’s the best part of my job. I don’t get to choose where I go, it feels random but it’s limited to locales where a big rock band might play a show and draw an audience, which still leaves a large part of the world untouched. I rarely travel on my own time. I might stay a while in a city I like when a job happens to end there, or go visit friends in a distant place, but I won’t be exploring the Amazon jungle on my time off. Growing up in the ‘70s the Nixon/China TV news left an indelible impression but China is one place I’ve never been, I will have to make my own way there eventually. I like crowded cities not nature. Walking all day long in a frantically busy city is the best possible day off when I’m working, the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other all day long on a city sidewalk is meditative and energizing at the same time.

I’ve always liked to draw, photography in the pre-digital age was never immediate enough for me in comparison. Digital photography is now so immediate as to be instantly everywhere all the time, a complete inversion. I’m a slow photographer though, I don’t photograph everything all time, and the photos get mulled over, edited and then sent out to a few friends who might be interested. I always think I will eventually use some photos as part of a production design but I never do. I’d like to think I’m training my eye but maybe my eye is as sharp as it’s going to get.


Susanne Sasic was born in New York City in 1964. She lives in New Jersey. She is a lighting designer and production designer of concert tours and has worked with Nirvana, Sonic Youth, R.E.M., the White Stripes, St. Vincent, David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Stereolab, and Beck.

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Friday, November 7th, 2014



Nate Lowman was born in 1979 in Las Vegas, and lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Maccarone, New York (2014), Massimo de Carlo, London (2014), The Brant Foundation, Greenwich CT (2012), The American Academy, Rome (2011), and The Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo (2009), among others. He has participated in dozens of group shows at numerous institutions, including P.S.1/MOMA, The Serpentine Gallery, The New Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, and Palais de Tokyo.

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Friday, November 7th, 2014

— Alastair Galbraith had told me that becoming a parent was a whole new way of falling in love. When my son Sorley was born in 2006, I found out he was right. New worlds of emotional and creative possibilities opened up to me. In some sense, I stopped caring, and with that discovered a whole new depth of caring.

If you’re reading this and have heard my name before it is probably as a musician. The expanded emotional base from which I now operated changed how I made music. Cyril Connolly said, “there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.” I couldn’t say that anything I’ve done has attained greatness or even if it is art. But, here is some anecdotal evidence against his notion. Before there was a pram in the hall I struggled over several months to write and record half of what became an album called Autumn Response. Once Sorley was born I wrote and recorded the other half in an afternoon. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation, but now I can’t tell which bits are which. They all seem of a similar quality. Of course, music is only a part of my life. I have changed too. I am told I am a lot more open-minded. I have time for people very different from me and for opinions not my own. When someone means so much, my ego can mean so much less.


Richard Youngs is a multi-instrumentalist from Glasgow, Scotland. Youngs began releasing albums in the early 90s on various independent labels. His music ranges from pure experimental, instrumental, minimal, and avant-garde through to folk-inspired songwriting and progressive rock.

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Friday, November 7th, 2014










Basel Abbas, born in 1983, in Nicosia, Cyprus, and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, born in 1983, Boston, United States, both live and work in Ramallah, Palestine, and New York. Abbas and Abou-Rahme work together across a range of sound, image, installation and performance practices. Their work explores issues surrounding desire and disaster, spatial politics, subjectivity and the absurdities of contemporary practices of power, often investigating spatio-temporal resonances in the relation between the actual, imagined and remembered. Their practice increasingly examines the immersive, experiential possibilities of sound, image and environment, taking on the form of interdisciplinary installations and live audio-visual performances. They have exhibited and performed internationally and most recently founded the sound and image performance collective Tashweesh.

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Friday, November 7th, 2014


Covered-over graffiti
Faded gang signs
Empty pedestals
Reflections in water
Signs overwhelmed by other signs
Vertical graffiti on posts
Shadows of fences
Fences behind fences
Architectural decoration: elegant and crude
Signs peeling off
Signs chiseled out
Lawn decoration
Signs shaped and hanging out into space
Neon stylization
Grand entrances for little buildings

Philip Hanson, Chicago,
October, 2014


Philip Hanson was born in 1943 in Chicago. One of the original Imagist artists, Hanson has been a signal Chicago painter since he first came on the scene in the late ’60s. Hanson’s work was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. He is the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been included in group shows at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1969 and 1972); the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (1969); the Sao Paulo Bienniale (1973); the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center (1977). He was the subject of a solo retrospective at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield (1985).

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

— My grandfather was as an operator on freighters traveling around the world. He traveled from the northern parts of Russia to Cape of Good Hope in Africa, from Brazil to Japan to Canada. He started working on ships right after his mandatory military service in Zonguldak, a city located in the Black Sea region of Turkey, when he was in his early 20’s and he worked until he got cancer at the age of 65. He had five daughters. And he met three of his five grandchildren. He was gone nearly every six months of the year so his presence was, and therefore the memory of him, is very fragmented. He brought gifts and souvenirs for each member of his family every time he returned.

On one of his returns from Brazil, he brought two landscape prints mounted on wooden boards and on the prints there were two sentences in Portuguese. They were hung in the kitchen where time was spent most. It was assumed that the photographs were taken in Brazil but nobody spoke a second language in the family so nobody knew what the texts meant. However, perhaps in an attempt to feel closer to him, one of the two sentences had been memorized by every member of the family and repeated out loud during meals a tad humorously, a tad sentimentally. Nevertheless, it was almost like a prayer.

Turkish is a phonetic language so things are read as they are written. It goes like this:

osceus manifasitam aglorya dedeus eofirmamante anunçia obradasuasmaos

The kitchen where this took place was in a house that he built. Everyone moved out one by one and the house is now long gone. So the prints changed location and ended up under some bed from where I recovered them last winter. The thing I noticed first was the SL.19,1 under one of the sentences in small type and I immediately realized that these were verses from the Bible. After hearing it from my aunts so many times, I have internalized this text and I felt rather stupid finding the source to be the Bible. Nobody in the family is particularly religious. And if there is a religion vaguely present, it certainly isn’t Christianity.

As the next step into deconstructing this memory, I would really like to know where these places are. I image searched them on Google but couldn’t find the right match. Someone said they might be in Rio de Janeiro but they weren’t sure. If anyone reading this recognizes where these places could be, please do contact me at: mericalgun[at]

Meriç Algün Ringborg was born in 1983, in Istanbul, and currently lives and works in Stockholm. The contrasting differences between the make-up of both cities – Istanbul and Stockholm – particularly socially and politically, as well as her movement between the two, play a key role in her practice. Her work concentrates on issues of identity, borders, bureaucracy, language and translation through appropriated and “ready-made” texts, dictionaries and archives. She had solo exhibitions at Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2014); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2013); Art in General, New York (2013) and Witte de With in Rotterdam (2012). She has participated in group exhibitions such as LEAVING TO RETURN, 12th Cuenca Biennial (2014); A THOUSAND DOORS, a collaboration between Whitechapel Gallery and Neon Foundation at The Gennadius Library, Athens (2014); WHEN ATTITUDE BECOMES FORM BECOME ATTITUDES at MoCA, Detroit and CCA Wattis, San Francisco (2012-13) and UNTITLED (12th Istanbul Biennial) (2011). Her work has been featured in numerous publications such as ArtReview, Frieze, Mousse, Glänta and The Paris Review amongst others.

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

This photograph always made me smile. How come the picture on the wall remained intact?

Santa Fe, Mexico City, 1978
Print color.

Enrique Metinides was born in Mexico, in 1934. He worked as a crime photographer for more than 50 years, capturing murders, crashes and catastrophes for Mexico’s infamous crime magazines. He has won numerous prizes and received recognition from the Presidency of the Republic, journalists’ associations, rescue and judicial corps and Kodak of Mexico. In 1997 he received the ESPEJO DE LUZ (Mirror of Light) Prize, awarded to the country’s most outstanding photographer. His work has been shown at numerous international venues, including The Museum of Modern Art, Josee Bienvenu Gallery, New York; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Photographers’ Gallery, London; and Les Rencontres d’Arles Photographie, Arles, France. In 2013 a retrospective of Metinides’ work, 101 TRAGEDIES OF ENRIQUE METINIDES, was shown at Aperture, NY.

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014


“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner

— I was always fascinated by the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue. On this one segment of one street were flower children and riots, hard drugs and Jesus freaks, left-wing intellectuals and psychedelics, natural foods and runaways. From the time I began to photograph for the underground press in the mid-sixties I planned to document the life on this block.

In 1969 I began. I felt that the counterculture was beginning to fragment. While most people on the block still identified more with each other than with those outside, tension was increasing and things were changing fast.

When I began, I simply wanted to document what seemed a remarkable and important social phenomenon. But as the photographs accumulated on my walls, I realized that something more was happening. This block had been my refuge for ten years. To photograph here was to turn my camera inward. I discovered that my feelings about the dreams and realities of this block were both stronger and more ambivalent that I had known.

It has been a long time since I began to photograph on the Avenue. When I go there now, which isn’t often anymore, I find it changed completely. The sense of community which once existed has disappeared. I will not forget the special openness of the people on the block to my photographing them. For them, as well as for myself, I want my photographs to be a way not to forget, a way for all of us who where there to remember how it was.

There is a sense in which this kind of photography involves taking something from people without giving them something in return. People reveal something to me, however subtle, which they would normally reserve for those much closer to them. My photographs then show this to others. But this is not so simple. Long after the moment of exposure, when the incident has been forgotten by the subject, I am confronted by it again and again—on the negative, on contact sheets, on proofs, and in prints. The images in this book have become my family.

In going through my photographic contact sheets from the period of 1966 through 1975 I had occasion to view again the work I did for a book project. The book, Rag Theater, is a photojournalistic record of the vibrant street life on the 2400 block of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley between 1969 and 1973. During this four-year period I shot hundreds of rolls of film there. Looking at the work now, forty years later, I am struck by the feeling that what I have resembles nothing so much as a family album. The people in the photographs are people’s parents and grandparents, their brothers and sisters, their friends. Most were young at the time of the photographs. Some—too many—never got much older. Along with the recognition that I have in my possession a family album came a feeling of responsibility to share it. That is what my blog is about.

The model for my blog is not that of a photographic exhibit where a stringent winnowing down of images is essential. Since a primary audience is people who were there, the model is instead that of a family album, with all the sprawling generosity that entails—always room for another picture of Uncle Harry, even if it is a bit out of focus. As in a family album some faces appear again and again. In one respect, however, the family album analogy breaks down—there are many missing faces. It was not my intent when I began the project to create a systematically exhaustive catalog of all those who frequented the Avenue. Consequently, there are people who were on the Avenue a lot but whom I somehow never photographed. On the other hand, there are faces here I saw only once. In any case, I hope that the abundance of photographs evokes, for better or worse, a feeling of the life and the antic energy of “the Ave” of our youth.

As I mentioned above I shot hundreds of rolls of film for the Rag Theater project. About seventy images are in the book, something over two-hundred on Only I have seen the rest–a lot of images of a lot of people. That will probably remain the case. This larger family album has been for me alone. Realistically, what could be the venue for my displaying these “outtakes?” And, at this point, what could be the purpose? And even if anyone else ever were to see any of these images, it is unlikely that they would know the people portrayed. So, the greater part of the family album that these images comprise will be gone, as the “family” itself is gone. So, William Faulkner notwithstanding, some pasts can hold on, but only for a while. In the end they disappear—without anyone noticing.

Nacio Jan Brown is a photographer residing in Berkeley, CA. He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and after a false start as a painter picked up a camera and never looked back. His work has been exhibited at the M.H. de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Ansel Adams Friends of Photography Gallery in San Francisco, Focus Gallery in San Francisco, the University of California Art Museum in Berkeley, the UC Graduate School of Journalism Gallery in Berkeley, and elsewhere. His work is in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, George Eastman House as well as in many private collections. His book, RAG THEATER – THE 2400 BLOCK OF TELEGRAPH AVENUE 1969-1973 was selected by the American Institute of Graphic Arts for inclusion in its FIFTY BOOKS exhibit of 1975. The blog, went online in 2011. In addition to photographs it has many recollections of the times posted by those who were there.

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Some time ago, a local film festival commissioned me to make a one minute piece that would play before the regular program. I decided to film a head shot of several Argentinian filmmakers, who had shown their films at that festival, doing Sirsasana.

Then I imagined it would be interesting to expand the project: I could set up a camera in some corner of the festival and film all the participating filmmakers in Sirsanana. Furthermore, this could be done in every film festival in the world, covering all the filmmakers and the audience as well. And this idea could open up to further possibilities. My next project is a film about a yoga teacher, and is called The Practice.

Martín Rejtman was born in Buenos Aires, in 1961. In 1992 he made his first feature film RAPADO. His other films include, SILVIA PRIETO (1998), THE MAGIC GLOVES (2003), and his latest, DOS DISPAROS (2014). Rejtman is also a writer, his works have been published in Argentina and Europe. In 2000 he was awarded a fellowship for the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and in 2002 he received the Beca Antorchas.

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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I made mini Judd stool and Albers pillows. Yay!

Shio Kusaka was born in Japan in 1972 and lives and works in Los Angeles.

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